The Old Git
The old man residing in room 3, spreading his doom and gloom along the corridors all day, has gone. His huffing and shuffling at all hours was keeping me awake, and that’s why I moved room in the end. Now, he’s gone!!
He spent a week in Hanoi trying to get his documents sorted. I got 24 hours. He came back for 2 or 3 days then went back for another week. On his return, we heard that he had to leave the country by the end of the week because he didn’t have the documents needed. Either that or it was his way of getting out of it all. When I’m 75, I won’t be moving to another country the other side of the world. I will be quite happy with my 25 cats sitting next to the fire.
The New Arrival
The old git wasn’t the only old one. There was a new arrival about six weeks ago. A new maths teacher from England. He seemed nice to start with, though pretty absent minded. I saw him in the living room, went in and introduced myself and we chatted for a while. Then he asked me “Who are you? What are you doing here?” That gave me the impression that he didn’t actually care about anything anyone told him.
The impression he gave was correct. Weeks down the line, he has repeated this numerous times.
He doesn’t just walk into a room. He opens the door and stands in the doorway until people look up from their work to acknowledge him.
He also sends rude/sarcastic emails. I had written up the minutes of a meeting we had had in the department and shared the document via email with the system which we use here. His reply was something very similar to Thank you! I sooooo can’t wait to see if there was anything actually worth you minuting about. All it seems to me was a bunch of names for awards. How rude! If he didn’t want to look at my meeting minutes he didn’t have to. No need to send me emails like that when he hadn’t even been here for a week at that point. He’s done a lot of nippy little things like that. Sending gossip about people he doesn’t know about etc. I find it pretty odd behaviour for an older man.
He’s harmless, and I’m sure is trying to be friendly. Maybe we’ll see a different side to him in time.
Between the time that one arrived and the other arrived, we were invited to a wedding meal of one of the lovely kindergarten teachers.
I was worried I wouldn’t get to go because of my evening class, but it seems that I’m no longer teaching that class, so I got to go. I had been warned (if that’s the right word) not to get too excited about it, as you literally eat and leave.
We drove along with the principal, her son and a couple of others to the same hotel where we’d been for Teacher’s day. A typical gift for a wedding here is cash, and so the happy couple invite as many people as possible.
The newer of the old men came to the wedding with much reluctance. He had never even met her, and even after being introduced (and invited to her wedding) he asked if anyone knew who she was and if what she’s like. I felt that was a bit inconsiderate since she had just invited us (and him!) to her wedding. Of course we know her!
He also made comments at the wedding about how it’s impossible to know so many people. Well, people here don’t cut people off like they do in UK. They rarely leave their hometown/province and have huge extended families.
But, when we were there, we really did just eat, and leave shortly after seeing the beautiful bride.
100 Shades Of Red
Most of the buildings in Vinh are low in height. There are a few not-so-lows, and the highest (that I know of) is a five star hotel (Vietnamese rating) of 33 floors. The 33rd of which is a cafe/bar with a view right across the city. I’ve been wanting to go up there to spot a sunset for ages, but we always forgot, or were running late or something got in the way, and the sunset won’t wait!
One Saturday, a few weeks ago now, we went up to the top, thinking we had already missed it. There were a few tiny tinges of pink in the sky, but it was pretty smoggy so we didn’t think we were going to see much. We took some pictures of the slight pinkness and got one with out drinks. Lizzie was on the phone and I went out onto a terrace (which in the UK would have been locked and out of bounds because it was so rickety) and the sunset was unreal. We spent ages watching it, taking photos and being just amazed by HOW red the sky was. The photos here don’t do the colours any justice. I have never seen anything like it.
Usually, on a Sunday, we have a quiet day because most people teach on a Sunday afternoon/ evening and it’s also nice just to do nothing.
The day after the sunset though I had a message from the principal’s son. I worried that I was being called up for something and to have a meeting when he asked what I was doing that afternoon. Actually, he was taking the new guy around Vinh and over to the beach (which is one of the best in Vietnam, only 20km away, and I still hadn’t been). I joined them.
We went for a walk around the lake in Vinh’s Central Park. It was actually nice to be doing something rather than just lying watching Netflix or something. We saw all the abandoned children’s rides which don’t seem to be used anymore. I also spotted a very sad monkey swinging round and round a cage built around a tree.
At one place on our walk round the lake I spotted a very green looking pond and a bunch of maybe 10 crocodiles. None of us could figure out if they were real or alive or not. They were very still and we couldn’t see any signs of movement, or even breathing. One of them had its mouth wide open. They looked too real to be the kind of fake that they do here. I threw a twig threw the high fencing (which a small child could easily fit a hand though the gaps) and one of the crocs blinked. The principal’s son didn’t believe me until the croc decided to slide into the gross looking water.
We spent quite a while being fascinated by these semi-dead, and probably drugged up, crocs before carrying on our walk around the lake. We crossed a bridge into an island in the middle where there was a pagoda. It’s very quiet at this time of year, but on lunar festivals there are many people who go there and pray to their ancestors.
The walk round the lake took maybe an hour, and we headed to get some snacks from a cash and carry type place before heading out to the beach.
It’s a nice drive out to Cua Lo. First you drive along the Lam River with mountains, churches and villages in the background, before the river turns into an estuary and there are lots of colourful fishing boats. If it had been just me I would have stopped every now and then (or more!) to take photos, but it wasn’t and the men were hurrying to see the sunset. I wasn’t that fussed having seen one of the best sunsets of my life the night before!
We got to the beach and all of the restaurants where pretty quiet. It’s off season now, and quite chilly. We chose a restaurant at random (all of them being pretty much the same) and parked up.
The two men sat down and ordered food and drinks. I wasn’t interested. I have always had this soft spot for beaches and just feel instantly chilled and relaxed when I get to one. I went for a walk and was away for ages. I walked quite far, picking up shells, walking in and out of the water, and just feeling a hundred times more relaxed than I usually feel, here in Vietnam.
We had planned on going to a golf resort for sunset, but we didn’t have much time at the beach to do both, so we stayed at the beach for a while and ate some squid and had a couple of drinks. Plus, I’d seen possibly seen the best sunset of my life the night before, so I wasn’t particularly bothered about missing it.
A Tough Goodbye
It’s ten days now since Lizzie left. It’s been pretty boring since then. We usually hung out and went out for meals and stuff. It was really nice having a good friend here. We had a good laugh together, and I’m going to miss her. Last week and this week there have been no English lessons which makes my boredom even worse as it means I don’t really have anything to do in the day, though I have extra classes at night now that Lizzie isn’t here to teach them so, I guess that’s one thing for me to do.
A Crowd of Cuteness
I just want to take a second to tell you just how much I LOVE my two year old class. I haven’t taught them in almost 2 weeks but I saw them in the playground the other day and they just melt my heart.
The school have been preparing for Christmas Eve for weeks, and here it is! The kids have been learning about Grandpa Noen (who, apparently, is Santa), drawing lots of Christmassy pictures (one Grade 1 at the bottom of their final exam – see pictures below), posting letters to Grandpa Noen and decorating the school. Tonight, they will put on a big performance. Each class is doing at least one song or dance which they’ve been practising for weeks. I can’t tell you how ruined “War is over” and “Joy to the world” are for me now. “War is over” especially, because the kids just kill it. They won’t on the actual day though, because the kids all mime, and only the good kids get to go to a recording studio and sing it there. Then everyone just mimes to the track.
I’m feeling pretty nervous about having Christmas on my own. There are other foreign teachers but none who I am close enough to to spend the day with on Christmas. I might see some of the Vietnamese teachers for a coffee or lunch, but nothing is set in stone yet. I have a little tree and some lights, and some small presents to open that have been sent from family and friends, so that will take up some time. I’ve made a Skype schedule, so that I can focus my day on talking to people from home.