time to go

We have been looking forward to this side of Vietnam since we arrived in Ho Chi Minh eight months ago. So we went there, experienced it all, hiking, boating, meeting local people, discovering new tastes.

Sapa and its surroundings, was not only about breath taking sites, but mostly about people we have met. Kind, generous and smiley, despite not easy life circumstances they are in.

Ninh Binh. The boiling weather kept us hiding somewhere underneath fans and air-cons for entire mornings and early afternoons. Cooler air later on in the afternoon made us explore more on our bikes. The moments to remember.

I’m happy to end my Vietnamese experience right there, waiting for more of Pieter’s stories and photos of this amazing country.

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The view overlooking Sapa. On our way to one of the ‘tribe’ villages.

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We meet a lot of children on our way. They all play outside, in mud, lakes or trees. “It’s happiness’ you may think, but they do not smile a lot.

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Our lovely guide ladies: Zuzu and Mama Gin. We couldn’t be more lucky to have met them.

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‘ I used to live there (pointing), but now I’ve got a new house over there’ explains Mama Gin. Later she tells us that it’s a house given to her by a Canadian charity, which supports the poorest families in this region.

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Those children took the baby birds away from their mother nests and fed them, trying to domesticate them.

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Pieter’s new friend found his favourite spot on Pieter’s shoulders while they explore the village together.

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Working on a rice field.

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The smallest baby in the family in the house we stayed in. She was carried everywhere by her siblings, depending on what had to be done in the house.

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The school was closed this morning due to the heavy rain.

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Rice fields.

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Tam Coc, close to Ninh Binh.

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Tam Coc and feet rowing.

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Ola

 

 

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cooking class

It was one of the lazy Sunday afternoons, a couple of weeks ago. A few arrangements and there we go, four of us, ready to face the challenge of cooking Vietnamese dishes. It’s up to us to decide what we want to cook so our choice is spring rolls, banh xeo ( a sort of pancake, usually with shrimps and beef; this time it’s vegetarian though) and com tam ( broken rice plus different sides). We arrive very hungry and immediately start off with the spring rolls that come out delicious. To our surprise to every dish we need to ad small crystals of MSG, one of the ‘E(number)’ food additives that we find in some common packaged foods available from any shop. They tell as that MSG is used here in Vietnam in everyday cooking, so that is what we are fed on, since the very first day we are here. Ban Xeo is good too, not as good though, as the one from our favourite banxeo lady on our street. Com tam is our least favourite dish, although fried tofu with lemon grass on top is a surprisingly tasty combination. 

Overall, the whole cooking experience was good, very friendly staff, and I hope we will be able to recreate at least one of those dishes when back in Europe.

O.

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our street

So we live in district 3, one of the 24 districts in Ho Chi Minh. I must say that we are quite lucky with our location as it is kind of in the heart of the city (from a geographical, not a touristy point of view). It means that to get to the touristy center (which is not our favourite, but good for food when we get tired of Vietnamese street specialties) it takes about 15 minutes by bike and to get to our jobs it is not much longer. Not too bad. The neigbourhood is quite nice as well, just by the river with nice walking paths, which is rather a rare thing here. There’s a fresh food market a hundred meters away, plenty of small shops and street food. We don’t have much contact with the neighbours, although we exchange a polite ” hello” and smiles.

lalla

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Happy Easter!

Wesołych Świąt! 
Zalig Pasen!
 
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Ola & Pieter
 
 
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fruit

Undoubtedly, one of the things by which we are spoiled here in Vietnam, is diversity of fruit we can eat or mix up in our favourite smoothies. A few weeks ago I went to a nearby supermarket and took all fruit that looked interesting and simply gave me no clue about what they were. While back at home, it took us a while to figure out their names. Thanks to the supermarket tags in Vietnamese and the Image Google search, that is what we got.

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*(pl) Pomelo- Pomarańcza Olbrzymia, Passion Fruit-Marakuja, Dragon Fruit-Pitaja, lub Smoczy Owoc, Jackfruit- Dżakfrut:) owoc drzewa chlebowego, Sapodilla- Pigwica?, Lychee- Liczi.
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follow up

Days are passing by unbelievably fast and I cannot believe that it’s been already seven months since we arrived in this city of craziness. All seems to be more steady now than before as we cumulate our energy and money(!) for a final travel before heading back to Europe in around two months time. Except for my second bike burn on my other leg, there are just a few things that may account as not too boring for a follow up. So here we go.

A night stay in Vung Tau. This was some kind of promo which aims at attracting people to the hotel casino in a fancy resort. You need to win a certain amount of points in the casino, which gives you a free night stay in the hotel. By free stay I mean our best buffet breakfast ever, super fancy pancy hotel room, $15 voucher to be spent on dinner for two, a great steam bath and the afternoon at the beach or the swimming pool. We came back relaxed and happy, and not too bothered that the promo wasn’t actually free. Anyway it cost us peanuts for what we actually got.

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Cinderella

Here it is. The Cinderella play by my primary school kiddos. My second important life project after The Very Hungry Caterpillar workshops with the Italian kids back in 2010. Yey! SO after 3 weeks of once a week 2 hours rehearsals and some intensive ones this week, that what the final outcome looks like. Not perfect at all, but I like it. It’s been great working with these kids and see their engagement. We all definitely had fun, even though our bodies were melting constantly with over 40 degrees heat.

As to the big stage banner. ‘Practise your English with native teachers’. Yup, right..

Practice your English with Ola, the superteacher.

Actors/ Actresses: Grade 4.4. Truong Dinh Primary School. Ho Chi Minh.

Script: me, adapted from Charles Perrault.

Dialogues: me.

Director: me!

Music: Vivaldi, 4 Seasons: Spring. PSY, Gangnam style. Mixed by Pieter H.

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one day

It’s Thursday today, so I start at 7, similar to yesterday and a day before yesterday. I go through the morning session (5 classes for 40 minutes) constantly wiping my runny nose and fighting my cough, while waiting for the afternoon lunch break. The final go with grade five and there it is: GONG! Finally.

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NO to a floating market

100 km from Bangkok. A tourist trap. The place has got nothing to do with a local market, where Thai people shop for food. The place is full of unnecessary and overpriced touristy crap. You get yourself ‘comfortably’ on one of the gondolas and you are driven around the same looking stalls. You go squeezed in between the other gondolas with tourists who similarly to you, thought naively that they were going to experience something unique. Nope. The worst thing is that you’re stuck on this stupid gondola and there’s no way out from people pushing things into your hands. So I sat back, as relaxed as I could get, took my camera out and snapped hundreds of photos of this bizarre place. The only thing we bought there was some kind of breakfast. I guess McDonald’s would do better then. Well. Avoid the market.

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Cambodia & Thailand. We’re back.

It’s nearly a week since we’re back, stuck in our daily school routine, early wake ups, evening’s tiredness and my new yoga classes fascination(!).

Cambodia for ten days; Thailand, well, actually Bangkok only for four days. Cambodia, its purity, nature and people stole my heart. I can’t say much about Thailand. Probably, I won’t discover anything new by saying that Bangkok is not a good representative of the whole country at all. I’m close to say that I did not like it much, but probably I shouldn’t discredit it, as my enthusiasm was faded by million of tourists wandering the Bangkok streets and nearly 40 Celsius degree doesn’t make things easier when you are stuck in a 6 million people city. We definitely have to go back there; I mean deep into Thailand’s beauty, not Bangkok really.

Phnom Penh

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Killing Fields in Phnom Penh. The 1,5 hour walk in silence, while listening to this dreadful story of Pol Pot and the genocide of his own people.

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