best part of the day in Buon Ma Thuot

​So here it is, lunch time on the third day of teaching in Buon Ma Thuot and I got to thinking about what time of the day I enjoy the most here.

I certainly enjoy the mornings arising at 5am to switch on the electric jug to prepare hot water for my wake up coffee and having to wear warm clothes to combat the crisp chill in the air. After so long in the perpetual heat of Sai Gon the change is so refreshing. I look forward to getting dressed, donning a warm jacket and heading for the small ca phe shop adjacent to the front gate of the kindergarten. Here I drink ca phe with my new friends the security guard and the gardener from the school. This is coffee growing country and the ca phe den nong is the size of a single shot espresso but thick and strong and best drunk with a full serve of sugar. When I've finished my ca phe I forgo the prepared breakfast in the school canteen and take a walk to the front gate of the BMT hospital where 2 ladies sit on the pavement preparing banh mi thit. These are delicious and like every town in Viet Nam, the bread has its own uniqueness. Being portable I can then enjoy a stroll along the streets while eating and watch the city come awake until it's time to head back to the school and begin my first class at 7.30. ​

Then, after two sessions of teaching there's that truly delicious part of the day when you know you can have nearly 4 hours of being able to be by yourself. The children are fed and put to sleep and a hush falls over the entire school. Most of the staff nap also and it's truly a delightful time of the day. What a civilised habit. It's that time as I'm writing this. Just before I ate lunch today I was sitting on a bench outside with my friend the gardener talking about the pet deer they have living in the school grounds and looking up at the sky. How crystal clear is the blue sky today with just a few clouds drifting about to accentuate that blueness. Is it an illusion or are the colours of the flowers more vivid here than in Sai Gon? Every colour is so vibrant, the air is just so clear, and yet I don't feel the need to wear sunglasses. Strange. The light is so soft. ​

Maybe the best part of the day is around 4.30 pm, the teaching is finished, and I can wander over the street to the restaurant opposite and order an ice cold beer. Sitting quietly and enjoying 1 or 2 Heinekens as the heat goes out of the day is very good indeed. By the time I've finished my beers I need to don my warm jacket again because the night chill has crept in. What a great time to head off for another exploratory walk. I enjoy hugging the jacket to me and wandering down new streets, turning different corners to see what's in that direction.


the ingrediants…

…for a very happy Tet!


hooray… no facebook again

So it seems as if FaceBook is not accessible again, at least it hasn’t been for me over the past few days. There has been much debate whether FB has been blocked here officially or not in the past, and to me it doesn’t really matter one way or the other. Actually, if I can’t access FB it will be a blessing. Previously when it was inaccessible I really enjoyed not using it, but when it re-appeared online I got sucked in to the vortex of checking it and began using it again to make comments and communicate with those I normally wouldn’t be able to. And that is the advantage of FB isn’t it? You can keep in touch with others so easily.

But it can also complicate matters, like my contact list on my Android mobile wants to access my FB contacts and add them to my list, creating duplicates in some cases which annoys the hell out of me. Try merging the duplicates and then be denied FB access and see what happens to your contact list. Also, Yahoo Messenger now wants to integrate with FB messenger. That means duplicate messages when one contacts details are different in Yahoo to those in FB. Confusing! Strangely, I can still access FB messenger on my mobile, not sure why I can access one and not the other.

So it seems I can still send me messages to my FB friends to let them know I won’t be hanging around the news feed for an indeterminate length of time, and I’ll no longer be posting my witty profile updates that no doubt impress them all so much. Once I wean myself off it, I’m going to be glad that FB is out of my life once more. I wonder, is this my chance to kick the habit once and for all?

my little elephant… again

skin on her thoughts

“Language is the skin on my thoughts” – Arundhati Roy

miss understandings

Me: “I’ll have the smoked beef and cheddar baguette with salad and a cappuccino please. But can you bring the cappuccino after you bring the baguette, not before?”

Waiter: “You want a tall latte?”

Me: “No, I want a cappuccino, but don’t bring it right now, bring it later.”

Waiter: “OK, you want a tall latte?”

Me: “No, why would I want a tall latte? I want a cappuccino.”

Waiter: “Tall latte and cappuccino same thing.”

Me: “No, a cappuccino and tall latte are different things.”

Waiter: “Tall latte and cappuccino the same. They both have one shot espresso and hot milk.”

Me: “Yes, but they are different and I want a cappuccino please.”

At this stage I realised it was pointless asking for the cappuccino later rather than sooner so that I could enjoy it hot after the baguette instead of cold after sitting there for 10 or 15 minutes. Tactical error on my part, I should have ordered the coffee when half way through the baguette, but hey, I was in an upmarket cafe where the staff are supposedly used to serving and understanding foreigners, wasn’t I??? Annam, please get your act together.

My cappuccino getting cold while I enjoy my baguette.

finally, an elephant to call my own

xoi ga

To the uninitiated this may not look all that appetising, however, this is one of my favourite things to eat. It’s xoi ga, or sticky rice and chicken. In this version the chicken is mixed with mushroom, tiny shrimps and a quail egg and encased in the sticky rice which in turn is wrapped in a leaf and cooked in a steamer. I prefer to eat this with a dash of soy sauce, preferably mixed with chili and garlic. Yum. If eaten for breakfast this will “stick to your ribs” all day.