Friday, June 29, 2007

Another New Diggs

We found our new place, and it is awesome. I know we said that about our last place as well but this time we really mean it.
Today is Friday, June 29th and I am sitting in a computer lab listening to one of my students take a TOEFL practice test. So I have decided to use my time wisely and create a blog about my life for the last couple of days and next couple of days.
I went on a day trip with my school yesterday which I haven't yet recovered from completely. I woke up at 5am and got ready. I hopped on my motorcycle at 5:30 and sped to my school where I led 18 students on to a bus that departed for Dam Long park and I have to tell you, it was a damn long day. I got back to school around 4pm and had to get ready for a 6pm class. Yes, that is 14 and a half hours of work on Thurs. I rounded out my evening with Karen at Finnigans Irish Pub for a quiz night where once again, we came in second. I arrived back home at 2am to end a 21 hour day.
I am working from noon until 8:30 today where when finished I must race home to pack up my belongings in preperation for the big move tommorow. Sounds like fun right? I also have to work on Saturday for five hours and be back home by 7pm to receive the moving van that will take our personals to our new home. Karen, doing more than her share of the work, will be home this afternoon washing everything fabric(clothes,bedding etc.)in the house. I swear, it is worth it.
I don't want to spend too much time describing the house as I plan to give a guided video tour that you can watch right here at this blog. So those of you reading this before the video has been added, be patient and check back in a few days. I may add a little more about the problems and difficulties that are sure to surface over the move. As always, pray for us, and I will be in touch.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why Do I Bia Hoi? I Bia Hoi, Cuz I Can.

I have been quite critical of the Vietnamese in the past, I have commented on their driving, eating, bathing, habits, nose picking and so on, but now I would like to talk to you about something that is absolutely brilliant. I have mentioned this to friends in the past but I have yet to blog about it. This needs to be recorded for prosperity. BIA HOI, BIA HOI HANOI and many other similarly named establishments are pure genius in their simplicity. They are beer stands. Almost every street and road in Hanoi has a BIA HOI (beer stand) where for, believe it or not, 15 cents you can purchase yourself a tall glass of ice cold beer. Your 15 cents also works as rent where with your cold draught comes a cheap blue, red or black stool on which to sit and a tiny piece of property out of the sun.
The draught beer that is sold at the BIA HOI's is delivered daily and contains no preservatives. So not only is it quite literally the cheapest beer in the world, but it is healthier than most beer, and contains a mere 2 to 3.5 alcohol percentage, so you can drink it all day and not have to worry about getting too drunk. You can also bring your own containers and fill them up with the draught to take home with you. I have seen people filling up 5 litre water jugs with BIA HOI beer to take home. How awesome is that?
One of the most beautiful aspects of the BIA HOI is the opportunity that it gives even it's most destitute customers, of being able to stand up and say " A round of beers for everybody!" How often can you say that in a drinking establishment with more than twenty customers and still have it cost less than a couple of dollars. Pure genius.
Imagine the popularity of such an establishment in Halifax. Have a tent set up on Spring Garden Road with a stack of plastic stools, and some umbrellas for shade. You could sit on the corner on a hot summer day and watch the ladies walk by, or the men, depending on who is reading this. ( I'm talking about you Larry, wink wink)And most importantly, have an ice cold draught in your hand.
But alas, such a thing would never be allowed in Nova Scotia, or any other part of Canada due to the strict alcohol legislation and enforcement. So, if you want to experience the simple pleasure of sitting on the road drinking 15 cent draught and observing the madness and mayhem going on all around you on a hot afternoon, your only option is coming to Hanoi, where we will have a stool waiting for ya.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Man Strollers and the rolling death machine

There is a means of transportation in Vietnam that I am loathe to take. It is called a cyclo and it is nothing more than a large baby stroller for adults. It is powered by a wiry, smelly, alcohol powered Vietnamese man pedalling furiously on the custom designed bicycle that powers the man stroller. It is a metallic box on two wheels with padded seats and a rooftop for protection from the constant thunder and lightning showers that plaque Hanoi. They are loaded down with swinging bells to attract the attention of the shell shocked backpackers, elderly tourists and the army of banana pancakers roaming the Old Quarter of Vietnam.( Banana Pancakers are called so due to thier all-consuming desire to eat only local fare and live in the nastyest, cheapest guesthouses available. They seem to exist mostly on a diet of banana themed foods, the king of which being the banana pancake) Karen guilted me in to experiencing this obnoxious display of man-powered indignity and I will never do it again. As if I don't stand out enough on the streets of Hanoi as a hairy, six-foot tall, mountainous Western sweat machine. I have to add to my carnival like oddity showcase by riding around town like some kind of petty prince, with some Vietnamese man panting and sweating behind me as he struggles to keep the carriage moving forward with the obsticle of my considerable girth slowing him down. Yes, never again.
The other vehicle I need to mention is the rolling death machine. I have been seeing these more and more as we enter the hottest season Vietnam has to offer. They are modified wheelbarrows with a bicycle style man-engine powering it. Much the same design as the man-stroller, it is used mostly to transport pointed metal rods from place to place. It looks like some kind of medeival torture device as it comes rolling toward you while you are riding your motabike,(I still can not refer to these Honda Waves as motorcycles)down the narrow Hanoian streets. I have seen heartstoppingly close encounters with overzealous motorbike riders coming within mere inches of the deadly spikes before careening out of the way at the last possible micro-second. I will make sure I take pictures of both of these things, once again, just to prove that I am not making this up.
Bye for now,

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

10 Things I've Learned in Vietnam

1. Traffic lights are only suggestions.

2. Seafood in Vietnam is called that because you are guaranteed to "See" it again.

3. Deodorant is for sissies.

4. Nose picking is a public event.

5. If you gotta go, you gotta go. Whenever, wherever and in front of whomever.

6. There is no need for a man to do anything physical if there is a sturdy woman handy.

7. Dog food doesn't come in a can for Rover, it IS rover.

8. Don't complain about an insect in your food, as you may be charged extra for it.

9. Everything is funny to the Vietnamese.

10. Washing your hands after doing anything is for sissies.

These are just the first ten. There is sure to be more to follow.