Sunday, January 22, 2017

Visit from Grandma and Grandpa

Thanks for visiting Grandma and Grandpa!  I especially like this photo of you with Maya.

Coming Along

I received a few more photos showing continued progress on the school....

Sunday, January 8, 2017

School Update

The school is not complete yet but is looking a heck of a lot better!
They are now forecasting that the school will be completed by Tet.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Day 9 - Cooking Lesson in HCMC

On Saturday, I travelled from Mui Ne to HCMC by bus. It had double decker seating, air conditioning and WiFi. Very comfortable and clean!

I got to HCMC around noon, checked into my hotel and quickly signed up for a cooking tour. I was picked up by a cyclo driver who gave me a tour of the main downtown sites before dropping me at Ben Thanh Market. I was met there by Dory (her chosen English name), a chef, who gave me a very interesting tour of the spices, fruits and vegetables at the market, showing me many unfamiliar items. One of the strangest was probably Birds nest, which is solidified bird siliva, which is used to make soup. It's very expensive but there is a cheaper version with bird feathers still in it that you need to pick out. I will remember to not order any birds nest soup!
After our tour of the market, Dory took me on her motorbike through HCMC crazy traffic to the cooking school. For some reason, there were no other students. So I got a private lesson in fruit and vegetable carving, making spring rolls, Vietnamese savoury pancakes and chicken pho. It was very hands on and I got to eat everything I made. They also presented me with a booklet outlining how everything was made so that I could reproduce it at home.
 Below are a few photos from the afternoon:

Friday, December 9, 2016

Days 7 and 8 Mui Ne

Following the opening of the school, I was driven to Mui Ne, a beach resort, by a man who worked for the local Xuyen Moc school district. He spoke some English but didn't seem to know the way and stopped every 30 min to ask directions. I was worried he would get lost on the return. The roads were generally very good. We drove by many dragon fruit orchards. After more than 3 hours we arrived in Mui Ne. I think this place is about as touristy as it gets in Vietnam! Wall to wall resorts. I'm staying at the Little Mui Ne Cottages, a lovely mid priced boutique resort. My room has a view of the ocean and there is a nice pool. I think I am the only guest here that is not Russian. For some reason Mui Ne is very popular with Russians to the point that they may out number the locals and many signs are in Russian. I actually went to restaurant that had menus only in Russian!

Fishing and tourism are the main livelihoods here. There are many colourful fishing boats in the harbour, and small round fishing boats paddled by the local fisherman. The locals also fish with nets from the shore for small fish and clams. 

The second morning in Mui Ne I took a jeep tour of the area, including the white and red sand dunes and a local harbour where they were bring in the catch of the day, including crabs, squid, lobster and small fish. The highlight was going to the white dunes for sunrise. I got an ATV ride through the smaller dunes to the big dunes, which was a lot of fun. 

The following are some photos from the last two days. I'm heading back to HCMC tomorrow and back to Toronto on Sunday am.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Day 6 - School Opening Ceremony

Despite the unfinished school, there was a lovely opening ceremony! It started with dance performances by the children and teachers. Then there were speeches, mine translated by Tung, followed by a speech from each of the partner organizations. At the end, all the partners cut the ribbon. I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers. And the kids were very excited to see the new toys and gets some treats !  They were so cute! Following the ceremony, we had a lovely lunch with traditional Vietnamese dishes, stir fried beef and chicken, sticky rice, huge shrimp and custard for dessert attended by the partner organizations and teachers. Here are some photos from the ceremony...