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Published: December 19th 2021
In 2011 I was in my last year at the American International school, my future uncertain. Here is my Xmas letter to friends:
Dear Overseas Friend(s)
My life has entered a period of uncertainty.
AIS (Abominable Int’l School of HCMC) has not offered me a contract for 2012-13. Reason given: I turn 60 on December 22nd
. Real reason: I am outspoken about the multitudinous injustices perpetrated by AIS admin. I’ll spare you the details. Now this quasi-sexagenarian must concentrate on finding a new job – ideally in Saigon.
Enough self-pity. It’s Xmas, and I’m supposed to be jolly!
2011 has, in truth, been an unspectacular year for me, but highlights
Completing the paperwork for two pensions. On December 22nd
my private pension and my UK teacher’s pension mature, and I will be slightly richer, or less impoverished, than before.
Spending Tet (Chinese New Year) in Tan Chau, my girlfriend Thuy’s hometown. A week-long orgy of feasting and celebration that puts us Brits to shame.
Providing Thuy with a karaoke hotel. This was her idea, and I was a shade sceptical; however, I had seriously underrated the Vietnamese love of karaoke. The hotel is going great guns; the locals flock in every evening, sometimes till 4am.
Buying jazz and blues CD’s in Chatuchak Market, Bangkok. Mississippi Fred McDowell is awesome.
Visiting Angelo, my Aussie doctor friend, in Takkeo, Cambodia, and then travelling to the lovely riverside town of Kampot.
Reading Duncan Hamilton’s biography of Harold Larwood
, the autobiography of Keith Richards. He went cold turkey “5 or 6 times” and attributes his longevity and relative good health to using only the very best heroin.
Playing 9-ball pool against Toby every Tuesday evening in a Saigon billiard hall. Serving wenches fetch us beer and set up the balls, while we poke fun at each other’s flukes.
Visiting my old friends in the UK last summer (although recession-hit England was depressing).
Cleaning out my bedroom in Reading - a trip down memory lane. I threw away 95 per cent of my old photos. The priceless ones – b&w's of parents, of baby Kevin – have been enlarged and now adorn my walls in Saigon.
Rediscovering the Tanzanian ebony bust – of a bald Masai woman with ornate collar and earrings - that had been languishing in my Reading bedroom since 1995. Now this beautiful artifact sits on my desk in Saigon (see attached photos).
Drinking Holden’s bitter with Maurice in the Wheatsheaf, West Bromwich (better than Bathams!).
Drinking bitter (again with Maurice) at Mrs Pardoe’s legendary pub in Netherton, West Midlands.
Visiting Gloucester Cathedral and walking in the Gloucestershire countryside.
Eating the wonderful food in the Malaysian restaurant near my apartment in Saigon: beef lemak, beef rendang, ginger chicken…mmm.
Eating aloo gobi matar at Robin’s Indian restaurant in Bui Vien Street.
Discovering Krombacher beer at the German restaurant on Dong Khoi Street. Krombacher has supplanted Czech beer as my favourite Saigon tipple.
Discovering schnapps at the abovementioned restaurant. My Austrian friend, Oliver, is a schnapps expert and steered me towards ‘Williams’, which has a delicious pear flavour.
Publishing my travel essays on the excellent travelpod website (just go to travelpod and type in ‘kevin mulqueen’). Travelpod takes your text and photos and arranges everything beautifully.
Conspicuous by their absence from this list are exotic holidays. For whatever reason, I haven’t gone anywhere offbeat or exciting (like last year, when I visited Palawan in the Philippines).
Maybe 2012 will be a year of satisfying employment, stimulating reading and exotic travel!
On that corny note, I end my epistle.
I wish all of you CHUC MUNG GIANG SINH
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