Blogs from District Two, Ho Chi Minh City, Southeast, Vietnam, Asia


Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two January 20th 2021

My old friend, Maurice Bradley, died on December 10th 2020. I have written a tribute to him, which can be found at I am a prose writer but, occasionally, I try my hand at poems. I was moved the other day to write a poem about Maurice. In the first stanza I have borrowed and reworked lines from W. H. Auden’s great elegy ‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats’. The same poem has inspired me to use rhyming couplets at the end. If you want to listen to me reading my poem on Youtube, type in 'Maurice Bradley RIP' or go to this link: Here is the text of my poem: .Maurice Bradley RIP You disappeared in the dead of winter, In the night, in a hospital bed - A stra... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two December 31st 2020

I first watched ‘Bangkok Hilton’ around 1992, when I was living in Dar es Salam, Tanzania; I borrowed it as a video from my local video shop and remember enjoying it enormously. It was made in 1989 as a mini-series for Australian TV and won awards for best actress (Nicole Kidman) and for being the most popular TV mini-series. However, its low status as a work of cinematic art is apparent from IMDb, where it hardly gets a mention from the critics. I watched ‘Bangkok Hilton’ again yesterday and today (the two parts, available on Youtube, span 4½ hours) and, once again, enjoyed it. It is a fine piece of popular entertainment – not profound, not subtle – but engaging throughout and gripping at the finish. Wikipedia informs me that “the mini-series was specifically written as ... read more
The Ridiculously Good-Looking Nicole Kidman
Hugo Weaving
Originally in 6 Parts

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two December 22nd 2020

My friend of 45 years, Maurice Bradley, has just died aged 92. If you go to, you can read my own tribute to this remarkable man. Today (December 22nd 2020) I received an email containing a tribute to Maurice written by a member of the Canoldir Male Choir, based in Birmingham, that Maurice had sung with for over 40 years. The author, Harold Jones, prefaces his tribute with the following message: Thank you for your email regarding the sad death of Maurice. We have been in touch with his friends whilst he was in the Care Home and, because of the high respect I had for Maurice, I have collected as much information as I could about his achievements prior to his passing. He was very quiet and rarely spoke about his life. I am ... read more
At Home 2007
Supping a Pint of Batham's at The Bull and Bladder 2011

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two December 11th 2020

My friend Maurice Bradley has died aged 92. I first met Maurice in 1975, the year I began working as an English teacher at Old Swinford Hospital in Stourbridge. He was a friend of Freer Magnus, whom I'd known at Swansea University during 1974 - '75, when we were training to be teachers. Freer got a job teaching History in Birmingham, not far away from Stourbridge. He loved singing and joined a Birmingham-based male choir called the Canoldir. Here he befriended Maurice. I used to meet Freer from time to time – either for walks in the Clent Hills or for beer and jazz. On one occasion he brought Maurice to a pub in Wollaston, Stourbridge, where we drank Ansell's bitter and talked. I remember Maurice making a flattering comment about my bachelorhood: “How come you ... read more
Outside His Front Door 2007
Maurice's Local 'The Jolly Collier' 2007
Maurice's Living-Room 2011

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two December 10th 2020

I like my beer, and I like a good pub. By far my favourite watering-hole in Ho Chi Minh City is the Winking Seal at 50 Đặng Thị Nhu in District 1. I am not sure how I discovered this pub because it’s hidden away in a side street that I would never normally traverse. Anyway, I found it, was delighted and go there frequently. A good pub must have decent beer, a pleasant ambience, good service and fair prices. The Winking Seal ticks all these boxes. It serves a range of tasty ‘craft’ beers, is beautifully decorated, has excellent bar staff and two happy hours – from 6pm until 8pm and from 10pm until midnight – when pints of beer are half price. I go there between 6pm and 8pm to drink ‘Bohemian Bastard IPA’. ... read more
The Beautiful Interior (with Dumbwaiter Reflected in Mirror)
The Tiled Bar
From the Street

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two December 7th 2020

Xmas in Vietnam is a far cry from Xmas in England. An English Xmas is intrinsically wedded to cold weather but Vietnam, on December 25th, is hotter and drier than the English summer. Although Xmas is celebrated here to some extent, the Vietnamese do not understand the Christian traditions on which Xmas is based. This is a Buddhist country, and the biggest festival is Tet, the Lunar New Year, which occurs in February. The Xmas trees and Santa suits that one sees in Vietnam as December 25th approaches are a reflection of Vietnamese joie de vivre and business savvy. The Vietnamese have no idea who Father Xmas is or that Baby Jesus was born on Xmas Day; no, Xmas, for them, is an excuse to make merry and, for shopkeepers, to make some extra money. No ... read more
Drunken Birds Victorian Xmas Card
Murdering Frog Victorian Xmas Card
The Sort of Card I Sent This Xmas: Girls Wearing Ao-Dài

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two November 26th 2020

Diego Maradona is dead. One of the greatest footballers of all time – perhaps the greatest – died yesterday, November 25th, in Buenos Aires at the age of 60. Nine ambulances arrived to try and revive him after he was found lifeless, apparently from a heart attack, shortly before midday at his rented home. Maradona had been recovering from brain surgery. The Argentinian President has decreed three days of national mourning to “honour the memory of Diego Armando Maradona … the best football player in the world and a person who made Argentinians immensely happy.” At least one million people are expected to march past Maradona’s coffin tomorrow while he lies in state at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires. The life of Maradona has been documented to the nth degree, so I am ... read more
World Cup Winner 1986
Dribbling His Way Through England 1986
Winning the Scudetto with Napoli 1987

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two November 21st 2020

I have just counted my shirts. I possess 66. A ridiculous number. Is 66 symbolic – the Mark of the Shirt Beast? My shirt collection stretches back into antiquity. I have one white cotton shirt which I bought in Silver’s, a posh menswear shop in Reading, in the early 1980’s. I bought it in a sale. A posh-sounding label - ‘The Paris House Collection’ - is sewn beneath the collar, and it has a unique feature (unique, that is, to my shirt collection): after you do up the buttons, they are hidden from view. Ancient it may be, but it remains my best white shirt. I wore it a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s wedding. That is my oldest shirt, and the fact that it has lasted all these years attests to its quality. ... read more
Blue Polo: Nha Trang 2007
Orange Polo: Accra 2008
Green Polo: Nha Trang 2007

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two November 3rd 2020

In his poem, The Municipal Gallery Revisited, W. B. Yeats revisits the Dublin Municipal Art Gallery and contemplates the portraits of people he has known – Augusta and Robert Gregory, Hugh Lane, John Millington Synge and a few others. He concludes: You that would judge me, do not judge alone This book or that, come to this hallowed place Where my friends' portraits hang and look thereon; Ireland's history in their lineaments trace; Think where man's glory most begins and ends, And say my glory was I had such friends. I have always liked this poem, especially the idea that a person should be judged by the quality of his friends. It reminds me of what my mother used to say: ‘Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are’. Well, my HCMC bedroom ... read more
Chris and Yvonne
Derek in an Aswan Spice Shop
Graham Burgess in My Reading House

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two October 30th 2020

Most good short story texts can be found on the internet. Two exceptions are ‘To See the Sun’, Kingsley Amis’s brilliant vampire short story, and ‘Mysteries of the Heart’ by Nigel Hinton. I came across ‘Mysteries of the Heart’ years ago, before the internet age, in an English text book. It impressed me so much I copied it out word for word on to my computer. It is perfect for young teenagers, and I have used it many times in my teaching. To this day, the text of ‘Mysteries of the Heart’ cannot be found on the internet, so I have decided to post it here – in the hope that an English teacher stumbles across it and decides to use it. Hinton is prolific – the author of over 20 texts, mainly teenage fiction – ... read more

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