Blogs from District Two, Ho Chi Minh City, Southeast, Vietnam, Asia - page 5


Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two March 4th 2020

This is a BBC radio play that I came across circa 1980 while teaching in the UK. I used it with considerable success in the classroom. Unfortunately, nobody apart from me seems to have any knowledge of it. I have written a separate blog about this fine play - about how, in 2017, I rediscovered the old reel-to-reel tape in a box in my Reading bedroom, and then brought it back with me to HCMC, where I had it digitized. There is no reference to the play on the internet - let alone a copy - so I have written down the text myself. This was a long and laborious process - listening to snatches of dialogue, then writing them down - but I enjoyed it. What kept me going was the thought that I was ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two February 24th 2020

After the drama of Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder on December 1st 2018, the boxing world was licking its lips in anticipation of the rematch. Would Wilder’s explosive right hand, which had saved his bacon in that epic draw, now propel him to a knock-out victory? My favourite pundit, Mike Costello of the BBC, thought so. Wilder was in tremendous physical condition and, after being surprised by Fury’s ring craft in the first fight, would now have the measure of his man. I went along with Costello. There were only two possible outcomes, I figured: a points victory for Fury or a KO for Wilder. Fury’s boast - that he would knock out Wilder, a man who had never been knocked out and had been floored only once – sounded absurd. No, Wilder was a knockout ... read more
King Fury
Deontay 'Sauron' Wilder
Wilder Floored

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

I have long admired compound adjectives. They can be succinctly functional, as in an "ill-conceived plan" or a "man-eating tiger", or excitingly poetic, as in Yeats’s wonderful line: That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea. Some compound adjectives, such as "ill-conceived" and "man-eating", are frequently used and therefore catalogued in the dictionary, but a writer can create compound adjectives that are entirely new – such as "dolphin-torn" and "gong-tormented". The number of possible compound adjectives is infinite; just take two adjectives, or a noun and an adjective, or a noun and a verb, and yoke them together with a hyphen. Compound adjectives have a special place in English grammar – they are grammatically correct yet, because of their infinite variety, are outside the scope of a dictionary. As an English teacher, I ... read more
Thomas Hardy
Philip Larkin
W. B. Yeats

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

In recent years, during Tet (the Chinese/Vietnamese New Year), I’ve made a habit of sailing down the Mekong from Vietnam to Phnom Penh. Being married to a Vietnamese woman means I am duty-bound to accompany her to Tan Chau, her home town in An Giang Province, to celebrate Tet. Not being Vietnamese, a full week of Tet can be slightly boring, so I spice things up by sailing down the river to Phnom Penh. The Hang Chau boat emanates from Chau Doc but stops at the Cambodian border for passport formalities, and that is where I pick it up. After clearing Cambodian immigration, the boat takes three hours to reach Phnom Penh – a delectable journey through the countryside and beneath the eye-catching Neak Loeung Bridge. Phnom Penh, especially the area next to the river and ... read more
New Year Pigs About To Be Roasted
Intoxica Bar Girls

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

I’ve just written about the gorgeous flowers all over Ho Chi Minh City during Tet. Now I’m going to write a short piece about the lovely flowering shrub on our balcony. I don’t think I’m an anthophile (from ‘anthos’ the Greek word for flower) - an insect which feeds exclusively on flowers or a person who loves flowers to excess - but I do enjoy flowers. I don’t like watering them and tending them (I leave that to my wife) but I like looking at flowers and, if they are fragrant, smelling them. The ultimate flower is one which looks gorgeous and smells gorgeous. The frangipani tree springs to mind. Indigenous to the Americas, it is now common all over South East Asia. The word ‘frangipani’ is a modification of the Italian ‘frangipane’, which takes its ... read more
Hoa Kính Thủy

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two January 6th 2020

I was reminded of tits by an email I received from Derek Evans, my twitcher pal in England. In it he listed all the bird species he had seen during 2019. Five species of tits were mentioned: Blue Tits, Great Tits, Willow Tits, Marsh Tits and Long-Tailed Tits. I wrote back asking him about the absence of Coal Tits and await his reply. Just in passing, before I begin my main article, let me say something about the capitalization of bird species. Derek, a seasoned ornithologist and English teacher, has instructed me to capitalize the names of birds; however, it seems odd to me to write ‘Blue Tit’ when for animal names the lower case is used. Anyway, I’m going to defer to Derek and follow his advice in this article. In common English parlance, ‘tits’ ... read more
Long-Tailed Tit
Great Tits
Coal Tit

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two December 19th 2019

I am currently teaching an 11-year-old Korean boy who enjoys the short stories of Roald Dahl. I gave him an assignment - to write either a prequel or a sequel or an alternative ending to one of the stories we have discussed. As an example, I wrote my own alternative ending to 'The Landlady', which is my favourite Roald Dahl short story. I wrote it with my student in mind - using uncomplicated vocabulary. If you don't know 'The Landlady', I suggest you read it before you read my alternative ending. It is a horror story intended for adult readers which first appeared in The New Yorker magazine in 1959. I have been using it with students since 1976. Here is my alternative ending. The opening words - in bold - are copied from Roald Dahl's ... read more
Billy Weaver and The Landlady (TV Adaptation)
Roald Dahl
The Landlady with the Murder Weapon

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two December 4th 2019

Occasionally I come across a new poem that takes my breath away. 'Canoe' by Keith Douglas is one such: Well, I am thinking this may be my last summer, but cannot lose even a part of pleasure in the old-fashioned art of idleness. I cannot stand aghast at whatever doom hovers in the background: while grass and buildings and the somnolent river, who know they are allowed to last forever, exchange between them the whole subdued sound of this hot time. What sudden fearful fate can deter my shade wandering next year from a return? Whistle and I will hear and come again another evening, when this boat travels with you alone toward Iffley: as you lie looking up for thunder again, this cool touch does not betoken rain; it... read more
River Thames at Iffley

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two November 19th 2019

Our HCMC bedroom is festooned with photos from the many phases of my life; blu-tacked to every available bit of wall space are photos of myself, my parents, my friends and places I've visited. I recently wrote about the best photos I ever took and the best ones ever taken of me. In that essay I singled out three photos taken by yours truly; now, a week later, I’ve decided to write about two more. None of the photos in my previous essay celebrates my ordinary everyday life as a youth or young man in Reading UK. This was a very happy time – when I lived, either permanently or off and on, in the family house at No.36 Hatherley Road. After school in Reading, I spent three years at Leeds University but used to reoccupy ... read more
The Author in His Hatherley Road Bedroom Circa 1986

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two October 20th 2019

Browsing the secondhand book stalls in HCMC, I spotted ‘Nerve’ by Dick Francis and bought it for 70,000 VND ($3). Before handing over my money, I read the blurb and the opening sentence to see if I’d already read it. I wasn’t sure but thought I hadn’t. I also checked the date of first publication, which was 1964 - a good sign, because early Dick Francis books are best. As soon as I began reading, I realized I’d read it before. I remembered the basic plot but could not recall the villain’s motivation for destroying jockeys’ reputations, so I carried on reading and finished it in a day. Most enjoyable. Now, a few hours later, while the plot is still fresh in my mind, I want to set down my thoughts on the book and the ... read more
Dick Francis the Jockey with Princess Margaret, Queen and Queen Mother
His Last Novel (Before Collaborating with His Son)

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