Blogs from Vietnam, Asia


Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City July 23rd 2021

In 2017, I wrote a blog called 'Favourite Words' ( It is quite long, each quotation being accompanied by a comment. This morning, being at a loose end, I decided to write another blog entitled 'Memorable Quotations'. This is similar to the previous one but shorter and containing no commentary. It is a very arbitrary selection, reflecting my interests (chess, boxing, football, literature, movies, education and so on). There is a small amount of overlap, a few quotations appearing in both blogs. There should be something here to please everyone. "I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes." (Jake LaMotta on fighting Sugar Ray Robinson) "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." (Bill Shankly) "A hard man is good to find." ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two July 18th 2021

Every morning, for two months, I would wake up, log on to Facebook and diligently post a short write-up of a favourite movie, accompanied by a picture of the original movie poster. I am passionate about movies and love writing, and this daily target forced me to think hard about which movies have given me most pleasure. It forced me to do research – into Oscars won, critics' reviews, box office success and so forth. It also led to my re-watching a number of movies which I only vaguely remembered. Being semi-retired with loads of free time, I thoroughly enjoyed my little project. My initial list grew organically week by week, as long-forgotten movies suddenly came to mind. I now realize how limited my movie-watching has been. For example, I know next to nothing about French ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two June 28th 2021

In English, the phrase ‘looking forward to’ has a double meaning. It can be neutral in tone - meaning that one is foreseeing something that will happen in the near or distant future; or it can express pleasure – meaning that one is eagerly anticipating some future event. The phrase ‘looking back’ has no such ambivalence; it just means one is remembering something that happened in the past. We human beings are complicated in that we inhabit three time zones: the present, the future and the past. We are alive in the present but remember the past and think about the future. The degree to which we look back or look ahead (I have deliberately not written ‘look forward’) varies from person to person. On the one hand, there are people who live from day to ... read more
As Happy as I've Ever Been - Hayling Island 1961
At Saqqara circa 1986
Throwing Stones at the Red Sea

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two June 26th 2021

My third overseas teaching job was at St Andrew's School (Escuela San Andres) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I found the school very stressful and decided to leave after two years. Before leaving, I was asked to write something for the school magazine, 'Carpe Diem'. Here is what I wrote: Student: Why are you leaving, sir? Don't you like Argentina? Me: I like Argentina but I find St Andrew's a difficult school to teach in. Student: What do you mean? Me: I prefer international schools. I have had this conversation with many students recently. They are curious to know why I am leaving the school after only 2 years. When Carpe Diem asked me to write an article about my time at St Andrew's, I was delighted: I could answer all those students who assume, wrongly, that ... read more
Lago Grey, Torres del Paine
St Andrew's

Asia » Vietnam June 17th 2021

Whilst there are still traditional basket boat weavers, many fishermen have updated their vessels. Modern versions of basket boats use fiberglass, canvas and composite. It was so calming & relaxing as the boat meandered through the small canals of the estuary. The Nipa palms are harvested for so many products including sugar syrup from its floral and fruit stalk; thatching materials, cigarette paper, and construction materials from its leaves; as well as food and dessert from its fruits, the stalks are also good as an aid for learning to swim as they are very buoyant. Nipa palms grow in soft mud and slow moving tidal and river waters that bring in nutrients. The palm can be found as far inland as the tide can deposit the floating nuts. The plant will survive occasional short term drying ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two June 15th 2021

Some time ago I wrote blogs about my tie and shirt collections. Now I’m going to write about my shoes. I have large wide feet, have never owned a car or motorcycle, have not cycled for over 40 years and love walking. Therefore selecting and wearing the right shoes is important for me – much more important than wearing a tie. Ties are purely ornamental, whereas shoes are functional. Next to the front door of our HCMC apartment are two shoe racks. One houses my wife’s shoe collection – mainly fashion shoes, most of which she never wears, but including one pair of sturdy sandals I bought her 15 years ago. She rarely puts them on because they are functional, not pretty, and this is why they have lasted so long. The other rack houses my ... read more
My Posh Black Shoes
Our Shoe Racks
Me Wearing Clark's Sandals circa 1982

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two June 3rd 2021

A little Facebook project of mine recently was to post photos of my favourite LP covers. I am semi-retired with time on my hands, so every day I ransacked my memory, did some internet research and wrote a spiel for each cover. Little challenges like this keep an old man’s brain ticking! Now I have gathered all my spiels together, starting with ‘Sergeant Pepper’. There is no space for all the cover pictures, so I have selected only the first 11. The following paragraphs are what I wrote on Facebook. I miss my old vinyl LP’s. In particular, I miss the artwork on the front of the sleeve. An LP sleeve was, roughly, 31 cms by 31 cms square – room enough for eye-catching art. Compare this with a CD case – 12 cms by 12 ... read more
Sticky Fingers.
London Calling

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast May 20th 2021

From time to time, to keep me occupied in my semi-retirement, I decide to do a theme on Facebook. In the past I’ve featured self-portraits, mythological paintings and LP covers. I’ve just come to the end of my latest theme: favourite movie actors. I have posted one actor each day for 22 days. My selection includes both superstars and lesser-known actors. It seems a pity not to post my opinions as a single article, so here it is – a compilation of all my Facebook eulogies. They are in no particular order, except for the first one and the last one. I decided to begin with John Wayne, the greatest star of my favourite genre, the western. And I finished with Alec Guinness, whom I consider the greatest of all movie actors. My criteria for selection ... read more
Alastair Sim
Clint Eastwood
Alan Bates

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two April 14th 2021

Fiddling around on Youtube this morning, I entered ‘British black and white movies’ and came across a movie called ‘Obsession’ (aka ‘The Hidden Room’) which I had never heard of. I looked it up on imdb, where it receives a 7.3 rating and some enthusiastic reviews. I’ve just finished watching it and am mightily impressed. It is a little gem, an old-fashioned movie with no special effects, relying solely on plot, acting, dialogue and direction. I was especially taken by the acting of Robert Newton. I knew him previously from ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘Oliver Twist’, where he plays rather melodramatic larger-than-life villains (Long John Silver and Bill Sykes respectively), but here he is understated and naturalistic. The ace detective, Superintendent Finsbury, played by Naunton Wayne, is also good - a model of calm logic and a ... read more
US Poster
The Hidden Room

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two March 28th 2021

Yesterday I was reminded of T. A. Coward when I came across a photo of a Great Bustard. As a schoolboy bird-watcher, I used to possess T. A. Coward’s magnum opus, The Birds of the British Isles and Their Eggs (first published in 1920–25). The complete book was in three volumes, and I had two (the third volume, being concerned with migration and habits, was surplus to my requirements). These volumes were the grandest and bulkiest bird books in my collection and did much to fire my interest in ornithology. According to one authority, Coward’s book “did more to popularise the study of birds than any other publication produced during the first part of the twentieth century". It was not so much the text that captivated me but the illustrations by the Scottish artist, Archibald Thorburn. ... read more
Great Bustard (with Trademark Whiskers)
T. A. Coward's Magnum Opus 1929

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