Page 5 of Rat on the Road Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong » Cat Ba Island July 29th 2009

Yes. I'm 30. Three whole decades since I appeared in a maternity hospital called Little Thorpe in County Durham on a hot July day in 1979. I had a double chin and weighed in at 9 pounds. My weight hasn't changed much since then, I just got longer. I doubt that back in 1979 anyone guessed I'd spend my 30th birthday as an English teacher in north Vietnam. For a start, I doubt many people in the west imagined a future in Vietnam in those days. And then there were the career options. Firstly, by chance of geography I might have been a coal miner like my dad, his dad and his dad's dad...but I wanted to be a sailor. "A captain of a big ship" in fact. I even signed up (or I thought I ... read more
work birthday party
Some of the Apollo staff
Cat Ba Sunrise resort

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong July 3rd 2009

Feelin' hot, hot, hot So it's the summer now. And it's hotted up. A lot. It's got up to the temperatures we were used to in Bangkok, complete with all the associated pleasures like constantly being covered in sweat. Unlike when we taught in Bangkok, here we have air con in the bedroom - which makes it so much easier to sleep. And, of course, we also have air con at work. The couple of times when it has broken has given us a big appreciation for anyone who teaches here without air con. 28 degree and humid, shirt and tie, a class full of pre-teens who haven't yet been introduced to deodorant......marking their books as a bead of sweat drips off your nose and smudges their work...... I'll leave it to your imagination. So ... read more
Kris advertising Apollo's summer programme
Kris and his team
Welcome to Cat Ba!

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong May 28th 2009

I took these photos on a walk from our house to Apollo, to give you some idea of what we see each day. When you do it all the time you stop seeing some of the most unusual sights and and it all becomes more normal. Taking photos of everything opened my eyes again to the fascinating place we live in. ... read more
A sign on the wall just past the school
Belly dancing Sadie
All of these little bottles have fish in them

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City May 3rd 2009

War and Peace On the 30th of April 1975 the Vietnam War ended and the two halves of the country - north and south - became one. As such, the 30th is now a national holiday know as Reunification Day. As this fell on a Thursday the holiday was extended from Thursday to Sunday. As Tuesday and Wednesday are our normal days off we got a 6 day holiday. We booked a flight to Ho Chi Minh City and became tourists again! More on the war later... Looking for a girl with long dark hair in old Saigon... We booked a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (from here on I'll use it's old name cos it's shorter) in advance and also arranged an airport pick-up to avoid the hassle of trying to get a proper ... read more
The view from the 6th floor
The old presidential palace

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong April 28th 2009

Time for an update I think, so here goes. A rag tag mix of recent events... It's in two parts. Here goes part one..... Haiphong Medical University English Festival!!! In our kids classes on Saturdays and SUndays we occasionally have a teaching assistant to help out. This is basically someone Vietnamese who can help out with low level classes and translate some instructions to the kids. Or to help stop them killing each other - whichever is a priority at the time. Anyway, most teaching assistants are students and it's their part time job at the weekend. 2 women in particular are medical students - Tao and Trang (pronounced Chang). It turned out recently that Tao and Trang were organising an English language competition at their university and needed some native speakers to help out. So ... read more
Preparing the MC speeches
One of the performers
The quiz

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong March 27th 2009

More about work Kate Weekdays We have been working here for 3 months now; it has really flown by. Work is good. We are enjoying the teaching and by and large our students are lovely. We recently had our schedules moved about so that we could have our weekends together. This has been great, because it means we can go away at the weekends - to Hanoi or other places in the surrounding area. We like living in Haiphong but it's nice to get away sometimes and go somewhere we were are not the most amazing thing that people have seen that day, and where there isn't a risk of people screaming when we walk past (this has really happened). We now teach from Thursday to Monday, and have Tuesday and Wednesday as our 'weekend'. On ... read more
Susan from ABC class 5A
ABC class 4A waiting for the lesson to start
....some of them not so patiently!

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Quảng Nam » Hoi An February 4th 2009

The Tet - Lunar New Year - holiday brought with it a gift of a week's holiday from work. Never ones to pass up the opportunity to explore, we decided to spend a few days down in Hoi An, on the Central coast. We flew down from Hanoi to Danang with Jetstar Asia at a very good price, and took a taxi to remaining 30km from Danang to Hoi An. Hoi An is a pretty riverside town and a World Heritage site, which grew from it's position as a major trading port from the 2nd century. The influence of all the traders is evident all around the town. Many of the houses are of the same colonial style that we saw in Luang Prabang in Laos, two story houses with balconies, both painted yellow and in ... read more
Boat on the riverside
Lazing by the pool with a beer
One of the colonial style buildings

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong January 23rd 2009

Tet - Lunar New Year in Vietnam Tet is basically the same celebration as Chinese New Year, but as this is not China, it has a different name. The time of year varies depending on the moon, and this year it fell at the end of January. The week or so running up to New Year seemed really hectic, everyone was cleaning their houses and tying up loose ends. They start decorating their houses with red decorations, which are thus for sale on every street corner. Since the New Year is the Year of the Buffalo/Ox, various Ox gifts and decorations were for sale everywhere. Have a look at the photos to see what kind of random things you could buy. The shops were mental, just like prior to Christmas, people were buying up the ... read more
Peach blossom branches for sale in the streets of Haiphong
Lantern festival
Yen gets the top prize in the Apollo Lucky Money event

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong January 20th 2009

This blog may seem a bit disjointed and doesn't really follow any chronological's just a few snapshots from our last few weeks in our new home... House-warming the flat As we pointed out in a previous blog - with pictures - we moved into 1 bedroom flat in Haiphong just before Christmas. Once the festive season (as much as there was of one in Vietnam..!) had subsided, we decided it was time to toast our new abode with a get-together. So we set about inviting all and sundry. We then found out that we were planning to have our party on the same night that Lisa (a fellow teacher, from New York) was planning to have her leaving drinks. Her contract had expired and she was moving on. As things turned out we decided to ... read more
How many people can you fit on one sofa
It's traditional to take off your shoes before going into a house
Kris' new guitar

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong January 7th 2009

Happy New Year from Vietnam So we have said goodbye to 2008 and spent the last few days getting to know 2009. New Year in Vietnam was a little odd. 1st January is an official holiday here so there was some preparation running up to the event. Most of this involved the Abba song "Happy New Year". They played it everywhere. Constantly. You couldn't go to the supermarket or past a shop or even past a car without hearing it. On New Year's Day it was playing out of speakers in the street. I have never heard so much Abba. On 31st December we were working. We teach in the evenings so it was relatively late when we got out. We met some other teachers and students from Apollo and some from a rival school, ... read more
A beer hoi street bar in Haiphong
When Vietnam beat Thailand at football
driving around and around and around

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