Joe Pompei


Joe Pompei

Denver CO residents traveling in SE Asia

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane February 21st 2010

Believe it or not, the 20-hour sleeper bus from Hanoi to Vientiane, Laos was not a wretchedly horrible experience! The bus was clean, warm, and quiet (after they stopped blaring Asian pop Karaoke). We started our journey in Hanoi at 5:30 pm on a Thursday afternoon. In true Vietnamese style, we were shuffled from bus to bus and from one waiting area to another for the next 2.5 hours, so we didn’t actually leave until about 8pm. We stopped for dinner at around 10 p.m. and then finally hit the road hard after that. Joe and I slept on and off all night until about 6:45 a.m. when we were forced to disembark the bus and wait outside in the cold for the border patrol to issue us our Laos visas. We got back on the ... read more
Crossing the border into Laos
Patuxai: Laos' take on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Funny story...

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi February 7th 2010

With tears in our eyes and heaviness in our hearts, Joe and I said our last xin chao on January 28th as we left Hanoi on a 20-hour sleeping bus headed for Vientiane - the capital of Laos. We were both very surprised by how difficult it was to say goodbye to Vietnam when just eight short months ago, we were terrified to enter the country! Each teary goodbye we said made us realize just how much we fell in love with the country and it’s people, and had come to regard it as a real home. The Hanoi Children’s Palace, where Joe and I volunteered one night a week, had a little party for us on our last night of teaching. Each of my little students rushed into the classroom with a beautifully wrapped gift ... read more
Nancy's students in action
Huong and Seim from Apollo

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi December 25th 2009

Joe and I wanted to send everyone a quick note of cheer and warm wishes for the holiday season. It’s somewhat of a bittersweet Christmas for us as we miss our friends, family, and holiday traditions. At the same time, it’s fascinating to see how an Asian country incorporates Christmas and New Years into its culture and quite touching to celebrate hand-in-hand with our new Vietnamese friends. Much to our surprise, the Vietnamese LOVE Christmas. They decorate like crazy and celebrate with abandon! Hanoi is full of lights, fake snow, Christmas trees, and Santa figures. The kids know all the classic Christmas songs and get placed on Santa’s lap for that perfect Christmas-card picture just like kids in the western world. People have Christmas parties and send Christmas greetings to each other (at least we’ve received ... read more
End of the year luncheon at Apollo
End of the year luncheon at Apollo
End of the year luncheon at Apollo

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi October 20th 2009

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, Joe and I have been pretty busy with our new lives as EFL teachers in Hanoi. Good teachers make it look easy, but we’ve found EFL to be full of hard work, endless hours of lesson preparation, screaming children running amok in the classroom, and teenagers who alternate between bored and bitter. We desperately want to be polished, effective, and loved teachers but right now we have to settle for making lots of mistakes and being mediocre language educators - at best. To catch you up on our unfolding adventure, you may recall that we accepted jobs at Apollo English where we completed our CELTA course. The center is just minutes away from our flat. We usually have seven or eight classes per week, one on Wednesday and ... read more
Minh and Duy
The happy couple!

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi September 4th 2009

Well… after numerous sleepless nights, several really bad lessons, a few tears here and there, one stomach flu, a “gazillion” laughs, and about two dozen smiling, warm, loving, and most importantly - forgiving - Vietnamese students, JOE AND I PASSED OUR CELTA COURSE! We now hold a “Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults” and are free to befuddle and perplex even the most talented Vietnamese student. We took the CELTA course at Apollo Education and Training Center in central Hanoi- just steps away from our apartment, and now the location of our new jobs! We had three amazing EFL teachers as our trainers - Nick, Simon, and Claire (all Brits, but we don’t hold that against them …too much). They suffered through a month of ill-conceived, poorly delivered, and sometimes just plain incorrect English lessons, ... read more
Nancy in the classroom
Our CELTA Cohort
Our students, hard at work

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi August 14th 2009

Joe and I are happy to report that Phase I of the Rehumanization tour was a resounding success. In just under two months, we traveled the length of Vietnam - from Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, and Phu Quoc Island in the south to Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay in the north (see forthcoming blogs for stories and pictures from Sapa and Halong Bay). In between, we pedaled across the rolling hills of Dalat, drank beer on the beach in Nha Trang, swam in the still ocean waters off of Quy Nhon, shopped-till-we-dropped in the mercantile mecca of Hoi An, and paid homage to Vietnam’s ancient emperors in the Imperial City of Hue. We saw breathtaking sights on our journey, met hundreds of smiling Vietnamese adults and children, swapped stories with countless sweaty travelers, ... read more
Water Puppet Theater
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi
Bia Hoi Corner in the Old Quarter, Hanoi

Asia » Vietnam » Northwest » Lao Cai » Sapa July 25th 2009

We thought it was about time to catch you up on a few side trips we took when we first hit Hanoi way back in July. Wow- that seems like a life-time ago! Our first excursion out of the city was a 4-day jaunt, by overnight train, to Sapa in northwestern Vietnam. Not knowing any better, we purchased a finely organized but over-priced tour from our hotel. Our journey started at the train station at 9 p.m. where we jumped off platforms and walked through open railroad tracks to get to our train - chuckling all the way about how the concept of personal injury law is non-existent in Vietnam. Joe managed to immediately piss off our first tour companions - an Eastern European mother and her 14 year old daughter - by telling a bad ... read more
Overlooking the city of Sapa, VN
Black H'mong women in Sapa
Black H'mong woman and her baby

Asia » Vietnam July 12th 2009

As many of you know, Joe and I are genuine foodies. Our love of travel has as much to do with all the wonderful food we get to sample as it does with seeing the world and learning about people in different cultures. Vietnam has not disappointed us in our quest to “eat our way around the world.” All of the food here has been exceptional - everything from the gently flavored Vietnamese tea (tra) and the country's bold coffee (ca phe) to the freshest of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, tofu, chicken, and beef. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Vietnam has the most exquisite spring rolls we've ever tasted. So, we thought you might like to hear a little more about the food we’ve been eating and the fun we’ve been ... read more
Fresh grilled squid
Seafood hot pot !
Tuna steaks on the beach!

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Quảng Nam » Hoi An July 12th 2009

Xin Chao, friends! I got a little behind on our blogging, so it’s stretching my memory just a bit to tell you about the ancient city of Hoi An in central Vietnam. I’ll try my best. We were very excited to go to Hoi An because we heard from so many people that it was a very unique and beautiful city. We had a bit of a hellish ride - 7 hours in another cramped and airless mini-van sitting “skin to skin” with people whose body temperatures were so high I expected to see steam. We hadn’t booked a room beforehand, but we got lucky with a wonderful hotel - not overly expensive, very friendly staff, great breakfast, and a swimming pool to cool off during the heat of the afternoon. We aren’t usually interested in ... read more
Hoi An old town
Tran Family House and Chapel
Silk shop in Hoi An old town

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Binh Dinh » Qui Nhon July 1st 2009

As we continued our journey north, we visited two coastal areas in the central portion of Vietnam - first the very popular beach-party city of Nha Trang and then the much quieter, less touristy town of Quy Nhon. We only stayed in Nha Trang for one day, enough time to try the micro-brews at the New Zealand-owned “Louisiane Brew House” - the first microbrewery we’ve seen in Vietnam. For those of you who know Joe well, you won’t be surprised to hear that he was very happy about this particular stop, so much so that he tried nearly every beer on the menu. I was intrigued by the ginger beer brewed with passion fruit and wasn’t disappointed. Very fruity! The next day we got back on a mini-bus (not as comfortable as the big bus) and ... read more
Town beach in Quy Nhon
Colorful fishing boats in Quy Nhon
Joe gets a ride to dinner in Quy Nhon

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