A Travellerspoint blog

THIEN MOUNTAIN PAGODA

The teachers take a tour at a nearby pagoda

During the month of April, 2013, we had 3 days off work due to 3 public holidays. On our first day off myself and the 3 other teachers, Iris, Siena, and Raisa decided to go to Thien An Mountain Pagoda. The ride to the mountan was only 15 minutes from where we live. At the top of the mountain, is an ancient pagoda which was built in 1695. The pagoda is also the site of the tomb of Huynh Thuc Khan. Huyn Thuc Khang (1876-1947) was a famous scholar and journalist and the acting president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In addition there are the tombs of the monks. Here is several pictures I took at the Pagoda. The days was topped of perfectly by an awesome barbequed chicken dinner with Mrs. Thao and her family.

Posted by Rhondalee 09:31 Comments (0)

Son My aka My Lai and My Khe Beach

a daylong outing

Towards the end of February we decided that we should all go to My Khe Beach which is approximately a half hour bus ride from where we live. Along the route to the beach was the My Lai Memorial which we all wanted to visit. I believe that all of us knew before going that what we would see would be upsetting but it was something we felt we must do. Having travelled through Asia over the last seven years and knowing how friendly the people are that I've met and how beautiful and peaceful the countryside is, it was even hard for me to fathom, the massacre that took place on March 16th /68. At that time I was only 12 years old but I still remember the picture of the young girl running from the village. I have included some pictures that I took at Son My,pictures of the grounds and the memorial but I have chosen not to includeany of the pictures of the massacre as I feel if someone really wants to see the aftermath of that assault on March 16th, they could easily find what they wish to find through the Internet.

After visiting My Son, we headed to My Khe beach which is seven kilometres of sandy beach which was virtually desserted. The waves were high and the water was cool. When we arrived we saw a couple of cows heading towards the beach to see what they could scrounge up to eat. The sand, as you will see from the pictures is pure white. We all had an amazing seafood dinner; for five of us it came to twenty five dollars US. As I write this, I am planning to go to My Khe Beach in early May. My students tell me that the water is 28 celcius....I can surely handle that.

Of course, as noted by my colleagues, I would stand out like a sore thumb.....however that does not bother me, I was more concerned where I could leave my valuables and my camera while I went swimming as I would be going solo. I discussed this with one of my students and she assured me that I can leave my valuables with the staff at the hotel...

Posted by Rhondalee 08:12 Comments (0)

HUE VIETNAM - TET 2013

Mini Vacation in Vietnam during TET

sunny 36 °C

The school was closed down for a period of 18 days and I decided that instead of spending the whole time in Quang Ngai, that I should use this opportunity to visit another part of Vietnam since this was going to be the longest trek of time I was going to have off for the remainder of my contract. I decided that I would like to go to Hue, the old capital of Vietnam which is also a world UNESCO heritage site. Since I did not know until the last minute that our holiday was going to be several days less than originally planned I spent my last day in Quang Ngai doing lesson planning…actually I was up until 1:00 a.m. in the moring and only had 4 hours sleep and then I had to get up to get the train that would take me to Hue.

This was my first experience on a train in Vietnam and because it was the TET holiday it was packed. Unfortunately, I was not able to get some of the better seats on the way down, but on the way back I had a nice comfortable seat with air con. Although I had air conditioning, the seating was quite uncomfortable. It was like sitting on a narrow park bench except that this park bench was sized to fit 3 people but I had to share my seat with 3 other people. There was airconditiioning but at times it was quite cool and I was glad that I had brought a shawl with me. I had envisioned that I would be able to take in some beautiful scenery, but I could barely keep my eyes opened, although I did not fall asleep, my eyes were quite heavy. I was able to see at times the mist rising off the rice paddy fields as the sun was making ready to rise.

I had spent several hours trying to decide where I should stay in Hue and I decided to stay at a place called Phong Lan Guest House (12/66 Le Loi Street, Hue - telephone (+84.54)3826255 – 3837897; e-mail phlonglanhue@gmail.com. This guesthouse had very good reviews and it was within my budget. I’m glad to say it was a great little place with very accommodating staff. My stay their included breakfast and the homemade jams were delicious. The only thing I would have liked but, I knew wasn’t available was a pool. However, as it turned out I was really quite busy siteseeing and just meandering about the town and checking out the stores and finding some places to eat.

Hue was the national capital of Vietnam until 1945 when the emperor at the time abdicated and a communist government was established in Hanoi. During the Tet offensive (Vietnam War) of 1968, Hue had considerable damage to its building from both the American and communist forces. Fortunately, now many of the buildings are being restored. During this vacation I took many pictures of the sites around Hue. One day I hired a driver for half a day to take me to the various temples. Another day I went with a young from the United States booked a boat trip on the Perfume River. The River ride also stopped us off at a couple of temples and we also had our lunch cooked for us on the boat. The boat also served as the family’s home. Another day I walked to the Citadel and got lost on the way back, but during that adventure found a great little food stall. Boy did the beer go down good.
My trip also included several massages (which were more expensive than in Quang Ngai), but necessary due the long train ride on a crowded bench. I was also able to pick up soGin which I have not yet found in Quang Ngai. Some retail therapy rounded the trip offnicely. The day before I left my tooth started acting up. I had had a root canal done in the Fall in Canada and had a temporary crown put on, but I suspected that some of it had come away. Luckily for me in Vietnam you can go to the pharmacy and get medicatons so I was able to get rid of the infection and about a week later went to see a dentist in Quang Ngai and had a crown put on. I included many pictures of the sites in Hue. Enjoy!

Posted by Rhondalee 00:11 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

TET

A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE TET WITH THE PEOPLE IN THE TOWN THAT IS NOW MY HOME FOR THE NEXT 10 MONTHS

TET, or the Chinese New Year’s is a big deal. I had the opportunity to experience Tet in the community that I now live in For me this a once in a lifetime opportunity. Tet is the time when people get together with family and friends and there is lots of activity going on as the people prepare for Tet. The local supermarket called Co op Market was a zoo. I had taken some pictures of the hustle and bustle inside Co opmart but unfortunately I deleted those pictures in error. I haven’t taken any pictures there since it has not been as busy. I did however, get a few strange looks as I was taking the pictures. However, I also do stand out in a crowd, blond hair which is short, white and freckles.

A week or two before Tet the community is abuzz with activity. All the sidewalks are filled with flowers which people purchase to decorate their homes for Tet or they give them as gifts. There are so many flowers that there is hardly anywhere to walk on the streets. I had taken pictures of this but once again, they were deleted in error.

The café we go to was having a community dinner a few days before Tet and we were invited to attend the meal which was delicious. We were unable to stay for the entire time as we had some classes we needed to get to. However, the music was so loud that there was no way we could teach the students and I ended up playing games with the younger children and my adult class became a free talking class at a nearby café.

When preparing for Tet people buy gifts for each other which is usually food, wine etc. The rationale behind this is that when you have your guests coming to visit you, you have food to offer them. Iris and I were trying to figure out if it would be appropriate to do this for Mrs. Thao. I asked one of my students about this and she told me that if we were going to buy something flowers or food would be appropriate. Iris and I decided that we wanted to arrange our own Tet package for Mrs. Thao and off to the Co op Mart we went and we had lots of fun picking out our Tet gift for Mrs. Thao. Mrs. Thao had hoped to see us early during the Tet holiday but she ended up being so busy with friends and relatives visiting her and her family that we only saw her a couple of times, but she was quite surprised to see the gift we had prepared for her. The students in a couple of my classes took me out for coffee to celebrate Tet and I was invited to go to some of the students homes during Tet, but I told the students that I was not sure if I would be able to visit them as I may be going to Hue, the old capital of Vietnam for a week or so during Tet.

Iris and I stocked up on food because many of the stores would be closed for a few days and some of them for a couple of weeks. Mrs. Thao also made sure that we had some traditional Tet food to experience which she had made herself and brought over for Iris and myself. The other teacher, Siena had left to visit her family in the Phillipines and was also going to be travelling around Asia with her boyfriend. When she returned to Quang Ngai, her boyfriend also arrived and stayed for a couple of weeks.

A day after the school closed Mrs. Thao and the staff at the centre prepared an amazing meal for us at the Centre. Mrs. Thao had a monk do the blessings and he also visited the school and the new site that Mrs. Thao has selected for the new school. However, the monk, felt that the timing was not right to expand the school. This was determined by the age factor of Mrs. Thao and her husband. I take it that the Monk is also a fortune teller.

Early on in the Tet holiday I am still undecided if I should go away for a few days. At times I feel that even though the school is closed there is still much to do on my part. Since Kristina is gone I will be taking over most of her classes and all of those classes are new to me. But then again, I will not have the opportunity to do this again and for me, Tet will be the longest period of time that I will have off for vacation……… I have included some pictures of the feast Mrs. Thao prepared for us at the beginning of the Tet holiday.

Posted by Rhondalee 04:40 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

DANANG AND PREPARING FOR TET

sunny 30 °C

Tet has come and gone now…approximately 6 weeks ago it ended and it nows the dry season aka summer in Quang Ngai.. Mrs Thao really wanted us to stay around for Tet so we could experience the traditional Tet in Vietnam. I was uncertain if I wanted to remain in Quang Ngai during all of the Tet holiday shutdown at the school as I suspected that this would be my longest break for the next year. The school was to have been shut down for 3 weeks, but was later changed to 18 days.

Just before Tet, the end of January 2013 one of the teachers finished her 3 month contract and was going to meet her husband, who is a podiatrist working on an assignment in Mynamar. He works for an NGO and travels to developing countries to train doctors Actually, she met her husband when he was working in Vietnam. After Mynamar they were heading back to Austrailia where she was hoping to start a Masters in linguistics in March of this year. In preparation for her leaving the school, there were a couple of celebrations that took place in her honour. First, I attended a class with this teacher once a week working with customs’ officials. There were about 20 plus custom officials who she met with and they treated us to a delicious meal at a small restaurant. So here we were – about 30 odd people sitting on these little red stools with all the food on the little red tables. The meal was goat meat (yummy), a hot pot with veggies, rice and goat’s, rice, and appetizers.

On the last Saturday of January, Mrs. Thao prepared a special luncheon for this teacher, and boy was the food good. Homemade spring rolls, a dish made with the banana leaf….can’t explain it, but it was delicious along with meat, and seafood. The following day, the last Sunday in January we only taught our morning classes as we were going to take the teacher to Danang where she was going to meet with friends and depart the next day to Mynamar. The plan was to go DaNang so Kristina could drop off her luggage at the guesthouse she was staying at, then go to Hoi An first then back to Danang and finally back to Quang Ngai. Mrs. Thao hired a driver for the day and all of us squished into a van. We stopped part way for lunch and dropped off a couple of people at the Tam Ky airport. It was nice to be the passenger looking at the countryside as we drove towards Dan4fourang.

We were only in Danang for a couple of hours but Kristina commented that Danang has really become developed over the last four years. The beach there is hard to see as walls have been built upby the developers of the private resorts which make it difficult for anyone to see the beach. What I did see of the beach was from the van. The beach at Danang is also known as China Beach from the Vietnam war era. The waves looked rough but the sand was pure white. I heard that it was a good beach to surf at. Once Kristina had dropped off her luggage at the guesthouse we did a bit of shopping at the nearby mall, but I didn’t buy anything. I was hoping that I would see some accessories (earrings, bracelets and necklaces in Hoi An). We did not spend a lot of time in Hoi An as we had to head back to DaNang and then return to Quang Ngai. It was funny being back in Hoi An, especially since it was pretty well a year ago that Tom and I had spent 5 days there….never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be there again in a year, especially as a teacher who would be working for 1 full year in Vietnam. Oh, and I did find some jewllery in Hoi An and also picked up a couple of tops. I have included a few pictures of Danang...some of a baby we saw at one of the stores and a picture of a Pagoda which was right across the street from the guesthouse that Kristina was staying at.

Posted by Rhondalee 04:02 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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