Da Lat

Cathie visited in late September 2012 and we took a trip to the highland city of Da Lat – another 8 hour drive, you can also fly so it turned out, a tad quicker, but then you don’t get to see the sights.

It is simply a lovely area, over 1000m so no humidity, much like the highland areas of Sri Lanka.

Here are three slides shows.

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Mui Ne

In early September 2012 I decided on a weekend trip to see the sand dunes of the coastal area of Mui Ne, this turned out to be a bit more time consuming than I expected. I turned up at 8am at the tourist office in HCMC and eventually boarded a bus, which was a normal local bus….all very interesting, comfortable and with a few stops as it took 7 hours to trek the 200klms!!

The bus weaved its way in and out, passing regularly on the outside into the on coming traffic, and this was a wall of traffic and on one occasion an inside route around some slow moving truck.

I was dropped on the side of the road not the resort I had booked….fortunately I saw a sign and walked the 1k in the hot sun and hot and flustered when I arrived, but the room was sunning and the view beautiful, after a walk on the beach and dinner I got set for an early start – 4am to see the sunrise over the sand dunes.

Two wake up calls got me into the jeep at around 4:15 am, and off we set, with me jammed up the back bouncing around – no seat belts, but running commentary of what we will see – and suddenly there the dunes were, a great expanse of sand inland by about 10kms and the seen was magical, as you will see in the slide show below.
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At around 6:30am we set off to see the local beach scenes and have breakfast, this was some glutenous prawn things but I liked them and consumed plenty. The locals were out in force – best part of the day as boy did it get hot around midday.

The fishing scenes were great, see the pics, all the traditional boats, the round ones included and much activity on the beach, and everyone was so friendly.

The final things was a walk up a creek to look at some interesting erosion and colours of the sand and cliffs were striking.

Off back to the resort and then a 7 hour trip home – all terrific, next time I will take the train, it is only 4 hours.

 

First Visits Down Town Ho Chi Mich City

I live in a resort called the Riverside, right next to the Saigon River, initially I was in a third floor apartment, the a ground floor with a garden view and now we have a ground floor with panoramic views of the river out cover our sliding door to the patio – the river is less than 10m away, as is the bar.

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The above slide show I think needs Flash MAC people! The pictures of the rive and boats is what happens all day and night, endless traffic and the sunset can as picturesque as any place on earth. There are some views of the down town – the Cathedral and on of the tangle of Internet cables which adorn every intersections.

The following two slideshows are just more of the city and surrounds, the hustle and bustle of Sai Gon and the mass of bikes is hard to comprehend at first. There are also some cloud and sunset pics – I am told I over do these, but like Tuner the colours and patterns of the light in the sky are endlessly fasinating.

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This blog entry brings me to about mid-September when I made a visit to the Mekong via Mr Son’s taxi.

The Mekong is just amazing, a place of wilderness, vast tracts of water, canals dating back thousands of years, French developments, all sorts of plants and animals, many only found in the Mekong. It is home to the Charm people who as Islamic and date back 2000 years when they colonised from Indonesia and at that time were influenced by the Indian religions. They lost power and influence in the mid-1400’s, but there building legacies lives on as we shall see in a latter blog about My Son.

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I did the standard tour, all very interesting. The low boat is carry sand dredged from the river and is bound for Singapore’s beaches!

 

 

Reflection on first year in Vietnam

I started this a year ago and never finished the first line, what follows is a bit of a short summay of the first year.

I have started a new job as Director of Technology at the International School of Ho Chi Mnh City, August 2012. On my own, Cathie will join me after Xmas. Settling in to a new set of surroundings is always difficult, but the only way is to get out and about. On waking I was greeted with the most beautiful sun rise over the wide expanse of the Saigon River, which slowly meandered along past my third floor balcony view…..the school had put me up in a resort next to the school, after a short flirtation with the idea of living in the community, I eventually found myself ensconced in a lovely one bedroom apartment.

The most difficult adjustment for me was simply the humidity, i just resembled a tap and whilst keen to get out and look around i quickly found that I needed to change my approach. To give you an example, I am used to shopping locally at home in Melbourne and whilst there is a small shop on site I wanted to visit the local supermarket, I chose the one across the double lane highway, four lanes each way! I had read that to cross a road just walk out and the bikes will avoid you, I don’t recall the advice including what to do about cars, cement trucks, buses and huge lorries stacked with all many of things. So, i observed for a while, there was a tricky set of lights where bikes lined up waiting for a green light, but this only applied to some many just rode into the oncoming traffic, and when the light turned green, there was much anticipation of this event, the riders would sweep around and across the road in a rather frantic but well organised charge. I then noticed some locals who seemed to share my trepidation, so I sidled up and used what I been taught in Rome to use a human shield to cross the road, well obviously we all made it and by using the more or less walk straight out technique, but not when crazy bus or lorry drivers where in abundance….lesson 1 learnt use common sense.

The supermarket called Metro is a wholesale place, and for businesses, but as an expat I got in after much gesticulation and by handing over my drivers license, i am always wary handing over cards of any sort for fear I may never see them again! I need not have worried as the card was returned with a huge smile and a delightful and respectful ushering towards a lady dressed in traditional dress who scanned my card and who instructed me in perfect English…don’t lose that and show when paying….ok I said.

I love a good shop, and the place had aircond – putting aside environmental concerns as to where the power came from – I had a ball looking around and buying some cheap local beer, some wine and nothing to eat. I then set off back across the road back to my apartment, about 30 minutes, and it is something I have never done again: dangerous and dehydrating ensuring the beer was quickly consumed.

I have since discovered taxis are excellent and affordable, there is free bus and a boat into the city, And also a bus service that goes to the aforementioned Metro, all included in the rental charge, which I must admit is tad high, but then I do have a bar 10m away out my back door: there is also a pool, gym and tennis courts, I did venture into the gym once, no twice, the first time made ill and the second confirmed the feeling, so,I adopted Oscar Wilde’s suggestion …when I feel the urge to exercise I rest on a bed until the urge passes…seems good advice to me.

The first days at school where uneventful, I have seen it all before, I was asked to talk briefly to the staff and I did so, only person to do so without a bloody powerPoint, One person came up latter and said to me..thanks for your nice little talk we were reassured…she left it at that, and I was a bit perplexed as to whether I had reassured the staff I was another IT dick head or somebody that was about meeting their needs, thankfully it turned out to be the latter. I won’t go into details, but the year turned out to be one of fixing things e.g. Network, getting new servers, doing a budget and starting the process of accountability for expenditure based on clearly stated educational and administrative objectives, qualitative and quantitative ones..the idea of objectives and plans did seem to strange to many it seemed. Apparently it had been a case of, if you want something fill in a PO (purchase order ) and you get it…i said that is not budgeting or planning is it? Anyway, much was achieved in the first year and all of the credit goes to the highly skilled IT team, by far the best I have worked with by a country mile.

I tend to use colloquial Aussie language with a liberal sprinkling of rhyming slang picked up mostly from Dad, and also wise sayings I learnt from a Yorkshireman who told me when I was computer sales rep..if you want to know how somebody thinks find out how they get paid..i will return to that idea in a subsequent blog about Budgeting and Planning.

The IT team operates as a respectful family, this is their core value, we help each other and I quickly learnt that what was important was the outcome not necessarily the process, Vietnamese have there ways of doing things and these work, well mostly, but ways certainly do not work all the time either!

I have taken it upon myself to try and explain a few of my sayings, this is usually meet with much laughter and obvious …what is he talking about…., here is an example:

Running with the hares and hounds….this necessitated a discussion of the practice of the upper landed classes in England fox and hare hunting, in the end the general idea of two bob each way or having your cake and eating it, was understood, and yes there are always plenty of examples in schools, deputy heads responsible for staff welfare, for instance, rarely stand up to the Head, in fact one of my pet hates is bosses who will not disagree with their boss or bosses.

The year ended and for some reason know only to the good Lord or rock spirit or the cat fish the parent company decided it would install a new admissions system during the June and July the busiest period, do a timetable without reference to room numbers or student choices and to cap it of install a new student admin system the week before school starts without the timetable being complete. Dick Head Andy pointed out, I must say it was one of my better direct missives, that this was all likely to end in tears, put people under undue stress, against all principles of IT projects and straight bloody idiotic, possibly the last word was what got the powers in a flap, who knows and I don’t much care.

The above necessitated a new saying … there is whiff of dick head in the air … Seemed to bring much mirth to a few people I used it with.

Fortunately because of pure luck, the professionalism of the teachers and the remarkable tolerance of the kids, othe kids are in classes happy and being taught, the IT staff worked three weeks straight including weekends otherwise this fairy start would not have happened.

My dear wife tells me I have an ability to predict the future, in so far as that maybe the case, it is a curse rather than a blessing as they say.

The following blogs will concentrate on our many trips and all the wonderfully positive things we have experienced, I hope you get some enjoyment reading each…there will be pics too! Love to all.

Dealing with it

Today I have been listening to music to spark the mind, to lift the curtain. My mother who was a classically trained musician introduced me to Handle’s Messiah and Mozart’s Great Mass Cm and the Requiems – in Dm and others. If you are keen you canĀ  listen via YouTube.

Great Mass in Cm

Handel’s Messiah Chorus

These are uplifting, whilst celebrating Christ it is hard not to be emotional involved when listening, at least this is what happens to me and I am an atheist, but as someone said to me recently you are spiritual. I also listened to some Wagner – the old joke being “Does you name start with a V Mr Wagner, IX W”, anyway, I have always fund his music confronting almost brutal, in modern terms he was heavy metal – the Overture to the Flying Dutchman being a good example: Overture

Wagner had some odd views, the existence of inferior races being one, and his musicĀ  adopted by the person responsible for the greatest world tragedy yet. It raises the question, which Derrida et al. posited that “there is nothing but the text”, this is the basis of post-modernism, in that literary works can be interpreted and deconstructed in multiple ways, each of equal validity. I have always puzzled on this, Tolstoy as I understand him argued that artistic works, primarily literature I guess, has a serious purpose and the writer should try to communicate clearly, he reportedly was most put out when readers or critics did not interpret his writing the same way he did – play writes like David Williamson are the same . You can image Tolstoy saying to Derrida “You can stick your multilayered post structural analysis – I mean what I say and that is that, there is no other valid interpretation”.

Bob Dylan did not want to be held up as a beacon of rebellion, he reacted against being included into the protest and political movements – I think he was probably saying I am free to write what I write: you are free to interpret in whatever way you wish – Blown in the Wind and Time They are a Changing being the two most adopted songs by the left.

It is interesting when you view a painting, it affects you – or at least some do, it is clearly subjective, but on the other hand how come experts can decide what is a good and bad painting. Doesn’t this imply some level of objectivity, but it is clearly different to the objectivity of Science. All that is happening with art critics is a kind of power over what you should think, hence we had Picasso et al. saying no, the old masters where fine but art is about…..well about what?

My first blog for a while, if you have got this far I am going to update the recent travels and possibly you will find something there, and maybe in what I said above, which is purely my opinion. Love to all.