Monday, November 30, 2009

Je me sens creative - a worksheet - 1

Depuis quelques temps je design (comment on dit, en francais, je design? je cree? je fais? je dessine?) des documents dont je me sers pour mes cours. Moi et d'autres d'ailleurs, mes creations ont du succes a l'ecole!!. J'ai decide de vous en mettre une sur le blog de temps en temps, pour vous montrer, un peu. C'est une facon utile et agreable de canaliser mes envie de creer, de dessiner etc...

Ce set la est un jeu de carte de 7 familles pour apprendre les membres de la famille + reviser les couleurs. Je decoupe les cartes et regroupe les eleves en petits groupes de 3 ou 4, et ils jouent aux sept familles... "dans la famille rouge, je voudrais.... la mere!". Comme quand on etait petites, Christelle et moi. Sinon pour les petits bouts de chous qui ne comprendront jamais les regles des 7 familles, je donnerai juste une carte a chacun et il leur faudra trouver le reste de leur famille dans la classe, en courant d'un bout a l'autre et en posant des questions a tout le monde (pas le droit de montrer sa carte, seulement de demander: es-tu rouge?? est-tu le pere?? etc...) la premiere famille reunie a gagne! J'imagine deja le chantier dans la classe Dimanche prochain....

For a little while now I have been designing worksheets and flashcards for my lessons. They are quite successful in the classroom as well as in the teacher's room, and this activity really is a very good creativity outlet.

Today, a set of cards to learn the basic family members. I cut the cards, distribute 3 to 5 to each student and in small groups of 3 to 4, students play "fish" with them.

For the little ones who can't understand rules in English yet, 'll give one card to each pupil and they'll have to run around in the class trying to find the rest of their families, by asking "are you red???? are you the father???" etc...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friendly Vietnamese

I had 30 minutes free before I had to meet Celine so what better way than to enjoy a beer. I found a Bia Hoi place near her school off the main road. This was full of locals with not a tourist in sight. There were no free tables so I went to sit down on one of the small plastic seats that are typical at any kind of street vendor. The old lady who worked there wasn’t having any of that and told me to sit at a table with another guy. He didn’t seem at all bothered that I was now sitting opposite him and we both said our hellos. I ordered a beer and within a minute two of his friends arrived to a table which could at best seat three. There was no look of irritation from any of them and as quick as they arrived they managed to squeeze a spot around the undersized table. They each smiled at me and then chatted away with each other. I couldn’t help but think that in Australia I probably wouldn’t have been as warmly welcomed.

It wasn’t long before they tried to make conversation with me using the few English words they knew. Despite the strong language barriers we were able to have a conversation and all enjoyed a laugh. They offered me some of their food, liver and fermented pork, as well as invite me to play pool. After some explaining they understood that I had to go and pick up my wife and on leaving wouldn’t let me pay a cent. In the space of twenty minutes I had gone from gatecrashing a table to having my bill completely covered. I have seen again and again the friendliness and generosity shown by the Vietnamese since arriving in Vietnam. This is very much a part of their culture and their general way of life. The end result is a great time and a fatter wallet :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dernier cours avec ma classe préférée

Ma classe Inter 1 (la classe de Zuzu) vient de se terminer. C’est triste parce que la plupart des élèves sont maintenant mes amis et je vais passer de les voir tous les deux jours à ne plus les voir du tout. En tout cas pas aussi régulierement, et pas en classe.
On est allé boire un verre dans un bar du vieux quartier, le Design cafe, qui n’a pas l’air de grand-chose vu de l’exterieur mais qui chache en son sein un étage completement canon, je vous laisse juger par vous-même.

La vie nous plait de plus en plus ici. On aime le fait de pouvoir envisager des choses inenvisageables dans nos pays respectifs, comme de pouvoir prendre des cours de… tout, à prix modeste, ou comme monter un jour notre propre école ici, ou business quel qu’il soit.
Ne vous pressez pas comme des fous pour venir nous voir dans les six mois qui viennent parce que si tout continue sur cette voie…. On n’est pas partis !

Last Friday was my last lesson with my favourite class, so we went out for a few drinks in a small cafe/bar. it didn't look like much from the outside, but once inside, what a lovely setting. You can judge for yourselves with these pictures.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

24 Novembre

Pour mon anniversaire, Dan s’est reveillé aux aurores pour aller au marché et y a acheté des fruits et des roses. Avec les fruits il m’a fait un petit-déj salade de fruit sympa et avec les roses il a estompé ma mauvaise humeur de me faire lever à 8h00 du mat !!

Mais se lever tôt à ses avantages : on s’est balladé autour du lac Hoan Kiem à 9 heures, et le paysage est bien plus joli à cette heure matinale.

Ensuite je suis allée me faire faire les ongles – et j’ai trouvé un petit boulot par la même occasion : je vais maintenant donner des cours d’Anglais au staff du salon de beauté, en échange d’un peu de sous et de shampoing-brushing-manucures gratuis J
A midi, Dan et moi sommes allés manger dans un restaurant ridiculement trop luxurieux pour nous, mais ce p…. de Lonely Planet le recommendait comme « budget moyen » : encore une fois, une raison de ne pas se fier à ce guide. Ceci dit la nourriture était absolument délicieuse cuisine ‘fusion’ avec des plats dégustations gourmet 8 etoiles. Un délice.

soupe a la noix de coco


Coquilles St Jaques

Boeuf braise aux legumes
Dans l’après midi nous sommes allés nous faire masser (un sauna + jacuzi + massage aux pierres chaudes de 90 minutes dans un hamam de luxe, pour 15 euros chacun en tout)
Puis je suis allée donner un cours de 19h30 à 21h30 où les élèves m’avaient préparé une surprise : un joli gateau et des fleurs.
Puis le soir après le boulot, on est sortis avec d’autres profs boire des cocktails.
Une journée d’anniversaire bien remplie, que du bonheur.
My birthday
Dan woke up very early to go to the market and buy fruits and roses for my breakfast. I was still fast asleep when he came back :)
we went for an early morning walk around the Hoan Kiem lake, 10 mns walk from our place, lovely before it gets too crowded after 10. Then we had lunch at a very, very posh and fine dining style restaurant, the kind we could never in a million years afford anywhere else but here. In the afternoon we had a "couple retreat" hot stone massage of 90 minutes and later that evening I had to go to school to teach one class. The students had found out it was my birthday, and got me this lovely cake. It's great to be a teacher, lately I keep getting cakes and presents.
It was a great day, thank you all for your messages.

Teaching ESL

I feel like I have been hit by a train. I shouldn’t be complaining because I have only worked a little over 90 minutes but in comparison it equals to a 10 hour day back in the finance world. Today I finished my second class as an ESL teacher and I have to has it was quite draining. Yesterday, my first class, was a treat in contrast to today’s epic.

Since arriving in Hanoi I have been tutoring American and Vietnamese kids in their homes. I have now entered the classroom world and the first two days have been a great experience. My first class was at a secondary school and as I entered the front gates the yard was full of what looked like a thousand kids in lined up listening to the afternoon school assembly. I was greeted warmly by happy kids with curious eyes. The school was massive with large long buildings four stories high. I found my class on the fourth floor and was excited to try out my lesson plan (made by Leg). The class of 11 years old I taught was generally responsive and got involved in the lesson. I am happy to say that I got through this one relatively unscathed and enjoyed myself at the front of the class. I was a bit rusty but overall I was pleased with how I went.

Today was at a primary school with a class of fifteen tiny 6 year olds. I was not given the classroom number before I arrived and had a real battle finding it. First a group of kids came up to me shouting hello and laughed hysterically when I responded. I tried to ask the man at the front office where my class was and he just grunted and held up 4 fingers. When I endeavoured to explain that I did not know what that meant he grunted again with increased frustration pushing his four raised fingers in my direction. Great! I decided to wander the school in hope of a helpful teacher. I was met by excited faces from all the cute little kids and two adorable little girls ran up to me and said;

“Bonjour. Vous parlez francais?”

I was surprised and happy to practice my newly learnt French with two 6 year girls. It didn’t take long for me to be out of my depth though so I bid them farewell. They obviously didn’t hear the farewell part and decided to follow me around the school with friends in tow. I finally found a teacher but she didn’t speak any English, only French. She was very helpful and with my broken of broken French I was able to explain my situation. I was directed to the next floor down and when I entered the only class where kids were not sitting down with a teacher I was told by a passing teacher that this was not my class. Shit!

I walked back upstairs to the French teacher who could not speak any English. Without realising it there were 10 or so kids following me and after a discussion with the French teacher one of the kids was able to tell me that I was in fact their teacher. Now we were getting somewhere. I went back downstairs and entered the classroom.

The next hour and a half was a constant battle to keep their overpowering energy under control. After half an hour I received my Vietnamese assistant who helped manage the damage. The kids were in the most part adorable and were excited by most of the activities (prepared by Leg again) but I reckon someone gave them sugar before the class as a joke on me. Real Funny!

I finished the class in a daze giving the kids a high five as they left to meet their waiting parents. Tomorrow I have another class with the young ones. I can hardly wait.


Facebook access has been blocked in this country. This has happened recently and I am still unsure if I am the cause. I can't remember slandering the government at any point but to be honest after a few too many beers I can't remember much. I am sure you have all been wondering why we have not been replying to your messages on Facebook. I could say it was because the government has banned the site but to be honest its because we don't like you.

Celine is not happy as her Facebook farm is dying or quite possibly dead. I am just worried about Pet Society!

Send any messages to our hotmail accounts or via the blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Teacher’s day

Vendredi on fêtait les professeurs au Vietnam. Tous les ans les instits et profs reçoivent des fleurs, des cadeaux et des cartes de leurs élèves.
On a commencé par faire la tawa entre nous avant même que les cours ne commencent, et on a tous mangé des sucreries et bu du rhum dans la salle des profs, puis dans mes trois classes de la journée on a fait la fête : ma première classe m’a offert des fleurs, un gros gâteau qu’on a tous partagé et des assiettes Vietnamiennes kitch, ma deuxième classe m’a offert un pashmina et une écharpe, et m’a chanté des chansons J ma troisième classe m’a offert un manteau d’hiver trop beau, des boucles d’oreilles, une écharpe et une peluche. Je vous mets quelques photos de la journée.
C’est trop bien, teacher’s day !

Last Friday was teacher's day in Vietnam. We all had a great day, eating lots of cake and drinking much wine, Xeo, Champagne and coconut rhum... that is, BEFORE our classes. So yes, my classes were a lot of fun. I received many presents, cards and cakes from my students, including a beautiful coat, severals scarves and a lovely pair of earrings. You gotta LOVE teacher's day!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Celine!!!

Happy birthday to Leg,
Happy birthday to Leg,
You smell like a Frenchy and
you look like one too!!!

Happy birthday my beautiful wife. You are like a good wine.........getting better with age :)


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dinner with the family

Last weekend our landlords invited us to dinner. They completely spoiled us with seafood and chicken and some tasty red wine. They were amazing hosts and we had a great time. A few of the kids from the street came into play and were kind enough to teach me some of their karate moves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In memory of Archie

I found out recently that one of the family dogs, Archie, had to be put down. It is never nice to lose a loved one especially when it is sudden. He was a playful, energetic and sometimes naughty little bugger and will be terribly missed, especially by my grandparents. I was thinking about him today so wanted to write a few words.

In other news Celine and I are well apart from the hole in Celine’s gum. It is an ongoing saga and hopefully a visit to the dentist this week will yield some results. I have a few tutoring jobs and have a few interviews coming up in the next few days about other work. I am going to French classes 3 times a week and I am virtually fluent now J I enjoy the classes and will be up early for another one tomorrow. We are also taking Vietnamese lessons as you know and that is our fun Saturday afternoon activity. We try to find time to stop at a café during the week to practice.

Our flat is going well however we might look for something a little cheaper when our lease expires next month. There are many options out there and we want to save money on rent so we can travel. Celine is working every day except Saturday so we are limited for a while on our day/night trips.

The weather has turned for the worst in the past few days and I have had to entertain the fact that I won’t be wearing thongs all year round. I am still persevering and have not put on a pair of socks for over 3 and a half months. I had to pull out the jacket for the first time on Sunday and was not impressed. Celine went straight to the shops today to buy some winter boots.

A few weeks ago now I was able to catch up with my friend Hana and her Dad who were doing a motorbike trip through Northern Vietnam. It was great to catch up with them while they were here. Where is everyone else though? Get off your bums and book a ticket. You have access to free accommodation and the number 1 tour guide in Hanoi.

That is about the gist of what is happening at the moment. Oh, I ate a donor kebab today. It was good!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kangaroo Cafe

After 3 months of Vietnamese food Celine and I have been hit by a craving for some of our western favourites. A great place to go and get a burger, chicken schnitzel or an all day big breakfast is the Kangaroo Café. I heard about this place from a friend in Sydney. They operate as a café with some delicious western and local food but also specialise in organised tours. If you feel like something closer to home this place is a winner to sit back with a beer and a good cheap meal while looking through the tour options. They have tour groups to places like Sapa, Halong Bay and Ninh Binh amongst others.

As you walk around the old quarter you may get the impression you are walking in circles. Why? Because the Kangaroo café keeps appearing! Believe it or not but there are five Kangaroo cafes in Hanoi; four of them fakes. It seems Hanoi does not have the same copy write laws and if a brand works other people will happily copy it. I can’t vouch for the service provided by the fakes but the real Kangaroo café is understandably not to happy about them. Have a read of their website below and you will get a bit of an insight into some of the problems with doing business in Hanoi. You know you have your work cut out for you when you have to advertise on a big banner at the front of your shop “This is the 1 and only Kangaroo café. Be very careful of any imposter”

The real Kangaroo café is owned and run by an Aussie and can be found at:

Address: 18 Bao Khanh St, Hanoi
Recommendation: Big breakfast

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tam Coc Village

Après notre belle ballade en bateau, on a fait un tour de moto dans le village près de la rivière, pile à l’heure où les enfants rentraient de l’école. Ils nous criaient « hello » et faisaient coucou de la main. J’ai pris plein de photos.

On s’est fait piquer nos chapeaux – pour la deuxième fois depuis qu’on est arrivés au Vietnam ! Les coupables sont ci-dessous: coupable nr 1: cette maman, m'a demandé mon chapeau. Ok, je le lui ai donné.

coupable numero deux: la dame au cochon, lol. Elle a demandé a Dan de lui offrir son chapeau! vous pouvez la voir courir avec, toute contente.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tam Coc

Travel a few hours south east of Hanoi and you will reach Ninh Binh. From there a 9 kilometre drive will take you to some of the most striking scenery in Northern Vietnam: the rice fields, continuously worked by the diligent locals, are surrounded by the majectic karst landscape. For everything Hanoi is it can be said Tam Coc and its surrounds are not, for the area is one of serenity, purity and overwhelming natural beauty.

You can book a ticket at the office on the main square by the river for a boat ride (120,000 Dong for two people). The best times to go are early morning or late afternoon. We boarded the boat in late afternoon and many of the tourists were finishing their trips. We both bought a conical hat, the iconic Vietnamese accessory, to protect us from the last of the day’s sun. We sat at the front of the boat with a young guy paddling at the back. He began paddling with his feet in perfect rhythm while chatting casually to the passing boats.

We slowly weaved around the river bends, under bridges and past returning boats. The afternoon sun revealed bright silver colours on the surrounding water. Many small trees dotted the base of the mountains while various plants lived on or around the water. A flock of ducks passed the boat in front of us while mountain goats navigated their way around the steep mountain cliffs. It was a picturesque setting.

Tam Coc, translated 'three caves', gives you the chance to pass through, believe it or not, three caves. The three caves are named Hang Ca, Hang Guia and Hang Cuoi and vary in distance from 40 to 127 metres. The caves are not very high and you can touch the stalagmites hanging from the cave as you pass. It got very dark and at times you could only see the light coming from the exit. Each time you exited a cave you were rewarded with a vast natural splendour on the other which seemed more remote than the last. The air was fresh and the sounds peaceful.

You would often pass ladies with their collection of goods to sell however we weren’t bothered until the last cave. We bought a drink and some fruit and enjoyed a chat with one lady as she paddled beside us on the way back. She spoke French well, as many locals did in the area, asking us the usual where are you from and why don’t you have a baby. It was a relaxing and enjoyable trip back taking the same route as we came. The hard thing to do was to put the camera down and relax as there were endless opportunities for a great shot.

We had been on the boat for close to two hours when we returned and after giving the paddler a tip we were both gratified and content. It was an amazing trip which truly shows what magnificent landscapes Vietnam has to offer. When back on our bike we followed the road around to the Bing Dong pagoda, another attraction of the area, however it was the interaction with the kids coming home from school which was the most enjoyable. As they walked or rode home playing games and having fun with their friends they were only to happy to smile and wave and say hello. Their parents were not shameful in asking us for the conical hats we had just purchased with the obvious intention of selling it back to store. We thought this was funny and gladly gave them away to beaming and appreciative smiles. Without realising it evening was fast approaching so we decided it was time to find a café and reflect on what was a great afternoon.

For more photo's of our trip see Celine's post at:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ninh Binh

Wow. On revient de deux jour à Ninh Binh city. On aime bien partir comme ça quand on a un jour de congé : on part le matin, passe l’après midi et la nuit quelque part et on rentre le lendemain matin après le petit dèj. Cette fois, notre escapade fut merveilleuse et de loin ma préférée.

On a pris un train vers 10h00, le trajet dure deux heures et fut assez folklo, et arrivés à Ninh Bimh city, on a trouvé un petit hotel sympa plein de voyageurs ou on s’est arrêtés pour booker une chambre et déjeuner. On a mangé a spécialité de la region: de la viande de chèvre enroulée dans du papier de riz avec des herbes et de l’ananas. Super bon!
Puis on a loué une moto pour l’après midi et on est partis voir les grottes de Tham Coc, à 10 kms de la ville. Tham Coc est surnommé « la Baie d’Halong sur Rizières » et en effet, sur le chemin menant aux caves, on a pu voir d’où le lieu tenait sa réputation. Le paysage était magnifique.

Une fois arrivés dans le village devant la rivière qui mène aux caves, on a sauté dans un petit bateau avec un monsieur qui ramait tantôt avec ses mains, tantôt avec ses pieds, et qui pendant deux heures nous a emmené dans des endroits de plus en plus beaux et même majestueux. Le trajet était calme et relaxant, et les paysages à couper le souffle.

Les grottes sont en fait des passages sous les montagnes ou la rivière a rongé la pierre, suffisamment pour laisser passer un bateau, mais parfois il faut baisser la tête. Dans le noir complet pendant quelques secondes, l’effet est encore plus époustouflant quand on ressort, de l’autre côté, et que le soleil brille sur l’eau et les montagnes.

Pour l’instant je poste juste les photos de la rivière et des grottes, dans le prochain post les photos du reste du week end.

We are just back from two days in Ninh Binh. We like to leave Hanoi when we have a day off, we usually set off early morning, spend the day and the night somewhere and then grab a train or a bus back after breakfast the next day. This little break was wonderful and by far my favourite.
We took a train around 10 am, and arrived in Ninh Binh city a couple of hours later – the train journey was fun, I’ll let Dan say more about it. In Ninh Binh city we found a nice little backpacker’s hotel and stopped there to book a room for the night and try the local specialty: goat in rice paper with herbs and pineapple, delish! After lunch we rented a motorbile through a hotel (and double checked its state before taking it… we learnt our lesson in Hai Phong!) and set off for The Tham Coc caves, 10 kms away from the city. We arrived in a small village, and on the main square built by a large river, hundreds of boats were waiting to take people out to the caves. We got on one of them, and a nice man rowed us (sometimes with his hands, and sometimes with his feet) and an amazing peaceful and beautiful journey on the river. The surroundings were unbelievable and every cave (in fact a small openings below the mountains where the water has eroded the stone, only high enough to fit a boat) would keep us in pitch dark for a few seconds, to then open with a striking contrast on a blindingly sunny and stunning landscape.