Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend in Hue

I have read and heard of flight delays and until the recent flight to Hue did I experience it. Terrible! Our flight was scheduled to take off at 17.45 but just before I took a taxi to the airport, Vietname Airlines called me and informed me that it was posponed until 18.30. But it continued to be delayed until 19.20 then 19.45. Finally, it took off at 20.20. Passengers looked tired and bored in the departure lounge. Even I saw one napping. There was not much to do there: eating, drinking and talking. We killed the time by exploring the lounge as well.
We arrived in Hue after about 1 hour in the sky.

After checking in the hotel in the center (the hotel was the high building behind me), going up to the 14th floor and unpacking, I walked to the window. The city was peaceful. From the hotel window I could see the Huong River and Trang Tien Bridge more clearly than the previous time I was there. So beautiful.

We wanted to have something for the stomache. But it was late, we could not go out. So we visited the rooftop bar of the hotel and I had a glass of fruit juice there and enjoyed the overview of the city at night in the moonlight. Hue was sleeping.

The next day I woke up at 7 am. The first thing I did was to look out of the window again. Sunday's life started. Not much traffic in the street. The sun was shining not very brightly, the wind blowing gently, what a pleasant weather. Completely different from my previous trip to here: boiling and humid.

We decided to rent orange bikes to go on a tour of the city. We walked to an old rental shop, which was not very far from our hotel. We cycled over the bridge and to the Citadel. I wanted to visit only the areas which I missed before. It was so wonderful to wander here. I just had a little dissatisfaction: the preservation and maintenance work was happening too slowly. After the Citadel, we cycled around the city.

We returned the bike after having lunch in the paradise garden on the riverfront. Cool and fresh air here, which made me want to sleep. On the way back to the hotel to relax, we walked through the park on the river bank and took some photos here.

We spent the afternoon visiting one of the most beautiful royal tombs in Hue: King Tu Duc's Tomb. We organised the tour ourselves so we had more time to explore the tomb's area. Actually, I also visited the parts which I missed in my previous trip. On the way back to the center, we visited the Ngu Binh mountain range, one of the famous landmarks in Hue. Now I could say that this trip made my previous one more complete.

We had some snack in a mini restaurant near the river and an early dinner on the second floor of a small restaurant in town. We came back to the hotel and got ready to the airport. On the way to the hotel, it rained heavily. As I knew, a storm was going to strike the city. We got to the airport and checked in and waited for a while and luckily, the flight was on time. The flight took off at 19.50. My second trip to the peaceful city ended.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Home class again

I have been so busy these days with preparing teaching materials for my private classes (private and from the centers). I could have refused to teach them but not. Really don't understand why not.

My own class has got 11 students (3 males). And the flat has got a small spare room and now the room is changed into a classroom with some investment in furniture (everything should be small to fit in the room). I told them but they still insisted on learning in my place. My students have to sit so close to each other. But luckily it is autumn, so not too hot. We are cooled by three fans. These students want to learn TOEIC test tactics and I teach them some vocabulary and grammar which are TOEIC-oriented. So far, they seem to be hardworking students and really interested in English.

Why do I have this class? Well, easily. One of my old students who I used to teach recommended me to her room mate (her name is Nga) last year. Nga wanted me to open a new class but I did not have much free time at that time. And at the beginning of this semester she phoned me again. The result was ... I agreed to teach her and her friends. Now we meet twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday evening for 2 hours each. The class will last 60 hours.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Independence Day

It was a public holiday in Vietnam. This year we celebrated the Independence Day early in my mum's place. My second sister's family was responsible for that: a small party for the whole family. So yesterday we were 'independent'. However, we decided to visit a museum with my friend in the morning. Honestly, I hardly ever go to museums. It is partly because I often had to spend my free time visiting families or having small lunch with families, and partly because Vietnamese people have no habit to do that. We just spend time trying to earn money not trying to educate ourselves. I remember taking my son to 2 museums in Hanoi before: Military Museum and Airforce Museum and 1 museum in Saigon: War Remnants. He has been to Uncle Ho's Museum while I haven't.

My son was excited. He got up as early as 6 am (no need mother to wake up) and asked me for the time so often. I told him we left at 8 am. Before the museum, I went to the market to buy some food. A nice and cool day, still a bit foggy, a bit sunny, typical autumn day. (I like that kind of the weather.) I did not forget to buy a bunch of flowers to decorate the living room, some fruits, a square cake to put on the altar. And we left home at 8.15.

The streets were still busy because people went out (like us). We got to the museum just after 9. Whoa, so many people there. I said to my friend that it must be the most crowded museum in Hanoi. It changed what people often thought about museums: as deserted as museums. It was also beautiful with large gardens and clean grass. It was not only good for cultural education (lifestyle of Vietnamese ethnic minorities) but also ideal for picnic and for families together at the weekend. Oh, I could see a couple having their wedding photos taken here.

We finished the visit by having lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant nearby.

In the afternoon, I suffered a terrible headache. I took some panadol and then vomitted what I ate at lunchtime. I was not able to cook dinner for my son. I told him to prepare it himself. He peeled the square cake and ate a quarter. He took a shower and then at 8 pm he went to bed. I asked him why he went to bed early. He said because mum was sick and it was boring. He slept at once. I knew that because he snored. I woke up and slept and woke up and slept. I really slept after 10 pm. No dinner, no shower.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Milk flowers

Talking about the autumn in Hanoi we can not forget to mention a kind of typical flowers here: hoa sua (milk flowers). They used to be in Nguyen Du street, but now sua flower trees can be found in many streets and parks and gardens in Hanoi. I don't know why they are called milk flowers. Perhaps, the flowers are as white as milk and they smell as sweet as milk? What is special about hoa sua is that they only smell in the evening and at night. (or they smell all day but only in the evening do we have time to smell the scent). It is so wonderful to go out with our beloved, in a street that has hoa sua, in the evening, under the moon, in the autumn climate. I sometimes have the feeling as if I was in love and sometimes I have the feeling of missing someone (unclear) . Yes, romantic. Anyone who has spent their youth in Hanoi and has had a love in Hanoi can not forget the scent of hoa sua. One bad thing about these flowers is that we can not put up with too many milk flowers, which smell too strong.
Hoa sua come into songs and poetry. Here is a sentence from the song 'Hoa sua'. ... Hoa sữa vẫn nồng nàn đầu phố đêm đêm, có lẽ nào anh lại quên em ...
(Milk flowers still smell sweet at the beginning of the street every night, you forget me, is it possible?)
Next time, when you go out in streets (not in a car or taxi), try to find hoa sua scent somewhere in the wind.