Happy New Year

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Well a belated Merry Christmas, and an early Happy New Year to you all.

My “post every day” didn’t quite eventuate, but I promise I will come back in the New Year with some more Vietnam posts for you.  The kids and I are off on a camping adventure soon – here’s hoping we all survive to tell the tale.  I’ve made it a “no electronic device” holiday – which includes me!  I am allowed to take my phone – but only for making/receiving calls.  No texting, facebook etc!  We can take plenty of books though, and bathers, fishing rods etc – so there will be loads to keep us amused.  :-)

I’ll leave you with our usual crazy Christmas photo – complete with Gordon the dog and Frodo the cat.  I drew the line at including the rats!

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Back soon … Fee x

Vietnam … the series 1.5

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Woot – feeling very proud of myself for blogging TWO DAYS IN A ROW!!!  :-)

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We had some pretty amazing food while we were in Vietnam.  This was by far the “swankiest” restaurant we went to.  This is our Team Leader Rodney who had a turn of having a “silly hat” placed on his head!  :-)

There was a big table of German’s sitting next to us, and they couldn’t believe we were Aussies and not all drinking beer.  Oh dear!!!

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And this was the menu – the food was just amazing, wherever we went.  Tomorrow I will share some of our more “rustic” meals.

Fee xox

 

 

Vietnam … the series 1.4

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OOPS!!!  I missed a WHOLE WEEK.  Sorry Katy – must do better!!!!

We visited a Blind School when we were in Hanoi.  It was fascinating.

We saw a video they had put together in the school which showed us what their life is like – it’s all about making them self sufficient – being able to look after and care for themselves.  It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to be blind (or deaf).  These young ones all seemed to be very full of life.

We got to visit their classrooms and hear some of the students reading to us from their Braille books.

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This young man was writing with his Braille tablet.

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Then we attended a concert with the musicians playing – interesting hearing the traditional Vietnamese instruments.

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And these girls – oh my!  They sang “It’s a Small World” in both English and Vietnamese – I had tears streaming down my cheeks – they were so gorgeous.

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I wish I could work out how to upload some video as would love to share their song with you.  I will do some research and try and figure it out!

Back soon with more (promise it won’t be a whole ‘nother week away)!!

Fi :-)

Vietnam … the series 1.3

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Oh dear – I’m failing miserably with the “post something every day” thing aren’t I?!

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Just one picture today – this was taken from inside the bus as we travelled around Hanoi.  The picture you can see behind the motorbikes is a mural.  They told us that the Government had commissioned the work to commemorate Hanoi’s 1,000th Anniversary!  It runs for 4km along the city’s Red River dyke system.  There were all different scenes depicted along the wall – and all made out of ceramic mosaics.  It was amazing, and I wish I had taken more photos of it.

However, you could visit this site to see a few more pics … or use your friend “Google” :-)

http://redravine.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/worlds-largest-ceramic-mosaic-hanois-ceramic-mosaic-mural-project/

Fi x

Vietnam … the series 1.2

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Oops – I missed a day!

So – I thought I might share some of the different housing in Hanoi today …

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You can see the French influence still in many of the houses.  Most of them are tall and skinny – with roof top terraces/gardens.

Most people seem to hang their washing up the top of their houses too.

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Moss – I presume to try and keep the roof cooler?

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These houses were still in Hanoi – but close to the river, and obviously not as affluent as in the city itself!

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House boats – these people are VERY poor.  Generally the children don’t get to attend school and they live a VERY basic existence.

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We actually got to go inside this houseboat.  The man was very friendly and made us welcome.  He had a TV in there – which he hooked up to a car battery.  All the mod cons??!!!

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This is the slum area in Vietnam.  So sad thinking that people in this day and age have to live like this :-(

Back with more tomorrow.

Fi x

Vietnam … the series ~ 1.1

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Despite the relative poverty in Vietnam (compared to our wealth!) – it was interesting that everywhere we went people were sweeping and keeping things neat and tidy.  This picture captures a little scene which we saw often as we travelled around in Vietnam.

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We visited a Vocational School in Hanoi.  Young people, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds, can come to the school and receive training in either cooking, hospitality, embroidery or sewing.

They stay at the school for 12-18 months – then once their training is finished, the School finds them a job.

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Students learn both Vietnamese and Western styles of cooking (including patisserie – we got to sample chocolate croissants – Mmmmmm)

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This student was being taught how to make Vietnamese coffee – it’s very strong and sweet (they have condensed milk in the lower glass and the coffee filters through the top and drips into the bottom).  I rather liked it but many of the girls on my team didn’t.

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This young lady spoke THE most amazing English – we could fully converse with us, where as most of the other students could speak a few words or say hello.  She told us she had grown up in SaPa which is a very touristy town, so many of the people there learn to speak English well so they can sell to the tourists.  She told us she hoped to go back and work in SaPa at the Cafe which was owned/operated by the Vocational School (a great way to employ their students after graduation).

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The embroidery girls had amazing skills.  The image below shows the pencil cases they were embroidering.  We all bought pencil cases which we had personalised with our children’s/grandchildren’s names – what a beautiful memento of our time in Vietnam.  I also got a gorgeous table runner with embroidered scenes of vietnam like rice paddies, bullocks etc.  The girl who personalised the pencil cases for us was both deaf and mute.  It was fantastic to see someone like her being taught a skill which will enable her to find employment and be able to support herself after leaving the College.  Without this training, there would be a very bleak future for her indeed.

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The Vocational School was started by a Vietnamese lady about 17 years ago (she’s now 70!) after she saw a need for training for disadvantaged youth.  SP (and other Overseas Aid Agencies) partner with the School to provide funding.  It costs about $1,000 AUD a year to teach, house and feed a student.  What a bargain – and how awesome to see these young ones being given a chance in a society where normally they would be the dregs.  Fantastic!

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This gorgeous young man said “handsome” to me and laughed after I took his photo.  I agreed!  They all seem to do the “V” sign when you take their photo – not sure why?

More tomorrow …

Fi x

Vietnam … the series

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Hello my lovely bloggy friends.  It’s been a L-O-N-G time between blogs – but I thought I would come back and make a little bit of an effort.

A beautiful friend of mine, Katy, is fighting breast cancer at the moment.  She goes in for her second lot of surgery on Wednesday – so I thought I might try and post a few pics every day of Vietnam, as she was really keen to see more of my trip in February.

Please pray for Katy and her family as she fights the good fight.  Next year I’m going to organise a BIG SHAVE event and take my locks off to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation but will share more on that later…

So Katy – this series is for you!  :-)

Hanoi was an amazing cacophony of sound – mostly scooters and cars tooting and zipping here and there.  The traffic lights (which were few and far between) were “suggestions”!  We would see whole families crammed onto scooters (up to 5 people at a time).  It was amazing – and yet it seemed to work.  Our first experience crossing a big main road was a bit hair raising, but we were old hands by the end of our trip!

This was an old water tower from war times which was right across the road from our Hotel in Hanoi.

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Electrical wiring in Vietnam was “interesting”!!

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A teacher walking her class to/from school.  Honestly the kids in Vietnam were soooo cute!

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Scooters were EVERYWHERE you looked!!

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Back with some more tomorrow.

Fi x

(Another) Ballerina Shot

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I know that I posted last year about Miss B’s ballet concert … but I was going through my photos the other day and found this which I had edited and cropped from the “professional” disc I got (which wasn’t very professional at all – but we won’t go there).

Anyhow – thought you might like to see my little Dancing Dolly (again).

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I promise I will do another Vietnam post this week with some different photos from my trip earlier in the year.

Fee x

Behold The Lord High Executioner

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Well you probably remember that last year I had the Pirate King in residence, complete with sword.

This year, it was The Lord High Executioner – with an axe!  Surely hoping they choose something less violent next year.  :-)

Angus’ school did a Junior production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado” this year.  He auditioned in November last year and was chosen as Koko, The Lord High Executioner.

What a brilliant production they put on too!  Everything stepped up a notch from their first ever production last year with The Pirates of Penzance – the students all knew what was possible – and performed even better.  Several lovely ladies banded together to produce awesome costumes, there were fantastic makeup artists, and overall it was just an amazing Show.  At times you almost had to stop and remind yourself that they were High School students!

I felt very proud of my boy … especially as he was very unwell with the flu for the 2 weeks leading up to the production, but he soldiered on and performed so well for the 6 performances they ended up doing.  Looking forward to seeing what’s in store for 2013 …

Fee x

Remember Me???

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Goodness gracious me – it’s been a LONG time since I blogged.  I was thinking perhaps I would just give up and let it go – but then I know I have a few friends (who aren’t on Facebook) who like keep up to date with our family news – so I will do a short post now and come back soon with more (maybe Vietnam pics if you’re still keen – let me know in the comments).

So the MOST exciting thing that happened since I last blogged is …. we have a new family member.  Let me introduce you to Gordon.

He looked like this when we first got him … a cute little ball of fluff who piddled and poo-ed everywhere and I wondered what on earth possessed me to buy a puppy – really??!!!!

Now he’s a grown up 6 month old who is becoming a somewhat civilised dog.

Gordon is a cream coloured spoodle (cocker spaniel/poodle cross) who is an energetic little fella.  Some days he comes to work with me and sleeps right behind my chair so that when I go backwards I almost run him over.  He has the whole office to lie in – but apparently behind my chair works best for him?!

Today I didn’t take Gordon to work … and when we came home there was no fluffy little white face peering out excitedly from behind the gate.  Gordon had gone on an adventure!

The kids and I frantically called around the neighbourhood but there was no sign of him.  So we piled in the car and drove along our usual walking patch (thinking he would most likely go somewhere familiar).  We must have sounded hilarious driving along slowly calling “Gordon, Gordon”.  Perhaps people might have thought we’d lost our Grandad?!  :-)

Still no sign.  We came home and I half heartedly started dinner – and put 10 million posts on Facebook saying “we’ve lost our dog – please keep an eye out, and please share this post”.  Lovely friends did just that – so Gordon was all over Facebook before you could say “who needs privacy”.  The boys skateboarded with a friend calling for Gordon – all to no avail.

I decided perhaps we should drive to the Pound to see if the Ranger had collected him.  I figured it would be better knowing he was safely locked up in a cage overnight – rather than worrying about him roaming the streets.  So, it’s pitch black, we pull up to the cages at the pound and shine the headlights onto one solitary white dog (who wasn’t Gordon) and my heart sank.  I said to the kids “Get out of the car and call him because I think there are cages around the back that we can’t see” – then lo and behold – we see a little fluff ball sitting in the holding cage at the end of the row – it was GORDON.  We rushed over and dog-napped him (technically he wasn’t “in” the pound – they have a holding cage where people can put a dog and the Ranger comes along and admits them to the pound later).  We were so relieved to have our furry little friend back.

So Gordon is once again back in the fold … I even let him sleep next to me on the sofa tonight (normally he’s supposed to sleep on his bed on the floor) – but we were celebrating the return of the prodigal dog!  :-)

Apparently he had a little jaunt to a nearby park where a lady found him and rescued him.  It meant he crossed at least 1 busy road – but I won’t think about what might have happened.  I’m just happy to have my little mate home.

Back soon with more adventures.

Fee :-)