Creative road safety campaign in Vietnam

I’m pretty sceptical that this will have any affect whatsoever. Nice to see that the road dangers out here are being noticed though.

New Stitch-up

“The Asia Injury Prevention Foundation has launched a new road safety initiative in Vietnam that is both innovative and culturally appropriate” said Australian safety expert Matthew Hyndes.

“It is a very creative street campaign targeting students and office workers by displaying wrecked motor-scooters in public places” said Australian safety expert Matthew Hyndes.

“Almost 10,000 people died on Vietnamese roads in 2012”.

“The Foundation is doing a great job to create awareness of the dangers of excessive speed” said Hyndes.

“This activity shows the dividends to be reaped by designing clever, visible and culturally appropriate safety campaigns”.

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Oral Exams

Every 9 weeks I have to conduct oral exams for each of my students. Their oral mark contributes to around 5% of their final grade (it should be much higher than this in my opinion, but I’m not the one who makes the rules apparently). For many of the oral exams, I just interview each student alone but every now and again I like to shake things up and have them do a dialogue in pairs. I always love oral exam week; 1) because I get to find out the student’s real views on things and 2) it involves very little preparation on my part. The students never fail to provide some amazing comedy too, here are just a few snippets of the conversations I experienced during this week’s oral exams:

1: Social Etiquette

Instructions: Conduct a polite conversation with your classmate. You are both work colleagues who are meeting for the first time.

Student 1: Hello, nice to meet you!

Student 2: Hello, nice to meet you too! Are you gay?

*Have I taught you nothing in the past 9 weeks?!*

2: Family

Me: Tell me about your family

Student: There are 3 people in my family, my parents and me.

Me: Oh, so no brothers or sisters?

Student: No, and I hate my Dad, he always makes my mum cry.

*How are you meant to respond to that…*

3: Playing cupid

Me: So, tell me a little about yourself

Student: I’m 19 years old. I am a student at HUTECH University. I study business. I like shopping and going out with my friends. I’m single. Do you know any single foreigners?


4: Arrogance

Student: I’ve just finished 3 years studying in Boston, America so I don’t need this class

*What a fabulous waste of my time*

5: Apology

Me: Hello! How are you today?

Student: I’m fine thanks, and you?

Me: I’m pretty go…

*Students phone rings*

1min 46secs later…

*Student hangs up, says nothing*

Me: Ok, your speaking test is over. Thank you.

*Just one apology is all you needed to save yourself there, my friend!*

6: There’s always one

Me: How are you today?

Student: I’m 12 years old.


7: The pièce de résistance

Me: Hello! What’s your name?

Student: My name is ****

Me: I don’t see your name on the register here …

Student: Oh no, I’m taking the exam for my friend, she is too busy.

*Say what now?*


Misleading: This little darling actually passed her exam with flying colours!

Saigon Foot Rower

David's Space

Fascinating video I took of a Vietnamese lady who is rowing her boat using her feet.  Look at how she turns the corner – amazing skill!!!

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History of HCMC

A local student made this video as his graphic design graduation project. It depicts the history and culture of Saigon through some awesome animation. Apparently it’s gone viral …

I don’t speak Vietnamese, but just how amazing is this:

Ladyboys & Hot Pot

On Wednesday, I went out for dinner with 4 of my workmates to try out some of the infamous Vietnamese hot pot. I was under no illusions; it was never going to live up to the Lancashire hot pot I was raised on, but when in Rome…

I’m usually not very adventurous when it comes to trying Vietnamese food due to around one million bouts of food poisoning in the last 2 years; it’s made me a little cautious. But this particular evening I was feeling daring and convinced myself to at least try a taste of everything on the table. I’ve heard that the dysentery diet is the best around anyway…

We headed to a local restaurant on the Saigon canal called Quán Thúy Linh . And when I say canal, don’t assume I mean the beautiful and idyllic networks in the UK, but instead a water system that is fed directly through the city’s sewage system. Luckily, it hadn’t rained that day, so no nasty smells had been unleashed.

The hot pot was a concoction of vegetables, bamboo, beef, shellfish and noodles and was actually really quite delicious. Boiling a whole squid wasn’t the nicest of things to witness, neither were the wriggling antennae of the cooking king prawns, but at least everything was fresh.  I also experienced my very first snail – nothing like the huge French delicacies, but instead thumbnail sized shells on which you had to suck to remove the hidden snail. Turns out my sucking abilities weren’t quite up to scratch though and after 5 failed attempts I gave up and instead resigned to visiting Paris next year.

While the food was delicious, it wasn’t the highlight of our night by a long shot. I’d been warned that the restaurant we were headed to was a special one, but no further elaboration was made. When I was first greeted by our wait-person though, it became quite clear why the place was so special. All the staff members were ladyboys (no offense intended, this is genuinely how the Vietnamese refer to a trans-gender person). All were dressed in the smallest denim hot pants I’ve ever seen, with tube top accompaniments, I was a little taken aback. Each staff member just screamed Sasha Fierce, oozing with confidence and style and the general atmosphere was a mixture of enjoyment and relaxed flirtation. Their heavy smoking as they worked left a lot to be desired though.  Even though I can’t speak Vietnamese, I found their banter just hilarious to watch, their unintentional performances made my night.

Initially, I don’t know why I was so surprised, I guess I just don’t associate Vietnam with being so open with their sexuality; HCMC is no Bangkok. It is clear though that there is a definite rise in progressive attitudes amongst the locals – only yesterday, one of my 6 years old’s accused his friend of being ‘gay’ (in English nonetheless) just because he wanted to sing a song to me. Similarly, one of my university students has chosen her oral test topic to be about the treatment of homosexuals in Vietnam. I think this paints a very different picture of HCMC, in regards to sexuality, than say, 10 years ago.

For those hoping for photos of my night down by the canal, I regret to say that none were taken; 1) I thought it may have been deemed inappropriate and 2) I forgot my camera (ALWAYS CARRY A CAMERA!)

So instead, have a look at this lovely bridge I travelled over today:

Ooooo, Aaaaah

Ooooo, Aaaaah

Don’t fret though; I will most certainly be revisiting the glorious Quán Thúy Linh in the near future, and this time with a camera in tow.

The Running Man

This is fantastic! What a hero!

Dog Eating on the Rise

This is so sad, but so true. A video not for the faint of heart …

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