A cheeky wee ask…

To my lovely friends and followers – I’ve started managing a new Facebook page for a great cause. The page promotes the charity project “Red Ink”, who publish annual volumes documenting real women’s life stories. 2014’s volume included my story as life as an expat in Vietnam for 2 years.

All proceeds of these books go to the charity Hope for Justice, a charity dedicated to ending human trafficking all over the world.

Please do go to the Facebook page to like, share and spread the word – go on, it just takes one wee click of your mouse 🙂

Red Ink Project Facebook Page

Thank yoooou!

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Incognito

I’ve been a little incognito on here for the past month or so now and as a result, I feel I’ve let my friends down, my family down, my loyal WordPress fans down and (even worse!) myself down…

Actually, I don’t feel that bad, but man I’ve missed writing.

So, the short version of the 1000 page novel that has been my life over the past 3 months is:

I left Vietnam (boooo!) It wasn’t a decision made lightly and had been in the offing for a while, but the time had come for me to return to my friends and family in England. The beautiful Cheshire countryside just didn’t have that same appeal to it without me there apparently … I left Vietnam at the beginning of December (allowing time for a bit of travel before Christmas) and arrived back into Heathrow at dusk on 22nd December (how romantic…)

The events that have happened since have been somewhat of a whirlwind, catching up with friends and family, celebrating both the calendar and lunar New Years and then embarking on a short internship to keep my CV ticking over nicely. But you don’t really want to hear about all that. And, to be honest, I don’t really want to write about all that.

I originally started this blog as a means of recording memories of my time in Vietnam and I’m going to continue it along these same lines. I still have bundles of stories from my 2 years living in Ho Chi Minh City that I’m dying to share with you all and I only hope that some of them may actually prove as useful to anyone who’s thinking of doing a similar thing and expatriating to Vietnam, or any of the countries in South East Asia.

I also like to think of it as a way of keeping in touch with all those friends I’ve met (both directly and interactively) along the way.

So, I’m going to say a short farewell now, but I’ll be back tomorrow with one hell of a riveting tale about sewing and tapestry in Ho Chi Minh City (I can just feel your bubbling excitement at the prospect…)

Oh how I’ve missed you!!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới

2014: The Year of the Horse

Happy Tết Holiday to all my Vietnamese friends, students & colleagues and to all my other friends from the Asian continent a very Happy Lunar Year to you all!

I’m gutted not to be in Vietnam to celebrate this year, so to all my friends out there, please send me photos and updates of your celebrations. I miss you!
 
To mark the occasion from here in the UK though, here are a few of the photos I took during the  Sài Gòn celebrations last year, enjoy!
 

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For anyone who is in the UK, more specifically in Cheshire, for the 2014 Lunar New Year – head to the streets of Chester at 9.30am tomorrow (Saturday 1st February) for a Chinese parade full of dragons, cat walks and traditional musical performances – it promises to be a spectacular day out. Organised by Wah Lei, a non-profit Chinese Association: http://wahlei.org/

Homesickness

It would seem that I’ve neglected my little ol’ blog over the last couple of weeks, so to my loyal handful of followers, I send you my sincerest apologies.

Many of you already know that I recently had a friend visit from Blighty. We went to Nha Trang together when she first arrived (deets here), then she continued on her merry way up the country while I returned back to work.  However, last weekend, she came back to HCMC where we spent 5 days of, well, a whole lot of nothing to be honest. The words ‘Lounge wear’ and ‘tea’ were seriously overused and a new obsession was born in the form of the HBO show ‘Girls’.

As a result, I have very little to tell you about our time together, other than, I bloomin’ miss the UK! Here are a few of my reflections as I said a weepy goodbye to my buddy:

1: Gossip

I love a good gossip. Go on, judge me, I don’t mind. Problem is, I literally have no one to gossip with here. Where are all my fellow female expat friends I hear you scream … long story short, I have none. This isn’t for want of trying, really. Ok, I’ve been a little lazy on the old hobby and exercise front, so that’s probably restricted my friendship growth a little. And I probably did set some unrealistically high hopes of making a bunch of Vietnamese friends. I had hoped that I’d gather at least a few workmates that would see me through. However, short of the bitter Australian Grandmother who hates her life in Vietnam; I’m surrounded by middle-aged American men. Strangely, they don’t really want to know what Miley Cyrus was up to at the VMAs or even that we’ve got a new Prince *sigh*. UK girlfriends, you are missed terribly.

2: Tea

Ok, a stereotypical point from a stereotypical Briton, but seriously, Asia just doesn’t do tea. The milk is all condensed, the tea is all ‘lotus’ or ‘green’ and it is always offered with ice. No no no no no. Thank God for friends and their mind-reading:

Thanks H!!

Thanks H!!

3: Smiles

I come from a very small village in Cheshire. It’s one of those typical English villages; you know the type, 1 pub, 1 post office, 1 shop, 1 school and 1 church; I’m thinking ‘Hot Fuzz’ meets ‘Broadchurch’. Everyone knows everyone and people always smile and say hello when you walk by (unless you head down to the council estate, but that’s a whole other story). I promise I’m not looking through rose-tinted glasses; in fact, I’ve always considered myself more of a city lover anyway. But even in some of the big cities (London is understandably excluded from this comment), you walk past someone in close proximity and they at least offer a smile. Similarly, if you accidentally brush past someone, an apology is made. Not in HCMC though. Smiles are replaced by vacant stares, brushes are replaced by violent shoves and hellos are replaced by points and grabs. I do enjoy the old ‘photo-opportunity’ grabs made by over-enthusiastic students though I must say.

4: Carbs

I love Vietnamese food, I really do, but where are the potatoes?! I’m no Gwyneth Paltrow. I need chips, mash and a good roast. And bread, why do all the loaves have sugar in them? Where’s my wholemeal? And don’t even get me started on the cake selections. What I wouldn’t do for a crumpet right now …

5: Queues

I hate the prospect of getting the tube at rush hour in London. It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it. But after 2 years of experiencing what has to go down as the worst queue etiquette in the world, surely I can take on London. Surely? A woman literally went out of her way to push in front of me and 5 others in the supermarket queue the other day. The joke was on her though when the cashier pointed out that all her veg had to be pre-weighed. HA – Take that! Getting a bus in the centre of HCMC is just carnage too, I don’t know how more people don’t die with the ‘cram as many people in as you can’ approach. People literally fall out as the doors reopen again. Getting the lift at work is always a challenging experience too; personal space invasion is a real issue for me. In the last 2 years, I have had full bodily contact with every one of my colleagues, not a sexy as it sounds when you consider the 8 hour working days in the 35 degree heat.

6: Toiletries

Oh how I miss body wash that isn’t ‘whitening’ and deodorant that isn’t a roll on and tampons (full stop) and dry shampoo and women’s razor blades and non-fragranced face wipes and perfume that actually lasts the entire day and hair dye that doesn’t turn my hair orange … the list goes on.

The perks of visitors

The perks of visitors

I could go on but I really don’t want to turn into the aforementioned Australian co-worker. Sorry Saigon, I really do love you, but Chester most certainly wins on this occasion.

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