15 Seconds of Fame

I know I promised a scintillating post on sewing and tapestry in Ho Chi Minh City, and I know I’m even late in posting that, but something much more exciting and interesting has reared its head. I’m sure you’ll understand when you see that:

I’m ruddy famous!!!!

2014-02-06 18.38.03Yonks and yonks ago, after returning to the UK, I offered to write a brief review of my time in Vietnam for my local newspaper and they’ve only gone and published it! It’s been put both online and in the local newspaper, but as I’m a little delayed in updating my blog, only the online version is available now. But still, look at me go!

http://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/lifestyle/day-life-english-teacher-vietnam-6681306#.UxoH5j9_sll

OK, it’s a little self indulgent I admit, but you never know, it may just reach out to someone who’s weighing up a move abroad. Here’s to hoping anyway!

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/

CEFALT on TV!

Check out this new profile about CEFALT which was aired on HTV yesterday:

Karaoke

It’s no secret that the Vietnamese love their karaoke, something which I struggle to comprehend, even now. I find myself cringing at the sound of my own voice in the shower, let alone blasting it over a microphone for the whole of HCMC to hear. However, I do have to say that I thoroughly admire the Vietnamese’s ability to let go of all their inhibitions, even when it sounds just this bad …

For now, we’ll ignore the fact that this noise level was totally inappropriate for 1am on a Thursday night and instead just marvel at the gloriousness that is that woman’s voice. Vietnam’s Got Talent anyone?

Happy Teacher’s Day!

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20 November 2013

Feeling very blessed today. They should definitely have a Teacher’s Day in the UK to boost morale! Here are some of the treats my students had in store for me today …

From my wonderful students at HDC Security:

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From some previous students:

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And from CEFALT:

Unfortunately I was knee deep in oral exams when this photo was taken

Unfortunately I was knee deep in oral exams when this photo was taken 

 

 

Communist Posters

One of my Vietnamese friends gave me an early Teacher’s Day gift on Saturday: a 2014 calender of Communist Posters. He’d heard that the posters were popular souvenirs amongst foreigners and I have to say I was touched by his gesture.

Putting all politics aside, I think the posters are really quite beautiful to look at. I’m even more thankful for this gift as it’s jolted me into appreciating my surroundings a little more. After developing the inevitable monotonous routine, I’ve become ignorant to the things that interested and captivated me when I first expatriated to HCMC. Posters, like these from the calender, are littered along the streets of down-town Saigon and they definitely make for a colourful walk to and from work.

All photos belong to CoKerri. Please report if you find these used on any other website.

The Hungry Pig

“JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD!”

This was definitely my mindset earlier today when I chowed down on, quite possibly, the best sandwich IN THE WORLD.

If I’m honest, I’ve never really done sandwiches, I could never understand the fixation; it’s just bread, butter and a filling (usually some kind of cheese or ham). They’ve always been just a tad boring for me. But oh, how naive and, well, just plain uneducated I have been!

The Hungry Pig is a relatively new breakfast / brunch restaurant on Cong Quynh Street (just off Bui Vien Street, District 1). I’d heard about it through a work colleague who was boasting in the teacher’s room of the best bacon sandwich he’d ever tasted. Like a true Brit, I love my bacon, to the point that I’m very specific in its cooking requirements. As a result, whilst living in the UK, I rarely opted for bacon when eating out to save on any disappointments, instead choosing to buy and cook my own at home. Since moving to Vietnam though, I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed the stuff. Bacon is hard to come by here, and on the rare occasion you do come across it in the supermarket, it tends to be the American style streaky bacon, which is certainly no match for Sainsbury’s meaty Smoked Back Rashers.

So, after 2 years of relentless cravings, I put all my preconceptions aside and dived into The Hungry Pig. Their menu boasts an array of bacon sandwich options, from the classic BLT to spicier Asian style varieties. Not to mention the bacon salads and the (perhaps even more tempting) Full English Breakfasts they offer every Sunday. I opted for the ‘Bacon Bagel’; a cinnamon and raisin bagel topped with Philadelphia cream cheese (the proper stuff!), bacon, rocket and cranberry sauce.

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“What’s not to like?! Bacon. Good! Bagel. Good! Cream Cheese. Goooood!”

My other half chose the ‘Pepper Pig’; a spicy concoction of smoked bacon, jalapeños and cheese on a toasted pita (unfortunately, the ‘toasty’ nature of this one didn’t make for a good photo). I seriously can’t recommend this place more! Even for a fussy eater like myself, their sandwiches are quite honestly heaven on earth.

Safe to say, my cravings have been satisfied, for now. Undoubtedly I’ll be back there again soon though, searching for my next bacon fix. I’m thinking of a lunchtime trip for a BLT this time …

Check them out …

Address: 144 Cong Quynh Street, District 1, HCMC

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Thehungrypigcafe

Open most days from 7am – 10pm

Pride

Today is a very proud day for me and my little blog. It’s been exactly 5 months and 9 days since the birth of CoKerri and in that short time I have gained 10,000 views from 71 countries!

New Picture

I imagine this is a small milestone for some, but for little ol’ CoKerri, this is quite the ground-breaker. Thanks to all my loyal followers, family, friends and any of those who have stopped by my blog in the past 5 months – your support is sincerely appreciated.

I’m so glad that you have all enjoyed my stories, trials and tribulations. I only hope my escapades will continue to entertain!

Một, Hai, Ba, Dzô!

AO Show

The Saigon Opera House (Nhà hát lớn Tp. HCM) was built in 1897 and just screams French Colonialism. It’s architecture boasts a grandeur, sophistication and personality that many of the more recent buildings in the city seem to lack. The majestic building settles in comfortably amongst its surrounding colonial neighbours, namely The Rex and The Caravel Hotels and is located on the very wealthy, Đồng Khởi Street in the lively down-town Saigon.

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I’ve been meaning to see a show here for months now and finally got my lazy self to the box office to book tickets. There are 2 shows running at the moment; the first by HBSO (Ho Chi Minh Ballet Symphony Orchestra & Opera) and the second being an acrobatic performance known as the AO Show. I initially was hoping to see the first of the two as I just love dance in all its forms, but most of the HBSO show times were on week nights, which is no good when you teach evening classes all week. So I settled on tickets for the acrobatic show at 8pm on Sunday night and boy, I wasn’t disappointed.

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Cameras weren’t allowed inside the auditorium, so I can only hope my words will do the show justice. Orbited around the Vietnamese tradition of using woven coracle boats and bamboo canes, the acrobats jumped, flipped and flew around the stage using their props with an ease and grace that was both enchanting and terrifying. The acrobats and gymnasts told the story of both traditional and modern day life in Vietnam with such precision; a hilarious comedic skit in the middle section was a true highlight for me. Here they depicted the daily toils of modern life in the city; power-cuts, unexplainable banging at 4am, awful karaoke, peeping Toms and the famous ‘sensual’ massages; things that you could easily relate to whether you’re a local, expat or a traveller just passing through. The show represents a great mix of Vietnamese culture sprinkled with Western perspectives.

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The total show time lasted just over an hour and time certainly flew by, I could have easily stayed to watch another hour or two. The artists themselves also stuck around after the show for photographs which went down a treat with all the kids in the audience.

The show is running until January 2014, if you like Cirque Du Soliel, then this one is definitely for you!

Prices:

530,000vnd – ‘Aah! Seats’ (i.e: the restricted views in the stalls)

890,000vnd – ‘Ooh! Seats’ (i.e: the central seats in the stalls)

1, 250,000vnd – ‘Wow! Seats’ (i.e: the balcony circle)

Nb: The auditorium has some icy cold air conditioning – take a jacket and don’t wear shorts!

Flea Market

Halloween Theme

Theme

Once a month, Boomerang Bistro in District 7 holds a Flea Market. It’s not really considered a traditional Flea Market due to the noticeable absence of antiques and second hand gems but this doesn’t take away its charm. The market offer some unique gifts, handmade jewellery, cosmetics and high quality clothing, shoes and accessories. It’s location isn’t ideal for us inner-city dwellers, being a good 30min drive away, but it does make for a nice day out. Similarly, being held above a sports bar works wonders if you like to use your other-half as a taxi; mine was more than happy sat in front of the flat screen TV with a full English Breakfast and a beer for a few hours. Not to mention the free WiFi …

The popularity of the Flea Market has certainly increased in recent months, with organizers now offering an additional monthly market at Vista Bazaar in District 2. And, as I type, I’ve just received notification that they’ll be offering 2 market dates a month in District 7, alone, as of January 2014.

I’ve visited the Flea Market a couple of times since moving out here, but have never had quite such a successful time as I did last weekend. The theme was Halloween, but short of a few pumpkins dotted around, there wasn’t anything garish or unsightly to ruin the relaxed Sunday afternoon vibe.

The stalls are spread across the 1st floor of the Bistro and spill out onto an outdoor courtyard of the Crescent Mall. I find this area can be quite uncomfortable in Saigon’s intense afternoon heat, so I always try to arrive early and get all my shopping done before 1pm. Another option is to visit in the evening; most stalls are open until 7pm.

This Weekend's Haul

This Weekend’s Haul

So, to share my success of this weekend, here are a few particular stalls of interest:

  • Hữu Là La – Here, I bought a pair of floral flip-flops and a winter scarf; 70,000vnd (£2.05) and 100,000vnd (£2.93) respectively. They also sold some interesting cushions and home accessories that would be right at home in an old English thatch cottage.
  • Petite Note – A gorgeous home-made jewellery stall where I bought a bronze moustache necklace and a pair of matching earrings; 70,000vnd (£2.05) and 30,000vnd (£0.88) respectively.
  • Shimmer Silver – A little on the expensive side (by Vietnamese standards), but offered some genuine silver jewellery. I bought two beautiful rings for 300,000vnd (£8.80)

I also loved some of the handmade pictures, signs and clocks sold by  Qủa tăng vẽ tay.

The best part of the shopping experience? No-one relentlessly grabbing your arm and asking you what you want to buy and how much your willing to pay. Saigon Flea Market offers the luxury of window shopping at prices that will blow you away (in the best sense!)

Address: 107 Ton Dat Tien, Phu My Hung, District 7 & The Vista, An Phu, District 2

Opening Times: 11am-7pm (D7), 10am-9pm (D2)

Websitehttp://www.saigonfleamarket.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/saigon.flea.market?hc_location=stream

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