Archive for June, 2013

My Last Post

Just before Adrian and I headed to Vietnam, our time with Chatteris came to an end.

The Saturday before (25th May) we had our last Junk Boat with the Chatteris lot. Despite the early rain, it was a really great day messing around in the South China Sea, drinking gin and genuiniely being an idiot.

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Thursday 30th May was our last day on campus – a Shanghainese Dim Sum lunch with colleagues, as well as a ton of photos with students and staff and receiving gifts. Was a good day, and especially good as all the staff were thanking us for our positive contribution to the English learning environment throughout the year.

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Friday 31st May was our last day with Chatteris. Getting gratuity and bonus money was a win, while photos, award ceremonies and speeches all brought our time to an end. An all-you-can-eat buffet at the Royal Plaza was amazing that afternoon, and everyone loved the Yearbook our Yearbook Committee had put together, especially the Signing Pages during the buffet! We took it chilled and had a memorable last evenings drinks at Red Bar with everyone before we all left to do our separate things.

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So that’s it – 10 months of living and working in Hong Kong finally comes to an end with Chatteris. From the first buzz of reading the e-mail that they’d accepted me, on a hungover Saturday morning in April, to pigging out at an all-you-can-eat restaurant 13 months later, it’s been a blast.

I’m lucky enough to be heading back there in August for Round 2, teaching Primary and Kindergarten children, which will be a lot different to what I’m used to but hopefully more fun. I won’t be keeping the blog up as much next year I don’t think, mainly because the novelty is definitely over now – I feel like a proper Hong Konger now.

Big shout out to everyone who had read this blog or kept up with it over the year. Jack W and Ka-mun deserve a mention for constantly telling me they’ve read it, as have a load of my best mates from Lonsdale/Uni.

At last count, I’ve had a total of 3,500 views, with 101 people reading it on a single day at one point. I’ve had people reading from mainly HK, UK, US, Canada, Singapore and Australia, and most weirdly from Guam, the UAE, Afghanistan, Oman and Moldova. Only had 1 view from China in total, which figures with their censorship laws. But thanks to everyone who has read about how mainly we go out and get smashed at weekends and have the time of our lives in Hong Kong. Cheers!

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Ho Chi Minh City

After our contract with Chatteris ended on Friday 31st May, we were free!! Adrian and I had tickets booked to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam from 1 June – 4 June, but on different flights.

Vietnam Airlines wasn’t the worst in the world, despite a tonne of negative reviews, got me there in 1 piece and I got a cab from a company recommended on WikiTravel, which were cheap enough at 170,000 Dong (about US$8). The hostel we stayed at was the Ngoc Thou Hostel in District 1 (the main place for tourists and backpackers) and was a decent hostel, which didn’t over-charge and were dead friendly.

The first proper day we had we were up early for a tour out of the city to the Cu Chi area near the Cambodian border where the Vietcong Tunnels were. Our tour guide called himself ‘John Wayne’ and his Dad used to be in the VC himself. That day, we…

– Went to a ‘Victims of Agent Orange’ shop where they allowed victims/people born with deformities to do art, sculptures and crafts which they sell. That was pretty poignant and our first taste of the other perspective of the ‘American War’ as they call it.
– Watched some VC Propaganda videos of them training
– Saw VC booby traps (proper chilling stuff…)
– Firing AK-47s (expensive, but SO COOL)
– Went down the VC tunnels themselves (really hot, little oxygen and you had to stoop, proper kills your calves!)
– Went in an US Tank which was destroyed by a missile and was now just a shell.

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That evening, we headed to the famous make-shift bars where Siagon or Hanoi beers are 50c each. We had about a dozen I think, with people from the tour that day. Great to meet so many new people, but I felt rough the morning after.

Day 2 was the Mekong Delta tour. Early get up, feeling rough and on a coach for 2 hours. But worth it. The tour itself was padded out with things like ‘Hold a Snake’, ‘listen to these musicians play, and look they have a CD out…’ and ‘fruit tasting’ but the highlights were definitely the small canoe boat rides with Vietnam hats on, and visiting a huge Buddha and Temple.

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That evening was more chilled due to me still feeling rough. So Cartoon Network in Vietnamese on TV was perfect.

My last day there, we spent checking out the markets, saw the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and went to the former US Embassy to South Vietnam, which was now the War Remnants Museum. Basically any war stuff that the Americans didn’t have time to evacuate or use as the north’s forces were approaching. It was full of propaganda and bias, but really showed a lot of truths about the war you can’t really get the feel for from books. A well good experience.

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After that, we chilled a bit before I had to go to the airport and Adrian had one more night before Kathmandu in Nepal, the lucky sod.

All in all, Vietnam is bloody amazing, Saigon even more so, a definite recommendation!