Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Things are looking up....

December 7, 2011..

When Mrs. H asked Mr. H for a synopsis of what life in Vietnam would be like....

"Big house, will fit all of our stuff including my PNG art. Lots of lawn, Tika will be happy, pool with Jacuzzi, Claire will be happy. 4 bedrooms, new kitchen. Very secure and large compound with over 100 houses and large appartment block. Your bike can live here, Jeanne happy. Very quiet cherry tree lined street. British, Australian and IB school within walking or bicyle distance.
What else do you need to know?"


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Finding France in Vietnam

Note to Self: Must check out this book by Luke Nguyen and 
brush up on my Vietnamese cooking.

From Amazon UK

Product Description

"Indochine" sees Red Lantern's Luke Nguyen revisit his beloved Vietnam and seek out the food and cultural remnants of this former French colonial empire. On his regular visits to Vietnam today, Luke is often struck by the appearance of people wearing berets, speaking French and the aromas of coffee and butter emanating from cafes and patisseries. The recipes and accompanying stories showcase the French influence upon Vietnamese history and cuisine. Against a backdrop of grand colonial hotels, bars, restaurants and terraces, to private estates dressed in antiques and textiles of the period, Luke talks to chefs, bakers and family members to extract the very essence of French-Vietnamese cuisine. From coffee and croissants at breakfast to high tea and supper, Luke unravels the origins of Vietnamese dishes such as pho, which began life as a 'pot au feu', and experiments with new versions of traditional Vietnamese food. "Indochine" appeals to lovers of French, Vietnamese food and travel alike. This title is from the author of best-selling cookbooks "Secrets of the Red Lantern" and "The Songs of Sapa". It features vibrant food photography shot entirely in Vietnam and more than 100 regional recipes showcasing Vietnam's French culinary roots.

About the Author

Luke Nguyen opened his award-winning restaurant, Red Lantern, in 2002 with his sister Pauline and her partner chef Mark Jensen. Luke's TV work includes Food Safari and Heat in the Kitchen, and he currently hosts his own cooking show, Luke Nguyen's Vietnam.

Other books by Luke Nguyen

Radio interview with Luke on ABC Australia on 8 November 2011 HERE

Monday, November 28, 2011

christmas trees and motor bikes


November 28, 2011....

As I start to decorate our home in England for Christmas, I wonder what Christmas will be like for us in Ho Chi Minh next year. We have a 7ft ariticial tree for those occasions when the local trees will not do. When all trees are measured and compared to American Christmas trees, I admit it is a challenge and we end up using the artificial more than not. This year, an English tree it will be. 

As I put up our decorations, I can't help but wonder what size tree I could get on the back of a motorbike or bicyle for that matter. I will be back with more on that thought, this time next year. :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Down to business....Vietnam

I thought I would move past the 'pretty pictures' and get down to business 
with highlighting a few facts in the document that Mr. H passed on to me last week. 
It has been sitting on my desk....waiting for a read. Let's see, where do I begin? 

Vietnam is a Communist Party-dominated constitutional republic
...time to brush up on Political Science

Ho Chi Minh is one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world
....I may have to rethink riding my bike in the city.

Vietnamese usually have three names, the family name, a middle name
and a given name. The family name comes first and around 50% of the population 
has the family name Nguyen....come again?

Traffic drives on the right...can do

A few Health precautions...

Mains water should be boiled or otherwise sterilised before drinking
....note to self, stock up on bottled water

Unpasteurised milk should be boiled
...note to self, stock up on boxes of UHT milk

Preparation will be needed for Malaria, Cholera, Rabies, Yellow Fever, 
Avian Influenza (bird flu), Dengue fever
...I stopped here, too many to list... hmmmm.

Hospital care.. fly to Thailand or Singapore for anything other than basic treatment
....I have to think on this one.

At this point I decided I was moving into information overload
...need to see more pretty pictures. :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Packing and my Pashley

Thinking about my English bike (notes on my Love Affair here) and if I would have any luck riding it on the streets of Ho Chi Minh. My guess is that anyone who has been there would think I was dreaming....
I am going to have to decide whether to take it with us to Vietnam. We plan to put most of our contents in storage and ship it to Australia where we plan to move after our posting in Vietnam. The bike is on the list. Should I or shouldn't I take it with us to Vietnam? I think I should... Adventures on my English Pashley Vietnam. There is bound to be at least one opportunity, wouldn't you think? I may not be brave enough to tackle the ambitions of the person in the photo above...but I think a flower basket shot on the back of my bike might work....

I wonder if our dog, Tika, would ride in it.... :)

Decisions, decisions....should I take my bike or 
pack it up for the next stop on the Expat Express?  
What say you?

My Pashley :)
Posted at my blog, Collage of Life
Comments to this

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blow...Wind...Blow....Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more 
disappointed by the things 
that you didn't do than the ones you did do. 
So throw off the bowlines. 
Sail away from the safe harbour. 
Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover. "

Wise words 
by Mark Twain

I am waiting on that wind....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jolanta...the dog whisperer

November 14, 2011...

I just told our housekeeper, Jolanta, that we are moving. Jolanta is from Lithuania, she moved to England with her husband two years ago to start a new life. She has an 18 year old son who has stayed behind, he tried living here but realised his heart belongs in Lithuania. We have connected and I have been here before. What starts as housekeeping soon expands to dog walking, house sitting and then babysitting. We are off to Australia in a few weeks...she will move in while we are gone to keep things on track.

I told her we were moving...and her face dropped. She tells us often how much she loves looking after our home and family. Our dog, Tika, does double spins in the air when she sees Jolanta at the door. Jolanta is a dog whisper...she whispers to her all day long, I don't know what she says but our dog is as loyal to her as any other.

This is the first step...I write about it because that is what you do in a diary. Someday I will reflect, as I pick up the threads of my life in a new country and weave a new story.

I finished my talk with Jolanta by saying..who knows, we could be back again, sooner than you think. We will hope together. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thank You Millie!

I started blogging two years ago, with our move from New Zealand to England. If you blog, you may recall that feeling when people first start commenting on your blog. It is pure joy.  Millie @ The Laurel Hedge  by way of the Adelaide Hills in Australia was one of those people. Mother to five boys with a talented 'Partner-in-Renovating', (MOTH), she is an absolute delight. I am just as happy today to read her posts and comments as I was two years ago. She honored me with this post recently.... I am so very touched. I know I will come back to it many times...and for that I send my sincere thanks to Millie. :)

12 November, 2011

Many of us read this week that our dear Bloggie mate Jeanne & her family over at Collage of Life have received news of their next posting. They are off to live in Vietnam in 2012. In her inimitable style, she's up for the challenge, so here's a little taste of what's to come Jeanne - from my very favourite homewares company Vagabond Vintage. Full screen & volume on & I promise you'll be transported to this magical destination in a heartbeat. It's the weekend, so go enjoy!"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

a few words on moving on...

November 9, 2011....

Our move is going to happen in various stages. Mr. H will move to Ho Chi Minh City first while I hold down the fort back in England. School years have to finish, packing has to be done and plans have to made as to how we will make the transition. We are not new to this scenario. We spent a year apart, with Mr. H in London for a year while we stayed back in Auckland to finish the school year. Having teenage children adds another layer of complexity to a move. In my mind, thier wellbeing has to come first. We all managed to see each other every 10-12 weeks. It was a long year but we grew in many positive ways as well. I always look for the silver lining in every cloud. If you look hard enough, you can usually find one.

I am lucky in that I have this time up my sleeve. In most cases you have a few weeks to work with or three months at best. It is November 2011 and I have until June 2012....a bit of breathing space. In the meantime, I have to create a list of what needs to be done. It always starts with the things we do not want to bring with us. Can I just say, I have created this list for four moves and each time, those same things end up being shipped along with us. This time...I will really make the effort...really. :)

Vietnam in Photos

Today I am doing a bit of forward thinking. I am laying the groundwork for our move to 
Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) next year and decided I should first see where it is actually located.  I am not sure why I thought it was an island...I now stand corrected. It helps to get your geography in 
perspective when you are making a move. :) 

Mr. H handed me an enormous document to read that will tell me all I need to know. 
Being a visual person, I like to look at the photos first and read the copy last. 
This document does not have decided to find my own.

I admit, I went for the nicest photos first but it is early days...
I am getting myself motivated and to do so...
I have to do it my way. :)

I don't know about you...but I am starting to think Vietnam will be 
an interesting place to live. I also think I am going to need lots of visitors 
to show around. We can go sightseeing, take cooking classes, 
take the cameras for a spin, do a bit of spa hopping, go shopping in the markets.....
how does Jeanne's Vietnam Bloggers Tour sound? Any takers?

This post was created at Collage of Life...comments to this post can be found here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Taking Notes...

From Mille @ The Laurel Hedge on Vietnam....
You'll love it, the influence of the early French occupation is still really evident in the food. Wonderful buttery croissants, pastries & bowls of steaming cafe au lait for breakfast. And then there's the glorious local & regional food- yum. And don't forget the divine Amanpuri resort is a quick plane ride away on the west coast of Thailand overlooking the Andaman sea if you need some 6 star pampering. What an adventure you have ahead of you Jeanne!
Millie xx ................Thank you Millie!  

All suggestions/recommendations welcome!

Monday, November 7, 2011

To Vietnam With Love- A Travel Guide

It is time to start building my Vietnam reference book library. This is the first one for my shopping cart. I was sold half way through the Table of Contents.

Editor: Kim Fay
Photographer: Julie Fay Ashborn


Moveable Feast...A tasting menu of exotic flavors.
Secret Gardens...Where to hide away from the touring masses.
Retail Therapy...An insiders/ primer to boutiques and markets.
Into the Wild..Outdoor experiences for adventurous travelers.
When in Rome... Lessons on living local and making yourself at home.
Paying it Forward... Suggestions for giving back while you're on the road.
Resources for the Road...Practical advice to help you prepare for your travels.

To Vietnam with Love: A Travel Guide for the Connoisseur
"Born from the Southeast Asian guidebook that The International Herald Tribune's Thai Day hailed as a guide with depth and color that most of [its] competitors lack, To Vietnam With Love: A Travel Guide for the Connoisseur launches the To Asia With Love series. This beautiful, full-color guidebook features a collection of personal essays by savvy expatriates, seasoned travelers, and inspired locals. Each reflection on a favorite dining, shopping, sightseeing, or cultural experience is paired with a practical fact file, so that readers can follow in the writers footsteps. From staying overnight with a local hill tribe and climbing Southeast Asia's highest mountain, to touring historic French villas and getting involved with local charities, every recommendation captures a distinctive aspect of the country." This and more on Amazon, here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

where in the world?

The first question I had to ask myself is 'where in the world is Vietnam?'. I had a vague idea but when it comes to Asia it is like playing a game of darts in my mind....and I always miss the target. We played a guessing game with friends before we announced where we were moving to Vietnam. There had been so many locations suggested prior to this that I did not want to announce it until we were absolutely certain. Even as I write, I still think that things could change again. What is ever certain in life? I will leave that thought as is.

One of our clues was that it was a thin long country bordering an ocean. We will be living in Ho Chi Minh City...bordering the South China Sea. I am excited to think of the travel possibilities when I look at this map. I could apply a dozen little markers to the places I would like to visit during our time living in Vietnam. I might as well start now: Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Burma, with visits back to China and India. That is a lot to think about on a Sunday morning before my first cup of coffee.

 I will leave it on that thought....until the next one...

spin the globe and a postscript

"Theatrum Orbis Terrarum" (Theatre of the World) c. 1570 

We are spinning the globe at the moment as we await news on our next assignment overseas. Rather, my head is spinning as we await the news. This is all happening a bit too soon for me. We are only coming up to two years in England. It will have been our shortest posting so far. So here I sit...waiting to spill the beans. I have been here before. I nearly blurted out six months ago that we were moving to Central America...but we are not. I nearly blurted out three months ago that we were moving to Switzerland...but now we are not. I nearly blurted out two weeks ago that we were staying in London...but we are not.  Can you see my point? Until we know for certain.... 

It is Friday, the day when most news is announced. Mr. H is coming home early. What could it be this time? I have an idea, but I can't say for certain. To help keep my sanity, I am playing a guessing game with my friends on Facebook. I provide a few clues and they give me their guess. It has been an interesting trip and a lot of fun for me.  Care to join in? Here are the clues so far....get ready to play 'spin the globe' to see where the H's will live next...

Mr. H is thrilled...Mrs. H is speechless
The country has red in it's flag
English is not it's first language
On the globe, it is a long thin country bordering an ocean
It lies between the equator and the Tropic of Cancer
Another clue coming shortly, any guesses so far?

Before I sign off for the night, I want to thank you all forseeing me through the week with your thoughtful comments. I have closed down one blog, merged another and have changed my look countless times. It has helped to keep me 'grounded' and your comments have made all the difference.

For that I send a big thank you!
Best wishes for an adventurous weekend to one and all!

Jeanne :)x


UPDATE... are off to Vietnam ( Ho Chi Minh) in the latter half of 2012. 
Thinking on Vietnam and, travel, silk, antiques,
photography, voluteer work...the list is starting. :)

My first thought went to this movie..if you are just waking up, Good Morning!