Friday, November 4, 2011

Names, Food and Bikes

The other day, we got to sit in and help in a year one classroom. It was fun listening to them learn English. While all of these students have Vietnamese names, a lot of them use their English names that they've chosen or their parents have chosen. Some of the most... interesting of these names includes, Flower, Poppy, Flow, Rainbow, Candy, Pacman and, my favourite; Spiderman. Yes, Spiderman, you read that right. It's very interesting what their concept of a western name is. In year 11 English, we played a game where you had to list western boys names starting with certain letters. We had a variety of answers like, Freddy, Bobby, Marcus and Scotty. Not what you'd call typical but certainly on the creative end of the Spectrum.

Something quite interesting about the school is that it's about 30% girls and 70% boys. This is generally been out down to the fact that makes get preferences ver females here, so only the sons get sent to private school. Vietnam is a little behind the rest of the world when it comes to feminism. Some year 12 girls were telling me how mothers want to find out the baby's gender asap, and often get the pregnancy terminated if its a girl. She was also saying how she wants to go to university, but her mother would like her to get married and stay at home. An interesting contrast to back home.

We got in a little trouble yesterday for the first time. We got taken out in the morning to go visit the ho chi Minh maselium and museum (even though his body wasn't there so we couldn't see that, and when we got back we went for lunch then we were just in time for nap time. Now we all had a little snooze, and not having anywhere to go after, we talked and chilling on the bunks then one by one we all fell asleep. Now the buses home have a very strict leaving time, of 4 on the dot, so when I woke up, looked at the clock and saw 4:03, I kinda yelled to wake u the other girls, and ran down the 6 big flights of stairs to the ground floor, only to see the teacher looking just a little bit cranky as well as our host sisters and the very unhappy bus drivers. Everyone was already on the buses, and they were watching us. The worst bit was having to explain to Hue that we were late because we were napping. Not a great ending to a good day.

But anyway, the students are given lunch, and pay for it in their school fees, so they just group and get what they want, kinda like how Id imagine an American cafeteria would work. We'd heard about this famous food from the girls who did the Vietnam exchange last year as well the students. All of this being negative and about how terrible the food is. On Tuesday we decided to try this food, and it wasn't too bad at all! However yesterday's and today's... weren't worth venturing, so on Wednesday we had an interesting experience trying to order food in an all Vietnamese restaurant. I know basic words like 'pork', 'chicken', 'beef' and 'fish', so that kind of helped but when we decided we wanted pork, we simply did eenie meenie to pick one at random. I didn't think it was too bad, but the girls decided on going to the western style fast food joint around the corner. Yesterday however some of the young English teachers took us across the road for a bun cha (like, 'boon char') and it was really delicious, we kinda got to creat our own little noodle soups with pork pieces and spring rolls. Very delish. 
The canteen also Supplies breakfast if you pay for it, and the last few days I've been getting brekkie from school. I've had eggs and phô, but this morning 'interesting' experience and I'd be lying if I said I didn't throw up a little. It was like, white rice in good form, surrounding some form of curried meat and vegetables, all wrapped in a giant leaf. I'll attach a few pics of me trying it... They're very attractive, so yeah, be ready for that.

I also had another' interesting' food experience at home the other night when my parents had some family friends visiting. My mum made this little sticky rice cakes, which, in vietnam, is apparently the equivalent of pavlova in Australia. Anyway, I had a little bite (with like, 10 people watching) and liked the outside so said 'mmmmmm!' and took a big bite of the centre. See, I didn't know this cake thing had a filling, so as soon as I tasted it, my gag reflexes kicked in, and I didn't hesitate it spitting my huge mouthful right back into my bowl... with everyone still watching me. Luckily it takes a lot to offend the Vietnamese, so they thought this was absolutely hysterical and all of them burst out laughing. Even the baby started giggling, and he didn't even know what was happening. I've already told y'all about my distaste for veggies and while I am trying everything while here, one thing I cannot stand are beans. Turns out the centre of this cake was made of puréed beans, and the beans here are even worse than the ones back home, so yes, not a great ending to that dinner but I figure a smile and a laugh and it'll all be forgotten soon enough. And if not, at least i don't speak their language, so I can't understand their mocking.

Also, a bit random, but I just thought I'd share 2 things I saw yesterday on the bus ride home from school that kinda freaked me out. I saw a man driving a  motorbike, with a dead, skinned pig at his feet. Now I'm not talking a cute little pig like babe.. nah, like a full grown sow sized one. It was on its back, and it was so big that it's hooves we're nearly dragging on the road on both sides. I like to think that we get our pork from the OTHER butcher haha. I also saw (another motorbike story) this bike, with a huge bottle of propane attached on the back....attached by one thin piece of rope. As a result it was, perhaps the most precarious thing I've ever seen, and I was thankful when it turned a corner (causing the bottle to swing wildly) and moved away from our bus. These are just 2 of the more interesting things I've seen, but being in Vietnam is like a contest of who can carry the largest and most abstract objects on the back of motor, or push bikes.

I'm also attaching some pics of nap time, ange and i working in the primary school and the poster we had to make (before anyone mentions that i have my top button undone, you should just try and understand how incredibly  hot it is over here, but regardless, I'd appreciate if that could NOT be shown to mrs Crowshaw or anyone) and some other things that don't really have a category.

(ignore top button)

Our creation

my, ugh, 'breakfast'

NAPTIME. gotta love the spooning here

enjoying naptime

Having a snooze


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