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Vietnam :

Ha Long, my new home

The schools - 2000-2001 - Photos in the classes
March 20, French celebration 2001 - 2001-2002 - March 20, French celebration 2001 - Along Bay

New mission

So, following the different  evaluations last year (in the middle of the scheduled project, 12 years), the "Bilingual classes" program entered a "consolidation" step, which of course implies some changes.

As far as I'm concerned, it has been stated that the needs of Hanoi in foreign supervisors were reduced (the capital having had the help of numerous expatriates since the beginning of the program), while some very motivated provinces only had had a periodical help in the form of a few days' missions per month (at the best) from the supervisors of neighboring cities.  

However, it is to be underlined that these missions, while episodic and short, represented -and still represent- an important and efficient help for a long time.

My predecessors in Ha Long (Laurence, Marie-Anne, Nadine, Monique, Jean-François...) and myself (for my missions in Vinh Long and Son Tay) would not be very happy to see this consequent work and investment that are these missions in the country being forgotten.

But let's go back, selfishly, to myself : at the end of August, Mr. Cuong of the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam responded to a more urgent and more motivated than others demand, and asked me if I would have liked to become supervisor (pedagogical counselor) of the Quang Ninh province (Hon Gai City, better known as Ha Long from its location on the very well known "Ha Long Bay" or "Along Bay"), with regular missions in Hai Phong, and the responsibility of "multimedia specialist".

"Yes !"

I said, of course !  And so I am, on this 19th of September 2000, on the road from Ha Noi to Ha Long,, the truck carrying my furniture in the front and me in a rental 4x4 behind.

After about 3 hours of driving, right in the middle of the section under construction (soil, dust, mud, rocks...) the truck stops : problem.  Its driver and the movers not knowing a lot about mechanics, its the driver of my 4x4 who lies under the truck (Bye-bye pants and shirt...)  But there's nothing to do : the clutch is dead.  We go with the 4x4 to look for a garage, which we find about 10 kilometers (of dirt) further.  Verdict : it's a Korean KIA truck, it's impossible to repair on the road, it has to be towed  and fixed at the garage, this evening the sooner.   

No !  Seeing how things were going, I have another truck be hired, with which we go back to the first one.  We tow it back to the garage as well as it can be : the towing cable breaks 3 times, and each time the truck backs quickly towards the 4x4 : I saw myself several times with a 4x4 and a driver, in the middle of my furniture and truck parts, on a dirt road in the hills of Quang Ninh.  At the garage, still on the "road", we transferred all my stuff (I can assure you that in these times, one's does not care about the items not being damaged) and we moved on. 

Second surprise : the truck cannot take the regular, costal road (through Bai Chai, the tourist part of Ha Long Bay), it must go by the mountain road...  which is under construction !  Finally, we'll arrive (after passing the ferry) at the house I had found one week before, the "less bad" that I could find.  Quick unload with the help of my friend Simone, of Vui and Tien (teachers) before beginning the paperwork with the police (inscription and permit of residence in Ha Long)...  These are still going on at the time I write this, that is, three days later.

My house in Ha Long

Has only one real flaw : it is situated on a very high traffic road (motorbikes, cars, trucks = engines and honks).  Sometimes, I can't even hear myself typing on the keyboard !  The neighboring computer shop pleases me, but not the motorbikes repair shop on the other side...  Bing-bing, vroom-vroom, tûût-tûût...

Behind the house, the mountain.  As long as it quietly stays there, I find it very nice.  Especially from the terrace on the 3rd floor.

The 1st floor was to be a shop, so one's enter my house through heavy glass doors.  On the day the Bilingual classes don't need me anymore, what shall I put in the display ?  Myself ?  Héhéhé ;o)))

The upper floors are Ok and relatively well equipped.  Facing the house, the Bay : I can see the rocks emerging from it, but not the water, hidden by houses...  It's at this point I regret not having a second job with urbanism, it would not last long : evacuate 500 trucks of bricks and asphalt, and have them come back with sand and palm trees ;o)

So, if it didn't have these few (!) flaws, I wouldn't call it "temporary headquarters" ;o)

Last news : this Friday I abandoned the idea of buying a little Jeep and bought myself a local motorbike, a brand new Suzuki Viva R110.  After Bertha, how shall I nickname this little one ?  Brice, finally I think you were right : I had all the stickers being removed at buying time (Gosh !  The seller's face !  The story must have made it through the city by now !) and it's much nicer now :o)

29-09-2000 : Surprise, surprise...  I come back from an excellent dinner at the restaurant with the School Board and the teachers, in a very good mood.  Mr. Phuong, the Superintendent, even drives me back home in his car.  I cross the street (always a journey here in Vietnam) and meet my neighbors...who begin on my doorsteps the barbecue...of a dog...which they just opened there...

I may well have known about it for a long time and have lived in the dog restaurants area in Hanoi, it shocks when one's see one (about 10kg) prepared on his doorsteps, and can smell the odor of it in one's whole house (curtains, towels, bed sheets...).  What could I have told them, me, the westerner who just came in ?  No, I didn't take pictures.

However I have to add this : eating dog meat is traditional in Vietnam, mostly in the North.  It is said to have come from China.  It is supposed to increase luck and sexual power, it is an expensive and exceptional meal.  As far as I have seen, it does not conflict with Vietnamese liking dogs as pets, household dogs and taking care of them.


Day off (anniversary of Hanoi's liberation).  I'm already tired of this house : the noise is permanent (the street, the train...), impossible to escape from it.  And of course, no way I open the windows to ventilate, my "home sweet home" is closed.  I feel like looking for something else...  And actually, it would be a shame for me to live in Ha Long and not having a view on the Bay !

Besides that, my first visits in the classes made me even more optimistic than I was, particularly the cursus A students in middle school (6th and 7th year of French) : they are good and motivated !  You should have seen the 7th E1 class discussing the cycle of water with Mr. Dat, their teacher...  Wow !

Page créée le 21 septembre 2000 -  Mise à jour le 12 novembre 2000

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