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.
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
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".
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.
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
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.
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)
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
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.
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 !