Thursday, September 4, 2014

All Work and No Play/All Play and No Work?

We are now well and truly settled in An Bang, Hoi An in a delightful little house that our Vietnamese daughter arranged for us. It is simple, clean and very private in a lovely garden in a neighbourhood of curious but friendly people.

The best thing about the house is that it is air conditioned. Bruce can comfortably sit at the computer to do his writing. Every morning we head down to the beach where we join our family for a swim at 6:30 am. Fabulous way to start the day and stave off the encroaching heat...over 30 degrees Celsius with high humidity is hard for us folks from above the 49th parallel! The Vietnamese take advantage of the heat to dry their rice cakes and the laundry!

The village is one of sod farms. Traditionally, village people specialized in a specific trade, the skills passed from one generation to another. There are grass mat villages, pottery villages, wood working villages. Our village grows sod! For a few weeks the houses look very "suburban" with huge lawns...then the sod disappears to reveal the sandy yard and the process begins again. Small clumps of grass are painstakingly replanted, watered, weeded and cared for, for a couple of months and then it is cut again. Piles of sod squares sit outside the fence waiting to be picked up and delivered to a hotel or golf course.

We try to blend in to our new community, but it is not possible. We are the two people who live in the  "foreign" house, our large frames on bicycles amuse everyone and they know that we are pretty useless when it comes to managing shopping in the market. The cows however were completely nonplussed by either us or the taxi which brought us home the other day.

Often we escape to the beach to catch the breeze and savour a delicious, iced Vietnamese bad for us...loaded with caffeine and taken with sweetened condensed milk.

Evenings are often spent at Binh and Quyen's house where we enjoy homemade Vietnamese dinners and really fun times with our "grandsons". Sesame is now 10 years old and Gao is two and a half.

Even our friend Le Ly Hayslip got into the "silly hat" game instigated by Goa the other night!

It was really wonderful for me to sit back and watch two of my "heroes" enjoying each other. Le Nguyen Binh is the founder of Reaching Out where we have worked every year that we have come back to Vietnam. Le Ly Hayslip is the founder of Global Village Foundation. We have worked with Le Ly to deliver those portable libraries that so many of you have donated.

We are working on your behalf! Le Ly and her organization are focused on helping the nuns at Chua Quang Pagoda where they are caring for more than 100 abandoned children in a facility which is overcrowded and underfunded. We will ensure that your dollars go directly to this orphanage when we travel there next month with much needed formula, diapers, blankets and food for the older children.

Binh has asked once again for our help with some critical business planning so that the amazing success of Reaching Out, his social enterprise will be sustainable. The RO craft shop and the tea house have both achieved the #1 position for their categories on Trip Advisor. Responding to the rave reviews is a daily task which Elaine loves.

Blogging about the meetings and showing pictures of all of us sitting around with lap tops open isn't as entertaining as telling you about the "extra curricular" activities. Enjoy!


  1. Love to read of your experiences.

  2. It is so great to see and hear about all the people in your first book (i.e. Le Nguyen Binh, Le Ly Hayslip, Sesame, Gao, and of course you and Bruce) continue to live out the stories you started telling us. It feels so alive!