Later Alligator

Have squeezed in a fair bit of sight seeing over my time in Saigon.  Went to the Ho Chi Minh City Museum to learn about… Uncle Ho (nice name) who was a Leninist and revolutionary who was Prime Minister and President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.  He passed away in 1969 prior to the fall/liberation of Saigon in 1975 and seems revered or not, depending on how one views history.  Had a quick look at Notre Dame Cathedral that has been under renovation and closed to the public since 2017.  Visited the “War Remnants Museum” that was perviously called the “Americans are Not Welcome Here Museum” – not really, but it was called the “Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes” and then the more sensitive “Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression”.  Of course, as the north won the war, the national sites tend to have a pro communist/socialist republic feel and much of the government’s advertising has a communist feel also.  Toured the National Art Gallery the other day.  All of this touring while locating a new coffee shop every day!  On Sunday I hit a new spot about a 25 minute walk away from my hotel that was located down a small back alley.  I was proud to locate it without needing to reference my GPS once, so my parietal lobe is beginning to relax.  (As I teach my students, the parietal lobe is involved in finding one’s way around new places and mine has been on fire since I arrived here.)

Am eating my fair share of Banh Mi (awesome east meets west sandwich) and Pho (noodle soup).  Now a lesson about Pho – it is not pronounced Pho (as in the start of focal).  It is pronounced Fu (as in the start of fun).  I watched an entire you tube video on how to pronounce it and was applauded by the VNAH group when I correctly pronounced it upon arrival.  Have even spread to Com Tam (broken rice) for breakfast.  It is supposed to be more flavorful when the rice grains are broken.  It’s pretty good and often mixed with fried egg so works for my “western” stomach that can’t tolerate spice first thing in the morning.  Am loving passion fruit and will eat it any time in any way.  Also packing in the ice cream, so any thought of weight loss through sweating it out is a pipe dream!

Yesterday I went to the local market on my way home.  I had 33,000 dong remaining (less than $2).  I saw something I might like and asked the price – 250,000.  “Pfft” says I (no way I can negotiate down to what I have).  However, the vendor starts to haggle and I am trying to show her that all I have is 33, 000.  And so “for me” she sells it for 33,000 dong.  Either I am one great negotiator or the tourist price is way, way more inflated than I had even imagined.

So, my final week of teaching has started.  First two days are a group of doctors.  I was told to watch out for their questionable questions.  None so far, so either I am baffling them with my BS or they are on you tube and not listening!  I did a live interview today with a really cute 9 year old boy who had a brain injury in a motor cycle accident last June.  I was so pleased to learn that his Dad thought the interview went so well that he asked if his son could be treated at the hospital that was hosting me.  They have a Japanese OT volunteer (who was present for the class) and she will be taking this little boy on for treatment.  She is here volunteering for 2 years!  Wow!  I can’t even imagine that.

This morning I had quite the time getting to work. Woke up hot and sweaty to realize – no power in the hotel.  I was told it would be on in one hour, then three hours… managed to get a bit of breakfast and grabbed a coffee from a cafe. Back at the hotel I pleaded for a flashlight, as my room only has an interior window and was pitch black. Started my cold shower in the flashlight lit room and – the power came back on! Caught a cab and he got lost en route to the hospital. I had to direct him through grunts and points. Arrived (late) to teach and just as I was getting to an interesting section with a bunch of videos – the power went out!  Life in Nam!

So, this will be my final post.  My admin (aka Frank) will be getting on a plane to head over here on Wednesday morning and I’m sure he has a million things to wrap up.  Thanks for joining in and for all of you that sent a message either through the blog or via email.  I do love hearing from people when so far away.

Merry Christmas to all and best wishes for 2019.  See you back in Canada!





  1. Thanks for sharing all the posts – wonderful to get a true sense as to your adventure.
    Enjoy your travels. Will miss you at Christmas.

  2. Thanks for all the blogs Leslie. Merry Christmas to you and Frank!

  3. Martha (Bauer) says:

    Wow – I feel like I have experienced Vietnam. Congrats on your great successes
    have a wonderful Christmas with Frank and Alex.
    Can’t wait to see you in January

  4. victoria sweetman says:

    I really enjoyed all of your posts Leslie. Thanks for including us in your adventure!
    Season’s Greetings – all the best over the holidays and all of the days ahead.

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