Saturday, January 31, 2009

In Chiang Mai

Just a brief blog to say that we're in Chiang Mai without free internet. I just bought 30 minutes for 80Baht to check and reply to emails and to post this entry. We're in a hotel, where all the ELIC meetings and workshops are. It's been good the past few days seeing friends from China, Cambodia, and Laos again and to meet new teachers as well. The teachings have been really good, and we especially enjoyed listening to Michael Card teach us how to read John. We'll have longer posts with pictures once we're back in VN.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Heads up

We'll be leaving Saigon for Thailand tomorrow for our annual conference in Chiang Mai. We look forward very much to seeing teachers from China, Mongolia, Laos, and Cambodia, and meeting up once again with Team Vietnam, encouraging and uplifting one another, and corporately singing and listening.

I hope to post some more pictures and updates within this coming week while we enjoy highspeed interent access where we stay.

Here we are

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year of the Ox!

Some random pictures to wish all a Happy New Year of the Ox!

Chuc Mung Nam Moi

Beautiful orchards

Love swing

A New Year present from a student

Watermelon patch

Close encounter

Pink guavas, green guavas, and seedless guavas

New favorite fruit, the Mamey Sapote or Sapodilla, makes delicious smoothies

Aunts and cousins

It was a nice visit with Andy's two aunts, his cousin, and his cousin's daughter--a household of four females. Caleb and his eldest grandaunt enjoyed "studying" each other one on the hammock and one on the "couch"--a large flat wooden surface where one sits or rests or naps. I was invited to lie down and take a nap there after lunch. Caleb also had fun playing with his newly met cousin for the whole afternoon. They hit it off really well.

Milk products

Caleb has gotten used to drinking the UHT boxed milk products here for a while now since fresh ones are not readily available. The common brand here is Vinamilk and they make lots of drinking products. This is the milk that Caleb drinks each day.

Yogurt products are also very common. But near the univsersity there are not many varieties to choose from. However here in Saigon, guess what I found (Yes, Kefir, Lois)!

And on a related note (somewhat), Caleb got his first loose tooth about a month ago and it fell off last week while he was eating a piece of guava. He told me there was a seed in the guava and I told him to spit it out wondering if I had missed one while cutting it. A moment later, I noticed a gap among his teeth.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Visiting my aunts in the south

We took a day trip to visit my dad's sisters living in a small city outside of Saigon. This was where my dad grew up and used to take me and my siblings on the weekends.

Tết in Saigon

School is out for Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday, so we have 2 weeks off. All ELIC teachers from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, China, and Mongolia are required to travel to Chiang Mai, Thailand for what's called the Annual Thailand Conference (ATC). This is the one time during the year where we all get to meet each other for updates, encouragements, idea exchange, further training on how to become better teachers, paperwork, logistics, shopping for and buying new text books, taking care of health issues, singing, studying, listening, and praying. It's right in the middle of the year, and it's a good opportunity to hear and speak with other native English speakers.
Since we had some extra days, we decided to stop by Saigon for a few days on our way to Chiang Mai. Grace and Caleb have never seen Saigon, so we thought it would also be a good opportunity for them to see it, especially to visit the places where Andy used to grow up. It also happens to be Tết, so Saigon is teaming with people and tourists shopping and buying for the New Year and visiting different Tết exhibitions, fairs, festivals and music performances. People everywhere here are ringing in the Year of the Ox. Here are a few pictures of Tết in SG.

Notre Dame Church

Pho 2000, where Bill Clinton ate and made it famous

Nguyen Hue St Exhibitions

Tao Dan Park Exhibitions

Ben Thanh Market

Tax Plaza

New Year's Eve, all eateries were closed, but the fast food Lotteria place was open