May journal

Enjoyed some final time off work today as Vietnam’s Liberation Day public holiday continues…

We’ve been endeavouring to keep up with the UK bonanza of holidays of late, and joined in with the Royal Wedding celebrations last week.  I made a bee-line from the office on Friday, with a colleague from Cairo, to join Lou and Flo and a mass of wedding supporters congregated in a local café to watch the event.

The café had colour portraits of William and Kate on display outside, and a big screen inside beaming BBC World Service to a packed crowd of union jacks, ladies hats and jugs of Pimms.   A sight usually more fitting for the banks of Henley, but it was somehow quite reaffirming to be a part of the spirit of the day, particularly given the lack of media build up we’ve had out here about the whole affair.

We then watched online video footage of it over the weekend as well.  Flo was transfixed by the whole thing, picking out the yellow Queen, the white fairy princess, and apparently some orange horses.

Today also marked the first day of Lou officially moving into “full term” territory (37 weeks).  Originally, I was due to fly to Dhaka today for work, but this got cancelled, which in many ways means less nervous moments for both of us (getting back from Bangladesh in a hurry would have been a tad too high octane maybe) however on the other hand, and according to Lou’s doctor, our baby is very healthy, settled and content and not likely to arrive anytime soon.  This, despite Lou constantly feeling exactly the opposite given how low the baby is languishing in its healthy, settled and contented little home at the moment.

With due dates and delivery very much on our minds this month, there may not be much time to recall what we’ve been up to since the last ‘journal’.  Suffice to say April found us very much getting into the groove of a routine.  It’s been over 9 weeks since we first arrived in Saigon, and our Thailand holiday and some of the more excruciating moments of that last week in London seem far removed in the memory.

The weather has turned up a notch, and humidity and heat are both now set too high for much of the day, and certainly too high to be outside for very long.  Flo’s early rising continues, and quite often we’ll take her downstairs to the children’s play area before breakfast, only to find the slides already sizzling hot.

For some of the draw backs of living in a 9th floor apartment, the pool here, adjacent to the swings and slides, is a blessing.  Lou has been swimming most days (“but it’s not as nice and refreshing as Tooting Lido”) and Flo has started lessons again and is gaining in confidence in the water.  There is a small gym downstairs too, which I’ve used a couple of times as I reintroduce the body to running again.

I plodded round the block yesterday at about 8am, which was instantly more enjoyable than the running machine, as you jog past local tea shacks, fruits stalls and lots of ‘garages’ (which tend to, in fact, be people’s living rooms) where scooters and bikes are in a permanent state of having their tyres fixed, their wheels washed or an oily rag applied to some part of their engines.  Round the block is definitely for me, even if I did arrive back home looking as if I’d plunged into the pool fully clothed on my way back upstairs.

Florence is thoroughly enjoying school.  She had a fortnight off for Easter, but now has a clear run in before the summer break at the end of June.  More confident and gregarious all the time, she has taken to ordering her own food and drinks when we go out, and berates the taxi drivers if they miss our turning!

We’ve started to get to know some really nice people here at the apartment as well as through school, and Flo is making friends with children of different ages and from different parts of the world.  The ex-pat community is certainly a well travelled one and, as a family entirely from UK stock, we are more the exception to the rule when exploring with new people their various backgrounds, countries lived in, and languages spoken.

For my birthday last week I had the day off and Lou and I took up a local cookery course (a leaving gift from CARE UK colleagues) which was a great excuse to eat more lovely food.  We followed that by heading out in the evening to an Argentinean steakhouse for dinner and drinks (this is maybe why I need to go running more).  All in all a very civilised way to see in being 36.

Work is going well.  I feel quite at home in our rather quirky building in downtown District 3.  Have had a few visitors drop in, and run some workshops to support the team here.  Am keeping busy developing ideas that came from the meetings in Hanoi, and have also started to do some networking in Saigon at local Chambers of Commerce events.

Next week I’m heading down to the Mekong to visit some of CARE’s rural projects for a couple of days, and then India, Sri Lanka, Laos and Pakistan are all potential countries to be visiting after my paternity leave finishes.

May 2011 is for sure to be a memorable month for us out here.  Exciting changes ahead, and priceless days for Lou, Flo and I in the run up to life as a family of four.

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