January journal + Hoi An photos

Although I went back to work on Friday, it was with a sense of having been somewhat indulgent, as Vietnam enjoyed its annual lunar New Year shut down last week and, life as we know it here in Saigon, ground to a very pleasant halt.

Our blossoming Tễt tree

Families and friends idled away four days of public holidaying, the focus being on eating festive foods, drinking large quantities of alcohol, and speculating at length what the year ahead might hold (see previous post on Dragons, although for those with less time to spare to read post, the nuts and bolts of it is that the Year of the Dragon is an auspicious year in the twelve yearly zodiac cycle, and there is heightened expectation amongst people here about what 2012 will bring.) Continue reading

December journal + Hanoi photos

Sunday afternoon, and I have a hangover.

A fitting state perhaps to welcome in the start of the festive season, although the combination of last night’s beers, 5 hours sleep, Martha wailing like a banshee, and Florence enthusiastically using me as her personal drum-kit, was not quite the ideal scenario first thing this morning in terms of remedying a sore head.

I used to love December back in the UK.  It can be the most indulgent month of the year, and also the most random in terms of habits.

On the social side, for example, people start warming up their red wine and adding in fruit. More pastry gets consumed in one month than during the whole of the rest of the year.  For some reason, we also decide it important that we simply must meet up with certain friends for Christmas drinks, often people we haven’t seen or heard from since the previous year when we committed to do the same, but one of us bailed out due to being “crazy at work”, “down with the flu” or “double booked” for the night. Continue reading

CARE Project Visit, Sóc Trăng

I was fortunate enough to be taken on a CARE project visit this week, 5 hours drive south of Saigon, into the heart of the Mekong Delta Region to the Province of Sóc Trăng.

CARE have been operating in Vietnam since the end of the Second World War (for the fact seekers amongst you, the very first “CARE packages” were sent from the USA to war torn Le Havre in France, on May 11 1946, which I make to be 65 years ago this week…) 

After 14 years out of the country, following its Reunification in 1975, CARE returned to Vietnam and, for the past quarter of a century, has supported interventions designed to improve the lives of thousands of vulnerable and marginalised communities in many of Vietnam’s provinces, Sóc Trăng included. Continue reading