Monday, 24 November 2008

Week 30 - Leaving Hoi An

Ok folks, the title says it all!
I'm writing this blog entry from my new house in Da Nang City after my very interesting first day at Hospital 'C'. I'll write more about that next week...
Despite the amazing time I have had here, I have never really felt as part of the local community as I did in Romania, so I wasn't expecting to have felt such sadness at leaving Hoi An, especially as I was not leaving Vietnam, and so I'd be seeing most people again. However, as I'm about to describe, the week long party that accompanied my departure (that doesn't sound how I wanted it to), included street food, karaoke, a house party, drinking sessions and even salsa dancing!
Monday and Tuesday were filled with busy days at work and casual drinks after work, Wednesday was the start of the party process as it was my official CHIA (work) leaving party. In true CHIA style the staff took us to a 'street food' cafe, with possibly the smallest plastic chairs I have yet to see in the whole of Vietnam. With my knees closer to my neck then they have been since the day I was born, I began to think that even Snow White's dwarfs would end up with 7 displaced hips after sitting this low for too long! The heavy rains made sure the small makeshift shelter that we sat under was stretched to it's potential.
As we finished our meal, we were joined by Vi, worker from the orphanage, who arrived like a knight in shining armour... I describe her this way not because she was riding a horse or wearing a ridiculous outfit, but because my bicycle front tire was as flat as a Dutch mountain, and Vi let me leave my bicycle at her office before driving me to the main event of the evening- Karaoke. Now my Vietnamese colleagues, as reserved and 'shy' as they can sometimes be, become like 'wanna be pop stars' when they get a chance to grab that microphone and sing their hearts out! We were not disappointed on this occasion as the pictures show... my own renditions of "I'm a Believer" and of course Copacabana got reasonably high scored (deservedly so I thought!)

Thursday evening, was a more relaxed affair at my home, as the NGO (non-government organisations) and the volunteering community, rocked up with plenty of alcohol to say bye, far too much alcohol! As you can see from the many pictures below, a good time was had by all, including little Khoa, who liked to play DJ with my Itunes music! though this consisted of him changing a song every 10 seconds.... much to the delight of the party guests!
Friday night turned out to be yet another surprisingly drink filled evening as the volunteers met as per usual at 'Treats' bar, and said further farewells to Julia & Seth (volunteers from the orphanage). After 20 of us managed to wangle some free french fries, as is now customary, myself Seth, Eri and Zoe (niece of Pete - yeah you guessed it - a volunteer) got down to some serious pool playing... well I say serious in terms of the faces we were making as we missed easy shot after easy shot... After excelling at pool, and in time to get another soaking from the latest monsoon rains storm, we headed to the salsa bar to where unbelievably there were actually people dancing salsa. The only other time in 6 months that people have been actually salsaing was in my first week, so it was kind of ironic to have this happen again in my last week! After dancing with anyone that would have me.. Eri, Julia, Zoe, Carmel, and the south American looking barmaid, who is an excellent dancer, the salsa was replaced with the most random songs. Seth (American) and Zoe (Australian) treated us to a classic dance interpretation of the song 'whip it, whip it real good', whilst I led the finale number - the Y.M.C.A
(luckily for me I don't have access to any photo's from that night so below is more pictures from the previous two nights - Me with miss Lai)
Saturday was my day of packing and cleaning, though it did not turn out that way, after a very hearty 'Cargo' breakfast I strolled back to my home, and was invited into my neighbour's place (Cafe 43), to have a beer and chat. After an hour or so, and a full washing machine cycle later, I returned to cafe 43 to eat this time, before finally getting into my room to begin packing. Not long afterwards my friend Phuc, from the neighbouring hotel (Phuc An) is outside my home with his motorbike engine running.... Unable to refuse another invitation of drinks, we travelled all of the fifty yards down the road (on the motorbike), before stopping at a local food place on my street. We were joined by the driver of the car from the hotel, and another man. Way too many beers later I had been offered a free ride to my new house in Da Nang by the hotel car driver, as he was taking some guests into the city at the time... bargain!!! I wondered at what point he was going to stop drinking? When asking to use the 'bathroom' at this place I was directed to walk past the old woman washing up the plates I had just used, and into a very poorly concealed urinal... now I know men here will just stop anywhere to pee - day or night you will see some guy with his back to you just 'going for gold'.... but still, I was at a cafe here, I didn't want to be sharing this private moment with my neighbours and their friends, still when in Rome and all that... so I just smiled to anyone that was unfortunate to be looking my way as I managed pass some of the beer from my bladder!
Needless to say I woke up on Sunday with a stinking hangover, and a trip to the bathroom I could have done without... hours later I was finally packed and saying a big farewell to my wonderful wonderful neighbours that have fed me and looked after me for 6 months. (One of them even called me this morning to say good luck for my first day at work...) The taxi driver looked like he had sobered up from the antics of the previous night. On arriving in Da Nang my colleague help med me to unpack, set up Internet, get her spare motorbike fixed and feed me! So here I am in Da Nang City, with a house, a motorbike, a new job in a government hospital, and all of it unplanned for... Life can take some funny turns! The only thing I must say is that I only questioned the decision to move here once - after waiting two hours to boil water for a cup of tea, in a rice maker... this problem is now solved as I bought a kettle today!!! Ok well I also noticed we had a bit of an ant problem, and after my initial attempt to simply sweep them out of the house, the ants fought back, and went into a biting frenzy.. seriously!!! both me & Giang had ant bites!!! I was almost at the point of thinking the house was in an ants nest, rather than the ants nest being in the house, when the ants finally accepted my superior intelligence & big brush! and moved on! Of course they could be plotting their revenge as we speak... but now it's time for bed. Be sure to tune in next week for a very interesting description of life in a hospital here!
Regards from Vietnam


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