Morning Haul

Below is the result of the third order of business for the morning.

Eggs, Pak Choy,tomato

That is, off to the nearby ( 1km ) market, where I scored shown pak choy, a dozen fresh duck eggs, and tomato. Price 45,000 VND ~= $NZD 3.

Which is another thing I love about this place – cheap produce.

Two others are the first and second orders of business for the day. The first, walk on the nearby beach, and the second, a morning cup of genuine potent Vietnamese coffee.

Easy days. But things are about to get tougher, with the scheduled start of school Monday March 2.


Today I finally put on my tourist boots, and visited the landmark Po Nagar tower / temple, a Nha Trang landmark.

It has taken me a mere 10 days or so after a lecture from the tedious ex-neighbour in which he regaled me with bombast and random facts my caffeinated brain would never remember.

I was there for a relaxing coffee, dammit, not to sit in class.

Today I was there to drink in the temple, more than 1300 years old.

More later. For now, just pictures.

Some recovery porn

Recovery from the  recent bike accident  has been much faster than the previous debacle .

That’s down to two differences. 1) This time, I bathed and cleaned the wound soon after the accident, and 2) last time the bike landed on my left ankle. That was the most serious injury, and the one which had become infected very soon ( several hours ) after the accident.

Another difference may be the quality of the sea-water here in Nha Trang. That is, it’s clean, as opposed to the litter and petro-chemicals awash in the water in Rayong, Thailand.

I was nervous about a dip in the sea with the injuries, but after a couple of days, it seems to be doing the trick. As you see, the injuries have scabbed over nicely, and no sign of infection.

Because I landed heavily on my hip, perhaps the worst of the injuries is a rickety back. Not much to be done with this, except for regular gentle movement, and walking. It’s coming right slowly.

Meanwhile, I’m now riding more like the guy in the photo below.

Mr. Magoo

Schools still out

School is now out until March , which will for me force some difficult decisions.

After doing everything possible so I am firing on all cylinders for the scheduled Monday 17th restart, the let-down came this afternoon from the school’s head teacher.

So I’m all dressed up, but with no place to go.  In one sense.

In another – the financial – it leaves me way too exposed for my liking.  No school hours worked in February means no wage from the school until April 7.

Add to that the cost of rental, and renewing my Visa by March 1, and it starts to make less sense to stay here.

On the other hand, tickets back home aren’t cheap right now. And it’s unlikely the same Jackpot job will be waiting for me on my return.

So it may be just as well to hunker down and work my butt off online for a bit.

And yet, March in Whangarei is the best time….


Someday I’ll Learn

How easy it is in a foreign country for things to come crashing down.

‘Crashing’ because I’ve had a second bike accident. Very suddenly, the cock-a-hoop of the last post became a dead chook.

It means everything has suddenly become twice as difficult, because moving around is uncomfortable.

I landed on my left side, so have some scrapes, the worst on my hip.

Hip injury

After the Thailand accident & following infection, the second thing I did was get to a pharmacy and clean and patch the wounds.

The first thing was dealing with a swarm of yapping Vietnamese who rounded on the fresh meat ( me ) of the accident scene.

Only the taxi driver I collided with spoke a little English, but I didn’t need a translator to clarify that I wouldn’t win this argument.

He’d started a U-turn right in front of me. I came off the bike, which then slid into his car.

I made the mistake of trying to swerve and brake at the same time. The road was wet, and I was going a little too fast for the conditions.

As I slid, there was a marked flash-back to the Thailand accident, to that point where things there suddenly became a truckload more difficult.

The taxi driver demanded $3m VND ( ~= USD $138 ) for repairs, threatening to call the Police. As a foreigner, that was unlikely to go well for me, nevermind the sheer trouble of dealing with a gang of Authorities who spoke little English.

I negotiated him down to $2m VND ( small crack in his left rear side-panel ), and scarpered the scene after convincing him of my address and Serial Number.

It doesn’t end there. Today I’ll fork out $750k VND for what could be a patchwork fix, so at least the lights and indicators on the bike work.

The bigger picture is that recent anxiety about the stability of my situation here has shot up. Part of that is uncertainty about when my school re-opens.

For now, I’m doing what I can to batten down the hatches – optimising sleep, diet, and health generally. One step at a time…

Cocoa heaven

She’s a hard road finding the perfect cocoa, but I think I’ve got as near as possible.

Thanks to the continuing generosity of ‘Henry’, my private student turned good friend, I’ve laid my chops on some dark-brown gold.

Henry grew up in the countryside, and his family farm produces real food, in its natural state. He tells me, during our regular morning coffee sessions, that this stuff is produced by first grinding the cocoa beans, and then achieving a solid state using centripetal force ( spinning it very fast ).

I got my first taste yesterday, and I find it difficult to avoid raving about it. It has that beautiful bitter taste of real cocoa, but it is also sweeter than any natural cocoa I’ve tasted.

At first I made hot drinks from small chunks. Then I decided to cut out the middle man, and just melt the stuff in my mouth.

The result is best described below.


It’s like eating chocolate, without the sugar – so good, it should be illegal.


I originally met Henry through sheer dumb luck. I posted a job-seeking ad ona Facebook forum, back when I first arrived in Nha Trang.

Henry replied. We started to meet for study at his favourite cafes, and it slowly became obvious that not only is among the finest of fellows, he’s a top-drawer foodie. Even more, he’s curious and very bright, which means he’s very easy to teach.

Moral of the story – when dumb luck comes your way, don’t question the whys and wherefores, just grab it with both hands.

New old bike

I’ve taken a minor gamble and bought an old ‘dunger’ bike.

The very same that I’ve been renting at 1m VND ( ~= USD $46 ) per month.

The logic goes like this – I’m here for 4 more months ( at least ). Cost of renting:4m VND. Cost of purchase : 3.3m VND. Conservative sale price: 2.5m VND.

The downside, of course, is that I have the mechanical aptitude of a … donkey. On the other hand, I’m reliably told that Vietnamese mechanics sprout like weeds. Not only that, they’re as robust ( capable ) and cheap.

I’ve been dealing with the bike shop I bought it from since arriving in Nha Trang. It’s about 2 minutes ride away. The owner is happy to introduce me to her pet mechanic, for if and when he’s needed.

So, no more monthly stress about transport.

I’ll enlist a backup in case the bike claps out when I’m scrambling to get to work. This is Grab, the local equivalent to Uber.

And fingers crossed that the old workhorse continues to take a flogging.

Moving Up In the World

I’ve moved up in the world – literally, but not figuratively.

After a manic shotgun method of due diligence looking for new digs for the next month, I moved. Up one floor, from 401 to 501.

So, still at Old Faithful 25 Quảng Đức, Vĩnh Hải, Thành phố Nha Trang, etc.

It’s the first place I stayed in Nha Trang. I like it for many reasons. Among them;

  • its cheap at 4.5m VND ~= $USD 194 / month.
  • The management is good. The day manager is a lovely young woman, always smiling, and ready to at least listen to annoying requests from neurotic foreigners ( me ). They supplied, on request, a hotplate, and more importantly, a rice cooker. This second doubles very nicely as a Crockpot. Roll on the everlasting chicken stews.
  • It’s close to the beach. Two – three minutes. No excuse to miss an afternoon wade & paddle.
  • It’s smack in the middle of two big markets – Vinh Hai, and, er, the other one. Fresh veges, home-made produce ( I’m ‘studying’ Vietnamese rice cakes at the moment ). Non-processed meats – get there early enough, and most of the flies are still asleep.

The list could go on, but here’s my thinking for moving up s floor:

Two reasons mainly – 1) the huge immoveable bed in room 401 was in an awkward place .2) I’ll be another floor up, so a) further from road & dog noise b ) able to see more c ) get more breeze. If I leave my door slightly ajar I can get a cooling gale blowing down the corridor on a good day.

The downside is that it’s a long way ( 15-20 minutes’ ride ) from work. It’s a lifestyle compromise I’m willing to make, for now.

[thư viện loại = “vuông” size = “trung bình” ids = “1892,1890,1891,1879”]

School’s out…

“If there’s a war on, I’m sure someone will tell me.”

So C.S.Lewis once said, and I’d until yesterday mostly followed his fine attitude of wilful ignorance, a refusal to let the noise of the fray interfere with the signal of living.

That was when the head teacher at the school texted me to say the school was closed for the week because of the coronavirus.

As you see because you diligently followed the link above ( ahem ), the seventh case of the virus has now been confirmed in Vietnam.

Worse, its three main centres include Khanh Hoa province, whose capital is – you guessed it – Nha Trang.

Instead of today, school is now scheduled to start the new term February 10. So instead of standing in fronting of 20+ half-awake teens willing and eager students, I’ll be sitting on my arse.

But all is not lost. I have a couple of fallbacks, mostly earning some money online.

And then – just maybe – I might check the news once in a while.