Back to School

I learned an hour ago that my school is back from next Monday, May 4th!

I’ll be teaching Monday – Friday, 8.30 a.m. to 11.45 a.m. You might think this is cause for celebration, and it is. But, the news comes with a large dollop of nerves.

Here’s why;

  • Rustiness

    It will have been more than three months since I last stood in front of a bunch of teenagers playing the role of teacher. Yes, I’ve been teaching online, but that’s a cakewalk compared.

  • Heat

    Hearsay, and a website, has it that air-conditioners won’t be allowed in classrooms. Covid-19, you understand. It’s coming up toward the middle of summer here, with temperatures feeling like mid-30s °C by late morning.

  • Covid-19 changes

    Students and teachers have to wear masks at all times, and keep a(n anti-) social distance of 1.5 metres. I expect there’ll also be rigorous washing of hands etc. All told, a different game to when I last played in January.

  • Moving

    Ramping up the pressure a little more, I’ve committed to moving apartments. I have to do it a day or two before school starts.

On the Other Hand

This is what I signed up for. I’ve done it before. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

On My Way

The heat, the traffic, and the dogs have won out, and I’m on my way to a new apartment May 3.

The new apartment is about 2 km down the road, and is closer to the town centre, the beach, and the school.

The new apartment is smaller ( three rooms – bedroom/living room/kitchen, tiny balcony, and bathroom ), but is cheaper, at $3.2 million VND/month ( ABOUT $225 nzd ).

The Heat

Coming into summertime, the heat is becoming hard to handle. Here at 25 Quang Duc, the only room with air-conditioning is the bedroom. Where I’d rather not spend the entire day.

The Traffic

The new place is just enough off the beaten track, so that ( I hope ) I’ll no longer be bombarded with vehicle horns. As I am here, mornings around 7am – 8.30 a.m., lunchtime, and from about 4.30 pm to 7pm. The rest of the day it’s only every few minutes.

The Dogs

Here there are dozens of local dogs which need professional help. A quick bullet would also work. At almost any time, somewhere close or within hearing distance, one of these will be doing it’s nut.

It’s gotten to me. The new place is surrounded by a few less dwellings, so I’m hoping this improves.

I’ve put a deposit on the new place, and committed to a month. If it doesn’t work, I have a couple of back-up plans ( bolt-holes ).

Alea jacta est.

It Ain’t Half Hot

In a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’, I’m now ( sometimes ) pining for the winter chill of Whangarei.

Here’s why;

As you see above, early afternoons feel like 41 °C. Before 7 a.m. feels like 30 °C, and by early evening, it’s cooled way down to … 33 °C . And those evening and afternoon ‘walks’ are done in the apartment corridor, in the teeth of a breeze.

Who needs a cooker? If not for the dust, you could slow-cook something on the pavement here. In the afternoons.

So I’m struggling a little – going ‘outside’ ( anywhere without air-conditioning ) feels like plunging into a hot bath, at least after late morning.

Here’s how I’m attempting to cope;

  • Decamping to the bedroom

    , the only place in the apartment with air-conditioning. It’s small, so the air-conditioning works pretty efficiently. And, surprisingly cheap, by setting the aircon temp at ~= 26 °C, and running a fan. I finagled a deal for power @ 3000 VND ( NZD 0.20c ) / unit from the usual deal of 4000 VND / unit.

  • Cucumbers

    Brewing up ‘pickled’ cucumbers by adding hot water, salt, and apple cider vinegar to chopped cucumbers, and stashing them in the fridge. ‘Cool as a cucumber’.

  • Skulling

    plenty of water.

  • Opening windows

    and doors to get a mini-hurricane whirling through the main room by late afternoon. Downside : the madness and horns from the road below are in my face.

  • Dousing

    myself around the neck, shoulders, and under-arms with ‘cold’ water. Most times, the pipes themselves are warm, so this works best with fridge-cooled water.

  • I’m a little nervous about the return to teaching ( early May? ), not least because official Government guidelines advise against using aircon in classrooms!

    This isn’t what it said on the packet. Below is the official climate in Nha Trang. April – average relative humidity – 80.5%. Take it with a grain of salt.

    Nha Trang Climate

    Climate data for Nha Trang
    Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
    Record high °C (°F) 31.9
    Average high °C (°F) 26.9
    Daily mean °C (°F) 23.9
    Average low °C (°F) 21.3
    Record low °C (°F) 14.6
    Average rainfall mm (inches) 38
    Average rainy days 7.8 4.0 3.3 4.3 8.5 9.2 8.4 9.6 15.2 17.7 17.6 14.0 119.5
    Average relative humidity (%) 78.0 78.8 79.7 80.5 79.3 77.8 77.2 77.4 80.4 83.2 81.8 79.5 79.5
    Mean monthly sunshine hours 185 208 261 258 255 230 242 233 202 183 142 142 2,540
    Source: Vietnam Institute for Building Science and Technology[10]

Opening Up

My Old Man ramble this morning revealed a pleasant surprise – my favourite cafe is open again!

Good news – it means I can relax under cover, at a adult-up sized table, away from the flies, and get my ritual morning boost and head together for the day ahead.

I later leaned that restaurants and other businesses are opening up too, including internal flights*.

This after five or six days of no new reported covid-19 cases here in Vietnam. *

On the downside, the beaches here in Nha Trang are still emergency-taped off.

No word yet on schools re-opening, but the peanut gallery is guessing that it may be early May. 


If the above link is gibberish, use the Google Chrome browser with the Google translate extension. And it’ll make slightly more sense in English.


Cadets at the army base, taking exams (?)

For the last few weeks Army cadets have been beavering away over the road below my apartment.

They’ve been at it now many mornings, and I’m guessing they’ve been sitting exams.

Either that, or they’re being gang-audited.

And since I’m on the subject of the Army, below is a New Zealand classic song by The Dabs, from the great early 80s compilation It’s bigger than the Both of Us

Social distancing

Clockwise from top left: Black sesame seed milk, coffee, Banh It ( rice cake ), duck eggs, coconut, and red pepper
Clockwise from top left: Black sesame seed milk, coffee, Banh It ( rice cake ), duck eggs, coconut, and red pepper

Yes, I kept my social distance gathering the morning haul pictured.

The Black Sesame Seed milk is a new discovery, a fat-rich ‘milk’ with a few carbs ( NZD 40c ) , made by a roadside vendor, and fresh every morning.

That’s ca phe mang ve ( takeaway coffee, NZD 1.00), since the cafes stopped allowing ‘gatherings’ a day or two back.

The Banh It is spiced pork wrapped in cooked and cooled rice, my excuse for a cheap ( NZD 20c ) carb-fest.

The coconut fresh and ripe, ‘meat’, water and all, ideal for hot afternoons.  Another recent heat remedy came after pondering the phrase ‘cool as a cucumber’ ( sliced, with a pinch of salt, and apple cider vinegar ).

There could be worse places to be ‘stuck’ in.

Covid Exercise Kit

And, apart from the obvious shorts and a singlet, that’s about it.

For a while now, I’ve been walking and running barefoot, and see no good reason to change. It feels good, once your feet are adapted. The roads and footpaths here are clear of nasty stones, but as you see, dusty.

Exercise recently has all been in Zone 2, at a heart rate aimed at training the aerobic system. Right now, that’s ridiculously slow, or Old Man pace, and almost all walking.

Afternoons are probably ideal performance-wise, but by then temperatures are in the mid-30’s, and not even bearable for mad dogs.

So mornings it is, along with hundreds of Vietnamese out moving their carcasses.

Back to Running(?)

This morning, I even ventured a few little trots, without my system hitting red alert for a change.

I think lots of protein, and a decent run of sleep, is doing the trick, but thus far only baby steps on the way back to running.

Covid-19 and me part VII

The Vietnam government has just extended the social distancing order for Khanh Hoa province for another week, and maybe more.

Which means that school’s still out , as it has been since February 2.

Now, the earliest that schools will return here in Nha Trang is April 22, and likely later.

My Vietnamese friend ‘Henry’ and I are a little puzzled as to why Khanh Hoa has been put in the ‘high risk’ basket. There’ve been no new cases here since the province was declared virus-free after our one case was cured on February 26.

There are noises from the peanut gallery about school re-opening here in May, but these are coming from chrystal-ball gazing. For now, no-one knows.

Flights leaving Vietnam are few and far between, and a recently-announced NZ Govt.-organised flight from HaNoi to NZ would be nigh impossible to get to. Travel restrictions.

My Visa here is paid until June 1, so for now at least, I’m staying put, and working online.

The Ongoing Quest

The ongoing hunt for the ideal apartment is still … going on.

A few days ago I was set on returning to an old haunt at 20 Van Kiep St, from where the dogs had driven me in December.

In a disguised blessing, the apartment owner told me  –  a few hours before I was due to move – that the police hadn’t approved their application for me to move in. A blessing because, on reflection the apartment manager is too intrusive for my liking. An imp whose mischief borders on malice.

So I remain at 25 Quang Duc where I have spent 2020 so far, and where I’m paid up until May 3.

However, I’ve now decided that I can no longer bear the traffic and dog noise.

So I’m now on the hunt for somewhere which isn’t going to drive me  to distraction and crime. Somewhere a little peaceful.

It turns out it’s a renters’ market. With tourist numbers way down, manager are dropping their prices.

Two possibilities are afloat – Anh Phu apartments, a few hundred metres from here, and Home Vu, about 7 minutes’ drive closer to the city, and to my ‘Claytons’ job.

Both are at least 500,000 VND cheaper than here, and will offer at least some more peace of mind.

Less than three weeks and counting…

Low finance II

Following up on the recent ‘low finance‘ adventures, more fun and games with gold dealers taught me two things.

Both have to do with the patience or otherwise of natives of North Nha Trang. First, they don’t stand for any nonsense, and second, they ( mostly ) don’t stand for any Russians.

The place is crawling with Russians. This partly because the Russkis had a military presence in Cam Ranh Bay , about 20 km south of Nha Trang, from 1979 til 2002. And, the Vietnamese continue to hire Russian consultants to direct the construction of ship-repair facilities.

On the ‘ground’ level, it’s most apparent in two things – 1) the Northern beaches are full of Russians, easily pegged by their excess flab and audio volume, and 2) business signs in Russian.

But while here they may be,  liked they maybe not.

A case in point – I went to a gold dealer recently, and asked for a price for a conversion USD -> VND.

I didn’t like the offer, so went down the road, to another Vietnamese gold dealer, where the offer was .. .worse!

When I trudged BACK to the first gold dealer, waving my USD$100 bill, I got the Royal Vietnamese Wave. It’s like the Royal English wave, except here it means piss off Noddy please go away.

When he wasn’t sure the message was received, I got shouted at – loudly.