Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I taught my uncle how to use Facetime on his iPad, and now he thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. My aunt gets to see and talk to all the relatives over in LA who couldn't make it back. My uncle's wife also took her on a tour of their house and garden.
Kien takes a while to warm up every time we visit. It's just the way it is, and if we force the issue then he lets himself be known he wants to go home. Overall though I think he's pretty good.
It's good when he has the younger generation around to interact with him; my sister, my aunt's son, my aunt's husband's niece and nephews.
It's that time of year, and outside our place Autumn is especially beautiful because the ground is carpeted with leaves. Late Saturday afternoon we arrived home after visiting my aunt and Kien just had to burn off some energy. The light was disappearing fast, but I was able to snap a few pics of him frolicking on the lawn.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
It was not unexpected per se, but it was still shocking none the less. When the doctor is standing there and telling us they will not resuscitate if something happens, well that pretty much sums up where things are at. What can we do now? What can we say? A whole lot of nothing as we stood around my aunt's hospital bed and listened intently as the doctor that looked like he's only made it past puberty speak the words we did not want to hear; "perhaps", "two", "weeks", and "hopefully" were used. I wasn't sure whether they made up a complete sentence or just fragments of the conversation I could hear as I was covering my laughing child's mouth who thought everything was all of a sudden hilarious. Of course! Timing is everything and my son certainly doesn't have it.
The morning was perfectly still and a little misty. It was crisp, and after Kien polished off 1 slice of toast with Vegemite and another with honey I bundled him up into the buggy and headed to playgroup. I told him if he was really good this morning and did not complain or whinge about anything that I would give him a star.
He was a star that morning.
Of course it is sort of funny that we've known for months and months this was to happen sooner rather than later, and yet when the news came we all looked shell shocked and dumbfounded. The doctor kept asking my aunt whether she understood, and she kept saying yes. I think at that point it really sunk in the finality of it all. When the doctor left we couldn't help but all burst into tears. Far out, man, cancer is #%€*!•<@ awful.
Kien didn't cry or whinge at all yesterday morning. In fact he was in such a happy mood. He played in the garden for ages - running back and forth collecting rocks from the other end of the garden so he could gather them all in a pile on the table. It's one of those things he likes to do.
If only every day was like this.
I had a really hard time shutting my brain off to go to sleep last night, and when I finally got some shut eye at around 2am I was awoken by Kien screaming for me at 3:30am. I grabbed my pillows and his milk and crashed out in his bed.
I woke up in the morning and head to the office where I shuffled some e-mails around, organised some people to do some testing for one project, and did a presentation and multi system demo for my team. Life continues like it always does, and I hoped the nurses gave my aunt a good dosage of relaxants so when I visit her in the evening she will not be weeping. Life is short regardless of how long you've been here.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
No doubt about it, parenting is likened to a marathon and not a sprint. A good friend of mine told me that the other day. Teaching your child about the world and all the good, the bad and the ugly takes a lot of effort and a lot of time. Also a lot of patience. A lot! A LOT!So guess who decided as soon as we got to playgroup on Tuesday that he would rather sit in the buggy than run around? Then 20 minutes later he asked to go home. "Mummy, I want to go home".
10 seconds later, "Mummy, I want to go home".
5 seconds later, "Mummy, I want to go home".
1 second later, "Mummy, I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home".
We went home. No delaying tactics worked, and wait - isn't playgroup supposed to be somewhere the child wants to be? We went home and we mucked around on technology for a bit and then we went shopping.
I am definitely not a lover of shopping, but boy did we have fun shopping! We ran around the big red shed and browsed every isle and contemplated purchasing lots of things but in the end walked away with 2 books, 2 drawer organisers, and a pair of "Spiderman" gumboots (they just have spiders on them but he calls them Spiderman gumboots which is great because I didn't have to pay for the royalties).
It was such a beautiful day weather wise - the one day this whole week when the rain went away and the sun graced us with its presence, and perfect for going to a park and running around. But I didn't want to be brow beaten by a demanding 3 year old at a big park with lots of contraptions that I really did not want to participate in and on. So we went to one of my favourite little spots in the city - Browns St reserve.
It's tucked away a few doors down from Ponsonby Rd and spans the width between Richmond Rd and Brown St. The playground consists of 2 swings - that's it. 2 swings, a pathway, some benches, lush lawn, and enclosed with white picket fences, agapanthus and lavender bushes. The shrubbery is seasonal and well maintained, hence every time I'm here I feel like we are in someone's private little garden.
Kien had a great time on the swing, and here's a video to prove it.
We ran and giggled and jumped over bags and shoes while the afternoon slowly came to a close, and it was magical.
He picked daisies for both his mum and his dad, mostly for his dad.
I took a photo of him giving Jef the flowers he picked. "These are for my daddy.", he said.
It goes to show we can get sun amongst the rain, and when it shines it beams.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Its hard to settle back into the routines of everyday life as it seems like we've been away for a really long time. I guess 3 and 1/2 weeks is a really long time being away from regular habits, schedules, normalcy, especially for a three year old. There is so much to catch up on, especially at work, but it all still feels a bit surreal. I know I'm back home, but it feels strange, and when I wake up in the middle of the night (or rather 3am) I think I'm in a hotel somewhere in Southeast Asia. Kien's body clock is scrambled too. He isn't tired until 23:30, and for the first 3 days he slept in until well past midday. The last couple of days we've had to wake him for daycare. I've put him to bed every night at 21:30 since we've been home, and oh boy, have there been dramas! I'm hoping that with being back at daycare he will just click back into his regular routines again.
I've tried to regularly post while we've been away, and since we've crammed in so much I haven't been able to keep up with blogging everything. Now that we are back it seems silly to pick up where I left with the last blog post. So much has happened since then! For instance, the day we got on the train from Danang heading back to Nha Trang my dad felt terribly sick. He went to the doctor who said it was just a viral thing. We were in Nha Trang for 3 days and he didn't feel better so when we got to Saigon we took him to the hospital. It turns out he was inflicted with Dengue Fever. This basically put a halt to any further travel plans until we sorted him out. He was hospitalised for 5 days, and I had to arrange all insurance coverage for him, and speak with doctors back in NZ, and relay messages back and forth to my dad. The scariest part was if his platelet count dropped in the middle of the night when we weren't around and my dad couldn't tell them that under no circumstances were they to give him a blood transfusion. But that didn't happen, much to everyone's relief.When everything was under control and all looked good we left my aunt, Pauline and my dad in Saigon to recuperate and Jef, Kien and I jumped on a plane for Cà Mau to join my stepmother with her family. The last time we were in Vietnam we spent quite a bit of time with them, and they welcomed us like family. It was no different this time around.
Hanging around homeWe did a lot of hanging around and not doing much at all. It was great! It also rained for a few days, so we couldn't really go anywhere anyway. When it rains it pours - heavily.
We were fed - oh boy were we fed by the family. No sooner had we finished a meal and they are already asking whether we are hungry, or even worse is when they serve up yet another course as a "snack" or they've sent someone off on the scooter to buy more food. It was hard work keeping up with all the eating, and I'm not even being sarcastic either.
Sea snails - they are so so good!
The crab that jumped around inside the pot as it was being boiled to death shocked my westernised heart when I walked into the kitchen. I asked why they don't boil the water first and drop the thing in to kill it quickly. They all looked at me like I was an alien. I guess I am in this place. Life is cheap after all, and when there are starving people littering every street outside why the hell would anyone blink at creatures that are going to be served up at your next meal. I told them I felt sorry for the crab, and they laughed and said it will die soon enough. Then they pointed at the thing in the pot and said, "See, it's dead now." It was dead, and then I ate it 10 minutes later.
We ate it dipped in salt, pepper, fresh crushed chilli, and lime juice. We had some cockles to compliment our snack.
I got over the so called "cruelty to creatures" thing pretty quickly. It's just the way of life here, and that's that. Here Thanh was grilling a type of creature that was a cross between an eel and a mullet. Those things were still writhing when she stuck a chopstick down its throat and chucked it on the grill. Yes, it's just the way of life here.
Also a way of life here is to eat anything and everything. I'm pretty sure these guys have eaten pretty much anything that moves. They asked us if we wanted to try a dish of dog or cat which we promptly declined. Everyone here thinks dog flesh is very good for them, and delicious. They persuaded us to try it and see. I saw one BBQ'ed at the markets. No, I didn't take a photo. It made me feel nauseous. Same with rats, and yes, they eat those too. We saw a lady who had cages of live rats for sale at the river, and she would prepare and cook rat for us right there and then. No, I didn't take a photo of that either.
The last time we were here we tried fresh banana liquor, and it was divine. So An went and got us 2 types - machine pressed (in the bottle) and hand pressed (in the bag). Both were great, but the hand pressed definitely tasted better. Funny that, it was more expensive (if you call a few cents to us expensive).
Meals are served on the floor. There is just no room for dining tables and chairs. All meals are served with lots of vegetables. They all love vegetables, and so lucky that the greens are completely fresh and straight from the market. As there are hardly any storage spaces in their homes they go to the market often. Good thing the markets are really close. I remember my grandmother doing exactly the same thing. She would go to the markets every day at noon while we were napping.
Out and aboutSpeaking of markets, they are bustling and lively, where people can ride straight up to the stalls on scooters and purchase fresh produce for their next meal.
Also just down the road is an amusement park. We took Kien and his next door neighbour friend a couple of times.
We also went out for "snacks" a few times, mainly after we've gone somewhere (like the amusement park or just riding around on scooters for fun), and usually after dinner. I know, like I said, they are either eating their breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or pre breakfast, lunch, or dinner snacks, or post breakfast, lunch, or dinner snacks.
That's a frog's leg, and I ate it.
On the riverCà Mau is surrounded by rivers. These rivers snake all around the south as part of the Mekong Delta. We took a boat out to observe life on the water.
These peoples' lives depend on these rivers (or is that just a consequence of living here?). It is so interesting to watch as they go about their business; women (some men, but mostly women) row passengers back and forth across the river, and produce being transported and sold.
The young guy helming the boat we were on is the son of this man. This man has so much expression written all over his face and I just want to cry looking at him.
I took so many photos of our river ride I can't post them all on this blog, so I picked out a few more which I've put into the below slideshow. If you are receiving this blog post via e-mail and are interested in seeing some images of reclaimed land, giant engines, life in/on/around the river, fuelling on the river - come to this blog post online.
1. Just like roads on land forking out these are forks on the water.
2. We pulled up here to refuel. I had to pay for their services at this point since they had no cash - $VND300,000.00
3. The river bank that has been filled in.
4. Engine repair shop - there were some giant engines inside that place. The mechanic casually smoking a cigarette while working.
5. A boat being powered by a giant engine. It was fast.
6. Swimming in the murky water. I didn't even want any of it to splash on me let alone bathe in it.
7. Day to day tasks, like doing the dishes.
8. A beautiful entranceway.
9. A little girl fishing for something in the water.
10. Propellers in the sky.
11. Getting ready to pull up to the river bank to let his customers off.