Sunday, 17 March 2013

Hoi Ho, Hoi Ho, It's Off To Hoi An We Go


We're leaving Hanoi with its crazy noisy traffic and its crazy noisy propaganda speakers and its crazy little plastic dining chairs and its wonderful tai chi-ing pensioners and its inhabitants who approach you and ask if they can practice speaking English with you.

I'd forgotten to mention that, but Justine spent a good 20 minutes talking to a young girl who had wandered up. It seems that it's quite common for students to ask British or American (though quite how they could assist I can't imagine) tourists to spare a few minutes to chat - being able to speak English is a real boost to your earning potential here - it turns out that this girl was an attorney, which sounded pretty impressive to me, but without good English it seems her career choices are limited. So she wanted to practice with people what did speek good inglish, but in there abcess, she had to settul for us.

We were asked questions such as "what do you like about Vietnam" and "what is the weather like in England" and "what is your favourite colour" (it was like an interview with Smash Hits magazine - showing my age there). Jus patiently fielded these questions, (even making up a favourite colour) but found there were certain sounds that the Vietnamese find really difficult such as the "dr" in "drizzle". They don't have that sound in their language and I had to walk away and pretend to take photographs while Jus and her new friend slowly rehearsed the individual sounds and mouth shapes that are necessary to say "drizzle". And drizzle is a word they need - we'd read that the weather in Hanoi was comparable to a spring day in Europe, but we assumed that meant Siena or Seville, not Stockport! As a result we got pretty wet on day one as we hadn't bothered to pack anything waterproof.

Anyway back to our impromptu English school... I was able to provide some input when the interview turned to football, as (I think) she wanted to discuss Nani's red card against Real Madrid a few days earlier. This was a topic which I was able to speak about with great authority even though I'd not seen the game! At least I hope that's what we were discussing, otherwise I probably really confused her and set the poor girl's grasp of English back a good few years! It won't surprise anyone to hear that, despite my efforts to promote cup finalists Bradford City here, the Vietnamese are largely unfamiliar with teams lower down the football ladder such as The Bantams, Bradford Park Avenue or Manchester City.

So we leave Hanoi behind and fly to Hoi An (I assume most places in Vietnam are just anagrams of each other - must be a Communist thing) which is very small in comparison to Hanoi. It also gives us another stamp in the "Simon and Justine's UNESCO World Heritage Site Spotters Book". Eventually UNESCO are going to have to come up with a way of protecting those increasingly rare and endangered places on the planet which are NOT World Heritage Sites.

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