Vinh Bao Saturdays

Once again this morning we had the 6.25am bus out to Vinh Bao for Saturday morning classes. Classes start around 8am but Vinh Bao is a solid hour and a bit drive away so off we trek bright and early. Well, not so bright, but definitely early.

I only teach two classes on a Saturday morning while the other 4 teacher have 4 classes each. This means that I teach my two lessons and then have about an hour and a half to wait before everyone else finishes and we can all go home. Because we’re so far out, the bus only does the one trip each way. While this is not my ideal Saturday morning, it does mean that I get to see some things that not many other people have had a chance to see.

Last time we came out and I had to wait around, the bus driver and my TA took me to a really famous pagoda (I need to find out the proper name and will update).

It’s also the perfect place to get pictures of the iconic scenes of people working in the fields with the conical Vietnamese hats on. Last time we came out I tried to get a pic of two women in a field with their hats on but they insisted on taking them off to pose for the pic!

This morning I spotted a couple of people down the road from the school so I took a wander and got a few more photos.

It is so incredibly green once you get out of town! And I also snapped this lady who was selling treats to the kids as they came out of class.

Slowly, slowly

So it’s 9am on Tuesday, the second day of the new year and I’m lying on my bed looking at the chaos that (still) dominates my flat. I’ve made huge progress but still things lie all over the floor, waiting to trip an unsuspecting person without a moment’s hesitation. Yes I’m speaking from experience and have the bruise to prove it.

There’s not much appealing or edible food in the fridge or cupboards which means that there have been a lot of takeaways lately. And seeing as I sold my car back to the dealer on Friday those takeaways have been via delivery. What we do without Uber Eats and Mr. D! (Probably lose some weight but that’s beside the point.) I just had left over pasta for breakfast. It wasn’t that great the second time around. I found a couple of cappuccino sachets in my lunchbox, from taking them to work last year in an attempt to spend a little less money at Vida (I know someone who’s wallet might benefit from this tip…André) so at least I have an almost decent cup of coffee.

I spent most of yesterday horizontal after an awesome evening with friends, which went on till the early hours for some of us and then the next day started much earlier than I may have liked with a skylight and people up and about in the lounge (not to be ungrateful for somewhere to stay or anything). I got hooked on Frontier on Netflix and couldn’t stop the “Play Next Episode” button from sucking me in. I did, however get a decent amount of sleep last night and in spite of the chaos I’m confident that, if I can just be ruthless and get rid of some more clothes (they’re not all going to fit in my suitcase), I will get there in the next day or two.

It’s not like I have any choice. Someone’s moving in here on Saturday and it kinda needs a good clean before that happens as well. So, maybe just one more episode to kick starts the morning and the it’s on to the task of the day. Or the next few days really. Finish clearing/chucking/packing and making this place spotless before I jump on my one way flight to 2018’s first adventure!

Getting there. Slowly.

So, I had to wait till November before I could pay for my internship because I was aware of a serious discount that was coming up. I did start getting a little anxious around mid-October, I won’t lie, because that didn’t leave with all that much time to get everything organised.

Anyway, I booked and paid in the first week of November only to discover that it wasn’t actually a done deal and that I had to provide all sorts of documents to another company before I would be officially accepted onto the program. Which obviously makes perfect sense – they put stipulations, like you have to a Bachelor’s degree, in place for a reason. They aren’t just going to take your word for it. So I had to send them a copy of my degree certificate. And a head shot to prove that I don’t have tattoos all over my face, my TEFL certificate to prove that I had actually completed it, and a copy of my passport. All very reasonable. I didn’t hear back from them for a week so that also stressed me out a tad. But anyway, I got my acceptance letter on Saturday so at least that’s sorted.

Now I find out I have to get my TEFL certificate legalised in the UK which is either going to cost someone I know over there a lot of time and effort, or me over 100 pounds. Plus I then have to get it couriered to me here in South Africa which is another 50 pounds.  Which is quite a big additional expense that I hadn’t factored in. So that just means I can’t buy the noise cancelling head phones that were on my wish list. Tough lucks. (Unless I can find someone who’s coming over from there for Christmas and convince them to bring it for me.)

I’m waiting till Friday to book my flight because Black Friday. Am hoping that might save me a couple of grand to make up for the certificate legalisation cost. And maybe those headphones will be on special too.

My police clearance is with SAPS still and should really be done by the end of this week as they say 2 – 3 weeks and it went to them on the 6th of November so we’ll see. I’m not holding my breath.

And I’ve started clearing out my place. Mainly just clothes at this stage but I’ve chucked a whole bunch of clothes from the shelf side of the cupboard into tubs for donating. Now to go through the hanging stuff, shoes, drawers, ottoman and so on. So I guess on that front I’m really not very far at all. Plus I still need to get the toiled fixed, put a fresh coat of paint on the place and do something about the blinds before anyone’s going to want to rent it out! It’s going to be a busy 7 weeks. Yup, 7 weeks. In 7 weeks I’ll be in Hanoi.



Olives, postcards and flights

Seeing as we were only in the Western Cape for the weekend we really wanted to do as much as we could fit in without stressing ourselves out. So on Sunday, even though we had a much more leisurely start than our early breakfast and 9.40 wine tram from Saturday, we were up and about and heading out of our accommodation by about 10.30.

Knowing that we had lunch booked at the Postcard Café in Stellenbosch for 12.30, we made our way to Tokara for a quick tasting and to stuff our faces with olives, on the way to lunch. The olives were freaking delicious in case you were wondering.

Olives from Tokara
The tasting room at Tokara has a sensational view

Next we meandered on to Postcard Café which has yet more spectacular views and is aptly named. I didn’t get any shots of the food, which was nothing short of mouthwatering, but I did get a couple of the surrounds.

I had beef medallions which were just melt-in-your-mouth delicious, with a light peppery sauce, baby potatoes and baby veggies. We drank, you guessed it, more wine and also indulged in dessert – I can highly recommend their carrot cake. It came close to as good as mom’s and that’s high praise!

The view from the parking lot at Postcard café
more parking lot views
panoramic parking lot Postcard Café

After we were full of lunch and dessert and wine and everything we could get hands on, we headed out to find our last stop before we needed to start thinking about heading to the airport. The thinking was to hit High Constantia for a quick look, but it turned out that we were running out of time so instead we stopped in at Spier for one last tasting (because we needed more wine, obviously).

Spier tasting
Spier tasting area
Spier tasting area

And then we made our way to the airport with not many minutes to spare and hopped on the plane back to Jozi. All in all, a beautiful and delicious weekend. Franschhoek (and Stellenbosch and Cape Town) is a feast for the senses.

Flying home



Wine Tram – Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa

This weekend past, I went to the Western Cape, South Africa with some friends to visit the wine lands. I’ve popped into a couple of wine farms on a whirlwind visit after the Loerie Awards one year, 2010 I think it was, but have never actually spent any real time down there, enjoying it. So we went on Friday night and came back on Sunday night, which is by no means enough time but at least was more than a couple of hours.

On the Saturday we had tickets for the Purple Line of the Wine Tram which meant we got to visit a bunch of different wine farms that were on that line and do tastings and then get delivered back to town and none of us had to drive anywhere.

Farms on the purple line include:

Vrede en Lust 
Plaisir de Merle
Alée Bleue
Noble Hill 
Glen Carlou
Solms Delta

There are only 6 hours, with one hour per farm so you have to be relatively selective and you aren’t able to visit every farm on the line. Backsberg was closed that weekend which made that selection one less difficult. We were luck enough to have some seasoned veterans with us who helped with the other decisions based on past experience. In the end, we decided to skip Alée Bleue and Solms Delta, and we spent an extra hour at Noble Hill and booked a table for lunch so that we could make sure we lined our stomachs again.

There aren’t really words to express just how stunningly gorgeous that part of the world is so rather than ramble on about it, have a look at some of the pics I took.

The view from our accommodation – Hannepoot Cottage
The braai pit at the accommodation
The Wine Tram
Stop one
Vrede en Lust
Leaving Vrede En Lust
A little panoramic looking out from the balcony at the tasting room on Vrede en Lust
Plaisir de Merle
Plaisie de Merle
The ladies
Add some bubbles
To the veggie garden
Noble Hill – veggie gard
Crates of bottles
Crates round the back
Behind the Noble Hill restaurant, Cosecha
Noble Hill Tasting
They made the Guac at the table and the avos were perfect
Down by the lake
Between the vines
Babylonstoren Shiraz
Babylonstoren deliciousness
Wine tram heading out
Views from Glen Carlou

On Sunday we did a bunch more – next blog post!