Xmas Letter 2017 | Travel Blog

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Published: December 19th 2021

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<em style=”mso-bidi-font-style: normal;”>Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon)

<em style=”mso-bidi-font-style: normal;”>December 5th 2017

Dear Overseas Friend(s)

It’s been a funny old year for me – a year of transition, indeed a watershed in my life.

After finishing at ISHCMC (the International School of HCMC) in June, I travelled alone to England to sell my house – the house my father bought for £1500 in 1955. I had accepted an offer while still in Vietnam but went back to empty the house and oversee the sale. Two and a half months later, after various alarums and excursions, the house was sold, the money in the bank, and I returned to Vietnam and my wife.

My time in England was bitter-sweet. I missed my wife, Thuy, terribly and was often lonely and unhappy, sometimes wondering if the house sale would go through. What kept me going was my friends. Some of them came to visit me in Reading, and I travelled around the country to visit others. Here is a list of the people who raised my spirits when I was down:

Radha and Eddie and John (my neighbours in Reading), Paul Crute (in N. Ireland), Steve Clayton (in Scunthorpe), Derek Evans (in Reading), Freer Magnus (in London and Reading), Maurice Bradley (in Birmingham), Mark & Beryl Wilson (in Canterbury), Patsy and Maureen (in Egham), Mona and Reem (in London), Chris and Yvonne (in Wokingham and Reading), John Sparry (in Wall Heath), Dave and Sheila Ansell (in Stourbridge and Birmingham), Jim Merris (in Stourbridge and Brierley Hill), Andrew Derham (in Reading and Bath), Graham Burgess (in Reading), Tony Blakeley (somewhere in Buckinghamshire), Angelo & Dagmar Caon (in the London National Gallery), Dave Cooke (in Reading), Stephen Bywater (in London), Ivan Sayer (in The Swan pub and in my house).

I must also mention my wonderful tenants, Dan and Andrea, without whose help I could not have sold my house so quickly. They showed around prospective buyers while I was still in Vietnam, and Dan gave me many pieces of sage advice.

A special thank you to Wes, who helped me transfer money from the UK to my wife in HCMC.

I am also indebted to my wife’s relatives in Binh Duong City for their support. They looked after Thuy while I was in England and stored our belongings after we moved out of our last rented apartment.

Back in HCMC and reunited with my wife, we found temporary accommodation and searched for an apartment to buy. We soon located a very nice 2-bedroom apartment on the 5th floor, and the deal went through like clockwork. For that I have to thank the redoubtable Mrs Minh, who found us the apartment and then introduced us to a good solicitor. We moved in on November 4th. My wife is thrilled with our new abode, which is spacious, has a great balcony, is handy for the schools I teach at and is in a decent residential area. We’ve bought furniture, appliances and potted plants, and I’ve enjoyed hanging my paintings and photographs and arranging my books.

Being in the UK for so long (until Sept 16), I missed the beginning of the school year so don’t have a full-time job. I’m making ends meet by supply teaching at various local international schools and by giving private lessons. I must admit this is boring compared to real teaching. I will be 66 on Dec 22 but feel I have a few years of full-time teaching left in me so am looking for a ‘proper’ job starting ASAP.

Two sad events this year. My friends Mark Wilson and Ken Stebbing both died of cancer. I visited Mark at his home in Canterbury before he passed away but, alas, I could only talk to Ken on the phone. Magically, Ken’s death, and the deluge of internet messages arising therefrom, reconnected me with some of my old BISC (British Int’l School Cairo) students. Every cloud … May Mark and Ken rest in peace.

That’s my year in a nutshell. Thuy and I are going for a holiday to Dalat (hill station) and Nha Trang (coastal resort) for our birthdays (Dec 22 and Dec 23) and Xmas.

I wish all of you a very happy Xmas and New Year.May you be inundated with tidal waves of whisky, wine, jollity etc.

CHUC MUNG GIANG SINH!


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