Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goodbye 2012 and Last Minute Misadventures

Well ...this year has simply flown by... has been an amazing one and I usually find myself in a very reflective mood when this season comes around.. Managed to squeeze in one more dinner with a lot of people I didn't really know except of course my friend Barbara from www.thedropoutdiaries.com ... was a fab evening eating at a local Vietnamese restaurant... and as usual had loads of fun... eating fab food and meeting wonderful people. Even James Pham from http://flyicarusfly.com was there..


None of the people in the pic above are any of the people I have mentioned... but its the only pic I have of the evening... Note to self... take more pics at the right time... one of them is James Clarke...who was an interesting travel blogger I met... but forgot to ask for the name of his blog... Blast !! another note to self... ask the right questions at the right time



Christmas finally came.. amidst all the excitement... Barbara called me and invited me to a Christmas lunch and my girls and I were most excited about having Turkey with all the trimmings... turns out Barbara was so excited about the Christmas lunch idea she didn't take the time to read all the details.... it was an ad for Christmas... (that part she got right) with a special Christmas SANDWICH!!


Another note to self... be sure to ask the right questions at the right time of Barbara next time she invites me out....But we had a wonderful time nonetheless.. met a very nice American couple who were visiting from Thailand... and since their work is all online... now travel the world and live in different places... when they tire of a place...they simply pack up and move... I was totally in awe...That there are people who are so free in spirit and willing to follow their heart completely is truly amazing...Barbara is like that too... and I am grateful to have met her and connected with her and to call her a friend..


Our Christmas concert happened.... did I mention I joined the choir? and we managed to have two beautiful performance if I do say so myself...


And even managed to make some good friends from the experience... our next performance will be in May and the music director has something quite challenging for us this time... shall let you all know when I do 


After no turkey on Christmas day... I decided to treat my daughters to lunch and we decided to try out this place called Banana Leaf. Now there were mats on the table already but when it came time for the meal they supplied us all with banana leaves... so it stands to good reason that we were meant to eat on them.. I .. trying hard not to look out of place ... or that I didn't know what to do... calmly served myself onto the leaf much to the amusement of my daughters... only to find the waitress strolling in with plates ... she then proceeded to calmly lay plates for my girls and ignored my stuffing of self with food on my banana leaf. Needless to say... I tried to walk out of there with as much dignity and elegance as I humanly could...



And of course.. our traditional annual do that we have... or try to have every year... some of my friends ask me... how come you have a tree? and my answer is... I find it pretty... I like the lights and the colours... so I put one up... simple... and this time at the party... I decided to try out Tania Fatmi's idea of doing a Pavlova as a dessert... and I had just seen Nigella's last episode of Nigellissima... with the Cappaccino Pavlova... that I decided to be brave and try it...


Now it may not look like much here but it turned out FABULOUS and it was wolfed down in moments I assure you... when I was doing the baking... I was so encouraged by the great results that I went ahead and did another pavlova but this time a strawberry one with great results...


Now I have to say that pavlovas are ridiculously easy to make... look totally impressive and taste divine... totally worth the effort...which really isn't that much I have to say... if you are interested I will be happy to post the recipes up ... In the meantime... I wish you all the very best for 2013... may next year bring you better and more wonderful things your way... more discoveries... and friends.. and much joy, love and laughter... ...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in Ho Chi Minh

Well 2012 is drawing to an end... and its been quite an eventful year for us. We moved from Pakistan to Vietnam... started to discover Ho Chi Minh and make new friends. And here we are at Christmas time.. almost a year since we came, and its so nice to see the whole city decorated for Christmas even though Christmas doesn't seem to merit a public holiday in many establishments


The city has emptied out of a lot of our expat friends as people prefer to go home for Christmas...or for people in Pakistan or India... its cooler weather to visit in...I was amused by a friends update on Facebook where she was in a panic... she is a teacher at a school and they were in quite a tizzy...

"Just spent the last 30 minutes helping the kids collect all the atlases and globes from around the school - why? - because we have to remove all reference to the 'South China Sea' and rename it the 'East Sea' otherwise the government will 'shut us down'. Less than 12 hours and counting..."

Yes apparently logic sometimes loses its way in Vietnam too...


I have been so good... going to the gym regularly and starting to see a difference thank God... the other day I noticed a shop right next to the gym which I thought was a place to buy a SIM card for mobile phones and maybe cigarettes.. apparently it doubles up as a hairdressing salon too... have to love the place...

Now I leave you with wishes for a very merry Christmas... and a happy new year... may 2013 be a wonderful year for all of us...I leave you with a funny video which if you are from the subcontinent you may find amusing... if not... maybe just weird... either way...hope you enjoy it :) Talk to you all soon :)







Monday, December 10, 2012

Rediscovering Ho Chi Minh with Friends

Did I mention I had guests? It has been a mad month since I got back to Vietnam... first up.. I arrived back from Pakistan and had some old friends come to visit 3 days later. My daughters also had some major evenings coming up which meant they both needed to make some wardrobe purchases... trying to balance guests needs with the kids... while trying to get over fatigue from jet lag and illness was quite a challenge.. my older one is relatively easy to shop for.. my youngest ... well... is tougher... though at the end of it they both managed to get lovely things ... 


Another major challenge was trying to figure out what to show our guests... Now Vietnam is an amazing place... but it also all depends on the interests of your guests... Sadly my dear friend Barbara Adam from saigonstreeteats.com was not around as the family had gone to Cambodia to vacation, otherwise a food tour is a MUST for all guests visiting. They weren't too interested in the museum... which though is a very depressing visit...but if you enjoy history... is fairly decent. 


But it is depressing... and my guests understandably just wanted happy memories to be built while on holiday. So ... shopping I knew would be a hit... and merrily led them down to Saigon square, Russian market... and of course Taka plaza where they went nuts! 


Also... they were very interested in the embroidery from Vietnam. Not the tacky kind one finds in any souvenir store... Now I knew I had seen a beautiful embroidery place somewhere... but couldn't remember where exactly... This is the kind of embroidery that is so beautiful that if you didn't know better.. you would think it is a painting... luckily my app Foursquare came to the rescue and we were able to locate the embroidery place..




When one first walks in ... one sees the craftswomen at work right in front and of course the finished pieces are hung on the walls... or on screens... incredible work.. last time I had come .. I didn't find anything I liked... but this time there were a few pieces that were absolutely stunning.. my dear husband noticed I had fallen in love with one piece and immediately snapped it up despite my protests while my guests made a few purchases all the while salivating over this one huge landscape that was seriously amazing... Pricey for sure... the one that had all our eyes glued was worth about $15,000 yet despite the price tag... my guests were trying to figure out a way to take it back with them. The workmanship was unbelievable.


Yes the above pic is embroidered ... its not a painting... they are that good!!!! which justifies the price tag I guess... some pieces take a year to finish.. and sometimes they have 4 artists working on them... so if you are planning a trip to Vietnam... do look for the XQ hand embroidery place... not sure how long this craft will survive... but while its still alive... and if you like art.. you may just find a piece here you love 

To PRINT