Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Moggysmekongmadness

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crabs!

Crabs, glorious crabs!  Alive, dead, steamed, sauteed, deep fried, soft shelled, crab claws, in spring rolls, in rice, in my BELLY!  Had a delish dinner last night at "94 Thuy Restaurant" 94 (go figure) Dinh Tien Hoang St in D1.  Only one thing on the menu here...can you guess what it might be?  Nothing fancy about this place but my the food was good.  Scarlett now is addicted to crab claws that the little princess does not even have to peel.  Just like a crab lollypop.  Cold beers, great company, delightful food and did not blow the budget....what more could a girl ask for. (Seconds perhaps?)  Feast your eyes on this!

What can I say, she went crazy for crab!

.....in taramind

....with garlic.

.....in spring rolls

Some glogy greens.


.......soft shelled
What!!!  Prawns with a personality disorder who obviously thought they were crabs!

....and to wash it all down.








Not too sure which is more disturbing here, Scarlett directing Nick via his ears or yet another lunatic on the footpath and no one bats an eyelid!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Australia Day Part 1

A funny thing happens when you live overseas.  You become ridiculously patriotic! High five'ing complete strangers in random countries when you hear the first 3 bars of "Land Down Under" is not uncommon.  Nor is it when a tear comes to you eye when watching a Qantas add with "I still call Australia home" gloriously playing in the background.  There is a huge Aussie expat community here in Ho Chi Minh.  The knowing nod and the half smile of understanding is very common when you bump into one another, as you invariably do, watching some cricket or football game at Phattys.  Well this week we get to revel in the joy of being Australian and share the love.  It began yesterday with Auschams annual Australia Day bash on the grounds of RMIT out in D7.  The kids had a great afternoon running on the grass (Yes....running on the grass!!  I am still chuckling at a friends daughter who said when she saw it "mummy, what's that?) and eating all sorts of Aussie goodies.  We then dropped them at home with Quyen and headed back for the grownups version which involved a picnic blanket, cushions, friends, wine, fish and chips and live thumping Aussie music. A fab day. Here's to you Australia.  Sometimes, just sometimes, (ok, sometimes more than others) we miss you and are still proud that our hearts belong to to you.  To be continued....
My beautiful boy wearing his heart on his sleeve.

Scarlett has spent a quarter of her life living overseas but is as True Blue as they come.

Quiddys pet rock that he made.

Well it was hot......

The ever popular face painting.



Scarlett and her good friend Poly

New Zealand Ice Cream...close enough!

Tet

Saigon is gussying her self up for the big Tet celebrations.  No expense has been spared as she puts on her best face in the hopes of a fantastic year of the Cat.  Here is some information that explains exactly what Tet is.  I'll try and take some photos around town and post so you can get some sort of an idea of how manic (and beautiful) the city is at the moment.


Vietnam is a country in the Eastern Hemisphere that was influenced by China for many years. Therefore, the Chinese New Year and Tet, the Vietnamese New Year have many similarities. Tet is the abbreviation of Tet Nguyen Dan which means the first morning of the first day of the new period. Tet marks the beginning of a new year on the lunar calendar, and the beginning of Spring. Vietnamese are constantly aware of the phases of the moon. All events are planned by the lunar calendar. The New Year begins on the first night of the first moon after the sun enters Aquarius. This is sometime between January 21 and February 19 on the solar calendar.
Tet is a huge celebration lasting three days. Families save money, store food, and plan far in advance for Tet, major holiday in Vietnam. The Vietnamese take extreme care to start the New Year out right. They buy new clothes, paint and clean their homes, cook three days worth of food, pay off all debts and make amends to rid themselves of all bad feelings. Cleaning is frowned on during Tet because one would not want to sweep out any good luck. Digging and drawing water is also not allowed so the ground and water can enjoy the holiday.
The marketplace is very busy the week before Tet, as people buy food, trinkets, firecrackers, flowers, and other items in anticipation of the holiday. At four o'clock in the afternoon on Tet eve all the markets close down so the people can go home and prepare for midnight when Tet begins. Before 1995 firecrackers would explode scaring off all evil spirits and welcoming the New Year. In 1995, because of the huge waste of money and the injury rate, (71 people killed in 1994), the government banned the use of firecrackers resulting in a very quiet Tet.
The atmosphere is very festive. Incense is burned in the homes. The color Red, symbolizing good luck and happiness is seen everywhere. Games of gambling are in the streets, homes and in cars. If a gambler wins then he is said to have good luck gambling in the new year. If a gambler loses, he is said to have good luck in other affairs. There are dragon dances at night. Food is plentiful, homes are decorated, parks are full of crowds of people dressed in their best new clothes, and for three days the people have an ultimate celebration.
Tet is a time for visits from family and friends. The first visitor to a home is very important. If the first visitor is rich, prestigious, or happy then the family will have good fortune that year. Usually this visitor is a relative, but sometimes the family will invite a special guest that they feel will bring them good luck. The first day of Tet is reserved for visiting family and relatives. The second day is set aside for special guests and close friends to visit, and the third day is for teachers and business associates to make a visit. Negative talk, and arguments are taboo. Visitors end their visit with a farewell wish for the family such as, "I wish that money will flow into your house like water, and out like a turtle."
The Vietnamese believe that their deceased ancestors will visit the family for the holiday. Alters are decorated in the homes with incense, flowers, and photographs of deceased relatives. A tray full of fruit, coins, and a tall vase of blossoms are placed in front of the alter symbolizing good luck and prosperity. The third day is also a day to visit the graves of deceased relatives. The graves are decorated with incense, flowers, and candles. Many Buddhists go to their favorite Pagoda to pray for a good year. The Catholics go to a pre-midnight mass.
Not only is Tet the beginning of a New Year, it is also everyone's birthday. The Vietnamese do not know or acknowledge the exact day they were born. A baby turns one on Tet no matter when he/she was born that year. Children say they were born in the year of the symbol of the lunar calendar for that year. On the first morning of Tet, adults congratulate children on becoming a year older by presenting them with red envelopes that contain "Lucky Money," or li xi. These envelopes are given to the children by parents, siblings, relatives and close friends.
Families choose a Tet tree, or tac, which is a cone shaped fruit tree with miniature oranges just ripening. The more fruit on the tree, the luckier the family. Greeting cards and good luck symbols are hung from the Tet trees. Each family also has a branch of the Mai tree in their homes, a symbol of spring, which bear lucky little yellow flowers.
Food plays a major role in the Tet celebration. Tet is a time of excess, one does not enjoy Tet, one "eats" Tet. The first day a feast of boiled male virgin chicken, sticky rice, a special soup made with clear vermicelli and bamboo shoots, boiled pork, and 3 or 5 duck eggs is offered to ancestors who have returned to their homes. Sticky rice and salt are also offered in the streets to any hungry ghosts who might be wandering in the neighborhood. A traditional food is Earth cake, a square cake made with rice beans and pork. When a watermelon is cut they believe that the redder the watermelon the more luck for the family. Several different desserts and dishes are made with coconut. On the third day another feast of virgin chicken is served to say farewell to ancestors returning to their ethereal abodes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Damaging our livers for Queensland.

Big shout out to the Vietnam Swans, JASPAS, AUSCHAM, Vino and the Commonwealth Bank for organising at such short notice a flood relief fundraiser for QLD. About 250 of us had a lovely night on Monday raising some much needed funds.   I am proud to say that to date $33,000 has been raised and hopefully that figure will rise as the bank account will remain open.  Once again the Aussie spirit has shone though and it was fantastic to be able to pull together as an expat community and let Queensland know that we had not forgotten them.  Well done to all involved.







Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What the???

Fumigated flesh....could they possibly make it ANY less appetising?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The big Four Oh!


 Meat pies and coke for breakfast on Sunday can only mean one thing in the Moggy household....a big Saturday night!  Yesterday I celebrated the 19th anniversary of my 21st birthday.  A milestone that I am happy to achieve due to the fact that I am exactly where I want to be.  Amazing husband and kids, fabulous family and friends and "living the dream".  After a throughly wonderful morning full of gifts and fun time with the family, Nick whisked me off for cocktails and dinner only to surprise me with a gathering of my favourite people in HCMC.  It can be a little sad celebrating millstones away from home but thanks to Nick and my gorgeous new friends here in Saigon, I had a blast.  Delicious food, good wine, amazing cocktails and great company.  To everyone back is Aus, thanks for your birthday wishes and sorry I could not celebrate there with you.  You were all in my thoughts.  To all of your lot that gave me the fright of my life last night, I will never trust you again (but more importantly thanks for a wonderful evening!)  And to my amazing husband.  You are simply....the best!


















Thursday, January 13, 2011

OMG (that means "Oh My God" mum and dad and anyone over 25!)

Big shout out to you all.  WOW...10,000 hits on this page!  Who'd have thought we were that interesting?  Mind you, mum and dad probably count for at least 9000!  Thanks to you all for taking the time to take a peek at our lives.  It has be quite cathartic writing a lot of this stuff down so maybe it is a win/win?  It is sometimes hard to know unless people comment if I am not writing to myself, so thanks for stopping by.  Feel free to leave comments. I love to find out more about who is reading and what brought you  to here.  Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure....or it might be something quite boring...who knows?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wish I could have seen it.

Here is a great old shot of the area around the market.  I cannot find a date but , WOW, how great would it have been to see it like that?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Technical Difficulties!

Ever had one of those periods where everything technical you touch stuffs up?  Well I am in the midst of one and I am starting to get really peeved!  It all started when one day I signed out of hotmail and relaised that I had forgotten my password.  The hint question that they ask that I had set up when I set up the account about 15 years ago no longer matched the answer I provided.  Next step was to contact them via a totally STUPID form and they are supposed to confirm that I am me and restore within 24 hrs.  Well it's been 10 days and...nothing.  Every single persons email I know is in that account and that account only.  Living away from home has it's pitfalls and most of them I can get passed as long as I can remain in contact.  Needless to say, I am not happy.
So, I can keep in touch with Facebook right? WRONG!  In its infinite wisdom the powers that be have decided that it is the root of all evil and have blocked access to the site.  There was a half-assed ban put in place about a year ago but people were able to find their way around it.  This time they have gone the whole hog and it really appears to be gone.  So, here I am totally out of contact with friends and family at home.  The frustration is mounting.
I know, I'll put my internet radio on and listen to some good old Aussie broadcasting.  WRONG!  Our apartment complex has changed our service provider and it now no longer works.
Lets just say I am too scared to touch the electric carving knife.  Mind you, there are a few people I could happily carve up at the moment.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Saigon Kiss

Sounds romantic no? NO!!  Unfortunately, not the type of kiss you want to receive here.  I tried to google some pictures but this is the best I could get.  A "Saigon Kiss" or sometimes referred to as a "Saigon Souvenir" is a rather nasty burn that you may be unlucky enough to receive, usually on your right calf, compliments of the motorbikes exhaust pipe.  It is so hot here that you tend to wear light clothing and most of the Vietnamese women you see on the bikes are all dolled up for work in their little skirts.  I had noticed quite a few with big whopping scars on their legs and further enquiries revealed the cause.  Not quite the kiss I would prefer and I am careful to take great care when hopping off the bikes.  This is one souvenir of this city I don't want thanks!
Nasty!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mekong Pythons

video
Gotta love it when the only fighting was over who got to hold the snake next! They were just beautiful and we loved being able to have a little play with them.  You can hear Scarlett in background demanding a cuddle (try to ignore Quiddy asking if he can play his DS!)  The guide said that when she was behind me she was trying to get the snake to "kiss" her.  She is truly fearless!

Seeing in the New Year

Had a lovely evening with friends seeing in the new year from the rooftop of our apartment.  Thank you all for taking the time to read of our adventures so far.  I am so excited about what 2011 will hold for us. We hope to just roll with it an open ourselves up to every opportunity.  Hopefully a year of adventures and growth, friends, fun and laughter.  Reflecting on 2010, it has been very kind to us.  When we celebrated seeing in 2010 on the roof of the FCC in Cambodia last year we had no idea that the following one would be in Saigon.  I guess this is kind of how I hope things to continue for us.  Don't plan too far ahead and say yes to just about everything!  I hope 2011 brings you all everything you dream of.  Take those opportunities, say yes more, stay safe, love everyday and most importantly, LIVE everyday. Bring it on!!!








Getting in early aren't you?






There was dancing!

There were cigars!

There was pie!

There was romance! (awwww)

There were fireworks!

Thanks to Matt and Ingrid for some of the shots above!  Happy new year Saigon!