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Friday, May 31, 2013

The Lost Art of Jewelry Cleaning

Who knew?  One of my rings was looking a little dull so while I was out this morning I decided to pop into one of the many jewelry shops near the Market.  I was led to the back of the shop and was introduced to what I can only assume is the lost art of cleaning the shiny stuff.  I'm not kidding.  My ring just had the jewelry equivalent of a day spa!

Firstly the piece was assessed and a plan formulated.

It was then give a good polish.

He then wrapped a piece of copper wire around it and dunked it in this concoction.  Don't ask, I have no idea. It bubbled away in it's little spa for a good 3 minutes, raising out for a breath and an inspection every so often.
He then went all mad professor on me.  He attached in to a machine, twiddled the dials and rotated it through 3 different science beakers filled with I have no idea what.

I kid you not....he then gave it a blow dry.  Talk about a happy ending! (well if I am totally honest it was not THAT happy because he dried it with toilet paper).
And there you have it.  One sparkly ring ready to go in under 15 minutes.  How much for this incredible jewelry day spa I hear you ask.  50,000VND.  Thats about $2.50.  I KNOW!  If you are over here on a holiday it might be worth spending a few bucks and getting your stuff cleaned.  I have no idea what it would cost back in Aus but I doubt it's less than $2.50!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A post for those in Saigon...ever had Housekeeper/Nanny envy?

If there is one thing that has made our time here amazing it is this lady.  I have just posted on Anh Phu Neighbours Quyens availability from the end of June. I'm confident she will find the right job very quickly but thought I'd spread the word.  How do you sum up my "like having a husband but only more useful" domestic godess?  I did my best.  If you live here....spread the word!

Yes, she's the one you have been waiting for.  Our nanny/housekeeper Quyen is available from the end of June.  Quyen has been with us from the moment we stepped off the plane nearly 3 and a half years ago and has become a much valued member of our household.

She had previously worked for other expat families and has proven to be an absolute Godsend for us.  We are working parents with 2 children (they were 2.5 and 5 when we arrived) and she has made our time in Saigon a dream.  Her English is excellent and she can also read english which means she can make your favorite recipes from your cook books.(She has also copied many recipes from my cookbooks to take with her)  She has a wide and varied repertoire including firm family and kid friendly dishes like spaghetti, lasagna and fish fingers!  She does fab spring rolls and a delicious Vietnamese Chicken curry.  She loves to cook and is keen to try new things.   She has in the past done some amazing cheesecakes and lemon meringue pies for special occasions.  Just give her a recipe and she'll give it a go. She has also done a cooking course specifically geared for expat families.

Quyen basically ensures that our home functions smoothly.  She does our shopping, collects the children from school or the school bus, oversees any maintenance etc in the apartment and does all of our washing, ironing and cooking.

That all being said, her strongest traits are her honesty and initiative.  You do not need to hover over her and tell her what needs to be done and then watch to ensure she does it.  If we are out of something, she will restock.  Her honesty is impeccable.  I entrust her with our food budget and she runs it perfectly.
My children adore her.  She treats them like they are her own and she has been a strong and positive influence on their lives and their time in Vietnam.  She is a gentle soul but can be firm when it is needed. She has a very happy disposition and is a pleasure to have in our home.  I don't think I have ever seen her unhappy and without a smile on her face.(Nor as far as I can recall, has she taken a sick day!)  She currently works for us 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.  She is also always readily available for babysitting/overtime.

Quyen would prefer a full time position in District 2 but tells me she would consider 2 part time positions. She would also consider working in other districts if necessary.  We would dearly love for Quyen to continue her employment in a happy home where she is as cherished as she is in ours.  Please contact her directly on 0167 733 3979.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Saigon Or Hanoi..Which Do You Pre..Pho?

Get it?  See what I did there.  I guess you will only find that mildly amusing if you are aware the the correct pronunciation of the Vietnamese noodle dish of Pho is similar sounding to the word "Fur".  Even then, maybe not!

I had had more bowls of this yummy noodly broth whilst living here than I have had hot dinners (this really is going downhill on the humor side isn't it?)  My point is, for the first time the other morning I tried Hanoi Pho.  Wikipedia reliably tells me that pho originated in the North.  The southern version is very different from the one served up to our northern cousins.  I thought I would try it myself.
Pho Thin HaNoi is located in district 3 next to my local CoOp Mart supermarket.  I go past all the time but have never been in.

It's far from fancy but it is usually places like that that serve up the best food around.  Big steaming vats of pho stock bubble away while the waiters (no real english speakers, bring your Google translate App!) run between tables.  It's a huge open restaurant and I would have to say not really the most hygienic I've come across in town but there you go.  As long as the cockroach stayed on my foot and not in my soup I was happy.

Although I'm not a vegetarian I usually have my pho without meat.  I just don't like the often gristly meat they use.  I find there is plenty of meaty flavor in the stock as they use meat bones and simmer for hours and hours, flavoring the base.

Usually the plate of garnishes is overflowing with greenery but not so for Pho Hanoi.  They prefer a more pure taste of the flavors in the base.  I added some lime juice, hoisin and chilli to mine.  The noodles were noticeably fatter and flatter than Saigon Pho.  I would have to say the taste was totally different to what I was used to.  It seemed much heartier and richer and I could really taste different spices in there.  A large undertone of Star Anise.  It almost tasted medicinal.  I could argue here that ALL Pho is medicinal.  It really is the best cure after a big night!  Anyway, did I like it?  Yeah, it was ok.  It's definitely a personal preference thing.  I really like my light, almost clear broth and skinny noodles piled high with all things green. Totally worth a try though.  Which do you prefer?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Scarlett's 6th Birthday Party - Under The Sea

Ahhh, thats the sound of me sitting down to a nice glass of wine. What a week.  What a month!  We have the movers coming in on Monday and Tuesday to pack up our life to send back to Aus.  That being the case we celebrated Scarlett's 6th birthday this afternoon so her gifts could go in the container and not our suitcases.  She turns six next week so it is pretty much when we would have had her party anyway. After Christopher's Star Wars extravaganza I did not want to let her birthday pass without just a big of a fuss, not matter how busy we are.  She chose the theme Under the thats where we went!

Cake made by the wonderful Simran.  You can find her online.

Gonna miss this lady!

Some of our little mermaids!

Tattoos all round.

Always a "hit" (see what I did there?)

Musical Statues...some "creative" dancing!

Scarlett was in charge of the music.

It's not really a party without it.

Mwahh...Happy Birthday Scarlett!

The loves of my life.

Thanks to everyone who came.  Scarlett had a wonderful day.  When I think about it she has actually spent more time in her 6 years living overseas but she is definitely still an Aussie Chick. Yet another wonderful day to add to our already abundant memories. X

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spot The Difference!

Kim Kardashian at the Met Ball

Ninja moto rider Nguyen Thi Minh Khai

I can't spot the difference either!

Friday, May 3, 2013

An Oasis in District 2.

If you are looking to drop out of the manic scene that is Saigon, there is no better place than the Spa Authentic/Village in District 2.  Head over the bridge and find this little gem and you could be on a holiday at a resort anywhere in the world.  For around $15 you can spend the day by the pool on the banks of the river.  Unfortunately, I was hoping to get a treatment at the spa and then use the pool and found it a little surprising that the cost of the pool is not included when you have a treatment.  You still have to pay the $$$.  Still a nice place to go to escape from it all.  They have a gym, do yoga and every sort of treatment/spa package you could think of.  Check out their webpage for further details.

195 Nguyen Van Huong St. Thao Dien Ward, Dist. 2, HCMC.