Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Teaching uke and enduring travel tummies in Vietnam

Hopefully the main vestige of yesterday's travel debacles is being up at 2:37am.

I slept from about 4pm yesterday.

The Perils of Penelope (the title of a children's story from Kyrie's childhood)
Rube was first down with stomach cramps. She stayed close to bed and the facilities all day for obvious reasons. I am so relieved that this has happened for her here, in our most luxurious hotel - the Indochina Legend 2 - right near the lake in Hanoi. My understanding is that when you travel (in lots of parts of the world, but especially Asia), your tummy 'acclimatises' to the local 'flora' (shall we say). Best to wipe out a day here, where the family is around. And best not to have this when you are scheduled for a long bus trip!

2nd to go down was me. The street pineapple gave me some hot flushes, my eye ache, and then the lunch which preceded the pineapple. Maybe it was my body reacting to the idea that I had just purchased two safari suits for Do Rider performances!

Then Jane goes off by herself to get some relief from the two sickies. Comes back in 10 minutes having been hit by a motorbike. Crossing roads is quite the art in Vietnam cities. Pick your time and keep a steady pace. Traffic lights mean nothing. But this one dude was obviously an extra-maniac, weaving through traffic until he came to a halt on Jane's forearm. Jane retreated back to the hotel. We (they) watched movies for the rest of the day, and then they went off for dinner (Ruby having sufficiently recovered by now).

So! With all of that behind us now, we hopefully proceed successfully to Ha Long Bay. Two nights / three days of no internet access, limestone mountains and 300 tourist boats.

Teaching uke at the Hanoi Social Club
The most wonderful thing about teaching uke in Hanoi is being instantly plugged into a local community, both Vietnamese and expat. We had about 13-15 people come along, which was a bit disappointing (in terms of numbers). But we really were able to pool our talents and experience into teaching beginners (and near beginners) and more experienced people all at the same time. Our ukestration 'model' of teaching really assists that goal, and seemed to keep everyone happy.

We go in with some sort of lesson plan, and then in the best of flexible teaching traditions, have to ditch it. We started with going through C, Am, F, and the transitions between those chords. Getting fingers used to transitions is the main goal. The actual chord shape is secondary. It is the transitions which are important.

Within 20 minutes we were playing All I Want is You by U2. With picking, strumming and singing. Sam - an American - sang.

Second up we did Somebody that I used to Know, with Linh (one of the TV journalists who earlier had interviewed us - hopefully we'll get a link to that later) taking some lead singing. Lien was the other journo from the rival channel. They were very civilised in their rivalry.

So in two hours, with a 15 minute break, we achieved two songs. Youth really helped swift learning, but given 60% of Vietnam's population are under 30,  we couldn't expect much more than youth!

The Hanoi Social Club is this wonderful refuge in the city. The three owner type people we dealt with are all groovy Brunswick St types. Two from Melbourne, one from Cronulla. Clearly they have their finger (and market nose) on the expat market and groovy young professional Vietnamese. One of their ads in a local tourist map says "Make the beeping stop!"  How apt. And it does. And you do.

Very expensive by Vietnamese standards, but so worth it (especially for old vego me). I wanted to return yesterday, but Jane has got used to the VND30,000 meal price (about $1.20) in more regular cafes, than the expat prices (VND130,000????) you pay at the HSC.

Must mention Zippy Dee, who, in my googling, was the first result for "Hanoi, ukulele". Zippy is a drama teacher at the United Nations School. A Canadian - 27 yrs old - who, like other drama teachers we know is so full of life =, love and beans. Must be so inspiring for kids. Zippy came to the workshop but is a regular uke performer around town too. It was great to meet her.

Anyhoo. Off to Ha Long Bay for 3 days. Gees I hope there is a toilet on the bus.

1 comment:

  1. HI! I'm headed to Hanoi next week and really hope to play some ukulele with/for people, as well as possibly do a little teaching… could we correspond a bit? I'm at mic k jef fri es a t t w c dotcom if you don't mind to write!