Staff and green walls

By on Sunday, April 13, 2014 in Crunchy Frog stuff | 0 comments

A month ago Huong, who’d been working for us for two years, handed in her resignation. It was not unexpected and, although we were sad to see her go, it pushed us into making a decision on staffing. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with office admin and day to day account management, and it’s been getting in the way of me pursuing the sort of work I want to be doing, so we agreed to take on a full time Exec Assistant / Account Manager, and Hang joined us a couple of weeks ago. Fingers crossed that over time she’ll be able to take on more of the work I’ve been doing. On the design side of things, having been burnt by our first experience of taking on a designer, we’d been putting off trying again, but in January we realised we could wait no longer and started the recruitment process. We found a couple of suitable candidates and made an offer which was accepted. Unfortunately, the candidate decided not to show up last Monday and also decided not to bother to let us know he’d changed his mind. I was so angry and completely at a loss to understand how someone could be so lacking in consideration for others. I am still constantly amazed by the cultural differences we encounter here and quite demoralised about having to start recruiting again, but if we are to grow we need more staff, so…back to the drawing board! On a more positive note, with the change of staff came a change in office layout and decor. We re-organised the layout and had one wall painted Crunchy Frog green. It’s amazing how much difference the changes have made – it’s given the place a new lease of life and feels much more spacious....

April’s weather update

By on Sunday, April 13, 2014 in Weather | 0 comments

I apologise for posting about the weather but every year I intend to keep a record for future reference and forget. My blog seems a sensible place to store the information but feel free to ignore it entirely. Winter in Hanoi is not generally a pleasant time of year to be here. As I wrote in my Travelfish wire a few years ago, it really does get cold in Hanoi. Or maybe I should re-phrase that: it really does feel cold in Hanoi. The temperature rarely drops below 10C — not cold in the English sense of the word — but the damp air, lack of insulation in buildings and windchill, especially when on a motorbike, makes it feel a lot colder than the thermometer may suggest. This winter, however, we thought we’d got off lightly. We were still seeing blue skies and reasonably mild weather in early December, and during Tet, at the end of January, the weather was glorious: blue skies, dry air, a bit chilly but who cares when it’s sunny! Unfortunately it then went downhill: it started raining. For the end of February and most of March we had grey skies and drizzle…every day. It was miserable. So miserable that I had to run away to the beach in Hoi An to get some sunshine. Thankfully I brought the sunshine with me back to Hanoi, and we had a week or so of good weather before it got a bit wet again. Fortunately it’s not been raining too much in the day, but it’s pretty damp. Very warm though — with the damp and humidity it’s starting to get uncomfortable to walk in. And there’s mould everywhere! Now we just need the rain to stop and the blue skies to appear and we may still manage a brief spell of spring before summer kicks...

A progressive dinner Hanoi-style

By on Monday, February 10, 2014 in Hanoi | 0 comments

In our on-going attempt to explore more of Hanoi’s street food, we went out on Friday evening to check out a few new places in Truc Bach and the eastern edge of Old Quarter. First up was Hai San Thang Ngoc (seafood place) at 1 Hang Than, where we filled up on a first course of crab glass noodles (mien xao cua) and clams cooked in a delicious chilli sauce (ngao xao ot). I usually find clams more trouble than they’re worth, but these were truly the best clams I’ve had. Two plates of noodles and a bowl of clams came in at 155,000VND (about $7.50). We then walked along the dyke road to Nguyen Huu Huan street, although couldn’t resist stopping at Giang’s for an egg beer, which went down much better than when we’d tried it on very full stomach’s before. Vit29 was closing but they let us in anyway and we sat under its very bright lighting to try out the duck. Being already quite full we just ordered 1/2 a duck, with no sides, and dipped boney chunks into the delicious sauce — I have no idea what it is. 116,000VND for the half duck with a round of ice tea (cha da) on the side. Our final stop was for rice paper ‘pizza’ (banh trang nuong): circle of super thin rice paper, topped with goodies and grilled. We only tried the recommend #7, with cheese, egg, chicken and dried beef, and a bowl of bang trang tron Sai Gon – a slightly sweet rice paper salad with quails egg and mango but will definitely be back with slightly emptier stomachs!...

Brunch at the Intercontinental, Hanoi

By on Monday, February 3, 2014 in Hanoi | 0 comments

As Paul hadn’t had a day off in a month (I wasn’t far off but did go on a Tet tour one Saturday) and we’d had to forgo our Tet holiday for work reasons, we treated ourselves to Sunday Brunch at the Intercontinental Hotel yesterday. We opted for the US$60++ version, which includes free flow beer, house wine and soft drinks and left well and truly stuffed. We will definitely be going...

The empty streets of Hanoi at Tet

By on Friday, January 31, 2014 in Hanoi | 0 comments

Tet trees

By on Thursday, January 30, 2014 in Hanoi | 0 comments

The road we live on is host to a number of garden centres, all of which truly come to life once a year at Tet (Lunar New Year). Although to say that isn’t quite true: they start coming to life some months before Tet as the kumquat trees emerge from last year’s fallow land and are carefully tended asĀ  the bright orange fruits spring forth. But it is in the weeks before Tet that the hoards of customers arrive and the motorbikes and bicycles head off, tree strapped to the back, delivering trees to businesses and private homes. The roads of Hanoi are always an obstacle course but they become more so just before Tet. Not only does the amount of traffic increase as locals hurry out to buy kumquat trees, peach blossom and gifts, but roads lined with salespeople cause obstructions and large trees, flowers and other articles on the backs of bikes make them even more wobbly and liable to catch your ankles or head as you drive past. Today is New Year’s Eve, so we are hopeful that the roads will calm down for a few days now before normal service resumes....