Good morning Vietnam

THE Frog, The Snake and The Turtle.

This is NOT the title of the latest Disney Pixar movie.

It’s David Winters’ menu choices in his Vietnam home.

The bizarre delicacies have been just part of the culture shock for the Scots striker since moving to the Far East.

Dodging mopeds, coping with blistering heat and mastering the language have also thrown up problems. But Winters is still embracing life 6000 miles from home as one of Scottish football’s true trailblazers.

He told SunSport: “Vietnam is great but it was a culture shock when I arrived here last year.

“It’s like nothing I had ever experienced in my life or my career before.

“Simply opening a menu in a restaurant gives you an insight into how much it is different from back home.

“There is frog, snake or turtle – everything you can imagine. It’s just crazy.

“I don’t really go for any of it and I try to stick to my favourites like spaghetti bolognese.

“I think frog is the most bizarre thing I’ve tried. To be honest, it tasted just like chicken!

“I ate a pig’s stomach but that wasn’t too pleasant. You have to try these things sometimes. The funny thing is that I tried to explain about haggis to my team-mates and they couldn’t believe it!”

Winters quit his homeland last autumn for the adventure of a lifetime in the V-League.

The 27-year-old craved a fresh challenge after a decade in Scottish football. Little did he realise the next chapter of his career would take him to Can Tho in the deep south of Vietnam.

Spells in Dundee, Dingwall and Dumbarton didn’t prepare him for this epic adventure.

But he’s acclimatised on and off the park since the most surprising move of the summer transfer window.

Winters said: “I stay in a nice hotel in Can Tho and I’m really well taken care of. I’m only a two-minute walk to the stadium for our training sessions every day.

“It’s quite a simple life. There’s not a lot to do but, to be honest, I quite like it. There are a lot of shops as Vietnamese people always try to make money and do business with each other.

“Everyone seems to be up early and off to bed late at night. They have a 100mph lifestyle.

“It’s been easier for me because the pace of the game out here is slower due to the heat.

“It’s 33 or 34 degrees and really hot to play football so it has to be slowed down. The conditions can be scorching.”

Winters headed to the Far East after collecting a full house of SFL championship medals. He won the First Division with Hamilton, the Second with Ross County and the Third with Livingston.

Can Tho are in the second tier of the V-League but they have big ambitions. Winters said: “There is an importance placed on passing and keeping possession out here. It’s often a tactical battle.

“There were boys from Argentina and Italy at the club when I first arrived. Now we have lads from Brazil, Nigeria and the Congo.

“Most of the foreign players in the league are from Brazil, Nigeria or Cameroon.

“Because the Vietnamese are smaller in stature, they like to bring in big players from overseas.”

The presence of such a wide array of foreign footballers creates its own linguistic difficulties.

And Winters confesses that his attempts to master Vietnamese have so far proved fruitless.

He said: “In the capital, Ho Chi Minh City, most of the people have a bit of English.

“But Can Tho is further south and we need a translator in the dressing room to get across the coach’s instructions.

“The language has been the most difficult part of coming here.

“Even in a restaurant, it can be a challenge to order some bread with your meal.

“They struggle to understand you and it’s simple things like that which can make all the difference.

“The language is just impossible. I can just about say ‘thank you’ and ‘no problem’.

“If you try to communicate in their own language, they smile and they’re happy you are trying.”

When Winters steps out of his hotel, he encounters a daily battle with the countless mopeds which speed around the city.

In Vietnam, they outnumber cars by 1000 to one as the preferred mode of transport.

Like the frog and pig’s stomach, Winters felt it was only polite to try one.

But he’s happier just to stroll around Can Tho – now that he’s mastered the Vietnamese version of the Green Cross Code.

He revealed: “There are mopeds absolutely everywhere. It’s an incredible sight.

“I’ve ridden on one and it’s quite scary.

“You try to step out into the street and it doesn’t seem safe.

“But one of the boys just told me to step out because they’d HAVE to stop.

“They’re not allowed to run you down or you can sue them!”

Winters has been laid up with a knee problem since last month. But life has become easier since girlfriend Suzanne Grant joined him in December. The former Celtic Ladies and Scotland striker has put her own career on hold to be with Winters.

He said: “Suzanne came over on Christmas Eve. It’s great to have her here.

“Unfortunately, they don’t allow foreigners to play in the women’s teams over here.

“Mind you, it might not be a bad thing because she ran amok in Scotland and it would’ve been embarrassing if she played here!”

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/sport/3402412/Good-morning-Vietnam.html#ixzz1SiPQS06H


Spring travel: Old war wounds give way to a new Vietnam

The Washington Post Magazine: March 27, 2011

Vietnam Cover story

Vietnam Cover story

The multi-lane highway out of Hanoi into the north Vietnamese countryside narrows to two lanes before the pavement finally ends. In a cloud of dust, we arrive on the shore of Ha Long Bay. The bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin, looks like a mystic, flooded mountain range. Steep islands, thousands of them, jut up from the turquoise water. We board one of the scores of tourist junks that cruise among them.

That night, the junk drops anchor in a cove where our only neighbors are a fisherman’s family, living on a pair of houseboats lashed toget

her and heaped with nets. On the junk’s open upper deck beneath the stars, I drift half-asleep beside my husband to the sounds of life aboard the nearby houseboats, echoing across the water.

Later, the crew members of our junk break out the karaoke machine in the dining cabin. They warble to syrupy Vietnamese pop tunes while we passengers clap along. One of us, a Spanish woman, selects a Gloria Gaynor girl-power anthem.

“Come, girls!” she commands.

The girls include an Irish schoolteacher, me and a shy Vietnamese vacationer from Da Nang, whom I pull, protesting, to her feet. But even she can’t resist belting out the disco chorus with us: “And I’ll survive! I will survive! Hey, hey!”

The next morning, as our junk motors out of the cove, I sit at the railing near the only other American on board. Scott’s a Midwestern paramedic, mid

dle-age like me. We enthuse to one another about how deluxe the accommodations are in Vietnam, and how cheap.

“The reason why I chose to come to Vietnam,” Scott says, “was because of the exchange rate. I’ve spent $750 in 10 days, staying in nice hotels.”

“Yeah, and this boat trip,” I say. Two days, a plush little stateroom for two with its own bathroom, all meals, a guide — 100 bucks per person.

Scott and I go on for a while about the friendliness of the Vietnamese people, the general sense that their country is going places. Vietnam has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

I was born in 1962. I grew up with the Vietnam War. Back then, the northern half of the country was the enemy, Hanoi was the enemy capital where American POWs were tortured, and northern sights such as Ha Long Bay were off-limits. So even though I’m not the first American tourist to come here, I’ve been a little uneasy about making this trip. Neither my husband nor I have ever been to Vietnam before.

However, work has taken both of us to Afghanistan. He’s a Navy chaplain, landed in Afghanistan the first time with the Marines, just got back from his latest Afghan deployment with a NATO medical unit, MASH-style. I was in Afghanistan a couple of years ago as a reporter. So we’ve seen firsthand how decades of fighting pockmark a country with the wounds and wreckage of war, physical and emotional.

Enjoying a vacation in what used to be enemy territory may be a small, banal act, but somehow it’s restoring my faith in a larger truth: that war wounds can be healed. There on the junk with the Midwestern paramedic, I admit, “Vietnam gives me hope that maybe one day I might be able to vacation like this in Afghanistan.”

Read more:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/spring-travel-old-war-wounds-give-way-to-a-new-vietnam/2011/03/03/ABsedIQB_story.html



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