Friday, 27 April 2012

A month in Koh Lanta, Krabi and Koh Tao

Just back to Nakhon Pathom after a month in the islands of Thailand. I had a couple of weeks in Koh Lanta, my first time on this lovely island, which was very quiet, with very few tourists but had charms all of its own, such as monkeys on the beach and the slow pace of life, etc. Then I went to Krabi, which I had not been to for about 20 years, but it hadn't changed at all. I stayed in some bungalows a little outside of Aonang Bay which came with a free motorbike. It had a swimming pool and lovely gardens. It was called Baan Suan, which means garden home, and was a great place to stay. Krabi seems to have been taken over by Scandinavians and every accent you hear seems to be from that part of the world. I then moved to Koh Tao to finish my holiday, thinking I might just stay two days, but it was really hard to leave.
I first stayed in a room above a travel agents in Sairee Beach, the liveliest area, opposite a 7 11, but it was far too noisy. It had the best TV I have had in Thailand, but who wants to watch TV when you are in paradise? There was a bar downstairs too which played music til 2am and building work going on opposite, which started at 8.30am, so I moved further back in the resort. AJP guesthouse was 350 baht a night and very easygoing. This room was above a plumber's merchants, but very quiet as they all went home around 6pm. There was no sink in the bathroom, which was a bit odd, but liveable with. The TV was mainly Thai, but the bed was comfortable and the balcony was good (although no chair). It was a good base for renting a motorbike and seeing the island.
I first rented a bike for 250 baht for a couple of days. It was a lovely, brand new bike, automatic, but with lots of power. But they carefully check every mark on bikes there, with big prices for any damage, so it made me nervous knowing I could have a big bill. The first unmade road I got to I stubbed my toe on a rock and had several near misses trying to navigate the atrocious 'roads'! It was fun but a less expensive bike would be better, so I rented a different one for 150 baht a day. It was a heap of shit and felt like the bearings had gone on the steering, but it was useable..
So every day I went to a different beach with my snorkel (also a piece of shit). Both the mask and snorkel filled with water in seconds, but it meant I had to learn to use them and blow the water out, but did mean I had to take care as I'm not a great swimmer. Hin Wong Bay, Tanote Bay and Aow Leuk Bay all had great snorkeling, with some fantastic fish right from the beach and some reasonable colours of the coral. The coral was not as good as out on some islands I have visited, but was pretty impressive for close to land. The seafood on the island was wonderful and not expensive and big Chang beers could be bought for less than 100 baht in all restaurants, so not an expensive island to spend a week. All this made it very difficult to leave Koh Tao but leave I had to.

Now back in Nakhon Pathom and hope to meet up with my policeman friend and his two wives, then maybe move out of my apartment into a house, as a bit fed up with their choice of Internet and TV. I also hope to play some sport with my new friend Thanya and am looking forward to meeting her British boyfriend who comes over to live in NP after quitting his job, in a few days time. She has recently completed a PHd in the UK and seems to be finding it difficult to get back into Thai life.
If anyone is reading this do leave a comment. Been a long while since I blogged as hardly anyone seemed to be reading it, that and was too busy, either with studies or work.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Long list of ELL websites gleaned from Twitter

World Englishes
Principles and Practice in ELT!/teachingenglish*;jsessionid=0ECD89B81247CD29D76651888C81196E?cc=gb&selLanguage=en

Friday, 12 August 2011

Dissertation on Differentiation in ELT

As the dissertation is almost finished I thought I had better refresh the blog.

I actually ended up doing a study of just one lesson at my university as the language school teacher didn't have the time to do it.

The group were given a questionnaire asking about learning styles and 7 self-reported skill levels, such as fluency, grammar, reading etc, then filmed and recorded the lesson, transcribed 2 1/2 hours (which was a hell of a task!) analysed number of student utterances and teacher questions and st answers. I also looked at grouping in the lesson.

Gardner's Multiple Intelligences theories was used with the self-reported questions in differentiating, Bloom's taxonomies in question level and Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development to consider grouping.

My conclusion is going to be that the teacher did a fairly good job of differentiating without knowing anything about differentiation!

Saturday, 7 May 2011


I was talking to Martin Sketchley (@ELTExperiences on Twitter)(my fellow teacher on the MA in ELT course) and he said 'I looked at your blog and think you should write more about the course'. So time to take him up on his idea. (I am @Hibbitweet on Twitter)

This blog is called Life in Hanoi and Saigon and now I live in Brighton, on the south coast of England so I really should change the name. Name now changed :-)

I finished the portfolio for the diploma part of the course a few weeks ago and handed in the Easter essay which was on how to teach a reading lesson and seemed to go quite well. You never know though so I am looking forward to the marks for both.

So having put those two to bed we have all now started to think about dissertations. We have until September to do some research and write 15,000 words. I have chosen differentiated teaching as my topic. I chose the topic because on the diploma course we had some very able and confident students and quite a few able but more quiet students. This made me wonder whether all the students were getting equal shares in the teacher's time and energies and whether there was anything I could have done to improve everyone's learning experience by teaching in a more differentiated way. The following is where I am so far on my dissertation journey. It is not far I know but it is a start and I'm sure I will update it as I travel along the path.

Where I am on my dissertation path
Dissertation Topic: differentiated teaching

How to Research type books:

Wallace, M.J. (1998) Action research for language teachers. Cambridge CUP.
Wajnryb, R. (1992) Classroom observation tasks. Cambridge CUP.

A couple of quotes from #ELTchat Summary 23/02/2011
The consensus seemed to be that ‘all classes’ are mixed ability in some ways. Wilden S. (2011)
Teaching mixed ability in the first sense is just teaching, none of us are the same

Differentiation in the ESL class RREALS 2007
Source: Montérégie—Research and Development Project
Workshop leaders: Gwenn Gauthier and Rachel Lalonde

How I might go about it:

Observe classes looking for quiet/loud high/low level sts and see how the T copes with this.


Conduct interviews with Ts asking questions about how they deal with high/low level sts in the same class.

Conduct interviews with sts asking for opinions on the way best and worst teachers deal with it.


Questionnaires asking a wide range of Ts for opinions on how they cope with high/low level sts in the same class.
Questionnaires asking a wide range of sts for opinions on how Ts cope with high/low level sts in the same class.

Do please comment

Monday, 14 March 2011

Did I do the right thing returning to UK?

It has been a long time since I blogged so thought I would put some feelings down to try and get some ideas out into the blogosphere.

Up to a few days ago that would have been an easy question. I have been hard at work studying for the MA and doing the Advanced Teaching Practice, which took all my energy, teaching skills and time and was something I was really enjoying. When you have your head down, working hard and then get a break, your body says look he's not working I can be ill now. Sometimes you forget to consider how you feel and when you get a break suddenly realise that something is not right.

So I have a bit of a dip.

I have suddenly realised I have few friends, no girlfriend, no one who cares whether I feel up or down, all I have is studying, studying and more studying. I know it is only one year and will be finished in September, and I have done the hardest part, but I have also done the best part. I love teaching and the group we taught were a very friendly and interesting group, so I didn't mind all the preparation.

I am not looking forward to the dissertation - it is 15,000 words and the last one I did for my degree was very nearly a disaster and I ended up with only a C grade. So that makes me worry about this one. I hope I get better guidance than last time.

Today a language school rang and asked me to work for them, but they wanted 5 mornings a week and I had to say I couldn't. Uni work is going to take up most of my energy for a few months yet. They said they might have some part-time work and would email me with the details, but nothing yet.

On a high note a squash club has offered me a very good student rate and I am definitely going to start playing again. Something which should get those endorphins moving and cheer me up a bit...

Friday, 21 January 2011

All the World's a stage William Shakespeare

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

My favourite Shakespeare sonnet

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Then you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O, if, I say, you look upon this verse
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse.
But let your love even with my life decay,
Lest the wise world should look into your moan
And mock you with me after I am gone.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Things I’ll miss in Saigon:

My girlfriend and all the friendly people I’ve met.

My motorbike and the freedom it gives.

The hot weather and never having to wear a jumper or coat.

Freezing cold Saigon Red beer.

Banh Mi Thit -- French bread with a mixture of paté, cold meats, salad, chilli, soy sauce, etc all freshly made while you wait. Also near the Asian High School there are some ladies who sell Banh Mi Trung va Thit - French bread with 2 fried eggs, barbequed, spicy red meat, salad and chilli with sauces, that are absolutely delicious too. I often buy one of those before work then go and sit in a coffee shop and eat it with café da or a very strong shot of coffee over ice.

My students at UVT, who are lovely and always willing to learn, and some of the children at Asian High School.

Having a cleaner so no housework, living in rented accommodation so all the little jobs around the house are someone else’s responsibility and being able to eat out every night even though you don’t work many hours.

The prices of food and beer.

Being close to the rest of Asia so being able to visit neighbouring countries easily and cheaply.

The bottom spray in the toilet. Toilet roll just isn’t clean enough on its own.

What I look forward to about living in England:

Sunday dinners! Roast chicken or lamb or pork (with crackling), mashed potatoes and roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, sprouts and cauliflower, onion sauce and lashings of gravy.

Poundland and Primark plus Lidl, and those other cheap German supermarkets.

Fast Internet, and once I get somewhere to live, a decent, fast computer.

Being closer to my family.

Summer barbecues.

British pubs, luke-warm, brown beer and beer festivals.

British culture, including theatre, especially Shakespeare, newspapers and magazines and British TV instead of all the American crap we get here.

Being able to speak to anyone and everyone and be understood and being able to have a laugh and a joke instead of being restricted to just a few words and phrases due to my poor language skills.

What I don’t look forward to about living in England:

Speed cameras.

Never-ending winters.

High taxes.

Expensive food and beer.

Any other ideas are welcome. I am sure there are lots of other things to add.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Phu Quoc by Motorbike for Tet 2010

So Dudley (my housemate with a Russian built Minsk motorbike) said 'I'm thinking of going to Phu Quoc by motorbike for Tet!' Well, Phu Quoc is at least 2 hours by boat from Vietnam and much nearer Cambodia. So I thought about it for a few minutes, then asked him how you can get there. He said there's a ferry from Rach Gia on the Southern coast, and it might take motorbikes. So I asked a few people about it and was told you cannot get there as the ferries don't take motorbikes. They knew people who had tried or they had tried themselves and it is definitely impossible!

I mentioned this to Dudley and he said the Vietnamese always tell you things are impossible when they don't really know something, which is true, they do. So I had a search around on Google and came across a video on YouTube which showed a trip by motorbike from Phu Quoc to Ho Chi Minh. I txted Dud and told him and he replied it's all on like Donkey Kong then. And so it was...

We had nearly two weeks for Lunar New Year, so on Tuesday morning early at 9am we set out, to the local post office! Dud had a parcel to pick up before setting off. It took nearly an hour as I waited outside, but eventually he had it and Donkey was on his way.

The next 5 or 6 hours were extremely painful. I was riding my Honda Wave, which is a city bike and not really ideal for long journeys. I had strapped my big heavy bag (I never travel light) along the seat and it was gradually working its way forward, leaving me less and less seat for my boney arse. For the last leg to Can Tho I tried putting the two bag straps over my shoulders and carried it on its end with most of its weight on the seat, which was a lot more comfortable.

With just one ferry river crossing and millions of bridges over the lovely Mekhong delta we eventually arrived at our way point, found a hotel for about $10 a night each room, had showers and went out to see the highlights of Can Tho have a couple of beers and eat dinner. After wandering around for a while we decided to eat at the night market. We ordered crabs claws in a tamarind sauce and kho muc which was supposed to be squid but turned out to be dried squid which was as chewy as old boot leather. The crab claws had almost no meat in them and we both gave up after a few minutes of cracking and trying to get the no-existent meat out and ordered pork and chicken with rice from another stall, which was edible.

The next morning about 9.30 we set off and decided to take the longer but more interesting 61 road to Rach Gia. There was a road which was totally straight, numbered 80, on the map, but it looked a little boring.

About 1 or 2pm we arrived in Rach Gia and after searching around for a hotel mentioned in the Lonely Planet we were met by some guy offering us tickets to Phu Quoc on the Savannah ferry. After talking to the hotel owner they could sell us two tickets but could only offer us 1 motorbike passage and if there were any cancellations they would let us know in the morning. So we booked with the hotel owner, dropped out stuff and went out to see what Rach Gia had to offer, which wasn't much. But as we walked along We saw an office for Superdong II ferry. We decided to ask if they could take two people and two motorbikes and they said they could. So we went back to the hotel to cancel with Savannah before returning to the office and booking us on Superdong. He gave us our tickets but nothing for the motorbikes, which surprised me. He said motorbikes weren't ticketed and we just had to turn up the next morning at 7am and we would get them on. When we got to the hotel the owner said he had some bad news for us. We had to pay for the booking we had taken. He wanted 30,000 VND (about £1) of the 270,000 VND each. We argued him down and got it for 20,000 each, so it wasn't too bad. He told us we should go to the Superdong office the next morning and confirm our motorbikes. But this proved unnecessary and a waste of time. We did that and a man led us to the boat which we could have just driven to ourselves. After a nervous half hour we paid them about 150,000 VND each and saw them load our bikes onto the boat. After a couple of hours of all systems go we arrived at the beautiful island of Phu Quoc.

Watching the men unload our bikes was worth the 30,000 VND it cost us each. The Minsk especially is very heavy and not something I would want to lift off a ferry for a pound. We decided to stay at Long Beach for our week on the island. As we had just had Christmas and New Year, when I had gone to Cambodia, we were both a bit broke. So we needed to find somewhere a little on the cheaper side.

The first place we came across after getting to Duong Dong and then finding the road that ran near the beach was $25 a night for nothing much and we decided to keep looking, the next few places were offering rooms at around $17 or 18, and we were starting to get a bit tired after the long journey. Near Eden bar we had tried all the bungalows and had just about given up when we saw a closed gate and decided to try one more place, without much hope. The lady at the bungalows turned out to be very friendly and helpful and although the bungalows were all taken she said we could stay in reception that night and she would have a bungalow free the next day. So I slept under a mosquito net on a mattress in reception that night and Dud slept on a hammock outside with a mosquito net over him. The next day Dud moved into some bungalows nearby as she only had one bungalow and he didn't want to sleep outside again. He moved into the bungalow next to mine after a couple of days. She charged us $7 between us for the first night and $10 for the really nice bungalow. It had cold water, as most places do on the island, but not too cold, so it was not a problem.

We spent the next week getting suntans on the lovely beaches, eating fantastic food, especially at the Oasis restaurant near our bungalows, which has wi-fi, and serves delicious western food including shepherd's pie, fish and chips and chicken pie, as well as strawberry crumble with custard, and very reasonably priced, too. The beach at Bai Sao is particularly attractive, with the clearest water you'll ever see and the softest sand. We also did some biking around the island and saw just about everything it has to offer. My worst experience was when I got a puncture about as far as possible from home as we were riding through the National Forest on New Year holiday when most places were closed. I had to ride about 10 kilometres with no air in my front tyre until we came across a small motorbike repair shop, which also sold petrol which was great as I was almost out and still had a way to go on the fast darkening, dusty, stony roads that epitomise Phu Quoc. We were absolutely covered in red dust, dirty and tramplike and were exhausted as we pulled into a posh seafood restaurant not far from our bungalows, by now in total darkness. We hoped they would serve us as we were starving, and decided to splash out on a barbecued whale size Red Snapper, and of course they were happy to take our money. The food was fantastic and worth every penny.

After a day or two sunbathing to recover from the around the island trip we decided to take a "see four islands, snorkel and lunch" organised tour for $15. The weather for the whole trip had been fantastic and it was no different this day. The minibus picked us up around 8am and almost immediately took us to a pearl selling place. A reason why I rarely take these organised tours. It was full of hundreds of tourists all trying to buy pearls and about as much fun as breaking your leg. After half an hour of purgatory we carried on to the boat. About an hour of chugging along we arrived at the first stop for snorkelling. After snorkelling in Tioman Island in Malaysia the snorkelling was very disappointing, with little colour on show from the coral but quite a few small fish. We then stopped at another beach for a swim and lunch on the boat, which was quite filling if a little uninspiring. The promised seafood noodles tasted more like rat and had no seafood whatsoever. I paid 30,000 VND for two sea anemones. The type you see everywhere with sharp black spikes. They cut off the spikes, cook them and there is just a little stuff inside. They were quite tasty though.

Then on the way back you can either snorkel again or fish. Apparently the snorkelling was much better this time but I chose to fish and really enjoyed the fishing. I got lots of bites and luckily caught the first fish of only two! It was only little but it was a fish and I'd caught it LOL Oh so proud...

After a short trip we arrived back at the pier and back to terra-firma. The next day we had to leave the island, and because we had left it late to book the ferry we had to go to Ha Tien which meant an even longer journey back to Ho Chi Minh. This time we did go on the 80 road and made it to Vinh Long. Unfortunately all the local restaurants were full that night, so after walking all over town and being turned away we ended up in a tourist restaurant that gave us two dishes exactly the same even though they were supposed to be very different.

The next morning we left about 10.30 after Com Tam or broken rice and chicken or pork and iced tea, near the hotel, which had cost us another $10. That day I got another puncture on the way, this time on the rear, but not too far from a repair shop, so it wasn't too bad and we eventually arrived back in Ho Chi Minh City around 3pm.

So whatever people tell you it is possible to go to Phu Quoc by motorbike! You may not want to go too far for a couple of days after getting back, I know I didn't. But it is all well worth it, with some lovely sights of the Mekhong, some interesting towns along the way, a fantastic challenge that is hard to beat and a wonderful island to relax on and enjoy. Altogether we travelled about 800 kilometres going to the island, around the island and back home to HCMC.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Pics in Bui Vien Street and Van Tanh HCMC

Well here are some pics I took. The first is one where I got out of bed and put my head on the wrong way up. Next is a very odd dolphin at Van Tanh followed by banh mi and then crabs, with the new buffalo on the Bui Vien/De Tham crossroads. There was a lovely old Indochine type hotel on the site but who is to stand in the way of progress.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Quiz at Le Pub, Saigon

We Won!!!!

Although one housemate was the writer/producer of the quiz, she did not tell us any of the answers. Our other housemate also took part in writing the quiz but stuck to her guns and also refused to tell us any answers.

The quiz was very international and we had a very international team. So that is why we won a whole bottle of wine!

The last quiz I won, in Wolverhampton, UK, with Daniel (hello Dan), we won £50!!! and were fortunate that night, too.

Tonight's questions were incredibly hard, about things like when were certain cheeses, like cheddar and Gouda invented, where were french fries first eaten and where was the plant rhubarb first discovered.

So altogether, I think we deserve a round of applause, and so does the quizmistress, Arielle, but I won't hold my breath...

Monday, 15 June 2009

Urban Dictionary Definitions of Graham

1. Graham 303 up, 64 down love it hate it

Graham is an old SCOTTISH name (not english you limey bugger). It means Grey Home and the earliest known Graham was the Earl of Mountrose.
Read the definition of Graham.
graham gram greame grey home scotland scottish graham crackers golden grahams
by C.W. Graham Oct 26, 2006 share this
2. Graham 86 up, 11 down love it hate it

A tall handsome and utterly fuck worthy dude that has no place on this earth as it is entirely beneath him. Women fall at his feet and are often found exploding in orgasm as he may pass them by.
"Whoa dude is that a 'Graham'?"

"Yeah, what's he doing on earth, I thought he was like on another level"

"Oh my god I think I just came"
graham grum gorgeous handsome fit
by MandaLovesIt Apr 1, 2009 share this
3. Graham 50 up, 53 down love it hate it

A tall, skinny, permanently awkward boy.
Someone who explodes every time he is given a compliment, and is likely to fall over if ever given a hug.
A Grahams natural habitat is in the cold confines of his own room, and is rarely seen in any other surroundings.
Despite tendencies to fall over and say the wrong thing in any situation, he's also lovely, and obviously one of the nicest people you will ever meet.
Graham's awesome :)
grumpy tall brilliant alcoholic daft
by lakencake;; Feb 7, 2009 share this
4. Graham 135 up, 159 down love it hate it

A guy who is incredibly good looking, athletic, smart, and loves to get blumpys
Graham's the man. He got the biggest blumpkin last night from Ronald McDonald
blumkin blowjob hot carl alabama hot picket cum
by Grambo Oct 29, 2007 share this
5. Graham 46 up, 74 down love it hate it

Guy who constantly says the wrong thing to girls and his peers. Completely oblivious to the fact that everyone thinks hes a douche. Often says "hilarus" instead of "hilarious" and waggles his hand around when he talks.
Dude, why were you such a graham yesterday? The was really lame.
douche wigger cracker duncan racist
by johnlewis42 Jan 29, 2009 share this
6. Graham 97 up, 151 down love it hate it

"Graham" is a simplistic term used commonly to describe thy holy father that resides in the heavens. Rumour has it that the only remaining specimin lives in an area called parkwood among other inbred bastards. This is only legend however.....
Holy shit, its a graham! BLESS ME WITH THY PANTLESS GENETALS!!!
graham god bible hooper allah
by Steven Dickinson Aug 10, 2006 share this
7. graham 42 up, 127 down love it hate it

A fresh bloke that constantly hooks up with fat ugly girls.
Oh my god i did a graham
Dude ur so out the group
grahma grigga brett howdy lolw
by winngerwanger Aug 7, 2006 share this

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Looking for New Housemates and House

The year has flown by and it is nearly time to leave this house. My housemates are going travelling and not staying in HCMC so not only am I looking for a house I have to find new people to live with! The contract finishes on March 15th, so not long to go..

So if you know of anyone in HCMC who needs a good housemate or who wants to start looking for a new house then tell them to get in touch at
grahamhibbins at hotmail dot com

Christmas in Nha Trang

Vi and I had a lovely time in Nha Trang over Christmas. We could only manage about 5 days, and it rained a lot, but we managed to pack a lot into those days. We had a day visiting islands on a boat trip and another day visiting VinPearl island which you get to by cable car, and has lots to do, including a huge tank full of fish, sharks and other sea creatures, a water park, which was fun, computer/fair type games, including boxing and shooting, as can be seen in the pics, fair rides and lots of other "free" stuff. We also went to a fantastic spa type place where, amongst other things, we had a mudbath together, which we enjoyed and there is a fantastic hot, thermally heated swimming pool. Here are a few of the pics.

Hibbitweet link