It surprises me how few words we actually need to get by. 
One week into life in Vietnam and my vocabulary seems 
to have been reduced to a few simple words.
Yes? No? and Ok?

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Everything you say and do
to be understood and to understand.

In fact, eye contact, hand movements and utterances
can do the trick just as well. Yesterday, I found myself in our little pool house
with Mr. Truan, the gardener, who does not speak English. We were both
deep in thought pondering the state of the fuse box. He was pointing and saying 'broken'.

I was thinking back to the weekend when I had flipped through the
switches like a percussion stick on a xylophone...back and forth
until the water jets on the jacuzzi were at the perfect rhythm.
I was also thinking about the 'boom' sound as a result of my fuse box wizardry.

I had to find a way to convey the results of my actions and chose the easiest way I knew.
I smiled, pointed at one of the motor contraptions behind me and said
"Vroom, Vroom- Boom- Yes? Ok?"

Did I feel like an idiot?
Yes- but it got the point across and this became apparent when his quizzical brow
dropped and he smiled and said 'Yes, Ok, Boom... No, No' as he pointed at
the fuse switch that said 'Massager'. I took that to mean that I should not use
the 'Massager' switch and replied 'Ok, Yes'. Mission accomplished..we communicated.

This is the first time I have lived in a country where I do not speak or understand
the native language. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
My days have been spent on the receiving end of a revolving door of servicemen.
In the compound where we live, they do not send one man to do the job..
they send several and they spread them out over a few days. The odd thing is
that they all look after the same problem, it is as if they are telling one after another
to check on the work of the previous serviceman. There I stand with my few words, explaining
the same thing to five different men who barely understand me. I point and talk very slowly
and they point and talk very fast. I am working hard to keep my wits about me.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

On the other hand...
I am truly enjoying getting to know the staff associated with the house.
The driver, Mr. Khai took me on a tour of the local garden shops today. I noticed
that he and the gardener take great pains to make the garden look as neat
as possible. I have also noticed that they have divided nearly every plant on the
property at least a dozen times. I decided it was time to add new specimens
to the landscape..much to the delight of both Mr. Truan and Mr. Khai.

In the midst of our travels, Mr. Khai asked about our life in England.
"Did we live near the Chelsea Football Club?"
In fact we did, and when I mentioned it, there were squeals of delight..he is an avid fan.
He asked about our garden in England and with that I mentioned
my visits to the Chelsea Flower Show. All I can say is that I have never heard a grown man
so enthusiastic, so excited over a flower show, it was one of the most precious moments of my experience to date and am sure it will be right up there when I look back on my time here.
I promised I would show him and Mr. Truan my photos from the show.
I wonder what they will create as a result?

On that a few pics from our travels today.
I have added colour to the garden and absolutely fell in love
with the Bonsai plants which I refrained from purchasing.
I have my eye on a few water features as well.
I plan to embrace the mango (house colour) and go
for the full experience. There will be no holding back!

Speaking of house colour...any suggestions
on what colour pots I should put around the house, particularly, 
the front window on the left?
Yes? No? Ok?

Just for fun...a woman on a mission.


  1. How well I remember staying in a wonderful old house in Salzburg, Austria. Very, very late one night, I plugged in my hairdryer and ... boom... all the lights in the building went out. The landlady came running up the stairs, looked in, smiling, clasped her hands together with a clap and said... "Kaputt".
    "Yes!", I replied. "Kaputt".
    We both laughed.
    Sometimes one word is indeed all you need!!

  2. What an exciting time Jeanne! It sounds as though this will be quite the adventure. Love the photos! (EMBRACE the ziplock bags! lol!) And for the front pots, I think either Olive Green, or Persimmon.

  3. Oh Jeanne, leave it to you to give us something to make us all smile in the midst of your adjusting to your environment! :) Merci, it was lovely. And oh my do I understand. I was struck mute for quite some time when moving to France beyond "Bonjour, merci, au revoir"! It shook me to my core but I realized that I was too attached to the importance of expressing myself well and too afraid of looking like a fool! You seem to have already understood to let that go. :) And how fast you will fly, I am sure.

    I can't wait to see what becomes of the garden under such caring hands with a bit of means behind them...

  4. The house is wonderful and I think adding some of those amazing colourful and beautiful plants will make the house sing out with delight. Cannot wait to see the transformation.

    On the subject of pots, I would go for something like a slate/charcoal colour to show of the beautiful of the plants and sit easy against the house...

    Have fun

    Jo xx

  5. Jeanne,

    You have been on my mind a lot lately. I am in awe of your resilience, and your sense of adventure. I would be a puddle on the least for a few weeks.

    I do hope that you do not have too many troubles with facebook and blogger, I miss you when I do not hear from you! Odd how soon we become attached to our blog friends.

    I could not agree with you more about embracing the color. I think there are so many beautiful colors to compliment the orange that you are going to have a stunning garden! I cannot wait to see the transformation!

    How nice that you have already built a rapport with your gardener, shared interests are what for friendships and bring people together. How lovely for you to have found that.

    Jeanne, I finished the Elegance of Hedgehogs and I loved it! Then last night I watched the movie!!! It was just as good, if you can stream it you would enjoy it I think.

    Take care, thinking of you and sending you courage and best wishes.


  6. What a wonderful riot of colour in that garden centre - and in fact in all your photographs. It is lovely here in the UK to get such an interesting taste of life over there (and language!)

  7. Colour, colour and more colour - you might as well embrace it :)

  8. Oh, this will be fun. Pots?? You'll have to show us your selections. Since what will go in the pots will more than likely have color (?) then perhaps big chocolatey pots to match the trim on the windows? Then, you can carry them along to the next move and they won't scream...Ho Chi know...if you buy a Cape Code-ish style home in Maine, etc....

  9. ah, you will have all the authors of the world out of business, for I fear you have discovered that we can, indeed, get by with very little words when we have to!

    Such a riot of wonderful colour in the garden - rich, bold and dramatic - absolutely lively. Whatever your pots are, they will look fabulous with such strong colours in them.

  10. Thank you for sharing all the wonderful experience you are having with us. I bet you will be picking up some Vietnamese each week.

    How about blue pots?


  11. Hello Jeanne

    You bring to mind a quote by Winnie the Pool "Every day is an adventure. I admire your courage, determination and sense of humour as you take baby steps each day in your new country which you call home.

    The garden centre is so rich in variety and colour. I like Jo Farmer's suggestion on pot colours. I would suggest tall pots so the flowers can be visible from inside too.
    I know you will make it beautiful and interesting.

    Yes, No?

  12. Hello Jeanne, I'm loving your Vietnam adventures. My hubby and I just returned from the most gorgeous trip there. Hope you're all settling in well. Melx

  13. I think either blue or green celadon pots would look wonderful Jeanne...and I would put as many twinkly lights in the palm trees as I could get away with!
    The language of kindness speaks volumes.

  14. Would terracotta work? watched the knitter the other day and totally relate!!! And the colours for the garden just fabulous! Simplified comment!!!! xx

  15. Jeanne
    I have missed a few posts as I have been busy entertaining 25 people! Whew! At any rate I am so glad you are embracing the "mango" You are in the tropics why not!! Grab some of that salmon bouganvilla. It isn't as hearty here in CA. It is so beautiful and will look amazing with your new home...glad Tika arrived safely...can't wait to see all your new plantings!

  16. Love your house and the surroundings. Wiuld go with color-saturated pots in turquoise and/or jade and maybe a dark burnt orange. This may be your only chance to go BRIGHT, given dthe intense light and the colors around you. It will be fun!

  17. Having lived abroad ourselves, we can completely sympathize! We see the beginnings of a book on life in Vietnam - a bestseller no doubt.
    C + C

  18. Jeanne, Everything is looking beautiful. Such a wonderful post.

  19. I'd say either embrace the colour and Jeanne, I somehow think that in your new exotic climate anything would work, the more colour the better!
    we are SO glad you're managing to blog

    love to you

  20. Thanks for the garden nursery tour. I'm glad you are embracing the mango coloured house. I think two large pots on either side of the window filled with bright complimentary reds, oranges, golds would look amazing.

  21. Great Post, Jeanne. You're right, it doesn't take much to communicate-- especially with a smile! I don't know what your taste is, but some blue and white ceramic pots would be a nice compliment to the mango. I'm excited to see what you do!

  22. Jeanne
    I loved traveling about with you today, hearing the stories and seeing the wonderful nurseries...oh what a treat to select from such a wealth of beauties. In choosing a pot color for the front, I would go with cobalt blue...working with complementary colors always sparks a setting for me. To use the color of the trim would be lovely, or the charcoal palette...but my sense is always to go for w "zing"...and the complementary colors do that so well.
    What great fun to have you workers interested in the things of your travels that have delighted you and that you have recorded in photos - we in the cyber world oooh and aaah at the photos from you will get such sweet satisfaction as they look at that glorious collection of photos with you.
    I am enjoying the move to Vietnam, with delightful surprises in every story you tell.

  23. In the Philippines, we had two words that covered so much, "kwan" (noun) and "ano" (adjective). "The kwan is ano," usually meant that whatever the "kwan" was wasn't working.

    Your home looks lovely. I'd go for mid-value ultramarine pots.

  24. No matter what the difficulties, something tells me you are beginning a wonderful adventure. As for pots, greens, blues, terra many choices.


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