Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Gracious hosts, numbers and pig stomach

This is my 2nd day on client site and you’ll be pleased to hear that I have not managed to cause a major international incident. Phew! ;-)

I was collected from the hotel by a student, who is training to be an accountant at my client’s company. After running across the lobby to greet me, she put her arm through mine and, while giggling and grinning broadly beside me, told me how ‘beautiful’ I was and that I ‘should be a model’. Had I been in the UK, I would have probably been instantly suspicious and wondered what she was after. But as we are in Asia, I took it as the complement I think it was intended and returned her smile. She was obviously very excited to see me and to take me to work.

Today was spent learning more about the client, his business, his brother’s business (his brother works in the same industry) and the local steel industry as a whole. I got shown around his work sites and we talked about his supply chain and the process of producing steel for the construction industry. He has asked me to help identify where he can improve his processes in order to increase the company’s cash flow. They have a lot of capital locked up in assets.

In the evening we were taken out to dinner by the Director of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. After sharing the few Vietnamese words I had learned with him during the introductions, he insisted we all move seats so that I could sit next to him during the meal. He showed me how to eat the diverse range of weird and wonderful Vietnamese food he had ordered for us and also introduced me to his son, who is a recent graduate from Manchester Uni.

Since he seemed suitably impressed by my rather feeble attempts at Vietnamese I thought I’d share the words my accountant friend has taught me today. I can now count from 1 to 5.
1 sounds like mawt. 2 sounds like hai. 3 sounds like bear, with a long ea. 4 sounds like bone with the tone rising. 5 is nam.

I also have to tell you all about the food I have eaten today. I have to say I don’t really consider myself a fussy eater and many of you will know that I like to eat. I will try any type of food once. Most of it was delicious but today was a day of numerous one offs. At lunch I was introduced to boiled pig’s stomach lining, which was so chewy, it makes me squirm thinking about it, even now. Not wanting to appear rude to my gracious hosts, I had to close my eyes and gulp down my beer in order to swallow it. Dinner consisted of all kinds of different molluscs some of which were so large there is no way you could swallow them whole, so again that involved chewing and beer swigging.

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