“Does your stick have electricity inside?” yet another curious local asked me as he began to fold my cane.

Questions like this arise daily, turning a 15 minutes stroll into get a “ca phe sua da” and a lengthy explanation. Being one of the few visually impaired foreigners in Vietnam, I naturally attract a lot of attention; People ask me everything, from how I get about in Saigon to how to study languages well.My reading glasses, monocular and cane provide entertainment for children and adults alike.

Five years ago, when I arrived in Vietnam as a naive but determined 23 years old, I wasn’t prepared for the effect my presence would have on the locals. I wanted to show the world what a sightless person was capable of and encourage and help other blind people to do the same, especially here in Vietnam

With a brand new NGO (Non Government Organization), five languages and bags of motivation I found the project I was looking for: improving and encouraging independence in a school for blind children. I had no idea what this adventure had in store for me!

Being totally blind in one eye and having very limited vision in the other, I depend on tactile clues and landmarks.This is how I found La Residence Hotel & Spa Hue, using the art deco external wall on Le Loi Street as a guide in the search for the school I was looking for.La Residence quickly became a landmark of security for me that I was on the right route each day to my destination.When I could not find that fence it meant trouble and usually a somewhat pricey cyclo ride.

Over the years, as my Vietnamese and my working skills improved, so did my need for a quiet place where I could rest, a sanctuary where I could find quiet and a peace and prepare well for my next adventure. La Residence Hue is such a place. After a busy day navigating the city, Le Gouverneur Bar and Terrace, is the perfect place to sip my cappuccino and read my book in peace.

During an extremely challenging summer in 2008, I relaxed at the pool with two of my very special friends. If there is one thing that can cleanse your worries away, it’s definitely that enormous swimming pool.

In January 2009 a flattering article appeared in the national newspapers Tuoi Tre and Thanh Nien, telling my story. To celebrate my hard work I had a nice dinner enjoying the mouth-watering ice cream at Le Parfum, which is truly the best dining experience in Hue.

La Residence Hue is a very special place for me and always will be !

Gabby Morritt