And a stroll.

I realized after I posted the last item I had forgotten the “and a stroll” part. So here we are again. I decided to take a walk to an ATM as I need cash. I went for a walk and lived to tell about it. The following are pictures of my half a kilometer stroll on the street outside the hotel in Old Hanoi District.

Check out the blue barrels on the back.

 

Below – On the sidewalk as you wouldn't want to block the street. So pedestrians walk in the street with all the traffic.

 

As a friend said, “free range fowl”
 

 

Can you see the mass of electrical wires? How do they know which one to fix?
 

 

Don't know what it is but liked it. Totally out of place with all the tall rectangular buildings.
 
 

 

Apartment Viewing and a stroll

Yesterday was an interesting day as I began to explore a bit of Hanoi. Invited to join one of the teachers and his fiancée we met up with the landlord I had been emailing. He very sweetly got a taxi once I joined them and took us to lunch over by the school. Turned out I wasn't very hungry but the food was good.

Then it was time to go and see his apartments. He kept talking about Westlake being the best area and I had heard that. Imagine my surprise that when we went to view the apartments there were no elevators. The first apartment was interesting. You walk in through a Vietnamese family's house/ business where everyone is sitting watching TV and welcoming us and then start to climb the brown stairs. Round and round we go – it reminded me of climbing Brock's Monument in Niagara decades ago. At least at that historical climb there wer railings not so one this climb. There were plastic covered wires that acted as the railings. Help!

All of a sudden we stopped and I realized that a sliding door had opened and there were shoes on the step. We must have arrived. Took off my flip flops and walked into a very bright completely redone apartment. What a view! The entire far wall was windows and it was so bright you would need shades to stay in the living room. By shades I mean sunglasses…. It was so hot I was dying from the humidity.

We visited another apartment in a nearby building that was still occupied by very messy foreigners. But even though it was 2 bedrooms I was not willing to pay the price that was being asked. By now I had come to one conclusion – the most important thing on my list was no longer the number of bedrooms but a lift/elevator. While the rest of the group continued on to look at other apartments I decided to park myself outside at a table by the lake. Imagine my joy when I found out that there was a large fan plugged in that I could turn on and use. So with sweat (forget the polite word perspiration) drenching me I sat down on a chair, pulled up another one for my feet, turned on the fan and looked at the lake.

When they returned we hopped in the waiting taxi and came back to the hotel. The landlord seemed a bit perturbed with me that I had not indicated the importance of a lift. Well, I had forgotten that often there no elevators in Asia. He was very negative about me finding a place with an elevator and nothing near the lake which is the prime area (he said) for expats. He also told me that they would be very expensive and out of my price range.

A bit discouraged but happy to be back at the hotel I said goodbye to everyone and went up to my room to shower and sleep.

Thank goodness for Brad but that is another story.

 

On the way to Hanoi

After a lovely five days in Hong Kong with two special friends from my Beijing days I am in the air flying to Hanoi. It has been a bit of a bumpy flight for the few minutes as we worked our way through heavy clouds. We are now flying over the clouds and there is beautiful blue below us with white puffs of clouds dotted here and there.

I always stress out about the checkin and last night and this morning was no exception. That was not needed as the taxi arrived on time. It was an interesting ride to the airport. A trip that should take about 40 minutes was accomplished in 25 minutes door to door. We literally flew across Hong Kong. I glanced at the speedometer now and then and it was between 140 – 160 kph. I decided that I would just concentrate on texting.

Check in was a breeze once they realized that I was just recording my flight fromToronto. The best part was I didn't have to pay for the overweight baggage again. On to the gate and finally on board the plane. It turns out that the row across from me was empty so I got a while row to myself.

Well, it is breakfast time so more of my journey later.

Breakfast was very edible though I chose the bacon and eggs over the breakfast dim sum. It also included slices of fried potatoes and baby green beans. All told, it have been very impressed with my transportation from Toronto to Hanoi by Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air.

We are about 40 minutes from outside of Hanoi. I wonder when the reality of what I am doing will Dawn on me. I do know it is good to be back in Asia.

25 minutes to landing in Hanoi.

Had a great landing and disembarkation was a breeze. Very organized. It took about 5 minutes to go through customs including waiting time. I handed in my passport through a 6″ opening. I could barely see over the counter. The officer stamped it and I was on my way. I have tell you after my struggles with American customs in Miami and the waiting time in Toronto it totally blows my mind how easy it is to enter a communist country.

Then on to get my luggage. It took a while as both suitcases were very heavy and were near the end when they came out. The Hanoi airport is older. It has one of those older baggage carousels. It is one of the black ones that winds it's way through a door then in a u-turn before turning right and back out another door before it comes back in again. They are actually easier to lift off luggage as there is no lip you have to lift over. Someone helped me with my luggage and I was off.

No one wanted to check my luggage and as I started towards the glass doors there was the lovely lady from HR with my sign and the vice principal waving with a big smile. So nice a welcome. The orange mini van arrived and in we piled for the 40 minute drive to the hotel. I chatted with Charles the whole time and learned a lot.

Initial impressions of Hanoi??? Very unique with all the narrow brightly painted houses three and four stories all jammed together in a wonderful fantasy. The highways seem to be very stark. It gave me the impression of Beijing when I arrived a decade ago. I will investigate that more.

My hotel is in the old city and is unique. There is a tired elegance about the hotel with its winding wooden staircases and small floors. My favourite part is a comfortable bed. I was expecting a hard mattress so I'm delighted. On the other hand my window view leaves a great deal to be desired. A cement wall!

Outside are the sounds of a busy city with the continuous beeping of the motor bikes. No problem.. All new sounds to get used to.

After a two hour nap I investigated the restaurant and love the Hanoi spring rolls. Went out on the patio where the sounds again captured my attention. I don't have my camera so tomorrow morning I will make sure I take it with me tomorrow morning for breakfast.

After I got back to my room there was a knock on the door and I met one of the other grade five teachers and his lovely Malaysian fiancée. She is a bit overwhelmed with the noise as she is from the farmlands outside of Kuala Lumpar. We are going to have lunch tomorrow and then go and look at apartments with them and a possible landlord.

Now the city has quieted down and even though it is only 7:40 I am going to go to sleep.

More later – my first ½ in Hanoi comes to an end. I have smile on my face.

 

On the road again!

July 31, 2014 12:57 AM – Toronto Pearson Airport – at the gate

I suppose it would be more accurate to say in the sky again.

My next adventure has started. I am just waiting for boarding to be called. The gate is amazing. Tables with iPads are everywhere. They have done a good job refurbishing this old terminal though I don't remember seeing the other gates set up the way the ones are for Cathay Pacific.

 

Somewhere over the Bering Sea

So far the flight has been good. We have had a bit of bumpy weather now and then but all told good. We are 6 hours and 24 minutes from Hong Kong. It is 10:16 AM back in Canada and the exact opposite in Hong Kong.

The cabin has been dark for hours as people settled into sleep after a decent supper. We were all given a menu card to let us know what was available for supper and breakfast. I chuckled as I read the card because congee is on the menu for breakfast. Yes, I am heading back to Asia. To emphasis that I just order the cup of soup noodles that are available during the flight. I am hungry now that I am awake again.

I haven't watched any tv on the flight except one episode of Big Bang Theory. I read a little bit but my eyes were so heavy I couldn't concentrate. More later my snack is here.

Just flying over Beijing

For eight years that meant the end of my journey. This time it means three hours to the end of my journey. When I flew out of Beijing 2 years and one month ago I was convinced I was making my last long haul flight and I rejoiced. Interesting how life works.

 

August 1, 2014 – 5:55 AM. In taxi in Hong Kong

I forgot that they drive on the opposite side of the road here. Always a bit of a shock.

Dawn has just broken though the sky seems to be overcast. It is already hot and so humid. Don't know what the day is going to bring forth. I am always surprised when I come to Hong Kong seeing the hills and mountains.

August 2 5:05 AM

After spending time with Lydia she left for work. I had a few things planned I wanted to do but that all changed once I took a wonderful shower, had a bit of snack and a Tim Tam. Bed started calling and so about 9:30 I crawled in and slept until 7:00 PM with only one potty break. I got up to wait for Lydia but fell asleep on the couch and so went back to bed about 9:30 and just woke up. Hopefully, I am basically ok for the day.

Got an email from the school in Hanoi telling me the arrangements to pick me up at the airport and deliver me to the hotel. The possible landlord also sent me an email saying he would check to see who had moved out, cleaned the apts and then send me pictures.

It is true! I am back in Asia.

More later.

 

Things you may not know about me

In a course I am taking right now one of the suggestions for a blog post was this suggestion. So after I read what some of the other members of the group have written I thought I would write it.
image

1. I was born in Kelvington, Saskatchewan in the middle of the winter.
2. My full name is Enid Heather Laura Reddaway Davis – there is family history mixed in there.
3. I have a received two degrees since I turned 40 – a Bachelor of Theology and a Master’s Degree in Integrated Technology.
4. My first new car was a red mustang.
5. I had a white car in college called Agatha.
6. I used the name Esmerelda Popaloskavitch when I lived in Toronto whenever I didn’t want to give my own name.
7. My friends and I used to hitchhike when we lived in Toronto. (It was a lot safer those days – it makes me shudder to think about it now.)
8. I was a dog person before I became a passionate cat person.
9. I have been a bridesmaid in 7 weddings.
10. When I was very young I memorized a lot of the Psalms and New Testament in the Bible.
11. One time I dyed my hair black and forgot to wear plastic gloves. My hands and wrists were grey for over a week.
12. As a child I traveled across Canada by train – two trips. I was under 6.
13. My family moved to Los Angeles when I was in college but left before I ever went to visit.

Well, that is all for right now.

When reality becomes real

I have been enjoying my holiday time home in Canada. I have been walking, reading, doing a lot of eating and visiting my family. Part of my job was to sort through all my stuff that has been sitting in my sister's storage unit for the past several years as I have lived Beijing and then Guatemala. She is planning a move and so asked that I go through everything. I did it last Monday and was amazed how little I decided was important. I will write more about that later.

I found a lot of pictures and cards that I have had a lot of fun going through. Reliving memories of college and friends has been wonderful. I graduated in 1974 and for the past three years we have all been reconnected through Facebook. I have been busy scanning the pictures with my iPad so I have a digital copy.

While I was enjoying this walk down memory lane the Breaking News came on and announced that a plane had gone down in Ukraine and it was feared it had been shot down. All work stopped as I listened to the report and couldn't believe that something had happened to another Malaysia Air plane. I was stunned that something could happen again to this airline. I got as must information as possible but as soon as the news descended into speculation I quit watching. Periodically, I would check the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) for the updates but kept on with my activities. I watched the short videos that showed the smoke and passports but in all honesty other than feeling sad that this had happened I kept doing my day to day things.

This all changed yesterday (Friday, July 18th) when I got a call from a friend in Beijing telling me the aunt and uncle of another close friend, who now resides back home in Australia, had been on the flight. Everything seemed to stop. I didn't know these people at all and yet their niece is a very dear friend and her lose almost feels like my loss. It is the first time that something like this has happened to me.

I am sad and angry. I no longer can listen to the “talking heads” on the TV and their endless rhetoric and blame game. 289 people have been senseless killed. Their only crime? Getting on board an airplane to do their job, go home, on vacation, to a conference or a dozen other reasons. I can't look at pictures of passports, black smoke, piles of suitcases without the sense of such terrible loss. I have always understood that families are tragically affected but until this time when it has come to one degree of separation am I beginning to understand how much each life that was lost affects so many. Like a stone thrown into a pond creating endless ripples and circles this crash has reached around the world bringing so many people and now me included to a partial understanding of the loss.

My love and prayers go out to wonderful friend Imelda and her family as they deal with an event that no one should be called on to bear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Potter and more..

pottermore-8I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Always have been, though I certainly wouldn’t fall into the stand in line for hours at midnight group. I am more the preorder through Amazon to get the book delivered on first day. Actually, in my case it was usually the second day as I was home in Canada both times I did that. I have also been known to have spent three days of my Vietnam vacation sitting by the fabulous pool, listening to the sound of the ocean in the background as it rolls into the beach, reading one of the books from cover to cover. I think it was the one where (spoiler alert) Dumbledore dies but I am not sure except it was a long one.

Anyway, I digress…. I got started reading Harry Potter when it first came out and I was teaching at Kindergarten at a christian school. Parents started asking me what I thought about Harry Potter and was it appropriate. At that time I didn’t even know who or what a Harry Potter was. So not having an answer I did what I always do when there are controversies, I investigate on my own. So I drove one afternoon to Costco went directly to the book section and bought Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was a relatively thin, soft covered book with a painting of a young boy with a scar on his forehead. Little did I know that I was starting on an adventure that would last for over a decade.

I loved the world created by the author and hoped there would be more books. :)
In answer to the question the parents were asking me I now had an opinion and while I always answered honestly. One of the families I taught for a number of years, meaning I taught three of their kids in kindergarten, drove from Ontario to Florida every Christmas and the books were read to the three kids in the back seat and the driver. (This was long before there were iPads, tablets, smartphones.) Kids were expected to entertain themselves on long trips. Fighting was not allowed. I loved the idea.

Anyway, why am I sharing this walk down memory lane? Because, though I am probably late to the party, JK Rowling has just published a short story about Harry Potter and his family on her incredible website. I read about it on one of my favourite blogs HGTV.
http://blog.hgtv.com/design/2014/07/10/harry-potter-decor/

So in case anyone is wanting me this afternoon I will be downstairs sitting outside (they have wireless) at the coffee shop reading the story and catching up with old friends.

I think this is a great distraction after the morning frustrations of applying for a Visa for entrance to the country of my new adventure. :)