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.


Moving is never fun…..

It is hard to believe that two years ago I was selling all my belongs and possessions that I had collected over eight years in Beijing getting ready to move to Guatemala City.  What is even harder to believe is that I am doing the same process all over again here in Guate getting ready to move to Vietnam.  Sometimes life does not turn out the way we plan it and it is time for some discomfort as we prepare for the next stage.

A month and two days from now I will boarding an American Airlines flight to return home to Canada for 6 weeks.  My time here is Guate has been interesting but also full of challenges.  Who knew I would miss Asia so much????  🙂  The country of Guatemala is one of the most beautiful I have ever been in.  The weather in Guate City is my perfect weather – not too hot and not too cold.  The people are just wonderful.  I will miss the huge smiles and hugs that are part of the Latin American culture.  The campus where I teach is incredibly beautiful.  There is something very special about being able to walk and work right outside all the time.  Today it is overcast and raining a bit and yet students and teachers are sitting outside at table working and reading. Yesterday the weather was lovely and one of the students was out on the lawn reading as he prepared for his testing.

Slowly my items are being sold.  I am thankful to the support of the people around me.  The white walls in my apartment which were covered with special art are now empty. I wonder how long it will be before I quit glancing over at the empty wall where my clock used to hang.  It has been 7 days and I am still doing it.

Meanwhile life is going on around me.  Yesterday was one of my nephew’s 13th birthday.  He was barely three when I began my international journey.  He now has three siblings – two here with us and one in heaven.  Sunday is my mom’s 89th birthday.  She was my biggest supporter when I decided to accept the job in China a decade ago.  The rest of my family was also on board and have worked hard to keep me up on everything that is going on.  I am blessed and loved.