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Archive for March 30th, 2008

Protected: One More Thing

Posted by Nancy on March 30, 2008

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These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Posted by Nancy on March 30, 2008

Things we’re glad we brought with us:

  • A computer.  There are computers with internet access in the lobby but it is much nicer having one in our room.  We are on it a lot.  If you have a little extra money lying around and want a computer that is really easy to transport, you might consider one of these.  You can find them online for $350 and up for the 4G model.  They have a 7″ screen, are shock proof, and only weigh 2 pounds.  They also now come loaded with XP.
  • A book.  I like to read, and there is down time where reading is a good diversion.  I brought Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and am enjoying it thoroughly.  Thanks, Lolly.
  • Trial size bottles of laundry detergent.  We send most things out, but still need this.
  • A 1st Class Sleeper from Magellans.  Great back support on the flight (folded in half most of the time) and cushioning on the train.

Things we wish we had brought:

  • More short sleeve shirts.  The ten day weather forecast for Hanoi said highs in the 60’s before we left, but it has been in the 70’s and 80’s.
  • For the same reason, Matt wishes he had brought shorts.
  • More chocolate for the kids in the orphanage.  That was such a rare treat for them.
  • Our spouses.  Would have been nice.

Things we could have left behind:

  • Baby blankets.  We don’t need these.
  • Make up.  Almost no one wears it, including the tourists.
  • The camera with rechargeable batteries.  When the charger doesn’t work the camera is useless.  Glad we brought two cameras and a camcorder.
  • Not much else.  We traveled pretty light since the biggest sitcase was full of blankie buddies, toys, and school supplies.  We have lots of room for souvenirs on the return flight.

Things we miss most:

  • Being able to turn on the faucet and get a drink of water.
  • Ice.  If you can’t drink the water you can’t use the ice.  Warm drinks suck.
  • Fresh air.  The gasoline fumes are noxious.
  • Home.

Posted in Travel, Vietnam | 1 Comment »

Day of Rest

Posted by Nancy on March 30, 2008

Sunday seems to be no different from any other day here, except the government offices close for the weekends.  The traffic seemed even heavier than normal.

The shops are all open, but I guess they are back home, too.  It’s the Sabbath, so we did no shopping.  The Internet was down most of the day, which made for a boring day.

We decided to get out and see some sights and learn some things, so took a cab to the Ethnology Museum to learn about Vietnamese culture.  We were surprised at just how primitive some of the ethnic minorities’ cultures still are.  When they talk of people living in caves and under rock shelters as recently as 1999, that is pretty primitive.

Another cab took us to Al Fresco’s, a very western type restaurant.  When we were done we asked them to call us a cab and an emloyee went to the curb and started waving to flag one down.  The one he finally got was heading the other direction, so he just whipped a U-turn on this thoroughfare with a gazillion scooters and cars everywhere.  We got in.  Turns out we needed to go the way he was originally heading, so another U-turn caused the open-eyed fear I felt the first day here.  

Matt and I commented that we have seen no accidents during the week we have been here, and consider that amazing.  Another amazing thing is that all the cab drivers have cars with standard transmissions.  I drive a car with a standard transmission, and I can tell you that stop and go driving gets to be tedious.  That is all there is here.  It’s a city of 3.5 million people where it’s every man for himself, no one ever stops, and you are braking and accelerating all the time. 

What a job they have!  I gave him a tip*, just for getting us back unscathed.

Tips are not customary here, and the Vietnamese prefer the westerners not inroduce the practice since the cab drivers, waitstaff, etc. develop a preference for serving those who give tips.  Go figure.

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