Sunday, February 26, 2012

House Hunting

Within the last week we have transitioned from guests to full on family members. How do I know this?

When it comes to being sick, I am a full on baby. I hate everything about it. I have no time for achiness, tissues, and everything else that comes with being sick, but to be honest I cant handle it. I crawl up in a little ball and whine. My family dreads when I get sick and now so does Danny. Ha decided to tackle the challenge, obviously not knowing what she was getting herself into. She came to take my temperature, she told me to drink lots of fluids, she even tried to force feed me, but when the tears started to stream down my face, as I had reached my peak for interaction, she just laughed at me and mocked me. To make it worse, so did the rest of the family and everyone else at the clothes shop next door. It was just like I was home with Moe and Neil, my sister and brother. Another step closer to being family members.

Later in the week, Danny and I decided to tackle the kitchen. We live above a restaurant and the kitchen is a busy place, but somehow we managed to sneak in when no one was around. I quickly started to chop up the onions, wash down the potatoes, and get our home fries started. Then Mai appeared and started screaming. Ha always says we can use the kitchen whenever we want. So why was Mai screaming like I had just killed someone? Oh, it was because I didnt peal the potatoes- of course. Then starts the game of charades, me trying to explain that I cleaned the potatoes. Finally being able to move on from the disaster of not pealing the potatoes, Ha arrives and Mai is quick to convey I didnt peal the potatoes. Now Ha decides to scream a little, throw her arms around, and then look at my pan that I am burning to shit because I cant concentrate on the potatoes because I have too many Vietnamese women screaming at me, and scream a little more. That's when I gave up. I called Danny to the kitchen and said finish these, I'm going upstairs. It felt just like I was at home once again, being in the kitchen with all the women in my family, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, sisters, and somehow always being demoted to the person who sets the table because my cooking skills arent up to par.

Today, as I leisurely surfed the web in my pj's while Dan strummed the guitar sipping coffee, the door magically opened and there was Kit. Kit, who was extremely sick, popped in to say hello. He left as quickly as he came. Yeahhhh right. He was just going to get his new Lego's to show them off to Dan. YEAHHH RIGHHHHT. Then came Mai, his mother, who unzipped his jacket, handed Dan his orange juice, screamed something in Vietnamese and left. We were stunned. Luckily, Kit loves Danny and I'm chopped liver. So i grabbed the camera and watched from afar as Danny played Lego's and crossed his toes hoping to not catch the nasty bug that Kit is home from school with. We are finally in the family with this one. We're the grandparents that dont have anything else to do, so we watch our sick grandchildren. Funny, I dont ever remember having kids or grand kids....

Needless to say, house hunting has begun. We have 4 days before we have to renew our lease with Ha or find a new place. A lot can happen in 4 days and Danny and I are going to do everything in our power to see that it does!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Graciously Accepting

Ha has graciously welcomed Dan and I into her family. She invites us to have lunch with her and her family everyday, charges us bare bone prices for dinner, gives us bicycles to use, and looks after us like we were her own children.

When I was here last year, Dan only spent about 2 weeks hanging around Ha's. Now that we've been here a little over 2 weeks, Ha and the rest of her family have  really opened up to Dan. Dan teaches their 20 year old son Heiu guitar lessons, wakes up Vietnamese style (6am) and has coffee with the ladies, and recently became their newest waiter and dishwasher. I am constantly reminded how good Dan is.
Mai, Dan and Ha all excited for the new shirt!!

I've been extremely lucky over the past few days in the job department and last night we realized it's been noticed. As we sat with Ha's family before the rush of customers for dinner, Mr. Vang, Ha's husband asked Dan if he was to get a job, would he stay here longer. Continuing the conversation, Mr Vang asked Dan what he wanted to do- bar tend, work in a hotel, restaurant, etc etc. As the examples of work continued to build so did the no's from Danny. There is only so much you can explain to your Vietnamese friends when both of you know only so much Vietnamese/English.

Not thinking anything of the conversation, we just laughed it off. Another funny story to add to the bunch. However, after lunch today Ha and her sister Mai knocked on our door looking for Dan. "Mr Vang bought this for you" It was an extremely large dress shirt. Politely Dan tried to show them it was too large and they soon agreed. Thinking he'd just escaped an awkward scenario, there was another knock on the door. Ha and Mai had big smiles and another dress shirt, this time just the right size for Dan.

There was no getting out of this. He graciously accepted and went to thank Mr. Vang. As he returned to the room he said, "I dont like where this is going. I think their trying to get me ready for work in a hotel." Trying to encourage the positives I say, "It's not an ugly shirt, it could be worse." Responding accordingly, Danny says, "The day I categorized jean shorts unwearable was the same day I said no to short sleeve collared shirts. Mai just said her husband has some shirts for me too. I'm scared, there is some plan in process." 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I'm guilty- I watched the Whitney Houston funeral. But instead of 12pm-4pm, which is unusually long to begin with, I sat in front of my computer squinty eyed from 12 am-4am. Of course I love Whitney and her songs, but I didn't have posters or even her Cd's. I'm actually not sure why I  stayed up. Either way, it made for a very short sleep. A sleep made even shorter when Ha's nephew, Kit, was let into our room by none other than Dan himself. As the giggles started I unrolled myself from the sheets trying to figure out why my "boyfriend" looked like a 5 year old Asian boy. Oh wait- it was a 5 year old Asian boy!

Somehow, I didnt manage to get a picture of Kit!
I'm sure he'll come by tomorrow. Stay tuned.
With a shaky start to my morning, I tried to get back on routine and jumped on the elliptical. 5 minutes into my work-out, Dan sent Kit back up to see me and quickly disappeared. Highly energized, he played with all the buttons making the workout more and more difficult. Trying to articulate that I wanted him to stop- I gave up after he started pulling on the petals, making it nearly impossible to continue. Fed up, I just started to scream DAN, but he didnt come. Finally Kit got distracted- by opening up our bedroom door and trying to find everything and anything he could put his hands on. As I continued to pedal on the machine, we mutually decided that it was ok he played with the deck of cards. Well what's the best card game as a 5 year old- 52 pick up!! As he tried to pick up the cards all around the elliptical- he squeezed into every spot and eventually his head got stuck between the wall and the arm of the machine. At this point, I was burning, but not because my workout was so intense. I was trying to figure out how I got stuck watching a 5 year old and no  one seemed to be coming to my rescue.

Storming down the stairs, grumpy from no sleep, ready to bite someones head off, I see a restaurant full of customers and all hands on deck- including Dan! So I take Kit back upstairs and let him throw all of the cards he wants feeling lucky I'm not waitress Meg.

As Dan finishes his duties, we decide to get out of the restaurant for the day. The skies had stopped raining, so we hopped downtown for an afternoon of fun. As we enjoyed our quiet and delicious lunch at Cargo, we started to talk about future plans. Jobs, apartments, home life, and everything in between. As the conversation continued, we splurged on some dessert and coffee feeling relaxed and comfortable. As the dessert's made their way  to our table so did a cat.  (Not all that uncommon in Asia- at least it wasnt on our plate!) As he hopped into the plant next to our table, I started to get worried there might be a mouse. Freaking a little, I turned my head to see Dan cracking up. The cat just needed a little bathroom break. As the smell of cat piss engulfed my nostrils, I had to chuckle. But when the cat started to go #2, I took it as a sign that lunch was over and quickly grabbed my bag and headed for the door!

Not ready to go back to Ha's (our home), we continued our splurging and headed to another restaurant. Feeling unsettled from all morning and now afternoon series of events, we got a bucket of Sangria and continued our life plan conversation Kit and cat free! Feeling rejuvenated and someone content on our life plan conversation, we were ready to head back home. Half way there, we hear someone screaming MEG MEG MEG and find an ex-pat friend on the side of the road. She greats us with, "Do you have time to come to Cargo and get a coffee? My husband is looking for an accountant and really wants to meet you." Agreeing to meet, Danny and I pedaled away confused as to why we even discussed our future plans and secretly hoping the cat had found another restaurant to call home!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Yes, Valenteen, not Valentine. Just another difference of the language barrier to add to the list. Dan and I have had the privilege to spend Valentine’s day in what I would say is one of the most romantic places in the world, Hoi An, Vietnam. The beautiful scenery, delicious fine dining restaurants, and prices that dont break the bank boosts the famous "Lovers Day".

Oddly enough, Vietnam and most of Asia have a different view on love than western culture. Ha explained it to us like this over lunch the other day. "Love is only between me and Mr. Vang. No one else is supposed to see our love." My hands slowly fell from Dan's hip as Ha quickly added, "You- no problem, no problem." As I'm sure you've already guessed, there are no public signs of affection between men and woman in Vietnam. You're more likely to see two male friends holding hands than newlyweds.

Embracing the Vietnamese culture, our Valentine's Day was spent in secret, exchanging presents behind closed doors. A bag of $6 Doritos and flowers and chocolate- after all we ARE western! At least I didnt upload pictures to my facebook like the rest of the world (it's only because Vietnam doesnt let me on facebook)

As our attempt at Vietnamese-like romance continued throughout the day, we found ourselves departing in different directions. I was due for a $2 mani/pedi while Dan took off on his bike to ride through the beautiful scenery that surrounds us. We lasted about a full afternoon before we joined back up for a mouth watering meal at our favorite fine dining scene in the old town. I've decided that I'm glad our love doesnt have to be kept behind closed doors. Em yeu anh Danny.

Monday, February 13, 2012

How Do You Get a Job in Vietnam?

Dan could always make rice wine!!

I could always wash laundry for a living

Some might say its easy, others may say its hard. So far we havent done anything out of our ordinary daily life. I popped into the Deli last week to grab an ice tea and happened to see the owner. We met last year when I went into Ex-pat classroom to help my friend Jennifer. He said,"It's a sign, you've showed up and we happen to need a math teacher."  So yes- I've fallen into the "it's easy to get a job in Vietnam"  category. Just waiting to work out the final details.

After lunch yesterday, we went to see Thuey at the hotel. The new receptionist introduced herself, but naturally I've already forgotten her name. We did tell her we were looking for a job because that is the number one way to get a job in Vietnam. Tell everyone you see and someone is bound to know someone that  might know someone who is looking for a teacher. However, this nice receptionist had another idea. She told Danny to call the hotel resorts because they are always looking for someone to train their employees. Maybe all those Summers spent at Oyster Harbors will pay off!

Whether we're jobless or not, we're still going to take every opportunity to enjoy fun nights with friends, afternoons on beaches, and mornings spent watching the grammys and skyping family back home!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Open Hearts, Open Minds

Superbowl Monday morning we frantically woke up and took our bikes into town to try and find a place to watch the game. We were 99% sure this one restaurant would have it. Well that restaurant was no longer there. As we rode up and down every street most shops and stores were closed and the ones that were open didnt know what the superbowl was. Sadly, we turned back for home.

In Hoi An there are many Expats, all here for one reason or another, and they all seem to "hang" at this one place called the Dingo Deli (Aussie owners). We popped in real quick for our hail mary. Old friends greeted us with smiles, but no answers. As were about to leave this woman, name unknown at the time, said ahhhh I know your pain, I hate when I want something back at home and I cant get it. Come with me, I've got a VPN. No questions asked we got on our bikes. As we quickly shook hands and introduced ourselves,  Lee graciously let us into her home and set up her computer and VPN  as we sat on her sofa and screamed at the screen and each other all morning. (Dan being a Patriot's fan) Luckily, Lee is Australian and thought we were very restrained.

Some of you may be thinking we're nuts, but that's what traveling is all about. We knew Lee was friends with some of our friends at the Deli and she knew we wanted to watch that game. For all she knew, we could have been wackos (that's still questionable!) We all took a chance- we came out victorious, THE GIANTS that is! But in all sincerity, we met a new friend and she even showed us a house for rent after the game.  With an open heart and an open mind, anything is possible here in Hoi An.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

All Together Again!

After a 16 hour treacherous bus ride, we arrived in Hoi An!!  It was an already long ride that seemed even longer when the cigarette smoke and strange men filled the bus, but hey, no pain no gain…right? I could have paid the extra 12 bus for a better bus. Sadly the lesson was learned the hard way.
Either way, we made it. I was so nervous and excited to see all of my Vietnamese friends. I was afraid that they wouldn’t be as excited to see me, but as soon as we arrived at 328 Cua Dai- there were screams and cheers and a lot a pinching and hugging (maybe some tears, but shhhh don’t tell anyone).

After we put our bags down Ha cooked us some wonderful food, we played my favorite Vietnamese card games and just enjoyed each others company. The same night, Thuey and Thang came by. We kept it a secret that we were coming back so when they got a call from my old Vietnamese cell phone they didn’t really know what to do. They came over to our place within minutes. They got married in December. We were 2 weeks shy of attending but they told us all about it annnnnndd they’re having a baby. I think their honeymoon was a little too fun! 

Of course we headed up to our favorite beach spot. The water was cold but it didn’t stop Dan! The only thing missing was his sidekick Nolan.

We’re so happy to be back. Hoi An is truly an amazingly special place. We would love to have visitors- so if anyone is thinking about a vacation- we know we’ll definitely be here until May 1st.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cloud 9 in Vietnam

After a 10 day tour of Luang Prabang, Laos, we were finally ready to embark on the second phase of our journey- Vietnam. We've been enjoying the trip thus far, but the moment we landed in Hanoi airport, I felt a sudden change.

As we drove into the city, Danny even commented how my entire demeanor had changed.

We were dropped of at our prebooked hotel to be told that they were overbooked and they had another hotel for us. I was on cloud 9- it didn't even phase me. I just nodded and followed the man out the door and down the road. As we get into the room Danny had the "wtf" look on his face. Then I came back to reality and realized it was a little strange, but still I didn't care. We headed out for a late night stroll taking in all of the traffic, sights, smells, and sounds that were around us.
Our welcome to Vietnam smiles
Can you tell mines a little bigger
 than Danny's?

We're only spending two days in Hanoi. So we made sure to get out early- you know 11am (They had a blow dryer!!!!) We walked up and down the old quarter and the french quarter. With all the main tourist attractions already checked off the list from last years visits, it was a leisurely walking day. Well maybe not leisurely when you add motorbikes, slippery roads, and the hustle and bustle that comes with Hanoi!

I continued my cloud 9 feeling all throughout the day. I couldn't shake it, nor did I want to. I haven't felt this good the entire trip. It was raining all day- not a problem, I've got a rain coat.  Our cookie treats had a nice big bug in them- ehhh just spit it out. I even fell in the middle of the road, covered myself in muck, and shook it off. (Thanks to Danny I'm still alive!!) But seriously- nothing can bring me down. It feels so good to be in Vietnam.

Happy Happy Girl!!!