Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week 1 vs Week 2

We had three night's of sleeping in the new house before I started work. Sleeping patterns werent what they used to be. Bed came early, mornings came ever earlier and our king size bed at Ha's turned into a small double, with an even smaller blanket. I hardly slept and my eyes were open before the speaker went off. I got out of bed and headed out to the dark streets to find they were filled with Vietnamese doing their exercise regime.

I headed left out the gate to quickly be joined by everyone that passed me. There were giggles, there were smiles, I even got a few 'hellos and mornings'. We all walked in unison, up and down our street. This is how I met the neighbors. After 30 minutes, I headed back inside. Anxiety was all over my face. Luckily, Dan knew that would be the case and had breakfast all ready to go. I wore my best new work outfit, tried to towel dry my hair as best I could and mustered up the best smile that almost looked convincing. I couldnt believe I was going to work, accounting no less. It seemed unfair, Dan got to stay home and have fun while I had to dive back in to the thing I loathed the most, office work. Dan snapped a few "first day of work pictures" before the driver came and I was off.

Small chat in the car was all that I could bring myself to do. My hands were sweaty, my heart was beating fast, anxiety was in full force. As we pulled up to the office building, I took a deep breath, climbed a flight of stairs and found an office filled with Vietnamese accountants with big smiles on their faces. As each one introduced themselves, I forgot each of their names within seconds. What a great co-worker I am.

I was paired up with Salvador or Buddy, as no Vietnamese person can actually say Salvador. He's from the Philippians and I will be replacing him when he leaves in a month (now 2.5 weeks, but whos counting) My job for the next month is to learn everything Buddy does, make it simpler, as he seems to complicate things, including how he teaches me, and then be able to replicate any task needed of me for the following two months until I am replaced by another full time Westerner. Easy, right? Well, my anxiety didnt go away. I had first day of work blues. I second guessed my decision to return back to work all day but somehow kept the smile on my face, nodded when it seemed I should, and  asked somewhat insightful questions.

As we returned home from work, we being my boss and me,(Oh yes- did I forget to mention I ride to and from work with my boss everyday. Wouldnt you all like to do that??) It sounds bad, but my boss is an amazingly friend New Zealand man, with a family we have grown to love over the past year, so much easier than it sounds. As we pulled up home, Dan was waiting with dinner on the table and a smile. He must have known it was going to be tough. With dinner came words of encouragement. Day 2 and 3 passed, the weekend flew by, but week 2 was a total change from week 1. I actually enjoyed it. It's going to be work for sure, but the atmosphere is relaxed, the people are friendly, and I already have a handful of funny stories to share.

The main accountant I work hand in hand with is Ms. Phuc (Fuck)........ Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Settling In

Our Mini- Fridge
 It's safe to say the move went smoothly. Little by little we brought everything we have, which is not much, to our new house via bicycle. We signed the papers, handed over a wad of money, and all that was left was furniture and Internet, which were both supposedly coming on Monday. I was sure it was all going to go smoothly. We'd spend Monday at the house gardening, cooking, doing things home renters do and everything would get done. The Internet man would come, the furniture would be delivered, and the house would be complete. As you all know, Dan and I are opposites, so of course he was sure nothing was getting done. We met in the middle as usual. The Internet man came but the furniture did not. The day gave us a good excuse to buy a DVD player as Vietnamese television is less than amusing. Of course our first dinner was fried chicken (Dan's favorite)
Furniture was finally delivered!

(Side Note: As I am writing this blog, sitting in the pictured chairs, our front gate it open and the neighbors have decided to let themselves in and check out the garden. Welcome to the neighborhood!)

With only one day before work starts, I set off into town with a list. High priority= work clothes, phone card and shoes. Pleasure= nails, books, dvd's. Success rate= 100%. Some were more challenging than others, like shoe shopping. Luckily, I have small feet. However, I know the price these shoes should cost and let me tell you, that's not the price they tried to charge me. I made a few women angry after they told me a whopping $25 for shoes. Can you believe it? I got mad that shoes were $25. Well, when they should be $5-10, you'd get mad too. Either way, I came away with two pairs of comfortable work shoes. Clothes were pre ordered at the best tailored shop in town- all the right size. Hunger games is the book of choice, 11 DVD's for $7.50, and finally a $1 pedicure. I'd say I'm all set for my first day of work tomorrow. Now let's just hope the alarm clock goes off. Oh yeah- that's right, the speaker goes off at 5am.

The new shoes!

Dan's job has already started!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Isn't it Ironic

Final preparations are being made for move in day. Water jugs, rice, bedding, kitchen "stuff", and everything in between have been purchased. We have been strategically taking out money from the ATM's every other day to make sure our accounts dont get shut off. Side note: you pay rent up front in Vietnam. Today's hunt was CHEAP living room furniture. The Vietnamese have beautiful wooden expensive furniture lacking comfort. There are western style sofa's around, but most of those are lacking comfort as well. We were lucky enough to find a second hand wooden furniture store today. Bruno, it was your paradise. We scored (or hopefully scored as everyone spoke Vietnamese and by the end we were ready to give up) two beautiful mahogany chairs for $50 and a "we're unsure wooden couch" for $40. Today was a process. It was by far the most stressful day we've had here so far. (Tough life, I know) They are supposed to be delivered in 2 days (payment of delivery, thank god) I'll be sure to report back what the final outcome was.

I know it seems like we're rushing on home furnishings, but work starts Wednesday for me. The reason we're diving into the renters club in Hoi An is because I found a job in Da Nang, a city about a half hour by car, hour by motorbike. Strangely enough, I will be working as a contracted accountant at Olympus Pacific, a publicly traded gold mining company. (website: I know everyone who knows me is laughing because they are confused. Didnt she quit her accounting job?? Luckily, we bumped into old ex pat friends (the one who gave us Alex's number) and the husband, who is the controller, is looking for someone who can help him out for the next few months while employees are restructured within the company.

With that being said, I know my mother is probably hooked on: Da Nang, 1 hour by motorbike. Dont worry!! They were nice enough to realize there was no way I could do that and I have a door to door car service for my 3 day work week. I am very hopeful that this job is going to be a breath of fresh air and even potentially enjoyable. Even if it isnt, I'm sure it will provide lots of great story's for this LACKING blog.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

House Hunting Part 2

We were lucky enough to catch a beautiful sunrise in the process
We've heard (and now experienced) horror stories of house hunting in Vietnam. You can ask someone, who ask's someone else, who know's someone who has a house for rent or you can drive around all the neighborhood's on your bicycle looking for signs of a house for rent, or you call Alex, the new house man in Hoi An.

We're guilty of all 3 of the above scenarios. We told Ha we were looking for a house and she made a few phone calls and the person on the other line made a few phone calls which brought us to a few houses, but none up to par. Then we had the day of riding around in the 90 degree weather trying to find signs of houses for rent. That only turned up one very overpriced house. With a hint from an expat friend, we got a hold of Alex's number. We told him our price range and length of stay and he showed us 3 houses.The first was a slum house, the second was luxury living we could never afford and the third was a perfect house near a speaker.

What is a speaker? It's a very, very loud megaphone placed all around neighborhoods in Hoi An that goes off every morning at 5am without fail. After looking at the house, we returned on our own the next day, and the next, and the next. It totally grew on us and we fell in love. So this morning was the final test. 4:30am wake up call, we rode out to the house, waited for the owner, went inside the house, shut all windows and doors and listened and I have good results to report.

Our humble abode for the next three months

We are proud renters in Hoi An, Vietnam.  Move in day is three short days away.  Luckily, the house is 75% furnished. We need a few staple item's (like bedding) but other then that, wooooohoooo here we come!!!!