Friday, August 01, 2008
Hanoi - Disspatches from vietnam part 3
From "Get that thing outta my face - I care not for paparazzi, Lady" to "Prince Charming" in 2.2 seconds...
Well, we made it. And we are all so much happier. Interestingly enough, although Hanoi lacks the glitz and show and flash of HCMC, and is far more run-down, rough, and dirty...we all like it here better. For me it's easy. The architecture we saw coming in to the city was very reminiscent of Thailand, so I immediately felt at home. Plus, for a plant/ag nerd like myself (I know, I know. You don't believe me. But it's true. I am.) it was awesome to see the rice fields, date and coconut palms, and water buffaloes and even cows all over the place. Hanoi has exactly the feel I expected all of Vietnam to have. The people, while nice in HCMC, weren't quite as warm as they are here. There are tropical plants everywhere in HCMC, but mainly in pots. Here, there are trees, flowers, and all KIND of plants just growing EVERYWHERE. I really will at some point post pictures to PROVE I am in Vietnam. So far, really, I could have been in the next county adopting a baby of Asian-decent, huh? (ok, JK.) But I know y'all aren't on this blog to see pictures of the city as much as you are to see pictures of The Minute. And this kiddo DOES LOVE THE CAMERA. I swear, we were on our way to the hotel after a LONG flight (1.5 hours. He hated hated hated flying), and he was soooo grumpy. I pulled out the camera and this kid mugged it up something fierce. The only smile for hours was when the camera came out!!
Here we are in an apartment of sorts. It suites us much better than the old French-style four star hotel we were in. This feels like a real home. We have 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a kitchen, and a living room/dinning room. We have an INCREDIBLE view of the city from our 8th floor room. As far as the eye can see (almost, we can actually see mountains off in the far distance) are buildings. Run-down, old, dirty, and rough, but it's a proper city for sure. I know b/c of the traffic noise!! I haven't mentioned it yet, I don't think, but there is a constant carcophany (sp??) of street noise - mostly honking - going on. Traffic here is INSANE, and to keep some semblance of order, the folks - 90 % of whom are on scooters or bicycles - honk, wave, and honk some more. It's an experience just trying to cross the street. I have photos taken form my being IN traffic. Sometime I will post them. (my connection here is slower so it takes forever to upload pictures. Not to mention, Minute hates to share my attention with the computer...and y'all have seen what happens when HE tries to type!!).
It occurred to me that I haven't written much about our actual experience here. Which has been mixed. HCMC was hard on us all for different reasons, and while I am glad we were there - the city of my dear son's birth - I could skip visiting it until Minh is much older and ready to come back. The people were nice enough, but fairly aggressive - poor T was solicited so often and so much for sex that it really wore him out*. I was even hit on once. And I was carrying the BABY with me!! It was SOOOO busy that even going out for a cuppa was a real energy drain. (although I did it regularly, to be sure!! I need my caffeine!). Hanoi is busy as well, but in a different way. Less frantic. Less aggressive. People ARE nicer. We spoke with out cleaning lady for a while today even. She mentioned to us that she has only ever seen Americans with girl babies. No boy babies. And it made her happy we had a boy baby. It was an interesting observation, and one that I can personally attest to. EVERY one I know personally (in the A-Vietnam community) has adopted girls, or is adopting girls. I certainly think that's a wonderful thing, but I worry also about the little boys. (Oh, wait, I know one family adopting a little boy. We even met him briefly. He was Minh's crib neighbor, actually.)
Our next and last appointment is on Monday afternoon. We go to the US embassy here so that they can determine whether or not we are fit (read: financially stable) to be parenting an orphan. Theoretically we could leave immediately afterwards, but it's too much trouble to change our flights at this point, so we don't leave until Thursday morning. I return to Raleigh 12 hours later... ok, by the CLOCK it's 12 hours later. Flight time is something approaching 24 hours. I did a mental calculation yesterday and figured out that I have been IN THE AIR 35 hours to get to this point in my trip. I've also been in 4 countries. I look like hell (I know no one wants to see my picture, but I have very few b/c I look so lousy anyway!), but I haven't gotten sick of my limited wardrobe yet. Mainly b/c I am lucky to get out of bed in the morning and get all 3 of us dressed, fed, and keep everyone else healthy! That's not entirely fair. Tod's been a champ. And frankly, my little one has also been a champ. Our biggest melt-down cames yesterday after we'd been in the new place a few hours. I am sure he was concerned about the move, and I was gone for a short period of time... I think he was just scared. As soon as I got back, he perked right back up, so I think that's progress!
We are planning a slight tourist trip into the country-side on Sunday. The pictures from there should be stunning (see below for a preview!). It is a 3 hour trip to the mountain-like coast where mountains of rock jut up out of the water. It's a fairly famous area but I can't remember how to spell it. Ha Long Bay, I think. It sits in the Gulf of Tonkin and has more than 3,000 islands. We will take a boat cruise - on a "junk boat" - around the waters and see caves, and maybe even get to put our feet in the water on some sandbanks. It's a long trip but for only 62 bucks we've got our own private mini-van, driver, tour guide, and 2 meals included. I'd say well worth the cash!! I'll certainly let you know how that goes.
For now, I'll get back to my boys. And the city outside my window....
* I feel the need to clarify...T didn't get worn out B/C he ever said YES to the people soliciting him for sex.... just b/c he got TIRED of constantly being hit on. After having re-read what I wrote, I thought I better make it VERY clear!! LOL.