Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Last day in Hanoi/Vietnam - updated at 7:30 a.m.

It is our last day in Vietnam. We spent the morning out doing our last bit of sight seeing and shopping, and are back in our little apartment preparing to pack and GO! It has been a wonderful and difficult experience and I can not muster and remorse or sadness for leaving, although I can say with certainty I am glad we were able to come and have this experience.

I haven't posted many pictures of Vietnam, I'm afraid. There are 2 reasons for this. 1) Who comes to this blog to see Vietnam pictures? seriously folks!! You want to see the Minute!! I know that! And I have some great pictures of him for you, and my pictures of the city, not so good. 2) Photographs (taken by a plant physiologist) do NOT do this place justice. I can not capture the real sense of the city in my pictures so I feel that I'm doing a great disservice to the people and the city with my few measly pictures.

I did have my greatest accomplishment today on the street. I actually out haggled a professional haggler!! So, people approach you on the street trying to sell you crap ALL THE TIME. ALL THE TIME. You get good at saying "no, thank you". And usually, if you are firm the first time or two, people leave you alone and move to the next white-person to sell THEM the same junk. Well, today we had one lady that decided we WERE buying a silly little hat from her (see Minh in carrier with T to the left). She wanted the equivalent of 9$ in Vietnamese dong for this crappy little tacky "vietnamese" hat. NINE DOLLARS?!! I was like, NO WAY. She thrust it on Minh's head, and tried to say, oh there. Baby has it. You buy it now. The hat was silly it was so big, and T and I both didn't even WANT one of the hats, and certainly weren't paying more than a few bucks TOPS for the silly thing, but I said, NO we REALLY don't want it. No no no no no. She kept at us,

and we tried to get away, and she followed us harassing us for like 5 blocks. We finally lost her (I thought) and we continued our shopping, and poking around... Then when we stepped out of a shop, THERE SHE WAS!!! With a smaller hat, one that fit. Now, she said, it fit baby. You buy from me, my friend. How much. I told her 1 dollar. She tried five. Nope, I said. We don't want it (and we really didn't!!) And we kept walking. She was SOOOO persistent (as many of them are, really), and she kept following us, and at one point I turned around and she had put it back on Minh's head and was trying to make T pay her for it. Only 3$ (again, it was dong, but I'm doing the conversion for y'all). No way, I said. 1 dollar. (At this point, I just wanted her to bugger off!!) No, she said. And we kept walking. She kept following us.... Long story short, I wore HER DOWN.

She finally said, ok. ok. 1.50$. Nope, I said. One dollar, or NO dice, Lady. Finally, after a HUGE sigh, some serious pouting, and a big eye roll or two, she finally said. Fine. one dollar. So I handed her the equivalent in dong, and she handed over the hat, now cut smaller so it actually fit Minh. And then she stormed away, with a LOT of head shaking. (oh yeah! I got the best of a Vietnamese peasant and assed her out of 50 cents. That's right!). T was UBER impressed. See, since we've been here, neither one of us has had the energy to deal with the local buying/haggling tradition. That's how everything works here, and it takes a special kind of energy and pizazz. T isn't really any good at it (he has a good point - why haggle over what amounts to a few bucks?!), and I can usually do it, but my energy has been low, so until today, I haven't had the energy. But today, I was like butter (you know, on a roll. ok, ok. no more jokes.). We bought a bunch of gifts today, more expensive stuff, but I got us some damn good deals (that's right. I can roll over peasants left and right!!). So, we feel as though we have finally had the whole experience. We can now go home.

We have what we came for, on many levels, and we are excited to be traveling home. For those of you ready to meet this little dude in person, we need a little time to settle in, then I'll start making dates for folks to come over, and if you want to see me at any specific timeline, you can make a date with me - and if there is coffee involved, you can bet I'll be there. Just email or call me. Otherwise, I'll start working through the list. I have the first few people in mind already so I'll just start making calls when we get settled in. I think that Minh will take about 2 days to get used to the zoo at Chez Carley/Hatfield and then, we'll be off and running. He is shy at first, but really only takes a little time to warm up. I think y'all will like him. Seriously, just LOOK at those dimples.

I just hope we make it BACK tomorrow. T and M are traveling through Beijing....yes, THAT Beijing. The day before the Olympics start. I hope to god they make their flight, 'cause there won't be a place to stay for 300 miles. I fly though Hong Kong (remember, I'm traveling separately), and other than a hurricane making it's way to land fall in the next 24 hours... heading straight for - you guessed it - HONG KONG. So, I hope that I make MY flight. From there, I fly 15 hours to Toronto. Life won't be too bad, however, since I am flying first class. I did promise T I'd be on kid duty as soon as he stepped off the plane in NC. I figure I'll sleep on the flight just fine (I did on the way over. The pods we are in lay flat, so sleeping is really easy. Plus they give you noise reducing headphones, so I'll plug in and tune out. Oh, and I've got one sleeping pill left just for this trip home!!!). OMG - I can't WAIT to get home!!! And hey, after the weather here, Nc will feel cool!

Oh, I was going to post Minh pics, but I told Grams that she could have some "exclusive" photos, so I'm sending her the best of the last few days so if you want to see new ADORABLE pictures of the Minute, ask Gramma Linda. I will post a few "not as nice", however, just to keep your attention!!

(oh, and no, I don't have a bad skin condition on my face. That's just sweat. We'd been walking for about 1 hour and well, that's how I look in the heat. Pretty silly.)


BDT said...

We ran into Todd at breakfast at the Thien Thai Hotel before his flight. He invited us to check out your blog after spending some time in our room. Your Minh is quite cute! After getting to know Todd a bit, with his interest in worship and Yoga, we were distressed that he was proud of your treatment of the "peasant" vendor of the traditional, signature Vietnamese hats. In our experience, of being in Hanoi for the past 6 weeks, our boys have been showered with love and attention by everyone we meet. The level of caring expressed by all these people, most of whom are of modest means, surpass anything we have witnessed in public in the USA. Even having to budget for our nearly two month stay, we have found that haggling is important mostly in cases of obvious gouging, but otherwise vendors are simply trying to make ends meet - it's not as if they have a storefront or ownership of much of anything. These people, mostly women, are the exactly the people most at risk for having to give up a child for adoption because of financial hardship.

Kathryn said...

bdt, i don't know whether you'll read this comment or not, but i wanted to acknowledge that you're right - that probably was not N & T's best moment. i also feel the need to defend them since it seems they're stuck somewhere b/w vietnam and home due to visa issues and can't defend themselves at the moment...

i imagine they were exhausted beyond belief and just didn't have the energy to deal nicely with a vendor who wouldn't quit. these guys are genuine, good, kind-hearted people, and they understand the gift they have in minh and that his birth mother is likely someone living in poverty. i really don't think they meant any disrespect to the culture, and when they re-read the post later after they've gotten rested and have some space from it all, they'll likely realize the tone was a bit over the top.

regardless, glossing over something is not N's style, and if she's annoyed, she's not afraid to say so. she likes to tell it like it is, especially on her blog, and if that's how she was feeling at the time, i can assure you she's not ashamed of expressing her truth, pretty or not.

Nesha said...

Thank you Kathryn for your kind words. I am too tired and too exausted after traveling for 2 full days ALONE with a 13 month old to be too delicate here....

bdt - bugger off. my blog, my life. it was a funny story. And frankly, I left off the most interesting bits. How this woman was overtly RUDE to us, she was NASTY when we politely decline the first 6 times, and there are other UGLY bits I didn't mention. So until you get the whole story, keep your shitty comments to your self.