Saturday, September 26, 2009

In the wars

Celine and I have been living in Hanoi for around 6 weeks now. Of that time Celine has been out of action for close to two weeks. First she was fighting a dreadful allergic reaction thanks to yours truly. The last week has been the recovery from dental surgery. The surgery was a success however the aftermath has been one of intense pain. The swelling looks as if she has received a punch or two around the jaw. The pain killers help with the soreness but they make her drowsy and spacey. It looks, touch wood, that things are on the mend now and we both hope this is the last of her infortunes. If you take out the two weeks of inaction we can both be pretty happy with what we have achieved in our time here. We have found a place to live, have jobs, have explored Hanoi vigorously and once beyond. We have mixed with the locals and learnt some of the language, especially Celine who is always happy to chat away and try her few Vietnamese words with everyone. We have learnt to ride the motorbikes and sampled countless foods. In short, despite Celine’s tough couple of weeks, I think we have been able to fit a lot into our time in Vietnam.

Our apartment is going well. We really enjoy the area. The other day I ran into the owner (who lives on the bottom two floors with his family) and he asked me if I wanted to go for beer. I gladly accepted. We went to a nearby bia hoi, the Vietnamese version of the microbrew. “Tram Phan Tram!!!” or “bottoms up” is called around as glasses are emptied. Those 3 words are the mark to down your beer. It is a frequent occurrence and the beer or two I had planned had now turned into a mission. Man can the Vietnamese drink. We chatted about his family, life in Hanoi, politics, sport and beer around the world. His pace never altered and I stumbled home in a mix of bleariness and confusion a few hours later. The end result of my first major Vietnamese session was spread across the floor in our apartment. Poor Celine had to hand wash it! It was reminiscent of my teenage years and not a good feeling. I now know why a friend of ours in Hanoi is planning a spew hole inside the restaurant they are building.

The kids I am tutoring have moved into a house, a five story mansion, in the West lake area. The only thing small about the house is when comparing to others nearby. The people live in luxury in this area and the houses are amazing. It takes about 25 minutes to ride to work now but riding along before the day gets too hot is actually a nice way to start the day. Part of the trip is on one of the highways and I saw the dangers of the motorbike in Hanoi. As I rode past a man was being helped to the side of the road, blood pouring from his face. His recent accident brought me back to reality on the dangers on the road and I concentrated intently for the rest of my trip.

Now after dropping Celine at school I plan to sit back and enjoy the AFL grand final. No complaints here.

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