Monday, January 25, 2010

8 Things I DON'T do in Hanoi

That I used to do back home...........

Shave my own head: Gone are the days hunched over my bath, shaving the last remaining strands that make up the hair on my head. That pleasure now goes to a nice guy giving haircuts on the side of the road near my house. With the assistance of an old mirror and a dodgy electrical connection I sit down, relax and let the little master do his job. After getting my head and beard (I use that word loosely) shaved I part with 20,000 VND or about $1.50. I walk away happy at a job well done.
Cooking at home: Celine and I rarely eat at home. It is easier and often cheaper to eat out. Hanoi really puts America's Fast Food culture to shame with quick, delicious and in many cases quite healthy options on every corner. Celine and I have a kitchen to use if we want to but find exploring the streets a much more enjoyable option. I don't really like cooking and I definitely hate washing up so while I am living here I have no issue taking full advantage of the food in Hanoi and leaving my kitchen alone.

Cleaning: Celine may have you believe that I didn't do too much of this back home but that discussion is for another day :) We have now hired a maid who comes twice a week, taking care of all those cleaning chores. She is awesome. Our house is actually clean, not just tidy, which is very nice to come home too after a long day at work. This job was usually reserved for Sunday morning back home, a time dreaded nearly as much as the Monday morning alarm.

Work 9-5: My working life has changed dramatically since arriving in Hanoi. I no longer cringe from that 6.30am alarm as most of my classes are in the evening. This is not the case on the weekend which are my busiest days but that is part and parcel of being an ESL teacher. Monday to Friday are free up until 5pm but I am still working 27 hours in the week which is more than enough to live and even save. This gives me the time to take courses in French and soon photography and pretty much allows me to do what I want. Having a job that allows you to be outside when the sun is shining (or in the case of the last few days: pissing down) is pretty cool.

Catch public transport: Anyone that knows me well will understand my joy and not having to catch public transport. The institution is my arch nemisis, after all it was the Sydney Rail Corporation, the root of all evil, that forced me to invent an alter ego and more than once threatened me with court action. Taxi drivers from Sydney to Madrid have been causing me trouble for years, all without reason I might add. Here I rarely grab a taxi as my little Honda Wave gets me everywhere I want to go. Gone are the days of grabbing a weekly ticket and living in fear guessing when "those" inspectors would strike next.
Iron my shirts: Man did I hate ironing my shirt. It was usually a morning ritual which I tried to get out of the way when I was still half asleep. My brain at full capacity struggles to do such tasks so when waking up and operating on early morning mode the results were nothing shorts of shocking; which meant I had to do it again or wear a jumper. I went for the jumper. Here I lay out what I need ironed and when I come home it is miraculously done. I am a adult and I know that the maid is the one doing the job but each time it feels like such a welcome surprise to see them all neat and tidy and actually properly ironed. If I haven't mentioned it.....I love our maid.

Worry about bills: I must admit I never really worried about bills but they were a pain in the arse. I would often forget to pay them on time resulting in a fine. Australian's love to give our fines. You only realise things like this when you travel abroad. Celine's father pointed this out to me when visiting in Sydney showing me all the different kinds of signs throughout the city saying "FINES APPLY". Sorry, getting a bit off topic. Here in Hanoi they don't send you a bill in the mail but have ladies come to your house and give it to you. You then give them the money and everything is sorted. How easy is that! If you are not hear then they come back another day or present you with two bills the next month. We don't have to think about anything which for me is a big plus.

Cleaning my shoes: I also wasn't too fond on the whole polish your shoes business which meant I often went to work with dirty shoes. I don't have to worry about that here because there are countless young guys offering the service for about 50 cents. You don't have to find then either as they will come to you. Hanoi is a city of services where people are waiting to help you get things done. It is comforting to know that for once in my life those services are actually affordable.

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