HANOI: Diary of a Mad Expat, pt. 8

Here’s my next blog about our experiences in Vietnam:) We met some awesome people there but remember…snarky venting was also needed and can be oh so therapeutic:) Enjoy…;)~

9 April – 2 May, pt. 1: Thaison Palace Hotel, Hanoi

“So I started out
for God knows where
I guess I’ll know
when I get there
I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Comin’ down is the hardest thing”
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Learning to Fly”

As I write this, we’re just two days away from leaving Hanoi, and heading to Taiwan. A lot has happened, good, bad, and ugly. Unfortunately, most of our experiences here were the latter two, which is the main reason we’re leaving. I’m sure I would’ve found work here, but after experiencing what life would be like here, we just couldn’t do it; not here. That was my mistake, and a bit of a costly one, literally. Had we known what our personal experiences were to be in this country, we would have saved time and money going directly to Taiwan. But we lived and learned, and our options in Taiwan are already looking promising before we’ve even arrived. So what can I say about Hanoi, Vietnam? Where do I start?

I guess the beginning is the best place. So we arrived at the hotel at about 7:00. It was already dark by then; closer to the equator, the sunrises and sunsets occur at almost the same times everyday. When we walked into a beautiful lobby, one of the hotel managers, Joe, was there to greet us. He seemed very friendly and offered to help us in any way possible. Our room was initially on the 3rd floor, so we went up to get settled. The room smelled musty, but hey, it was only $18 a night, so I guess that’s okay. Then we realized we were now lord of the flies…or gnats to be exact.

They were everywhere, and even after we bought giant cans of Raid, they still kept coming; we haven’t been without their company during our entire stay here (We even adopted a few; we had named them and just couldn’t bring ourselves to kill them. Which reminds me; Timmy says hello.). We went around, trying to kill as many of those little fuckers as possible, until we felt comfortable enough to eat. Being new here and it being late, we ordered pizza from room service. Oh, but wait, there were more problems with the room. There were stains on the bedding! They LOOKED like coffee stains, and that’s what we told ourselves it was. All the A/C’s here are mounted up near the ceiling, so you need a remote control to operate it. We had a remote, but it didn’t work very well. It kept shutting off the A/C by itself. When we got them to change the batteries, it still didn’t work right, so we’d set it to a pretty cold temperature and just leave it. But I’m not done yet! The bathroom was the source of the gnats. We think they came in through the fan venting; there was a higher concentration of them there than in the whole of the bedroom, and the bathroom was small; just enough room for a sink, a space to stand in front of it, and shower and a toilet. They had advertised a bathtub, and the shower had a place to sit (but neither of us ever dared to), but that was it – that was our “tub”. Oh, and the shower leaked…a lot! They later “fixed” it by building a barrier behind the toilet where the leak in the pipes was, with scraps of metal and copious amounts of spackle. That way, it would only collect in an area where no one went! I’m sure it was good for the floor. And on our first morning here, we realized that gnats weren’t the only thing coming through that fan vent. So was the smell of every bowel movement from every room above us! It would linger until about noon; it might’ve lasted longer, but we’d turn the fan off in the morning and keep the bathroom door closed, to keep it from spreading. That was the room. Keep in mind, we generally preferred our room to going out in the neighborhood.
– For images of our trip, please visit my wife’s Facebook page: Mischa Elaine Johnston

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