It is unreal to think that this was nearly 7 months ago.
As I look back it is difficult to believe that it has only been 7 months as we seem to have integrated into this life very easily and have also done a far amount in that time.
The 18 months leading up to this trip were extremely hard with my chemotherapy, radiation and Herceptin treatments as well as the testing along the way to ensure we had beaten the cancer. But thanks to all concerned – from medical staff to family and friends all was, and still is well (I went for a check up at the end of November and all clear). It was tough to leave behind part of the family but knowing I was going to be visiting in November made it less stressful.
Once we arrived our transition into Vietnamese life was certainly made easier due to Candice and Sholto having been here for 18 months and they were able to show us around and teach us the ropes regarding where when and how.
We have certainly made good use of our bicycles and these have been our only means of transport around our neighbourhood. We have explored Tay Ho extensively and try to go all the way around West Lake at least once a week – about 15km round trip – exploring. Eating and drinking beer (bia) at the many Bia Hoi’s with the locals and expats alike and finding interesting variations on coffees (Ivan’s favourite being the iced coconut coffee) at the multitude of coffee shops was great fun. A point to note is that wherever you go there is free wifi and good speed wifi at that.
We soon found the best places to buy our different goods and we have loved being able to get our fresh fruit and veg (and even some meat) at the local fresh markets, buying our bread and baguettes at a bakery and our meat at a butcher – it really is great being able to shop this way. There are also loyalty cards for every shop – with good benefits.
An interesting thing I have noticed is that some package sizes are odd (well, odd to us) eg eggs are sold in cartons of 10 (not the usual dozen as we are accustomed) and milk is either 890 or 900 ml not litres – whilst on the milk there is the choice not only of full cream or low fat but also with added sugar or no sugar. But on a lighter note I now ask for 10 eggs in the market – when they are not packaged at all and in fact get packed into a plastic bag so any quantity would be available – amazing how quickly I have become a creature of habit.
We have also been lucky enough to travel , not only around Vietnam but also to Laos, Thailand and Malaysia and we are going to Hoi An again next week for 10 days before heading back to Hanoi for our first Winter Christmas.
I recently went back to South Africa to catch up with my dad and support my daughter who was having surgery. While I was away Ivan and the kids moved house. The new house is about 5 km from the previous apartment and in a much quieter area – we are pretty much the only westerners living in this area. But more about this next time.