Heat, Humidity and Hundreds of Hellos.

I spent a few hours wandering around Hanoi… looking at various things… being happy and excited that I was back in Vietnam but also seriously jealous of all the backpackers in my hostel who were planning where to go next! I had a nice, very hot, walk around Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter near my manky hostel, which has some legend about a giant turtle diving down to the bottom to retrieve a sword for an emperor or something (??) then had a lunch of Bun Cha which is a typical Hanoian dish of cold Bun noodles, with pork patties in a sweet salty sauce… Delicious!! I’ve had it before and will have it again I’m sure.

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Hoan Kiem Lake – Hanoi

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Goodbye Scotland… Good morning Vietnam!!

Me being me I had no time whatsoever to write anything before I finally flew out on august 1st. Everything as usual was left to last minute and I didn’t actually pack until the morning I flew.
So rewind a bit.
I finished work on the 26th. I was glad to be done. It wasn’t the best job I’ve ever had. Wiping bums day in day out. Nice… I was sad to be done too. I’ve met loads of great people there, who no doubt I will keep in touch with and see once back in Edinburgh – one day.20140803-123015-45015468.jpg
The 27th was a great day!! A bunch of friends and I went to see the rugby 7s final at the commonwealth games in Glasgow. It was great. I’ve never REALLY got into rugby, though I do like and (mostly) understand it. This was very exciting though as sevens is short matches. The Scotland England game was pretty intense. I was hoarse by the end of it!! scotland ended up losing 15-12, so close, yet not close enough.
On the 29th I had my hair all cut off. It was in bad condition and the last cut was terrible so I was glad to see it gone. It’s now sitting on my collarbone so is a good length for the heat and humidity in Vietnam. In the evening I had a leaving meal with a group of Edinburgh friends. We went to an all-you-can-eat world buffet. It was brilliant!! UK to China to Malaysia to Thailand to India to South America and back again!!!! We ate till we couldn’t eat another crumb. Then ate more! A few friends came back to mine after and we made some cocktails.
The next morning I was feeling pretty fragile, but managed to get a train down to Berwick -upon-Tweed to see my mum in Coldstream. We went and got a St Christopher’s charm for me to wear on my travels. St Christopher is the patron saint of travel so hopefully it’ll keep me safe or something πŸ™‚
I headed back to Edinburgh the next morning after a nice long walk along the river with my little old dog.
I managed a fair bit of organising before going to meet 2 of my best friends for some tea. It was one of their birthdays and probably the last time I’d see her for a long time. The other one came to the flat with me and I carried on organising while she sewed some flags from my last trip to Asia onto my recently repaired backpack. My dad was taking me for a nice meal at a fish restaurant… It was horrible going our separate ways at the end of the street but she plans to come to Vietnam early next year so I have that to look forward to!
I spent a bit longer sorting things to take with me that night but was wrecked so headed to bed for my last night in my own bed!

I got up early the next morning and eventually got what I could into my backpack, weighed it and it was only 20kg… Still a big weight to be on my back! My hand luggage was over weight by 1.5kg but I’d cross that bridge when it came to it if it was going to be a problem.
I said goodbye to the flat. My dad has been there since I was 10 and I’ve called it home since mid 2012. I couldn’t look back as I walked out the door. I was in pieces. It was horrible. I was so excited – I’d been waiting for the day for months! – but this was the worst bit.20140803-141149-51109734.jpg

My dad and I said our goodbyes after a bite of lunch (I had noodles- start as I mean to go on!). I headed through security and found my gate. I waited for a while until we could board.20140803-141150-51110063.jpg There was a mum and two late teens/early 20s daughters sat right behind me and they were a pain in the backside from the word go. Poking their feet between the seats, thumping the back of the seat, loud talking and laughing and whatever. Probably not that bad but still annoying! I was glad to see on arrival in Doha that they weren’t flying my way, they were going to Seoul – poor Koreans!!
Doha is meant to be the best duty free in the world, but I only had an hour and a half and didn’t want to waste too much time. I got myself a drink and headed to the gate. The airport there is so new and shiny, like some kind of shopping mall. Not airport-ly at all! I was so absorbed in messaging friends that when I looked up he lounge was empty and it was the final boarding call! Oops. Of course I made it onto the flight as I was already at the gate.
The Doha – Hanoi flight had a layover of an hour in Bangkok. I never thought I actually missed Thailand until I could see it out the window but wasn’t even allowed off the plane!! People got off and some new people got on. Change of staff. I just sat there looking out the window!!
FINALLY then, after a slight delay, I arrived, in one piece, if not a bit jaded, in Hanoi, Vietnam.
For those of you who haven’t travelled much, when you arrive in a foreign country and step off the plane, the heat hits you like a big red bus. BOOM. I felt hugely emotional arriving, I knew I should be excited, but I was so relieved to be finally here!!!
Waiting for my visa, I overheard a couple saying they lived here. I asked them if they’re teachers. They were. I shared a taxi with them into town, via the kennels where their tiny little poodle had been staying while they’d been in Bangkok. They invited me in for a drink and to cool off after my flight. We went for food and they got me a SIM card with a Vietnam number. They were so kind and helpful telling all sorts of info about Vietnam and teaching here, what to watch out for and to get in touch with them if things in Vinh don’t work out and they’d help me get a job etc. After that we headed back to theirs and I got a taxi to my hostel. There had been some pretty crazy lightning while we were eating and the power went out at the food place as we were leaving. As I was getting in the taxi some big drops were falling. By the time I got out of the taxi it was a full on tropical down pour. The taxi couldn’t go down the alley that my hostel was down so I was completely drenched even in just the 50m dash that it was.

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I set my computer up and downloaded Skype… I had text the parents and said Skype both of them at some point. Neither were online when I logged in and then I fell asleep with my computer open. When I woke there was a message from my dad saying he was getting milk and he’d be back on in 10. I decided I would just shut it down and get some sleep, early as it was.
Around 1am some girls arrived with all their bags. They had been on a flight from Ho Chi Minh City. The flight usually takes 2 hours but they had taken 6 hours because of the weather. They couldn’t land any planes, so had been going round and round in circles. They could see all the lightning from the plane, and said they’d been pretty scared since at least 2 planes in as many weeks have gone down due to storms. Terrifying actually. Not much else I could think about when I was flying.
My sleep was pretty broken but my alarm woke me in time for me to get a well needed shower and down just before the free breakfast ended. Vietnam LOVE eggs for breakfast. I wonder how long I will be able to deal with that for. Maybe it’s just the backpacker circle that have it like that. Maybe real Vietnam will be different. We will see- tomorrow morning!! I fly to Vinh this afternoon. I’m meeting the manager of the school at Hanoi airport and flying with him.
School starts tomorrow!!!