Saturday, 31 March 2012

A perfect ending...

Our last full night in Saigon was spent at a Vietnamese wedding - the lovely young woman, Chung, who works for our housing complex and cleans our apartment invited us to her wedding. She married a nice young man who also works here, and we got to see lots of familiar faces last night. A super duper added bonus was that Ty and Toan were also invited, so we spent the evening with them as well.

Friday, 30 March 2012

And what I won't...

So, there are a handful of "things" that I won't miss about living here - which I write for other FS families who are interested in learning more about Saigon life. Nothing too terrible, in the grand scheme of things, but annoying nonetheless.

  • The dirty air - pollution is an issue world-wide, and I definitely took clean(er) air in the US for granted. All in all, we have been lucky and haven't had too many issues with the air here, but running outside becomes quite dicey and after two almost solid years, it is catching up with all of us, especially Amelia, in terms of coughing. The only impact this had on our day-to-day life would be the ability to run outside.
  • People staring - at me, at the girls - Now, as a redhead, I am used to people staring and public attention, and I knew that bringing our blonde daughters to SE Asia would attract attention, but I will not miss sticking out in each and every crowd. Being able to "blend in" is not something that has happened once in our tour here, and it has eventually begun to wear on me.
  • Public urination - this, I am sure, is not Vietnam or Saigon specific. But here, it is quite common for men and children to urinate on the side of streets or corners of sidewalks. And occasionally, you will come across poop - Again, not the end of the world, but to me personally, super gross. In full disclosure though, I have allowed Alli to urinate on the sidewalks twice in two years because there are no usable public bathrooms here. None. So, now we are part of the problem! Amelia has also peed twice on the ground at the pool, but she was only 1 and she firmly believes she is Vietnamese, so I am giving her a pass.
  • Brutal honesty - Several months ago, Co Ty told me that one of the gardeners where we live was confused as to how the girls ended up being so beautiful when Erik and I are not beautiful. Ouch. The Vietnamese, I believe, are kind people. However, they have no filter in expressing their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Several times Ty has stopped me from leaving the house in an outfit she thought was inappropriate. I have been stopped countless times by women with suggestions on how to "rid" myself of my horrible skin condition (freckles). I do believe, people feel they are trying to be helpful. But it is the kind of help I do not really want.

Just like living anywhere, you take the good with the bad. Our good greatly outweighs the bad, so I am calling this tour a win. Big time.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

What I will miss.....

So, it is time.

Two years, come and gone. Here is a (brief) glimpse into what I will miss most

  • Bike Riding - I have loved having my bike here - whether I am riding with the girls or by myself, it is an easy, fun way for us to get around. It is also a wonderful way to explore our neighborhood - check out some of the gates in our hood:
  • Inexpensive, delicious Vietnamese coffee - It is incredibly potent, and you can get it hot, iced, sweet, sour - basically, any way you want it. A lovely way for us to support Vietnamese farmers while we get our daily dose of caffeine.
  • Sunshine - It is sunny here 365 days a year, even during the rainy season. And the sun is good - good for our moods, good for my little fishie girls. I am thankful we are heading into another sunny post!
  • Fruit, fruit and more fruit - particularly, passion fruit. See coffee reference - local, fresh, delicious and inexpensive. I have become quite the passion fruit addict - straight, in a smoothie or as a mojito - I will take it!
  • Pampering - Never before (or probably again!!) in my life have I had the opportunity to enjoy facials, massages, pedicures with such frequency. Both Erik and I have taken FULL advantage of the numerous spas here - the service varies, but there are some real gems and the prices are so low it seems like you are doing something illegal! It is not rare for me to tip the same amount for the service itself. Examples include .70 cents to get my bangs trimmed, $5 for a basic pedicure AND manicure, and $10 for a 90 minute massage.
  • Fabric markets - I have written about our tailor before, and we have had the chance to have clothing made here at rock-bottom prices. But I have really enjoyed searching the markets for a great fabric. And recently, I started sewing, so I have been looking for fabrics for household goods. Ah, sewing. That is a topic for another post. But, here is one of my recent finds. Fabulous, right?
  • Coconuts - From what I understand, coconut water is sweeping the nation (the US nation that is), true? So yes, I know I can get my fix when needed. But, we pay 9,000 VND (approximately 40 cents) for one and it is fresh off the tree :)
  • Co Ty. And yes, Co Ty is not a "what", but a "who" - but she tops my "what I will miss" list!To know our family in Vietnam is to know Co Ty. She has been with us from Day 1 and we are heartbroken to move on from her. I can never repay her for loving our girls like an auntie and caring for them as we would. Our tour here would not have been as enjoyable or easy without her presence in our lives. Our separation from her will be one that takes getting used to - we are all hoping to be reunited one day.
  • Children are allowed everywhere - EVERYWHERE. And, more importantly, they are allowed to be children. We take our girls on errands, to restaurants, bars, and they are welcomed with open arms. Yes, their Western features lend to their novelty, but the Vietnemese way is to include children in every aspect of the adult's life. It has made going out, socializing and living quite enjoyable here. I know we are going to have to restrain our girls in the States. While their manners are top-notch, it is going to take some work to explain why all bars don't have pools and why they are not welcome in every restaurant's kitchen.

The list goes on and on -

Stay tuned for what I won't miss - yes, there are a couple of things.....

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Xe om

Look! Alli got a job as a Xe Om (motorbike driver) - frees up so much of my time!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Party time

In the last two weeks, we have partied and partied and then partied again and then once more for good measure. And then we threw in some extra partying just to be on the safe side. At school, at work, at our home.
Turns out the best way to combat the sadness of leaving is to surround yourself with wonderful friends, lots of cake and plenty of cocktails!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Eye of the Tiger

They came, they saw, they conquered.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Related much?


asp -
happy day my sweet mimi -
each and every day with you is a blessing
you are funny, smart, loving and
stubborn with a side of cute
you are my dream come true
love you more than words can express today

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ze artiste

It was time again for the annual student art show at Alli's school. This year we went to opening night, which was lovely. They had students playing music, as well. Just like last year, the work produced by these children, is really amazing. Alli was more interested in the music this year.But Amelia was enthralled with the photographs, which were stunning. And here is our resident artiste, tattoos and all. She also is sporting greasy, end-0f-day school hair, along with bags under her eyes from no napping - so all in all, she looks exactly like all good painters, right?I loved the suprise of seeing her painting and comparing it with last years. It is truly amazing how her drawing has grown during the last year alone. Alli is such an active child, and always has been, that it is only within the last six months that she has begun drawing herself, her friends, her family with detail - it is a really fun milestone!

Friday, 9 March 2012

thick as thieves

i like to catch the little sweet moments where amelia would do anything just to be by alli's side - eavesdropping while they play together - holding onto that one precious moment to pull out of my pocket when the hair-pulling, spitting and shrieking ensue....

Saturday, 3 March 2012

March Madness

So, it is March 2012.
Also know as Month 24.
The countdown to departure has begun.
This month is chock full of last days of work for both me and Erik, last days of school for the girls, Amelia's second birthday, a big blowout partay, and a to-do list a mile long.
Feels a bit overwhelming.
Not helping the situation is our sadness over leaving Saigon.
(Cue the broken record)...
While we are excited about the next adventure, we have adored our tour here and very quickly settled into a routine that worked for ALL of us.
I am working on my posts to share all of it with you guys - the good, the bad, the in-between.
Start the countdown - it is on.