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Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Is that a word?

That is how we feel, and we use that word often. After an elevator ride, especially up a level or two...discombobulated. You feel kind of like you are still on the flight over and a little out of sorts. This word also applies to the way we feel about our purpose here. We know we are supposed to be here to get our twins, but yet we still do not have them...discombobulated.

Today was an off sorts day (did I mention discombobulated?) We got up this morning, had another wonderful breakfast up at the top of our hotel. Headed down the street to the supermarket with a fellow adoptive family that had arrived the night before and then took off on our own. The idea was to see more of the city and try to get used to our surroundings. We ended up not lost, but not exactly sure where we are. The whole area we are in surrounds a beautiful lake (I'll post pictures if I can ever get pictures to post!) So no matter where we are, if we can find the lake we can figure out where we are. As we were walking, we kept thinking it was just around the corner, not so. However we were still headed in the general direction we wanted too. Finally we come to the lake and we had bypassed the majority of it.

A little about Hanoi:
Around the lake is an area called the Old Quarter. This older part of the city adjoins the French Quarter which is also partially along the lake. The lake is good sized, but not too large that you can't simply take a walk around it. The streets are NOT straight here, they wind and curve as they are old paths that have gotten larger over the years and now are large enough for at least one car in most places, though some are still only accessible by bike/motorbike. So as you are headed down a street, you change directions a fair amount. Street names change sometimes at each intersection. For instance the street our hotel is on to the one supermarket is a straight shot and about 4 citi blocks away, the name changes 3 times. Each street name represents a different trade and a majority of shops on that street will sell products under that heading. There are streets for hats, shoes, silk, bowls, statues, art, baby items, fish, coffins, you name it and there is a street for it. With all the name changes, turning and winding, and the sensory overload it is easy to get to wondering where you are!
A little more on the sensory overload. There are smells that you have never smelled, some good some not so good. There is SO much to see (the people, the stores, the homes above them, the traffic, signs, product, etc.) and there is quite a bit of noise as well. You take all that and try to accomplish a task in the middle of it and you simply get overloaded.
In our walk today I got overloaded and simply didn't eat lunch. We came back to the hotel to eat, but I was "over-cooked" as I call it and needed some down time. Add that to the lack of sleep last night (I woke at 4 AM and COULD not go back to sleep) and trying some local coffee (they make it with sweetend condensed milk, now thats a good idea if you don't have an empty stomache) and you get Jenn not feeling well. I thought going out for a walk would help and we went to buy diapers. Got out and about and to the supermarket, into the diaper isle and I didn't think I could keep going. It was very stuffy in there and something smelled so strong I could not stand it. Got the diapers and some more water (JUST in case we get babies on Friday) and started for the hotel. Brian asked a couple times if we should get a cab, I really was not doing well. On the way back we realized all the above (no sleep, no lunch, and STRONG coffee) and decided I hadn't taken good care of myself. A banana, glass of water, and hour long nap later and I was feeling top notch and ready to go.

Adventures for today (as if that wasn't all an adventure!):
Bought my first items from the stores along the street. As many on here know, I REALLY wanted something to hang over the crib. I was able to find lanters (once again, I will post pictures when able) and little handpainted wooden dragonflies. They will look so pretty hanging over the crib! Purple, green and of course pink in different shapes and sizes....can't wait to hang them up. It was fun to negotiate prices, though I am told I did not do well at it. I didn't care though as I knew exactly what I wanted and was able to talk them down a little bit to what equals $26 for ALL of it. I was hoping for $20-25, so needless to say I am pretty pleased with myself and have challenged my critic to do the next deal.
Next adventure, 2 meals out! Well, lunch didn't really count as it was not technically lunch. We stopped in at Highland Coffee (kind of like a Starbucks) It is beautiful, overlooks a busy intersection, and had big comfy couches. I figured I would try the Vietnamese coffee. It was wonderfully thick and rich, but VERY strong. Later I find out it is sometimes brewed with chickory and wonder if that didn't help my feeling cruddy along to almost feeling ill.
Tonight however after the banana and nap, we went out to eat lunch with a fellow adoptive family and had a wonderful time. The place we ate at was call Hoa Sua and it is a vocational training restaurant. The staff are all underpriveleged or street children who apply and enter this school. They learn life-skills, different languages, and then move on to either cooking or serving in culinary. Wonderful idea to help them gain some skills as there are plenty of places around here that would hire good help like that. We arrived and the young guy seating us smiled and started up the steps. Half way up the second flight, a gal interrupts our journey and they argue a bit. After that we go on with him another floor to this little balcony/open air room. It was beautiful and it was just us! There were other tables, but it was like we were given our own private dining room as the other tables were all empty! I really wish I had taken a couple pictures and might return to do so. The food was very much French influenced. The menu was extensive, the portions small, but satisfying, and everything tasted wonderful! We had a creamed potato soup, I had Pork with an apple sauce and rice, Brian had Shrimp Scampi, desert was a creme caramel custard, YUM!
Total for all four of us was about $35, all of us! I would really like to go back, but not sure I could find it on foot as it is back down a quiet allya ways away from our hotel. Worth paying a taxi to go to though and a HIGHLY reccomended stop for those traveling to Hanoi. What could be better, your helping young men and women finish their vocational training, supporting the schooling they took before hand, and getting a great meal with amazing atmosphere.

No more solid news on when we have our G&R, still hoping for Friday, though as the days wear on we are less confident of that. Wishing sooner rather than later as we already miss those two precious faces as much as we miss Olivia and Grace.

I will end by noting that tonight, on the way to dinner, I felt more at ease here. As we drove through town, I was able to notice more of the details...individual stores rather than the mass on a block...individual people rather than the group crowding the side walk. The layers of culture shock are starting to peel away and I felt for the first time that I am really starting to see the real Hanoi and perhaps glimpsing at a bit of the real Vietnam. More on our adventures tomorrow and also we are hoping to book a couple trips out and about the northern part of Vietnam so we will keep you updated!



At 12/06/2006 11:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm glad you are starting to feel a little better. We haven't been to Vietnam in 7 years and I can still remember some of those smells and how easily they could upset my stomach. Hang in there it does get better.
Hope your G&R happens soon so your husband is able to spend time with the girls.
Look forward to hearing more about your adventures.


At 12/06/2006 11:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, Jenn! Sorry you were not feeling well...but glad you were feeling well enough to be so observant of your surroundings and taking the time to share your experiences with all of us. Reading your posts makes me feel a little bit like I am there with you myself!
Here's hoping and praying that Friday is THE day.

At 12/06/2006 12:17 PM , Blogger Nicki said...

Oh I just LOVED Hoa Sua - it was the best place we ate!!! It sounds like you are experiencing major jetlag. You are such a good writer - your words bring back all those feelings I had that were the same! It does take awhile to get into the swing of things so at least you are feeling this way without babies instead of juggling sleepless nights and baby feeds on top of barely being able to take care of yourselves yet. By the time you get those babies you will be feeling 100% and loving Hanoi and ready to give 100% to your girls :-) Hang in there!

At 12/06/2006 12:26 PM , Anonymous molly said...

Well, aside from feeling crummy as your body adjusts to everything (yes, it's sensory overload, isn't it?!), it sounds like you're enjoying your time so far....getting out and experiencing Hanoi. You're making me really look forward to returning there! I'm taking notes as our trips to Hanoi were either only a few days long or we were dealing with a very ill baby...so we didn't get out and about so much. I'm hoping this next time we'll get to experience more.

Enjoy your time and I'm still praying for the G&R and for your girls....all 4 of them :)


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