Shut the door.....Too late, it slipped right by me


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Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi
January 21st 2011
Published: January 28th 2011
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Like a one-cheek sneak I slipped through the terrible oneway doors and into the no-mans land of the international departure lounge. Almost as surreal as the time travelers' portal in some scifi movie it transports one into the temporary purgatory wherein all manner of lost souls mingle and wander (along with their bruised metaphors), forced into a time dragging limbo, all in the same boat. I'm feeling among them but not of them. There's a universal sameness, not found anywhere else but consistent in all airports. Maybe it's the similar sameness of people going to Maccas all over the world, although their sameness is a shared lack of taste. But sharing the same sense of "just passing through" And time. Everything is based on time, departure time, arrival time, waiting time. Yet it is a curiously timeless world, like a casino, without clocks or windows to give a hint of the time of day. Desperately withdrawling smokers applying patches, chewing gum, itching, sweating, hey, I'm a smoker but it doesn't get that bad for me. And I'm looking forward to Singapore airport and the refreshingly outdoors, upstairs Harry's smoking bar with it's worldly collection of cactii and horrendously overpriced drinks, but to save changing any dollars I'll just knock off a small duty-free special.
My final battle before the airport was the usual battle with Telstra, such a lovely, sharp techno name evoking images of speed, service, reliability, but so misleading. And altho' the Big-Government-skeptics will argue it is the government control, actually it is a function of size that leads to the inefficiencies. I wonder if there is a small government department in which one could find efficiency to prove that theory. Maybe deep within ASIO but then it would be denied, invisible, and in this post Julian age, probably reverting to writing notes in lemon juice!
So, is this different? Different enough to print out and stick to the fridge door with a small heart shaped ceramic magnet, next to the kids' photos, footy fixtures, overdue electricity bill and grocery lists?
Well, I though it might be worth a try.

Now it's on with/back to the story.....where was I?

In any case, here I am, back on the road, freezing my skinny arse off in what should be tropical splendor but is, as I was warned, absolutely bone chilling. And it is so much worse here. Even
Gone fishingGone fishingGone fishing

Hanoi 11
tho the temperature does get down to the low single figures ( like low 40s for you farenheit people) the reason it is so terrible here is that the houses are all designed to be cooled and there is not much in the way of heating. So everyone has been snapping up the only available one-bar radiators, cleaning out the rare factory outlet shops with fleeces and other warm clothes and wearing every available stitch of clothing. And when these concrete floors get cold, well, you know what it's like, beautifully soothing in the heat of summer but foot achingly cold in winter. Fortunately I am advised it won't last long! And they keep telling me it's not as bad as in '07 or '08 when it actually snowed here jajaja!!

And so it was, the usual queues and waiting and stopovers and more queues and waiting and eating and drinking and sleeping until you aren't really sure what country or what time or whatever. Then you are poured out, wait for an hour by the carousel, mentally working on just how you are going to report a lost bag when no- one speaks English and, in fact, there's no one at the Lost Property desk. Then a super friendly young woman comes up and tells me in perfect English that I'm waiting by the wrong carousel! I'll put it down to jet lag but I know there are some of you out there who suspect the truth. That scary phrase, "early onset" comes to mind. Ha.

This arvo I'll head into town and pick up a motorbike, I have packed long pants, boots, gloves and a real helmet no problem now, then back to see Dr Fred and have the teeth reviewed, maybe he will install the teeth on the implants, I reckon they are ready, I certainly am ready after losing half of every mouthful of food down the three huge gaps since October. But all worth it.

I'll see if I can get some photos of Helen's lovely little house where she is v kindly giving me a room. Im on the fourth floor, up with the ancestors, every house has a shrine of some sort, this one is a table top sort of thing with lots of little ceramic bits a pieces, incense burners, figurines....and a couple of Helen's voodoo carvings from darkest africa, some strong mumbo jumbo at work here, a cross cultural interface of considerable magnitude. And these stairs are certainly going to increase my level of fitness. And now, my fingers are getting too cold to type so I'll give it a miss for a bit.

And it's almost Tet, not that you wouldn't know it, an absolute frenzy on the streets, normally just frantically chaotic, in the lead up to Tet it becomes awesomely chaotic, some roads so packed with people going one way it is impossible to go the other, and these are two way roads. It's fantastic, as long as you don't need to go anywhere specific!
Tet is, well, you can google on it and get the lowdown, but it's all holidays rolled into one and there's the gift giving thing, all quite regimented, regulated, gift specific. One of the faves is to give a cumquat tree. There's a cumquat tree detention centre just down the dyke road from here, they dig them up, cut back all the roots and leave them lying on the ground for a week or two until they force blossoms and fruit ( well this is what I'm lead to believe) then they plant them in quite shallow bowls and send them out. Size does matter and the really huge ones go out on trucks, but as with everything else here it's the little postiebikes that carry most of the loads. Pretty scary when you're out on the road and find yourself in a virtual 40 kph forest of 2m tall bushes, laden with fruit, perched in metre wide ceramic bowls. And there are also bossom trees and red leaf thingies and bottles of vodka and chocolates jajaja.

OK, that;s enough now, work is looming but after Tet, life is good but chilly, food is good, with chilli.

Happy Tet, chau

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