A rolling rolling acorn looking for a home to call home. Ok, sorry, that's a wee bit cheesy.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Just click it

The new, the improved (sort of), the costly Dongurigal.

And in case that link doesn't work, since I can't see it, try this:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Rain Rain, don't go away

The Vietnamese woman we were having coffee with held up four delicate fingers and said, "Four months."

"No, three months," argued Hubs, who held up three not-as-delicate fingers.

"I'm very sorry. Four," she smiled sadly as if she alone were responsible for whatever it was they were discussing.

"Four? Three? Four months of what?" I asked.


Non-stop rain. For three months, four months, whatever.

And as if to prove both their arguments, the rain pattered the tin roof of the cafe and splashed into the ceramic pond next to our table.

I'll probably feel guilty (or stupid) for admitting this, especially if, after three or four months of rain, this region is inundated and people lose their homes, livelihoods, and lives, but I like it when it rains.

First, when it rains, it isn't too hot to go out. Right now, it is not raining. The sky is a clean blue dotted with wispy clouds, but step out the door and whoosh, the humidity and heat knock you down. I have about as much tolerance for heat as most people have for the sound of finger nails scratching a blackboard, so I am somewhat trapped in the hotel room between the hours of 10 and 4. Thank God for ADSL.

Second, if I put on my lovely burgundy rain poncho, all the rage here in Quang Ngai-- I might add--no one can see that I'm a foreigner. At least not initially. This is a good thing because you can go for a walk by the river or through the town relatively unbothered. Not enough can be said about the blissful privacy a layer of opaque plastic affords you.

Third, because of the rain, it is so damn green here. Green is my all-time favorite color. I look out the window and see one-hundred shades of green, and even though I am trapped inside, I am soothed.

Giving credit and answering comment questions

The hotel is fine, valances and all. Today, I made it to breakfast before the crowds and the ants.

And I haven't seen a cockroach since the day I spotted one in the bathroom. Pardon me, give me a minute to knock some wood.

Hubs and I will move to an apartment by the sea probably in late October or early November. It is still under construction.

I forgot to give credit to Problogger
for the idea of writing a "How to" style post. (I was too late to enter the contest.) I've just discovered Mr Problogger's site. He's one of those bloggers that actually makes real money, as in 6 figures, from the various blogs he writes and then is willing to tell you how. I really like his writing ideas and suggestions.

At the moment, I'm not sure if I want a blog that makes money. At the moment, I just want a blog that I can see.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

How to live in a Vietnamese 3-star hotel in the middle of nowhere

If the idea of living in a hotel brings to mind Somerset Maugham sipping Singapore Slings on his balcony at Raffles Hotel, all the while jotting down his observations about colonial shenanigans in a little writer's notebook, (aaah the romance of it all), then perhaps life in a Vietnamese 3-star hotel in the middle of nowhere is not for you.

But then again, perhaps you have no choice in the matter. In which case, these 5 tips will help you adjust, quickly and with grace, to life in a Vietnamese 3-star hotel in the middle of nowhere.

1. Buffet breakfast is served...

At 6am. If you are not downstairs in the restaurant by 7:30am, most of the food will have disappeared into the hungry mouths of touring Dutch cyclists and Chinese businessmen. You will be left with an ant-infested bun, several slices of the end pieces of fresh fruit, a couple of discolored hard-boiled eggs, and stewed coffee.

Get there early, or starve.

2. Gekkos are your friends

They eat mosquitos. Sure, they are skittish and kind of creepy looking and make you squeal when you see them scurry up a wall, but they do you a big favour in slurping up those aggressive Dengue-fever spreading bloodsuckers.

Cockroaches on the other hand are not your friend. Learn how to say Boric Acid in Vietnamese.

3. Wear goggles in the swimming pool

Not necessarily because the water is dirty, but because the geezer who's in charge of the pool likes to sit and stare at your fish-belly white legs while you are doing the breast stroke. It's just easier not to have to look up at him looking at you everytime you take a breath.

4. The smell of mildew is exotic

It's true. Mildew means that you are in the tropics during a monsoon where nothing dries, ever. Indeed dry things, like the blue carpet and the synthetic pillows, become damp. How exotic. Really. How very exotic.

5. Learn to like window treatments

Preferably butter-colored polyester drapes, lacey white curtains and pleated drapery panels and valances. (You bet I had to look that up on google).

And no, you can't redecorate. You're in a hotel, remember.

By following these 5 tips on how to live in a Vietnamese 3-star hotel in the middle of nowhere, your life will seem as romantic as that of Somerset Maugham's.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's past noon, I have to find myself a Singapore Sling.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bloggity blogging during an almost monsoon

The palm trees outside our third-storey room window are swaying violently, the river in the distance has miniature white water caps. Though there is no downpour, it's all very monsoony and tropical. Yet I am here to tell you all about my blogspot situation.

Look, it's nearly noon, too hot and windy and potentially rainy to be outside.

I cannot access blogspot blogs. Funnily enough, I can sign into Blogger to post, fix up my template, and do other nifty things, but I cannot view my own blog. Nor anyone else's.

To counter that frustrating little problem, I signed up for bloglines which allows me to subscribe to blogs, news sources, etc and when each is updated, this shows up in the bloglines folder.

Normally, I can read an entire post of a blog, but sometimes the posts are cut off midway. There doesn't seem to be a specific reason such as word length. For example, today, or at least in the last 24 hours, L posted. I could only read the first paragraph. Sniff.

Anyway, I have written to bloglines to find out why this happens.

In the meantime, I am considering switching blog hosts. Some blogs I read are hosted by TypePad, but you have to pay a small fee. Not interested. For now.

I am now researching WordPress. In the testimonials section, all the eager WordPress users sounded very very HTML and Java Script savvy. Frighteningly so. A lot were guys speaking in Tongues. I couldn't relate. I just want to be able to upload the odd picture from time to time.

So for the moment, dear readers, I will stick with Blogger. Let it be known that I am reading those of you who have blogspot blogs (when bloglines shows the entire post), but I cannot comment.

Oh gosh, a palm frond just crashed to the ground, three storeys down, along the very path I took this morning to swim in the hotel pool. Like I said, monsoony and tropical. And I'm safely tucked inside my air conditioned hotel room.

Me and the cheeky cockroach and the two skittish gekkos.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Honk if you're horny, or, if you're in a big SUV

Hubs greets me at the Danang International Aiport (that's almost as funny as calling the airport in Regina, Saskatchewan, international) with a kiss and a reminder that Vietnam is a very relaxed place. Life is slow here, everything takes a long time. I'll have to be patient. Don't get angry or irritated or sour. At least not right away.

Hubs knows I can be a little intense. Easily stressed out. In a rush. It is a subtle warning.

Ok, maybe not so subtle.

It would be no lie to say that by Tuesday evening, three days after arrival, I'll want to have explored all the shops on each and every street of the town of Quang Ngai, bought a bicycle and SIM card, started an expat woman's group, discovered the best little Pho cafe in town, lined up a volunteer placement at the local orphanage, visited the nearby white sandy beach for a swim as well as the depressing site of the Mai Lai massacre, found a couple of side jobs teaching English as a foreign language, and learned enough Vietnamese to bargain at the local market.

"What? You expect me to pay 30 cents for 5 kilos of rice. Outrageous!!"

Back at the airport two days ago, and Hubs tells me that he's become more relaxed, more laid back here. The pace of life is slow, very slow.

We then hop into the company SUV and our driver maneuvers out of the aiport parking lot and onto a main road.


Two and a half hours of terror down Highway 1, and I thought flying was bad.

Slow pace of life, eh? The roads are crammed with speeding motorcyclists, nonchalant bicyclists, looming trucks that convert a two-lane highway into a three lane one, and at least one hasty SUV that beeps a constant message to the slowpoke cyclists ahead to move out of the way and carries a newly laid back French engineer and his petrified wife.

As for my list of things to be done by tomorrow evening?

It's just too damn hot and humid. I think I'll follow Hubs' advice for once.

He'll be so pleased.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The latest updates

Tomorrow I'm on a plane to Vietnam.

Today I am at the internet cafe sending off a last minute email to my parents, just in case my plane crashes. I have a ridiculous fear of flying. Ridiculous. I know. But still, I'd hate to be thinking, as my plane went down, "damn I should have emailed my parents."

The other reason I'm here, instead of at the Louvre, on my final day in Paris (confession: I haven't been to the Louvre yet. Yep, ridiculous. I know.), is to update my blogroll in case I can't access blogger to update my template while in 'Nam. I've been meaning to update it for a long while and now I've done it. Apologies to anyone I've missed. I only checked the most recent posts.

I'm still not sure why blogger is inaccessible where Hubs is because there is an NGO blogger in Vietnam that I read from time to time. The work he does with street kids is inspirational. Hmmm while I'm here, I think I'll blogroll his blog, too.

So, we'll see. In the meantime, I can blog by emailing myself and if you want to comment, your comments will be sent to my email address. Unfortunately, if you blog using blogger, I won't be able to read you. Sniff.

C'est la vie.

I wonder how you say that in Vietnamese?

Friday, September 08, 2006

A test post via email

Hubs has told me that he has been unable to access any blogspot blog
including mine in Vietnam. At first we thought it was his company blocking
it, but he hasn't been able to access them at internet cafes either.

So, I might need to post this way from now on. Oh dear, oh dear.

And as for reading other people's blogs, oh dear, oh dear.