Saturday, September 29, 2007
Saturday, Sept 29
Big day today. I got up and out of here pretty early today. I wanted to see if the teddy bears we ordered were ready yet. They weren't. They are supposed to be ready Tuesday, which is fine unless some miracle occurs and we can go home Monday. Anyway, I went to Mediterraneo's for lunch and LOVED it. I was the only one there when I walked in besides the employees so I sat by the window so I could watch people and the traffic. I ordered a Coke and ravioli. The presentation and the food was wonderful! They decorated the plate with vegetables that looked like flowers and the ravioli was really good. The portions are small for what Americans serve, but more than enough for me. I also had a fruit dish with lemon sorbet. It was really good. Almost all of the fruit here is good. I have eaten the watermelon, dragon fruit (like kiwi but white with black seeds and not as sweet), and pineapple every morning. I don't usually like pineapple that much because it is too sweet, but it is really good here. While I was at the restaurant I met two women who are with the Community Aid Committee of the Hanoi International Women's Club. I asked them about how we can help to get the 15 year old girl we are sponsoring at one of the orphanages to attend university when she turns 18. We don't want to send money without knowing it will go towards her education. We met the director of the orphanage and liked him, but just want to make sure she gets a good education. They told me that they know someone who can help me with that and to email them. We kept talking and it turns out that they raise money to help minority children go to university here. It costs about $20 a month per student. They also raise money to donate food and clothing to government orphanages in Vietnam. Not orphanages like the one we got Sasha, but ones where the children have special needs and are going to spend their whole lives there. She said that their basic needs are barely covered. Of course, I want to help with both of those projects, so she gave me her business card. Sorry, Ray, another project....
After lunch Sasha and I walked around and looked at the stores around there. (This is the area by the cathedral). Some of the stores are really high end and some are selling the usual things (like wall hangings, chopsticks, fans, pretty boxes, embroidered purses and wallets...). The art here is really good. There are a lot of places selling water colors and oil paintings. There are also a lot of stores selling things made out of silk. I have never really been into silk, but it is beautiful here. I can't believe how man colors and patterns they have and what they can make out of it. The pillows are beautiful! We took a taxi home after awhile because we had to meet in the hotel lobby at 2:00 pm to go to Pottery Village with a few other families from the adoption agency.
We got home, I reloaded the backpack with more formula and clean bottles, changed Sasha's diaper and outfit and ran down to the lobby. It was me, two other families, and Martin and Kenny (agency employees). We got into the van and drove over to the Hgoc Ngoc hotel to pick up a few other people and went to Pottery Village. I wasn't planning on buying anything, I just wanted to be with other adults and see something new. The ride was interesting (as usual) and it turns out it was pretty interesting watching them make the pottery. Some of it were priced really low and some were antiques and very expensive. The bags they put our purchases in were almost as neat as the pottery. I bought three little tea sets for $120 each. Just kidding, Ray, it was $12 for all three of them. Shopping is my only source of entertainment right now besides sightseeing and eating. Luckily most things are pretty inexpensive here. We left that village and drove over to see a pagoda, which was nice. I enjoyed seeing them and really enjoyed meeting the new people and talking to the others in the group. It was a little warm outside though and I every now and then a bead of sweat would roll down my back. Nice. After that they drove us back to the hotel. I went to my apartment for awhile, but decided to go out for dinner around 7:30 pm. The last two days Sasha wants me to hold her if she is awake. Of course, I love holding her, but I have to do things like shower, clean bottles, fill up her formula container, brush my teeth, wash clothes...Sasha says no to all of that. She will cry unless I hold her. So I may as well be outside experiencing something new with her in my front pack or sling. I usually have her in the front pack unless I know she is going to nap. Then I put her in the sling. She seems to like them both. We took a taxi to Luna d' autunno for their tropical pizza (ham and pineapples). I have hardly had any meat after seeing a lot of little piggies being brought to the market in baskets on the back of scooters. I am pretty sure the ham for my pizza was made of store bought ham that was always ham and never part of a pig. Leave it alone, otherwise I can only eat cereal or peanut butter and jelly. Once again, it was really good. Thanks, Paul and Anh, for showing us the place. I was going to take a taxi home, but decided to walk to see if I knew the way. I figured I could always get a taxi if I couldn't find it easily. There are taxis everywhere. I wound up finding it though pretty easily. Sasha fell asleep on the way home and I put her right into her crib.
One story. A taxi driver tried to con me today. He drove me to the restaurant in a roundabout way because it cost too much. Pretty much every place you go around here is about 15,000 dong, so I give 20,000. Well, the meter said 22,000. I only had 10,000 dong bills and I wasn't going to try to figure it out when I knew he was trying to rip me off. Nice guy ripping off a lady with a baby. Anyway, so I just got out of the taxi and handed him 20,000 and walked away. He kind of yelled something but he and I both knew I was right so he drove away. Yesterday I couldn't find the 20,000 I had put in my pocket for the fare, so I asked the driver if he had change for a 50,000. I knew it was chancing it to not have the right change, but I couldn't find it (until later). He tried to rip me off by shorting me 10,000 dong. I counted it out and saw it was wrong and banged on the window. When I asked for 10,000 more he apologized and gave it to me. Of course, it was an accident.
Great day overall. I have to go to bed. I am meeting a tour guide in the lobby at 8:00 am for a four hour tour. I wish it was a group tour, but it's just Sasha and I.