Blewog-nam #7

Today we tasted a bit of Vietnamese history. After a bite to eat in street kids’ restaurant Koto, we went to The Temple of Literature. Built in the 15th Century this was a centre for learning, something to do with Confucious and other such legendary people. The great thing about the place is it’s ancient style and look, it’s like a typical Chinese type palace, I guess it’s purely due to the fact that the chinese ruled Vietnam for a long period of time. The other nice about the temple it’s peacefulness. What kind of learning can be done in a concrete jungle? Surely a far more calm and stress free natural surrounding can encourage a more positive learning atmosphere?

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Blewog-nam. #6

I have arrived in Hanoi, and have been settling in for the past four days.

It has been an interesting, exciting and un-stressful thus far.

Primarily it’s been amazing to see Sibyl. It’s been lovely getting used to her again, some things fall back into place instantly and some things we both need reminding of.

Blewog-nam in action.

Blewog-nam in action.

There are so many distinctive things which make Hanoi a wonderful place to visit.

  • Countless thousands of motorbikes/scooters, many of which are xe ôm‘s which literally translates ‘motorbike hug’.

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  • Noodles are an essential meal here, funnily it seems the power lines have been influenced by their mị phố.

vietnamese wires

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  • The Vietnamese here are interesting. In shops and other services, they tend to take their time, common courtesy seems to be irrelevant, P’s & Q’s are out the window. However don’t get the impression that these are hostile savages; this lack of manners is replaced by genuine conversation, jest and generosity. I’m going to go ahead and say the ‘c.g.t.a.l.e.d.c.c.’ (‘classic going to a less economically developed country cliché) thing: ‘these people have so little, but they are so happy.’ I’d like to see how happy they would be if I gave them a Big Mac, Sky+ and an Xbox 360, not very I suspect.
  • The army are always around. If anything is out of place I get the impression that they would not hesitate to shoot your face.
  • It’s huuumid. It’s not always sunny but always sticky. However God has blessed us with the beauty of air-conditioning in many places.
  • People actually do wear those funny hats, I’m told that they actually have a function – to keep the rain and the sun off. The fact that they attract tourists has nothing to so with why they wear them.

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Here’s some more photos which hopefully capture the characteristics of Vietnam, most of them were taken by Sibs.

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Blewog-nam. #4

Well the wait finally ended and maaan was it worth it. After some pushing and shoving through the departure lounge with some eager Singaporeans I got to the ticket desk. I was desperately praying that nothing would go wrong as he checked my tickets and passport. Then typically, there was a problem with my ticket. However it was a very positive problem as I had been upgraded to business class!

This has turned from the hardest journey of my life to the most luxurious and relaxing.

I have leg room!

I have caviare!

I have unlimited freshly squeezed OJ and mineral water!

I have a media entertainment system at my disposal. I’ve already watched the start of Young Frankenstein, played Tetris, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and watched a classic Flight of The Conchords episode.

Life is good right now. I am just terribly nervous about what could go wrong in my connection from Singapore to Vietnam.

Just keep praying, just keep praying!

Blewog-nam. #3

I’ve now arrived in Doha which is in Qatar (check it on a map). I’ve been here for almost three hours now, I must wait another four before I board. The other annoying thing is that I am in Doha for almost 7 hours, and I don’t get to see any of it. I am stuck in this stupid airport. Oh and don’t forget that even after I have taken that flight I will only be in Singapore and will have to take another plane to actual Hanoi.

Patience is a virtue.

I am still extremely anxious on whether my connection flight in Singapore will work out. After all that hassle with the tickets in London, I don’t know what to expect. I am hoping and praying that it will run smoothly.

I know all this rubbish is completely worth it as I am going to see my wonderful Fiancée. All those love songs such as I’ll do Anything For You, I Would Walk 500 Miles, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough etc. really come into play when a man is put in such a situation as I am right now.

Blewog-nam. #2

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I have not yet left the country but today, I have travelled further than any man has before – not necessarily in miles but in pain, frustration and stress. Shortly after I last left off I made my way to Qatar Airlines check-in desk where I was able to do the usual thing and chuck on my hefty suitcase; they check my passport and tickets etc. As I mentioned earlier I forgot my e-booking flight details, however this was in no way an issue – I had been told that all I needed to do was show them my passport and I’d get sorted.

As the serious blonde punches in my details and scans my passport, she asks me for the debit card I had used to book the flight. Not a problem, I take my wallet out of the back pocket, and give her my Lloyds TSB bank card. She gives it a swipe. After a short pause:

“Excuse me sir… this is not the card that the flight was booked on.”

“Errm… there must be a mistake… are you sure?”

“Sir… this is not the card that the flight was booked on.” she tells me again, in an annoying matterofact way.

“No…err…wait…errrm…I have my flight’s booking code number thingy?”

“Sir… this is not the card that the flight was booked on – I need the card so I can swipe it and validate your order.”

“Is there actually anything I can do?”

“You need to go to that ticket office under the yellow sign please.” she tells me smuggly as she rips off the tags that she had just placed on my suitcase a few minutes before.

So there I was. The time was 05:33, from that point the race was on. The mission was to get a bank card to the airport before the 08:15 deadline. The payment could go through onto the other card and then get refunded as soon as the other missing bank card shows up. I called my Dad and told him the score; he was on his way. I more or less spend the next two and a half hours pulling out my hair, biting my nails, scratching the skin off my arms, gouging out my eyes and generally being the most stressed I have ever been in my entire life.

  • 6:00 – No Dad.
  • 6:30 – No Dad.
  • 7:00 – No Dad.
  • 7:30 – No Dad.
  • 7:45 – No Dad.
  • 8:00 – No Dad.
  • 8:05 – No Dad.
  • 8:10 – No Dad.
  • 8:12 – No Dad.
  • 8:13 – No Dad.
  • 8:14 – “RHOOODRIIII!” He made it. He couldn’t have cut it finer. One of the things that slowed him down was the fact that he thought I was in the South Terminal but I was in the North. Qatar Airways had helpfully moved their base one week ago, contrary to the information on my e-booking. When I walked through those departure gates I felt like the most blessed man alive. I’ve never appreciated something so much. I’d given up on this trip, and was dreading the long journey back home. Praise God that he does answer prayer, though he chooses to keep us reliant on him by doing things in his own time.

Breathe.

Just breathe.

Blewog-nam. #1

As some of you may know, on the Wednesday of last week I left my home country (England) in order to visit my beloved in Hanoi, Vietnam.

I’ve been trying my best to keep a diary, I’ll try and keep them short, interesting and entertaining.

Oh yes, I should mention the appalling title, if any of you humorous folk can think of a better title for my Vietnamese Blog entries, I would be delighted.

Here it is:

Here I sit in Gatwick Airport, it is 04:12 AM on Wednesday the 11th of November 2008.

Today I am to fly to Hanoi, Vietnam. There I will meet my fiancée Sibyl Cooke Steed.

My flight is apparently to take over 26 hours, with 6 of those hours being spent in Doha, Qatar. Oh yes, did I mention I am flying with world famous Qatar Airways?

I feel sick because I went to Costa Coffee and got a ‘Medio’ hot chocolate with whipped cream and a chocolate dip stick. I also had a slab of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Caramel and every 30 seconds or so I would drop a square into the hot chocolate. The square would sink slowly to the bottom and I would get my extra long spoon and scoop out a huge lump of melted caramel joy. I ended up eating the whole slab. I now feel like I need to throw up.

I was relying on these hours and hours of waiting around that I had to watch some classic DVD’s. But for some reason the Mac Book Hoojimaflip has decided that it doesn’t want me to play them because there is an error. How considerate of it.

I can’t sleep to fill this time because it would be just like me to sleep through my flight.

I had to come early as my Dad said he wouldn’t take me super early in the morning. But he did take me at about one and left an hour or so ago; after reassuring me that my flight probably did exist.

This is the biggest most grownup thing I have ever done in my life so I have been super paranoid about bringing all the right stuff and not forgetting ANYTHING. That is why I decided to leave my ticket at home.
Well… it wasn’t that bad, but I did leave my e-booking reference details which basically was my ticket. How could I be so thick? I went on the internet and noted the flight details from my e-mail, I hope and pray that it will work out. If it doesn’t I might actually cry solidly for the next 3 months.

I like flying though. It’s so fun taking off and all that. I wonder who I’ll be sat next to one the plane? I shall be sure to report.