Thursday, May 8, 2008

First day in Hanoi

These first two photos were actually taken yesterday, on our last day in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City to be politically correct. Here's Miss Maya Mong learning to drink from a straw and getting addicted to mango smoothies (like her mother).
We took a plane from Saigon to Hanoi last night. Maya missed her nap because we had to check out at noon and walk around for 4 hours while waiting to take a taxi to the airport for a 6pm flight. By the time we got on the plane she was wild with over-exhaustion. The poor man in front of us had to put up with a two year old flipping the tray up and down about 800 times, opening and closing our window cover about 600 times and climbing back and forth between our laps for almost two hours. She fell asleep on the last 5 minutes of the flight. (Matt is sooooooooo looking forward to the 9 hour flight home! He mumble something about Benadryl...)
This morning she woke up in a strange hotel and became quiet and pensive again. She wanted out. She wasn't the only one. We took a short walk around the block because we had to get back in time for our daily chat with the family back home. We made our first major purchase in Hanoi: a lavender colored potty chair for Maya. Then we rushed back to our hotel room for chat time.
The Curry family told us about potty time at the Danang orphanage when the picked up their first adopted son. All the little kids were plunked down into these plastic buckets. If they saw a toy they wanted, they just scooted over to the toy, bucket still attached, like little hermit crabs. The visual for me is just hysterical! Maya seemed to know what the potty chair was for. She made #1 in it, but no #2.
Our hotel room is on the first floor with 20 glass bricks for a window, the kind that you can't see through and barely lets in any light. I became very depressed. Matt asked if it was "post-partum blues". I think it was mostly the dark room and missing my boys back in Homer. We chat with them every morning at 10am, which is 8pm their time.
After chatting I gave Maya a bottle. It took her 1 hour to drink 2 ounces. I just can't get as much formula into her as her schedule from the orphanage says she was taking. After an hour we gave up on the feeding and the nap and headed out into the heat of Hanoi for a walking tour.
(I'd rather she napped in the afternoon anyway, when we desperately need a break from the heat.)
We were using a new guide book, the Lonely Planet, instead of my old "Rough Guide". Matt had a hard time deciphering the map. Our short walking tour turned into a very long walk (kind of like the theme to Gilligand's Island). At first it was rather interesting, we serendipitously found the National Cancer Intitute and the National Institute of Stomatology. Apparently, we were on "Hospital Street".
For those of you who know Hanoi, the streets were set up so that every shop on that street sells the same thing. The streets are also named for what they sell, but since some of them have changed since the French colonial days, you can use your guide book to translate. Matt said there was even a "coffin street". I asked him if it was next to "hospital street".
We were trying to get to Hoan Kiem Lake. But after turning down the wrong streets for over an hour, we were two very sweaty, very grumpy tourists. Of course, we were accosted by numerous bicycle cyclo drivers offering to help. What would you do if you saw two grumpy, sweaty tourists, looking lost, pouring over a guide book? Even Maya was starting to get overheated in her Ergo carrier which I've renamed "the sweat sack".
After arriving at one of the destinations on our walking tour to find out that the cafe had moved across town and in it's place was a clothing store, we succumbed to a bicycle cyclo and asked him to take us to Hoan Kiem Lake. Knowing we were looking for a cafe, he took us "Old Hanoi". You would think a cafe called "Old Hanoi" would be a good Vietnamese restaurant. Instead it was an overpriced restaurant pandering to tourists. We ordered Coka Colas, a mango smoothie for Maya and salad rolls, vowing to go somewhere else for lunch.
She went from sitting on our laps yesterday, to sitting in her own chair this morning, to walking around the restaurant by afternoon. She is feeling secure enough now to sojourn about 10 feet away from us. She delights in running back to us and laughing when we pick her up.

Here's Maya having her first ice cream cone on Hoan Kiem Lake. Notice the red bridge behind me in the photo. It takes you to a little temple on the island in the middle of the lake.

The photo below is taken just outside the temple.

This photo was taken on one of her "run back to Daddy and laugh" routines. Notice we still haven't found sandals for her yet. Maybe tomorrow we'll look for "shoe street."
I'm feeling better after our outing but we went ahead and asked the front desk for the next available "room with a view."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our very favorite rest. in Hanoi:

Quan an Ngam--awesome Vietnamese food, great atmosphere, easy walk from Somerset Grand or Melia--we ate there every other day at least!

Also, Fanny's has the best ice cream! (SW corner of Hoan Kiem Lake).

Congrats on your daughter! Enjoy Hanoi!