Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good Morning from Vietnam! Literally this time!

Well, we made it!!!! Thought I would really update everyone on this blog since it is 5:00am in the morning here and I can't sleep! Guess my jet lag isn't over yet....

Our flight day
It started off as a sad but exciting farewell from our house. Friends came over around 8am to say their last "goodbyes" as we said goodbye to them and our house, oh and Pedro! I started to get choked up when Ryan and I were taking a last run through of the house and saying goodbye to Pedro. Ryan said "goodbye little buddy" and I started to lose it.
We got to the airport, via Kelley(thanks Kelley!) and went to Concourse E to relax and have more friends meet up with us at the gate(it's nice to have airline friends). We soon saw our plane from the gate and were one of the last ones to board.
We were riding on a Korean Air 747, which I have never been on before, seemed massive. Found our seats and to my displeasure we had bulkhead seats all the way in the last zone. I will never understand that while I was working at Omni, why the soldiers fought over these bulkhead seats. They may have more knee space but they definitely do not have stretching leg room. Oh well.
The service was good, the movie choices were good, just had to keep ourselves busy for 14 and a half hours!
I thought the flight went fast considering it was almost 15 hours long, but we "soon" landed in Seoul, North Korea to switch planes and get on our flight to Hanoi. This 4 and a half hour flight seemed longer then our 14 hour flight. We were on a 737, which is much smaller and more crammed. Finally, we arrived at the Hanoi Airport.
Everything was going good, we were sort of well rested but our bodies exhausted from the almost 24 hours of traveling. We get up to the immigration check point, I go first, and everything seemed to check out. They let me through. Now from reading my previous blog, you will know I was worried about my little white out correction on my traveling visa, but they didn't seem to mind. Next it was Ryan's turn and they guy takes him and says he'll be back! What! I was already through the check point and now Ryan is going the opposite direction! I immediately thought of all of those tv shows and movies where we could lose each other or they are going to take him to an interrogation room and beat him...I was worried. BUT I continued on to baggage claim, I figured he would know to find me there.
I found our luggage, they all made it! I was worried since I put my favorites of everything in my new little life in Vietnam, and waited for Ryan. It was maybe 5-10 minutes but my mind was swirling of all the possibility's and what my next plan of action was going be be, but Ryan soon popped out above all of the short statured people. Yay!
We exit baggage claim, looking for signs with our names on it but nothing. We wait maybe 2 minutes and these two guys that look like backpackers come straight up to us and say "Are you Ryan?" Whew. They found us! It happened to be two first officers with Air Mekong who helped ferry the plane from Atlanta and were the welcoming committee as well. They were nice, got our things in a taxi and off we went to the hotel.
Got to the hotel, went to our room. The hotel is nice and clean but definitely not the Ritz, etc. We are exhausted but want to have at least one beer before we go to bed. The bar is still open and we order Ha Noi Beer, which is a huge bottle for $1.00. Score! We then settle in to sleep...

First full day in Hanoi

We have a good nights rest with some help of Ibuprofen PM's, and get up early for the breakfast. Ryan sends an email to one of the guys that picked us up the night before to come pick us up and take us to the GO, General Office, of Air Mekong. Breakfast is good, dishes from the East and West. Fried eggs, toast with jelly, various fruits, bacon, french fries, rice, pho bo (noodle soup with beef), ramen noodles, and Chinese braised pork, just to name a few...
Ryan had his coffee but couldn't decide if he liked it or not. VERY strong and thick, said it tasted like hot chocolate or was thick like it. The orange juice I had was like TANG. After breakfast we were walking back to our room when Jeff, the FO Ryan emailed, yelled at us from the down the hall. We got in a taxi and went about 1 or 2 kilometers to the General Office. At the office we met the "big wigs" of the airline and had a nice chat. They were all very very nice and helpful. Afterwards Ryan and I decided to try some touristing in the Old Quarter district downtown. In a taxi we went!

As I already imagined from the videos on youtube from the chaos of the streets, it was indeed chaos. I tended to shut my eyes as we were in the taxi for fear of someone getting hit. There are NO rules to the road. Motorbikes everywhere, turning and driving in either direction, people walking across the street, ahhhhhh! We have the cab take us to Hoan Kien Lake, which is the famous lake with the pagoda in the middle and right next to the Old Quarter. We step out of the taxi and realize we are on the wrong side of the street! AHHHHHH we have to cross the street! We dove right in. Ryan took my hand and we steadily moved across. Hundreds of motorbikes, buses, and cars moving at us, but as strange as it sounds, they yielded and knew exactly our moves to move "around" us. Whew, we made it to the other side and we felt like superstars!!!!

We toured the Pagoda, went to the show district to find some tennis shoes for me, and continued walking. We found ourselves lost in a matter of minutes to we pulled out the trusty Lonely Planet and followed its walking course around the area. We discovered several cool markets, people eating the the streets, everything you could ever want are sold on these streets. It reminded me of Bishkek streets and the Kuwait souk. It got HOT in the afternoon and several times we had to stop to get something to eat and step in a fanned area or air conditioning. My feet and hands were swollen to twice their size! Eventually we just needed to go back, we were exhausted. We wanted to experience pho ga on the street but it was too hot and we were not hungry so we just decided to save that for another day. We got another taxi and headed for the hotel.

Got to the hotel and decided it would feel nice to take a dip in the swimming pool. We got in and was enjoying it when a windy thunderstorm, no rain, decided to sweep up. It was lightening and I was like, get me out of here its dangerous, but the other twenty people in the pool stayed and acted like nothing was happening...
We went up to our room got some food from the hotel, which is actually very very good, and called it a night. Or at least I did at about 8pm our time. Oops!

That's all! Today is another day and we plan on going to the US Embassy to registers ourselves and go see Uncle Ho's mausoleum and FINALLY eat some pho. Speak with you soon!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

One step closer!!!

Wow, how the weeks have gone by fast! So fast indeed that I'm having a hard time processing that Ryan and I will be leaving in approx. 2 weeks! The exact date is September 6th. AND GUESS WHAT! We just bought my ticket last night for $750! Actually I only had to pay $621, after Ryan was gracious enough to give me some of his travel points. What I didn't tell you is that it wasn't that easy, or say stress free. The first time we went to buy the ticket, it was the same price ($750) but then we didn't have enough time to book it because our social calender was calling us out the door. We vowed to buy it when we got back to the house. WEll, when we came home, the price had jumped up $600!!!! Needless to say, Ryan was bummed, I was bummed but had hope. From not being in the travel industry, having to buy tickets, I remembered that prices fluctuate every day, so as we went to sleep we were crossing our fingers the price would go back. Since I already told you what price I bought my ticket for you can conclude that the price DID go back down and all was good again in the RyMel house.

Other news, we have packed most of our clothes, vacum sealed them, and up they went into our attic. I still have more editing to do, I just can't seem to let some clothes make its way up to the attic. Progress is being made, Nate(one of our new tenants)started moving his stuff in! His room, our guest bedroom, is coming along nicely.

I put in my two weeks at work last week so my last day is September 27th.

I found out that Facebook is not allowed in Vietnam, which breaks my little heart. Not only was that another way to keep in touch with people, but I just love reading what my friends are doing! Oh, and Yahoo is not over there either, so I have to completely change the way I talk to people! The one thing I am exicted about is that Skype will be up and running. So, if you have a Skype account, you should find me, add, me and keep in touch.

I think that is all the exciting news I have for today. Project Runway is on, and I Have to make the most of my programs before I leave.
Ryan and Melissa

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The BIG meltdown

Well, yep, it just happened...a big meltdown. Poor Ryan.
Not sure where it came from except that I am getting more and more stressed the closer the September date comes, looking at my bank account and the more we talk about it with friends.
On my million and one things to do list, only one is officially crossed out. Immunizations.

I had called the Georgia Department of Health earlier in the week and they told me they have a supply of free Hepatitis A and B and that I should get there as quick as I can before they run out. Made an appointment on Friday and took Ryan with me.
As we were sitting there amongst screaming kids and babies(ugh) our names were called to the window. Just being friendly I had mentioned to the lady at the desk that we were excited about moving to Vietnam in September. The lady suddenly turns to me and says "Oh, this is for travel?You will have to pay for your shots since it's for travel." Oh crap! Why did I open my mouth? I was just trying to be friendly! Ryan gives me the "bad" look. Oops.

We then start back tracking. Can't she just pretend I didn't say those words? I am a US citizen standing in front of her needed these shots, which makes me no different then the person next on that list without his updated shots. She leaves, says she will talk to somebody. She comes back and asks what we will be doing there. Ryan pipes up and says "We are going to work for a non-profit organization." I started to sweat. She then asks what profit organization. Ryan stumbles for a bit then looks at me and says "What was the name of it again, honey?" OOOOOOOOOO he just threw me under the bus! My face turned bright red, I could feel the heat rising. My mind went blank, what do I say? After a few seconds, I managed to get out "Oxfam", to which she replies, "What do they do?" AHHHH what's with the questions lady? I responded with "poverty and stuff". I know, I'm a genius. The lady leaves again, as I turn my head and glare at Ryan. She comes back and says "Okay, you will get the shots for free". Immunizations, check.

I still haven't gotten my passport with a visa in it yet, hoping that will come this week and be correct.
In a conversation with Ryan a few minutes ago, I let him know everything I was feeling, which weren't good feelings. I think I got my point across but he feels helpless since I am not asking for help and there isn't really anything he can do. He tries and I am really thankful for everything that he does for me. I apologized but still feel really horrible as I end this post. Maybe I should be working on one of those items on my list, huh?

Monday, June 28, 2010

After the "Contract"

So I guess things are not starting off good...not bad, but not great. Is this a sign?

Ryan finally got his contract by email and it is about what we expected. No new news. 13 months, leave in September, blah blah blah, what we already knew. I guess that could be good though.

I got my traveler's visa back from the Vietnam Embassy and it was WRONG! UGH! When I opened my passport, it had the visa in it but only for ONE month. I had written and purchased the 3 MONTH visa. I was beyond annoyed so Ryan took the reins and called the embassy for me. After some "can you repeat that again?" it was decided to send my passport back with a letter explaining the mistake. So, everything should be okay but I am bummed that it will cost another $20 to send it back to the embassy in Washington.

On a brighter note, Ryan and I just back from a visit in Iowa. It was great to see friends and family but it was very sad to realize that I won't be seeing them for at least a year. I didn't get enough time to see everyone, sorry Kelli and a few others. There was just not enough time!

Ryan got to experience about 20 minutes in Iowa City, but liked it enough to buy a Hawkeye baseball hat and t-shirt. Yay! He has been transformed! He was also lucky enough to get a grand tour of Tama. Stopped by the old house, chruch, high school, Pamida, and went to the casino. After hitting up some black jack tables, it was time to head back to Brooklyn to spend time with the parental units.

We are now back in Newnan, relaxing in our house. Lots of things to get done this week: resend my passport, find traveler's insurance, and buy one years worth of contacts. Money, money, money. Oh well, the anticipation of the trip is far exceeding the depleting bank account.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Before the "Contract"

Good Morning Vietnam!
Okay, I'm sure you are going to get tired of hearing that since we're not even in Vietnam yet!
So, sitting down with my friends last night, a light bulb went off when one of them suggested that I write a blog they could read. Oh how she will regret that suggestion.

The BIG news. It's the end of June, Ryan and I just found out last week that we will be traveling to Vietnam the first of September for his job. For those of you who don't know, Ryan will be flying for a brand new airline called Air Mekong, flying domestically across Vietnam. Being the fun loving, generous and traveling spirit that I am *cough cough* I have decided to support Ryan on his decision and go along for the ride.
So what happens when we made that decision? Nothing. No contract yet, no "real" information, a lot of unanswered questions. What I DO know is that it is that stress is already settling in. How will I get over there, will I be sponsored and get a business visa, what will my job be, where will we live....the list could go on and on. Still waiting for that contract in the mail.

To prepare, Ryan has spent over $100.00 in Vietnam books. He likes the one with the pictures, I like the ones that actually give me some sort of helpful information. We have spent time at the public library renting non war Vietnam books(which are hard to find) and travel videos. Honestly watching the videos has made me a little more weary about the country. I am also worried about Ryan. He was so excited in the beginning and that feeling seems to have wained and I'm not sure why. Maybe because he has already looked at all the pictures in his books, haha.

The progress I have made: I have printed out the application for the traveling visa. Check. Have I sent it yet? Nope.

Anywho, as things progress, I will be keeping this blog up until we leave and hopefully lots of fun stories while being over there. There are so many more things I want to say but will stop for now. Consider yourself saved. Have any questions? Just ask.