The Scottish Girl in Vietnam, 6 months later!

Brisbane to Hanoi

It was actually 8 months ago that I was telling everyone “Yes, of course, I’m going to blog all about my wonderful experiences in Hanoi” Bah, reality has been quite different, just like Hanoi itself.

It feels like a lifetime ago that we had the mad-dash from Brisbane and I was full of good intentions of writing a weekly record of my exploits in Hanoi, Vietnam. There has been meltdowns (mostly me, okay only me) house searching, paying more for fruit (and wine) than anywhere else in the world, winter, Vietnamese weddings, dirty hair, testing out natural body and skincare products, Pilates Teacher Training and much, much more. Eight months later, the technology is set, not perfect but working at least, I’m finally writing and life is good.

I will go back and fill in the blanks, but for now, it’s all about the present and how grateful I am for EVERYTHING that has gone before and for where I am now.

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Walking onto a plane and getting handed a glass of bubbly!

Hanoian Life

I am finally starting to come to terms with Hanoi, challenges still arise, the culture and country are so different from anything I’ve ever experienced in my life, it’s like one long learning curve. I would never have said that emigrating to Australia I felt like an expat but I certainly do in Hanoi. Maybe because I had never visited Vietnam before we squeezed our belongings into a couple of suitcases and flew Business Class to Hanoi.

I attended a newcomers coffee morning of the Hanoi International Women’s Club a few weeks ago and one of the ladies explained it very well. She described one of the states that we go through as “Identity Shock”. A lot of women come to Hanoi because of their husband’s career and they have maybe left their own career or at least what they are known for, behind. When they meet people and get asked the million dollar question “what do you do?” they have no idea what to say.

When I heard this I had a huge aha moment, I know I felt like a proper guppie, opening and closing my mouth with nothing really coming out, wracking my brains to think of all the things that have kept me busy since arriving and nothing coming out. Therefore, knowing that other ladies go through the same kind of shock and giving it a label made it easier to solve for me.  For those reading this who haven’t heard of the Hanoi International Women’s Club head to their website and check it out. It really is a fabulous organisation, much more on this in a later story.

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The flowers here are really beautiful!

A Routine in Hanoi – Don’t Make Me Laugh

It’s really hard to describe how time-consuming doing the ordinary day to day things can be in a country like Vietnam. The first difficulty is not speaking the language. If you don’t live near a food market it’s going to take a visit to 3 or 4 different shops to get the ingredients to make one meal. Breakfast as we know isn’t easy to find in Vietnam, you usually won’t even find a toaster in homes here. Then, when you feel smug that you’ve supported the local fruitier and realise that they saw you coming because you’ve paid triple the price than you would usually pay in Brisbane for a few pieces of fruit, it makes you a bit crazy.

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This is a coffee with milk, evaporated milk that floats to the bottom!

Our First Days in Hanoi…..And Coffee!

Back to our first week here, we arrived on a Saturday evening and had booked a hotel for two nights before heading to our AirBnB in an area called Truc Bach. On Sunday we went for a walk, a blog I read recommended the French Quarter for cafes and even as an area to live in, to this day I’m not sure if we found it but we had a nice walk and found Hoan Kiem lake. The roads around the lake are closed off at the weekends for families to enjoy recreational time with lots of outdoor activities for adults and kids.
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Not Hoan Kiem lake but a nice view all the same

We found our accommodation, thanks to Uber and I will admit it was the worst AirBnB I’ve ever stayed at. Clean enough but as basic as basic comes. Mark went off to work on Tuesday and that was it, I was left to my own devices from there on in. I had one concern that secretly sapped a lot of my energy that weekend, am I going to get a good cup of coffee, my love for a Zymil Cappuccino knows no bounds. On the Tuesday morning, before Mark went to work, we decided to go out together to find somewhere for breakfast and a nice coffee.

For those of you that don’t know me, food is very important to me, especially breakfast. It’s my favourite and the most important meal of the day and if I miss it, I may as well just spend the day ensuring I have planned the next day’s breakfast then go to bed. If you ever meet me in the morning, hope that I have had breakfast, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Needless to say, we did not find breakfast, we did not find coffee or any kind of coffee that I would deem acceptable for a long time after we arrived. I’ll leave you with this, in Vietnam they do not do breakfast as we know it, or coffee as we know it. How long it took me to figure this out? You’ll find out next time!

Next time:  House hunting, Vietnamese weddings, Christmas and WINTER!

Have you just moved to Hanoi and want to find out more about the Hanoi International Women’s club? Email me at [email protected]