Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hello Vietnam, bye bye Vegetarianism.

Vietnam has the power to turn a life long vegetarian into a full fledged meat eater. It's true, I know because after more than fifteen years without eating meat I have been converted to the way of the carnivore. Tofu is not a really common option at street vendors, and in my two weeks here in Hanoi I have eaten nearly all of my meals sitting on those little blue stools with the locals.Most of this time I was completely clueless as to what I was ordering, I generally just point at something and hope for the best. I'm sure I have provided an endless supply of entertainment to the Vietnamese people I have attempted to order food from (and anyone else in the general vicinity) I've been on the receiving end of countless looks of shock and concern from other travelers over the questionable quality of my meal choice.But through all of my gastronomical misadventures, the only time I have gotten ill was after making the mistake of eating eggs at a popular tourist restaurant. So to those people who follow the typical 'don't eat the ice' rules I say if you don't step outside your comfort zone and try the local foods you can never experience the real culture and that would be a shame. I can't even imagine how much less I would have gotten from this trip if I was always searching for my next piece of tofu.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Feb 11th Arrival

Can a Vietnamese iced coffee counter attack the effects of culture shock that I'm feeling? Thats my hope as I take a seat outside the cafe, luckily its one of the few things I know how to order (thanks to my years at Huong Lan) The beverage comes almost instantly taking me by surprise a little as I was expecting to have to wait the usual fifteen minutes. Life seams to be like that in Hanoi. Everything here is so fast, including the motos flying through this back alley incessantly honking their horns. I can hardly believe the noise of this place! Between the man next to me shouting at tourists to look at his books, the dozen or so radios blasting, and the clamour of the motos I feel as if I am beginning to go deaf. I wonder how much this will all change with Tet coming up in just a few short days.

Feb 9th Departure

Deafened by the hum of the planes engines and distracted by the snow-less mountains below, I try to listen to what Ayaka is mumbling about in the seat next to me. I think its something about being bad timing for the Olympics and I have to agree with her.
Yesterday as I was getting ready to disembark from the ferry I attempted to prepare myself for the utter chaos that we would find downtown. I was convinced that going into Vancouver just three days before the opening ceremonies was absolute insanity. However when we arrived Vancouver was more like a ghost town than a city about to host the Olympics.
We made the obligatory rounds to a few of the displays and then we were on our way. All in all it was a pretty anti-climatic send off. Its probably for the best though because by this time tomorrow I will be spending my first day in Vietnam and witnessing the real insanity that is it's capitol city Hanoi.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Reposted from the Huong Lan bulletin board (A farewell to the HL Crew)

As many of you already know I am ending my Huong Lan career in pursuit of an epic adventure in South East Asia. If on this journey I make half as many friends as I have working here, I would consider myself extremely lucky. Over the last few years I have gotten to know so many great people, I can quite honestly say that we have the best customers and staff of any place I have ever worked. Leaving is going to be a very bitter sweet experience. I'm excited at the thought of all the things to come, but at the same time I am filled with sadness for having to say goodbye. Although I will miss you all very much, I know that one day we will meet again. Untill then be happy, eat pho, and consider the words that have inspired me so much.

Always do what you wish you could.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Yet another sleepless night.

It's slowly getting light outside my window. I'd like to go outside and watch the sun come up but that's hardly an option since its almost always overcast at this time of the year. I've been up all night again writing and doing research for my trip. This is not exactly an isolated occurrence, but tonight I have decided not to go to sleep at all. I haven't stayed up all night in years and its kind of a weird feeling being awake at this time of the day.

I can barely believe that I will be saying goodbye to my family, friends and home in just over a month. It seems like just a few weeks ago that I started planning this trip, the months have really blow by this last year! There is still so much I need to do before I leave, I don't quite know where to start.

I find myself daydreaming all the time about what kind of amazing experiences I will have, what kind of people I will meet, and where the road will take me. Of course I have a pretty good idea of where I would like to go but you really never know where you will end up until you are there.