Margaret and I arrived together in Hanoi on Wednesday and were met by our driver from Indochina Explorers. We are staying at a different Hong Ngoc hotel than prior years but it is still in the Old Quarter near Hoan Kiem lake. After some 22 hours in transit, it felt good to take a hot shower and tumble into bed for a long afternoon nap.
In the evening we set out to find a restaurant we had liked last year. Our walk took us past the hotel where we had stayed last year. It is under new management and we accepted our travel agents recommendation that our current hotel is better. It certainly is nice. Further down Ma May street, we came to the site of the restaurant we were seeking: no restaurant there...changes. So we looked at a restaurant across the street and decided to give it a try.
Slowly we ascend narrow steep metal stairway to the second floor. There are a couple of tables occupied by tourists young and old. We place our order and listen to Johny Cash singing familiar songs. The food is good but we miss the old restaurant where we were on the first floor and could look out at all the life going on around us on the street.
Margaret had gone out for a little 'wander' in the afternoon, so when we had crossed the maelstrom of traffic just north of Hoan Kiem with all limbs intact, I turned the navigating over to her. We made it back to our new hotel without incident. Near our hotel there are a number of stores specializing in children's toys including beautiful rows of stuffed animals. I saw a number of mothers looking speculatively at the array - trying, no doubt, to decide which animal would be just right for their child.
Thursday morning we had a meeting scheduled with Linh Chi, our travel agent, plus Do, Madison Quakers 'man on the ground' here, and Tinh our translator and 'sister'. Do arrived with his wife, Ngon.
His first words, "Did you get my latest email of this morning?"
"No." I replied, "What's up?"
"I just heard from Dept of Foreign Affairs in Quang Ngai. They have issued approval for your project."
We all erupted in cheers and hugs all around. Do ordered a beer. And then we proceeded to make definite plans for going to Quang Ngai. I said that if I had feathers, I'd be fluttering around at the ceiling. What a relief.
We leave Sunday noon, flying to what we still refer to as "Chu Lai", now the airport for Tam Ky. From there it is less than an hour drive to Quang Ngai. As we are starting early Monday morning, we will go directly to our Tinh Khe hotel on the beach and begin planning for teaching in both Tinh Khe Primary School #1 and Middle School. All three of us are looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.
I expect my next post will be from Tinh Khe.