About Me

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I am a full-time mama with a passion for writing and talking to fascinating people. I live in a one horse town with a Cowboy and my son. Thank Lord for cyberspace! I lived a colourful life in Sydney for a number of years. Working in advertising and journalism for FPC and the Sydney Morning Herald. During my time in Sydney I competed in a Dragon Boat race, choreographed a dragshow, used the Share Accomodation advertisements as a way to meet men and was told by Noiseworks frontrunner Jon Stevens that I was a bitch! Then came the decision to move back to country for 3 months to help out my Father with newspaper business while he was having treatment. Convinced I was a city girl I was caught by surprise when I fell in love with a farmer (and no, he didn't want a wife... still doesn't it seems!) convinced him that we needed to see the world, popped off to Vietnam to teach english in Saigon - before realising that the "food" in Nam didn't agree with me... turned out to be Monte - my son who is now with the Cowboy and I back in country NSW! I am in a wonderful stage of my life where I am focusing on the things that really make me tick. Including writing these chronicles.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sensory Overload in Hanoi

(Excerpts from 2008 Vietnam Diary - Cowboy and I headed over for "adventure" teaching English... fate had other ideas)

"...This morning, the grumble in my tummy informed me something was amiss, and day three of our Vietnamese adventure I entered the ranks of the 30-50% of visitors who get diarrhoea in the first couple of weeks.

In hindsight perhaps it was not the wisest idea to indulge in Grilled Snakes Head and Stomach with white sauce for lunch yesterday. But we are here for a new experience, and Vietnamese just don’t do Scotch Fillet very well.

Thank God for the semi normal loo in the hotel.

After only 3 days in Hanoi I confessed to Cowboy that I was not feeling at ease in the crazy city. I was constantly on high alert thinking I was either going to get hit by a motorbike or manipulated by a street kid – the constant honking of the horns took my insanity to new levels and I felt like I had PMS on steroids. My tummy gurgled and moaned… as did I…what a fabulous holiday companion I was making so far, what is with me ?????

With nothing to offer us a clue to what to do but our trusty Lonely Planet Guide I convinced Cowboy that we should leave this bustling city and head for the hills. North to Sapa.

We trapsed through the hectic streets in search of the train station– official men guarded government buildings – shop owners plucked things (lice?) from elders heads, small forlorn dogs took to the roads like seasoned traffic darters , and men leered on motorbikes at the two naive westerners .

Near the train station shops sold army and police uniforms – the low powerlines tempted fate in every direction. I was overcome with sensory overload.

It was a great turn of fate to discover a refuge in a French style, upmarket restaurant as we had hours to kill before our train.

Our waiter was dead keen to converse with us. We had a lovely time talking with Chin who helped us perfect some basic Vietnamese and we helped him with English. It was the calm before the storm that is Hanoi Railway station.

No two ways about it, Hanoi Railway Station is a nightmare. And as lovely as everyone says the people of Vietnam are - those people weren't hanging at Hanoi Railway station on this particular day.

As we walked through bearing the burdens of our luggage, the locals seemed to be secretly (or not so secretly) watching and laughing at us as though we had toilet paper stuck to our bottoms or something.

We tried desperately to find the place to get our tickets. A woman suffering from severe job discontentment grunted at us and was of no assistance. It seemed no-one cared if we made our train or not.

Suspicious youth followed us around trying to take advantage of our cluelessness. Cowboy indulged them as they tried to make a quick buck. Having what I thought was a little streetwise ability I barked orders at the Cowboy “ Don’t listen to him! He doesn’t work here! Walk FAST , ignore them!”

It was all on. Cowboy and I vs Hanoi –we were fighting a losing battle.

After trudging around with the entire train station laughing at us rudely - We FINALLY figured out we had to be on the other side of the platform. Getting to the correct side involved trudging a long way with our bags through hectic streets filled with mangy dogs, people cooking in the gutter, and the severe stench of urine and rubbish. It was enough to make me bring up my french cuisine.

People shamelessly starred at us as we struggled through the calamity finally arriving at our side of the train station.

We were playing a human version of space invaders with everyone out to get us, our only hope was to avoid the shots being fired to make it to the next level! But goddamn, I wish I didn't feel so ill.... the toilet on the train is not a place I want to be visiting too often......"

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