Monday, 24 May 2010

Improv Awaaaaaaay

It really sucks that I am leaving as soon as I started making some good contacts here. According to Lucy I have got myself an adoring public and now I am abandoning them. She was talking about improv.

Matthew, someone I met through Zmack, started his own improv group, the People's Republic of Comedy (shown above). I performed with them for the first time a few weeks ago. I thought I did horribly, to tell the truth. I was performing with people I had never met before and I was exhausted. Apparently I did ok, though, and he asked me to perform with them again this past week. That show went REALLY well, in my opinion. That's what the picture is from. All the advertisements for the show are done in old propaganda style posters, hence our far off gazes. I hope to perform with them at least once more before I leave.

In the Zmack front, I led the weekly lab the last two weeks and I think it went ok. I am running it again this and next week and then I believe it will be time for someone else to step up. I have a love/hate relationship with running improv stuff. It's kind of cool to decide the theme and pass on some improv tips, but it means I spend less time playing the games myself. And it makes me feel really self conscious. Here I am, the youngest person in the room telling everyone what to do. Ahh well. There is one more show with Zmack that I'll be doing in June.

In non-improv news, I am apparently teaching a new class for the rest of the semester. Whaaa? It's an intensive English class for the incoming class. I was hoping to use the extra time (now that my 12th graders graduated) for my job hunt, but I guess not.

In non-anything news, why doesn't my mind work anymore? I can't think straight at all. I can't sleep at night. I can't focus in Chinese class or at work. Bah. I need to whip my mental self into shape so that I can get all this stuff done!

In let's-focus-on-happy-stuff news, it's finally yangmei/waxberry/bayberry/whatever-you-want-to-call-it season again. I have a big basket on my desk that I've been munching on all morning.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Cooking With RaoLaoshi

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but "laoshi" is Chinese for teacher. So "RaoLaoshi" means "Teacher Rao".

Teacher Rao is my Chinese teacher. She came to an improv lab a couple weeks ago and on the subway ride back we talked about cooking. I said I really wanted to learn to cook more Chinese food, so we made a deal. She would teach me to cook some Chinese food and I would teach her to bake some cookies.

We finally ended up getting together this weekend. We cooked and ate lunch together. We ended up making three dishes.

Cola Chicken Wings: The first and most interesting (and in my opinion tastiest) thing we cooked was "cola chicken". Apparently this isn't as novel an idea as I thought it was since when I told a co-worker about it she shared her recipe for "Coke Roast". The way we made it was to boil some chicken wings in water. Then we put some small slices in both sides of the wings (according to Teacher Rao it makes it taste better). Then we fried up some garlic, ginger, scallions, and mildly spicy green peppers in some oil with the wings. After browning the chicken a little on both sides, she poured in about half a can of Pepsi. She brought it to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer until the sauce got thick. Spicy, sweet and delicious!

Pork and Beans: This dish was an interesting mix of savory and fresh. The beans that we used are apparently called "four season beans" in Chinese since they are in season all year round. To me they just looked like giant green beans. I chopped the beans into slices while Teacher Rao mixed some ground pork with flour and egg whites. Then it was all fried up together. Teacher Rao commented on how most Chinese dishes mix together meat and a vegetable while most American dishes have the two separate. I had to agree with her, since I've noticed the same thing since the first time I came to China.

I Have No Idea But It Was Purple and That's Cool: I can't remember at all what the last vegetable was called in Chinese and Teacher Rao didn't know the English name. It looked a little like lettuce to me, but that's about as helpful as I can be. She cooked it up in a little oil, water and salt. Eating it was fun since it turned our plates purple. There is an old Chinese belief that eating uncooked vegetables is always unhealthy and I think it's still affecting the food culture. I'm not sure what the vegetable was we were eating but my guess is if it was used in the US it would probably be eaten raw or steamed, not fried up.

All together it was a lot of fun. We spoke about half and half Chinese and English, which was cool. I was a little worried that since we weren't officially in class she would just switch 100% to English. After we made and ate lunch, I taught her to make cookies. We made oatmeal butterscotch cookies, using the butterscotch chips my mom sent me about a million years ago. They were quite yummy. I have done a lot of baking since I got my toaster oven, but these were the first cookies I made from scratch instead of cutting corners with a mix. It was a lot of hard work without a mixer! But I have to use up my baking supplies before I leave so I forsee more on the horizon!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Shanghai 80's Roller Disco....Seriously!

I went to college from 2004 to why is it that every 80's song I hear reminds me of Drew U?

Lucy invited me to a roller disco this weekend. I had to read the e-mail a couple of times before I actually believed there was going to an 80's roller disco in China. But that's Shanghai for you. Turns out they have these a lot at the place we went to.

I invited Sarah along (we've been hanging out so much we are starting to act like a married couple) and we got our 80's outfits planned. I destroyed a cheap t-shirt and then wore about every brightly colored item I owned (which was a surprisingly small amount). Sarah wore some nice big bangles and pulled out all the stops with some leg warmers.

I was a little worried about roller skating since I haven't done it at the very least since high school. I have a vague memory of driving myself to good ole' Ron-A-Roll way back when so I guess I was at least 16 but that could be my mind making stuff up again. I was also worried about being run over by drunk people on skates.

In the end I only fell once (because some jerk crashed into me), knocked down Sarah once (because another jerk crashed into me, which pushed me into her) and had a few spectacular close calls. I'll tell you, spilled beer (despite the clearly posted signs that no drinks should be brought on the skate floor) certainly makes skating a bit more a challenge. And it was CROWDED. I was never so scared for my feet than when I was walking around in socks after turning in my sneakers but before putting on my skates. My poor toeses got rolled over a bit. I'd like to go back when it wasn't so packed.

Sarah and I got there a lot earlier than Lucy and Andreas so we only ended up hanging out all together for a short while. I hope to see the two of them later this week though.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Scary Clown

Just a bit of weirdness to break up our regular scheduled programing.

Earlier this week the art teacher, Sarah, asked me to come in and discuss my first hand experience with the IB art exam with her students (who are also my English students). After I told them all about it and answered some questions, they went back to work on their projects.

I was getting ready to go back to my office when Sarah suggested I stay and paint. I suddenly felt the need to create something. I asked the students for ideas and the first thing any of them said was "a scary clown". The picture you see is the result. That face gives me the creeps (the painting...not me).

This weekend I hope to see Lucy, who I feel like I haven't seen in forever, and also have a plan to get together and cook with my Chinese teacher. Should be fun!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Wedding Banquet

About two weeks ago, one of my co-workers, Ned, got married to his lovely partner Zhi Hui. It was apparently in the works for a while but we didn't hear about it until about two weeks before he got hitched. Last night they held a nice big dinner to celebrate his marriage with all the Pinghe folks.

My office mates wanted to go in together on a gift for the happy couple and for a while we couldn't think of what to get. I suggested a gift card for the massage place I like. I figured it would be useful and enjoyable. In the end that's what we got. Also, the office came together in a bit of a group effort to make a card. I made the basic design of the card (white base, blue panel on the front, outlined in gold ribbon with a gold square in each corner) and then Lotus bumped up the design on the front and Lena did the back and the inside. I wish I had a picture of it. It was pretty. Then it was off to dinner.

It was a normal Chinese style dinner with tons of dishes (my favorites were the scallops which were resting on mounds of salt and then LIT ON FIRE) which were all delicious. They had rented three rooms connected by wide open double doors and a big round table in each room. Since Ned's lovely wife is Chinese and the majority of the guests, some of the traditional "dirty tricks" (as June put it) had to be played.

One involved Zhi Hui shimmying a cell phone up one of Ned's pant legs and down the other, but not before a phone call was made *ahem* in a strategic position. A cherry tomato was also strung on a string as a necklace for Zhi Hui to wear and Ned had to find and eat it without using his hands while blindfolded. The last game of the evening had them sitting back to back and writing down answers to questions about their relationship. The inquiries started out pretty tame but got worse as it went on.

The evening was a lot of fun but also made me sad. I can't believe how little time I have left here.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Hanoi Pictures and Impressions

Here are just some pictures from my trip, including water puppets, the cathedral, the grilled fish, and the boat ride to the Perfume Pagoda.

Just some last things I wanted to mention about Hanoi. It was weird because if I had never been to China and Vietnam was the first Asian country I ever went to, it probably would have been a totally new experience, but it was so much like China that it wasn't surprising to me at all.

I am used to sales people shouting at me to buy things, I am used to bargaining, I am used to squat toilets, I am used to making my way across a street with no apparent traffic rules, I am used to people staring at me, I am used to spitting and the differences in hygiene and personal space. Even the stuff vendors were selling in all the touristy places was mostly exactly the same as stuff I see in China all the time. It was actually a challenge finding presents for people that were obviously Vietnamese and not Chinese.

There were some differences though. I can't understand a word of Vietnamese. In Japan I didn't feel quite so out of place since there was often Japanese kanji, which borrows a lot of words from Chinese. But in Vietnam? Nothing. It felt very strange. Also, because of the french influence, the vendors in Hanoi were always yelling "Madam!" at me to get my attention instead of "Lady!", which I thought was fancier. Ha.

I suppose that's all really.

Much love!

Hanoi Day Two

On our second (and thanks to China Southern our LAST) full day in Hanoi, we woke up far too early so that we could do a day trip to the Perfume Pagoda. The hotel said the bus would arrive at 8am so we needed to be ready by then. We got up and dressed and went downstairs to have some breakfast. The guy showed up at 7:45 while we were still eating. Oops. He came back later to get us and we headed off.

The tour guide was kind of...I guess awkward is the best word. He kept saying that the guys on the trip weren't very good looking, and then he said he thought I was going to win the Miss Universe contest. Then he asked if we wanted to hear a story "full of the humor". And then the story was basically him saying "I have no money so no girl will love me...isn't that sad?". Once he stopped talking, though, the bus ride was pleasant. It was cool looking out the windows, especially at all the rice patties we were passing. I loved the different scarecrows in the fields, all wearing one of those pointed hats. The ride was VERY bumpy though, which I think was a combo of bad shocks and some VERY uneven roads. One stretch of road, all I could think was "I would LOVE to take an ATV on this". We stopped oh-so-conveniently at a souvenir shop so we could use the bathroom on the way.

Once we arrived we got into boats for the approximately one hour trip down the river. There were about 12 people in our group and we all piled into a long boat and headed down the river. It was super sunny and warm. I got a bit of a sunburn on my shoulders, but it was nice after how cold it was in Shanghai before we left (although now that we are back, it's pretty hot here too). During the trip, the man paddling behind me accidentally dropped his hat into the river. Instinctively my hand shot over the edge of the boat to grab it...and my camera went with my hand. Thank goodness I had my wrist strap on. I would have been very mad if I lost my brand new birthday camera.

After the boat ride the tour guide tried to get us to take the cable car. And none too subtlety. Elizabeth said the walk up the mountain and the view was nice (having been there before) and I figured some exercise would be good after that awful stagnant day spent in the airport. Sadly, things aren't like they used to be. Where there was once a peaceful walk and a nice view, there is now vendors all the way up, blaring music and shouting at you to come sit and have a drink. I also had some flashbacks to the painful (rewarding....but painful) climb of yellow mountain. If you tell me I need to walk at a steady pace on a flat surface for an entire day I'll be fine. I like walking. But up is just cruel. It kills my poor leggies. Oh well. We got to the top and made it to the temple.

Perfume Pagoda is kind of a misleading name. I was imagining...well...a pagoda. One of those many layered buildings. Instead what we went to was a cave. The inside was filled with alters full of offerings, incense, candles and people praying. I had never seen a temple in a cave before, so that was pretty cool. It just wasn't what I expected. According to Elizabeth, if you go at the right time of year, flowers bloom on the mountain filling the area with a lovely scent. That's where the "perfume" part comes from.

We ended up taking the cable car down since it wasn't really worth the trip down just to be yelled at by vendors again. At the bottom we got lunch with the group. Some fish, some meat, a yummy garlicy river plant, and some tofu that had a sauce Liz loved. After that was the boat ride and bus ride back. Uneventful, but enjoyable. I've got tons of pictures taken during the boat ride.

When we got back we had some quick showers and changed. Then we went back to a show we had been to before to get some more Thai fisherman pants for me. So comfy! We bought some souvenirs (I got something for my parents...don't tell them...shhh). We also stopped for some street food. I picked out some spicy shrimp dish, some very yummy fish and some meat with veggies. What will I do when I move back to America where there aren't people cooking lamb on sticks everywhere? Ah well. We of course also had to get some more ice cream. It's Elizabeth's favorite ice cream in the world. I can see why. Yum.

We stopped for coffee once more and while there I got some to bring home, as well as the super cool drip filters. I think I will write a whole post about it later. I am smitten with Vietnamese coffee now. The last thing we did was stop for some frothy and cooling lemon juices. Then it was back to the hotel to pack and get to bed.

The next morning we got dressed and out the door and in the taxi to the airport. Being out that early gave me a very different view of Hanoi from the previous two days. Every time we had gone out before it was a chaos of motorbikes and people. That last morning was surprisingly quiet and calm. The flight from Hanoi to Guangzhou and then to Beijing was fine. Once we reached our old stomping ground of Beijing international airport, we hit a snag. Although the flight was delayed we miraculously got our luggage first and made it to the check in counter with a few minutes to spare. Then the guy behind the counter says something I didn't want to here:

"There are no seats left on this flight."

ARRRG. I thought we were in for another horrible bout of bad luck, but after an uncomfortably long time of standing around while he called people and shouted at the other workers, he turns and asks us if we will be willing to take the same flight an hour first class. Oh yes please! That was about the best thing that could happen. We didn't have to rush to make the next flight (instead we went and had some Starbucks) annnnd we got first class.

I don't think I have ever sat in first class before. It was fan-freakin-tastic. They served us drinks while the plane was boarding. I had my own pair of slippers and my own personal screen with movies and games (with a remote so I could fast forward and rewind and such!). I could fully recline as well as put my feet up. When they came by with drinks they were served in glass cups and they gave us the entire can of soda (remember way back before flights got so stingy and they would give you the whole can of soda? Better days, man). The meal served had TWO COURSES. And it was served on a TABLECLOTH. It was so fancy pants. Altogether it was a nice way to end the trip after the awful way it started.

Well, I've gone and rambled on too much again. I will post another entry with some pictures and maybe some general impressions of Hanoi. Hope I didn't bore you!

Hanoi Continued

After our little break back at the hotel on our first full day in Hanoi, we headed back out. First we went back so Elizabeth could make her final decision about which shirts to get. I think I may have convinced her to get a peasant sleeved blouse (I have a weak spot for big drapey sleeves) but it's ok since she looked really good in it.

After that we made our way to the "fish street". I don't know if I mentioned this, but the layout of Hanoi is a lot like the layout of Shanghai. In that stores are grouped by what they sell. In Shanghai they have a street called Jingling Rd which pretty much ONLY sells musical instruments. I have also seen streets where almost every store is for pregnant women, or almost all shoes. It makes shopping pretty convenient. When I needed to buy a guitar tuner here in Shanghai, I just popped from store to store on Jingling Rd until found one I liked at a good price. Hanoi is similar. I saw craft streets, shoe streets, silk streets, etc. According to Elizabeth the name of the streets in Vietnamese actually say what the street sells. So...we went to "fish street" for dinner.

This fish ROCKED. One thing I loved was the "menu" here. All it said was "We only have one dish at this restaurant. Grilled Fish" followed by the price. We ordered enough for two. Out came all the prep material. Some cold noodles for each of us, chili sauce, peanuts, a big dish of herbs and most importantly a pan of fish and veggies cooking over a stand filled with hot coals. The smell was intoxicating and the taste was even better. You put everything in your bowl, gave it a mix and ate up. It was savory and refreshing at the same time. I want to know how to make this fish. I found a recipe on line but I haven't tried it yet so I'm not sure how close it is to the real thing.

After that we went for some coffee and a sit down by the lake, then went back to the place Elizabeth likes for some more ice cream. Then we walked around eating and singing. (Yes, do you pass the time?) During our walk we passed a park full of kids in little electronic cars. It took us a minute to realize that they were like remote control cars, but big enough for children to sit in. So a bunch of parents were walking around "driving" their children. It was funny.

Luckily, we were able to catch the night market. Elizabeth wasn't sure if and when it would be held and we happened to see it being set up as we were walking around. After it was set up, we walked up and down taking a look at everything. I also got some meat on a stick. Not sure what kind of meat it was. Tasty though.

After all the walking, our feet were hurting pretty bad so we decided to get some foot massages. There was a place near our hotel that offered 1 hour foot massages for about $10. Considering that's exactly how much I pay back in Shanghai, I figured it was fair. The massages were advertised as "Chinese" but speaking as people who LIVE in China, Elizabeth and I did not agree. They weren't bad...they just weren't Chinese. Regardless, it was a nice refresher for our sore feet.

Just to break up the days a bit better, I'm going to write about the next day as another entry.


Thursday, 6 May 2010


I wish I could retract my last e-mail. Since I can't sign on blogspot I can't just delete the entry.

Turns out my documents are all still on my computer. The computer teacher saved them in an obscure place and from first glance it looks like all my documents, music and pictures are still there. It is still a bit troublesome since he downloaded Windows 2003, which means I can't open my docx or pptx files (which almost all of my documents ARE). But I'm sure I can just download a patch or something to get to them.

Things are looking a LOT better than I thought. And now I feel stupid about ranting about a problem I didn't really have.

Expect another Hanoi entry soon (I need something to distract from my stupidity).



So today at work my laptop decided to DESTROY MY LIFE.
I was going over my PPT for my classes today when it shut down for no reason. This has been happening ever since I got my new battery. Since it doesn't happen that often and there was never a problem before, I haven't been worrying about it. Except today when I tried to turn it back wouldn't. It went through the start up cycle over and over again. I kept getting blue screened and then it would say it couldn't turn on and the process would start all over again. I tried starting it in safe mode, I tried starting it plugged in without the battery, I tried going through the advanced start up....nada.
The computer teacher came and took it away after he saw what was happening. I couldn't really worry about it since I had to remember everything in my power point and now go teach some classes without it. He said he would try to get it back to me at the end of the day. Sure enough, it was on my desk at 3:20pm. I started it up happily only to find that he had wiped my hard drive.
EVERYTHING IS GONE. I feel so numb. I really wish the computer teacher had TALKED to me before he had done that. Even if there was no other option, I would have liked a little warning before I started up my computer to find everything gone. Things aren't too terrible, I think. Luckily for me I saved my pictures to my big external before I left for Hanoi because I wanted to erase the pictures on my camera and I wanted to make sure they were backed up first. I THINK when I did that I also saved my newest version of my work folder. I THINK. I am scared to go back to my apartment and check.
If I didn't, it means that my grades, lesson plans, PPTs....everything I have done this year and had gotten ready for the rest of this semester is gone. I really really really hope I did save that folder.
This is so annoying. I have to reset everything on my laptop again and there are some music and documents and such I know I have lost for good.
This has put me in a rather grumpy mood. And to top everything off, someone stole my umbrella.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Hanoi: Day One

Things have gotten much better since our arrival in Hanoi. It has been raining on and off but not too badly. We woke up this morning and had ourselves some hotel breakfast. Eggs and toast. With Vietnamese coffee. Yum yum yum. They put condensed milk at the bottom which is just delightful.

After that we headed out the door. Elizabeth wanted to get our tickets to go see the water puppets tonight. When we arrived at the theater all of their tickets for the night were sold out. BUT they did have seats left for a show that was going to start in about 5 minutes. Good timing! We bought our tickets and head on in.

The seats in the theater were not built for Western people. The width was fine, but the space from the back of my chair to the chair in front of me was about 3 inches shorter than the length of my thighs. There was no way for me to get comfortable, but after much wiggling and twisting I was able to find a position that didn't make me feel like my kneecaps were breaking.

The show was cool. To anyone who is unfamiliar with what the water puppet show is (like I was 24 hours ago) there is a stage with water and the puppeteers work the puppets out of sight with long poles that go under the water. Liz says that the show originated in the rice patties to amuse the workers. The whole show was about 45 minutes long and was in Vietnamese, but since it was mostly singing and about the visuals it was a lot of fun. I think the mixture of my own delight and the youthful comments of the children in the audience made me feel like a child myself. One part of the show involved two people fishing. The man was splashing his basket all over and at one point trapped his friend. The woman than chased him around with her basket, until she trapped him in a corner and he was shaking with fear. Another highlight of the show was a phoenix dance that ended with a hatching egg and a new phoenix dancing with it's parents. I've got pictures and videos for when I get back.

After that we went to a lake (don't ask me what it was called, I can't speak Vietnamese!) with a bridge to a pagoda in the middle. Apparently there is a legend there, something about a sword and a giant turtle and the sword has been given back to the giant turtle...I'm not sure. But it was pretty and there was a small temple.

After that we got some coffee and popsicles. Very tasty. Then we found a lovely cathedral. Liz thinks we really lucked out and showed up as mass was letting out because we were able to get in and look around. When we were leaving, they were locking up the doors. The cathedral was really nice with stained glass portraits of saints down the walls. I'm not a religious person, but I find going to temples and churches always has a calming effect on me.

The next part may sound a little weird, but we went to an italian place for lunch. Liz's friend Kevin said it was amazing so we decided to try it. It really was delicious. We split three things: pesto linguine, four cheese pizza and something that had spinach, potatoes and anchovies with lots of garlic. Everything was super tasty. When we finished, we realized we needed to get back to the hotel to book our day trip for tomorrow.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a few shops. I bought a pair of thai fishermen pants (which I am wearing right now and they are SUPER COMFY) and Liz got a shirt. We made it back to the hotel and booked a day trip tomorrow for the Perfume Pagoda.

Now we are resting a bit. Liz is having a nap and I took a nice cooling rinse in the shower (it's pretty warm here, but not too bad). We plan no heading out for some special grilled fish for dinner and maybe some more street wandering. My Pinghe coworkers told me I HAVE to try the street food here so I need to keep my eyes open for anything that looks good.

Well, we have been back for our rest for a while and the day is a wasting, so I think I'm gonna try to wake up Liz now. Wish me luck!



***WARNING: This blog post is very little updating and almost 100% me complaining***

My friend Elizabeth and I have had a very unlucky trip so far.

It started off well enough with us meeting at the airport and checking out bags with no problem. Our flight was delayed for almost an hour which really wasn't good because it means we missed our transfer. Things went from bad to worse to hell almost immediately.

We had purchased the tickets through Expedia as one trip. Shanghai to Beijing, Beijing to Guangzhou, then Guangzhou to Hanoi. Now, anyone who knows anything about China and/or Southeast Asia geography probably just spit their coffee at the computer as they exclaimed "WHAT!? You went NORTH to go SOUTH?". Yes, well, it was our cheapest offer and I am a poor teacher so we went for it.

ANYWAY. When we missed the transfer we thought of course something would be done. Since the whole trip was through China Southern Airlines, we went to them first. They said that because the first flight was a China Eastern Airlines plane, it was their fault. We went to them and they said it was China Southern Airline's fault. Then they tried to blame us because they said that the amount of time booked between flights wasn't enough (although MANY HOURS LATER when we talked to Expedia they said the blame really did lie with China Southern since they booked all three flights as one trip and if the lay over wasn't long enough the trip shouldn't have gone through as a valid option).

It was beyond frustrating. Here we were stuck with a bunch of people pointing fingers at each other and all we wanted was some action to be taken. And no action would be taken because no one wanted to take the blame. We first tried any way possible to get to Hanoi that night. Take another flight with the same airline, take another flight with a different airline. ANYTHING. We even tried to get them to send us back to Shanghai so we could at least go to our apartments and then try again the next day. Nope nope nope. Then we tried to get the earliest flight to Hanoi we could for the NEXT day. The only thing they would let us switch to was the same flight as the one we missed for the next day. So we would have to wait for 24 hours.

Once we realized what the crappy situation was and that we couldn't get out of it, we then asked what the airline was going to do. As in, what hotel would they be putting us up in for the night. And here's the fun part, because no one would accept the blame, they said it was not their responsibility and we were going to have to find our own place to stay.

After arguing, pleading, running around and I will admit a little bit of crying, we walked away from the counter to go find some internet. We thought the best thing to do would be to call Expedia and see if they could do anything to help. Maybe switch us to a different flight or maybe help us get a room or find out who was to blame. When we called (I had to buy a $15 IC card that we used up entirely for the many phone calls) the agent he said that he needed to talk to the airlines directly and their offices wouldn't open for another 4 hours. We sat in the internet cafe for 4 hours. We watched TV, we chatted, I slept a little.

When the four hours were up (keep in mind it was now 11pm), we called. We were put on hold. We used up the IC card. They said they would call my cell phone after they talked to the airlines. We waited for about another half hour. They called. They told us our flights were all set for tomorrow "And you're all set, goodbye!" Wait wait wait. We explained our situation again and the woman told us that it was China Southern's fault but there was nothing she could do to help us at this point.

We were sitting on the floor of the arrivals hall. After midnight. Things were pretty much as shitty as they could get.

We found a "hotel" in the basement of the terminal. It actually turned out to be ok. It was the first bright spot in our trip since things went so terribly wrong. We slept until 10:30 the next day. We had some lunch, we played some cards, we got some ice cream.

When we checked in to our flight we saw the same lady that basically told us we were screwed and she wasn't going to do anything about it. She waved at us happily. I wanted to punch her. We checked into our flight. The woman made fun of us in Chinese. Probably is, we can speak Chinese. Elizabeth called them out. It was more frustrating.

The plane was delayed AGAIN. Again for almost a full hour. Luckily this flight was connected to the one after so we couldn't miss it. Going through customs was fine and the next flight was uneventful. We got our visas for Vietnam on arrival, the driver from the hotel was waiting to pick us up and we are now in our hotel room. There is only one bed in the room but it's big, LizzyB and I have shared a bed before and after the start to this vacation we've had it's really not that big of a deal.

So, 39 hours after leaving my apartment, I arrived at my hotel in Hanoi. Not a very good start to the trip. The thing that is most annoying, in my opinion, is that we already had a short trip. We were only going to have three full days in Hanoi. Now, because of this whole mess we only have two. That REALLY upsets me. And the fact that I don't know if there is anything we can do about it just gets me more angry.

I'm lucky that I am traveling with Elizabeth. If I was going through this alone I think I would have had a mental breakdown. Instead, we can commiserate and cheer each other up. We are determined to have the best two days in Hanoi that we possibly can.

We've got a full plan of things to do for tomorrow so I should get some sleep.

Wish us lucky, we need it.