29 May, 2018

Routine? Routine? Where are You?

After the A to Z challenge, I set my goal at 2 posts per week - one on a weekday, one on a weekend. I haven't done exactly that, but I'm averaging at 2 per week, so yay!

Now that we are unpacked, if not exactly set up and organized, I'm thinking about what my new routine should be. The hard part is, right now, I have no job. But working or not, the sun is up at about 5:30, and our bedroom window faces east.
This morning's walk on the beach, facing the Marble Mountains.

This morning, for example, I was on my way to the beach by 7:30, home before 9. Then I did some organizing in the apartment. Brett was meeting with a fellow teacher who wanted his input (my man is a genius, he is), so I joined them for lunch, went to the corner store, and chilled after lunch in the ample tropical breeze that blows through our apartment when we turn off the a.c. and open it up. (I need to learn the Vietnamese word for "siesta".)
Coffee on the upstairs terrace.

My routine so far is to have Vietnamese coffee for breakfast, some kind of noodles for lunch, and eat out in the evenings, but eating out won't last too long. We just don't have produce to cook in the house. I haven't got an exercise routine yet, because I just put away the luggage this morning, so there hasn't been any room. Just walking every day.

I need to add in dedicated study time - studying Mandarin for my classes which will continue, and Vietnamese for survival here.

I need to add in "work" time. I plan to start my own business and need to figure out what to do and not do, look up local laws, set up a website, etc. 

I need to add in writing time. And reading time. For blogging and books.

A lot of this will depend on Brett's schedule. He'll be teaching online, so depending on his schedule is when I will either leave the house for my own activities or hide in the bedroom or the upstairs terrace.

26 May, 2018

All Joking Aside

A real quick one today.

In Beijing, many websites include "...BJ.com.cn" and it amuses the 12-year-old side of my brain. The BJ jokes - that nobody else seems to notice. >sigh<

We are moving to Vietnam, where the national currency is the DONG! Oh, the jokes, the jokes!

And the currency is in such denominations that, for example, a breakfast sandwich costs 15 thousand Dong (and that's less than 1 US dollar).

One of my new expat friends in Vietnam already made the comment about "I don't usually give away that much Dong." I can't wait to settle in and listen to the jokes start coming, or see if it's like Beijing where it just goes unnoticed.

23 May, 2018

Step One - Find A Home

As I said yesterday, we wanted to move in two steps so we could establish an address and ship things for later. Shipping is cheaper than paying the overage fees on checked baggage, for sure!

We arrived after midnight, and went to our hotel, which was actually a very small studio apartment. This is common. 

The next morning, we had an appointment with a real estate agent we'd been referred to. Never wanting to be late, and not knowing how long it would take, we started walking, deciding to grab breakfast on the go. Breakfast for me was the delicious Vietnamese iced coffee! 

... Twice. 

I'm realizing that no 2 places make it or serve it in the same way. But it's all quite addictive!

While walking, I was amused to see a woman riding a bike wearing one of those iconic conical hats. After 3 days, I now know not to be surprised. 
We met the agent at her house, and she loaned us a scooter to follow her zipping around the city looking at places. The first place wasn't suitable for us, and she listened to our thoughts. The second place was the one!

Part of the bedroom, with a street view.
The living room, taken from the kitchen area.
One of the 2 rooftop terraces we have access to.

The first floor is, conveniently, a coffee shop! 
The building caters to foreigners, so our bathroom actually has a door separating the shower from the toilet, and the kitchen area is roomy. 
Also, it's a "full service" place, so it comes with linens and twice weekly cleaning. They offer laundry service, but the laundry facility is on the premises, and one machine is available for us to use if we don't want it done for us. (We don't.)

We were moved in shortly after lunch, unpacked a bit, and had dinner with friends Brett met on his brief trip here a month ago. It was delightful, and I'm sure we will be long term friends no matter where the winds take any of us.

Next day. First order of business, the beach.

My Khe Beach, Da Nang. Also known as "China Beach." 8 minutes from home!!!
My pale legs, feet slipping into the sand.
I lived at the shore in Delaware for 12 years, and even before that, anytime I'm near a shoreline, I always have to dip my feet. That was enough for the first beach day.
A restaurant on the beach had these swings nearby, so I sat here while the sand on my feet dried enough to brush it off.

We wanted to hit the beach earlier the next day, so we could walk more before it started to get hot. I walked in the shallows a lot more, seeing jellyfish and ghost crabs to my heart's delight!

Not a black and white photo - morning fog just hides the horizon.

The next day was our last full day there - our flight left after midnight, so we left for the airport around 8pm. But meanwhile, we found a burger joint for lunch, and later went to a new night market for supper.

We go back on Sunday, and Sunday can't come fast enough!

22 May, 2018

On The Move. Again.

I don't even know where to begin. My beloved husband made me sit on this move for about 3 months, so there is A LOT that has been heretofore unsaid, which is just BURSTING to get out of my brain! 

So the BIG REVEAL: We are moving to Vietnam!
Da Nang, specifically. We just returned to Beijing from 4 days there, finding an apartment, moving in whatever we could take with us, and getting a little acclimated. I'm in love. It smells like home. I am amazed to find that I don't mind the tropical heat. As long as you don't make me dress a certain way, I can make the heat and humidity work.  (My hair is actually better there.)

We didn't even want to come back to Beijing this time. Why did we? We had planned two trips so we could establish an address the first time and maybe ship things the second time. Although we got rid of a lot of things before moving to Beijing and we're not big spenders, we have a few extra mementos to keep, and I'd like to bring certain housewares. They are things that might be bought anywhere, but it's so difficult to RE-start 100% from scratch with every move. (Especially when moving means a new country and having to actually FIND all the places to buy the housewares you like.) Plus tickets were cheap, so it seemed reasonable.

I know this is short, but I've been so busy packing all day, I can't sift through my pictures. Writing this post is such a relief to me, you have no idea. I'll post pictures tomorrow or as soon as I can. Ask any questions you want. I'll be fleshing things out in the next few weeks.

16 May, 2018

Red Tape

Here's my joke: 
They call it "red-tape" because the Communists do it the best. 

...or the most. 

I'm not good at jokes. 

Living in a communist country has really introduced me to a depth of layers of bureaucratic B.S. that I would never have believed existed.

We spent more than 2 hours this afternoon at our local police station to get a document that it turns out none of the staff there knew how to do!

TWO HOURS! We never did get the document. Brett was livid. Now we have to go back tomorrow armed with a Chinese-speaking friend, and another friend's phone number, who knows people higher up at this office and can perhaps get something done.

When you move to China, you have to register with your local police bureau - very local, like just a few blocks - and they will issue a residency permit. If we stay anywhere else we are to register there until we go home. Staying at a hotel is not a problem, because most hotels have an officer who handles this kind of thing.

We recently read that when you move from your district, you should go to that same office to get a - well, basically a criminal background check. An official letter that says that you haven't committed any crimes while living here. That is all we were trying to get. We had the name of the document in English and Chinese to show to the clerk. I noticed that she seemed somewhat baffled, but they collected our passports and started working. 

Other people came and went, and 2 hours later we were called up to get ... new residency permits! Which we didn't need because ours are still valid. 

This is a very Chinese thing. They don't want to admit they can't do something so they will do what they can. Even if it is the wrong thing and wastes your afternoon for a pointless new piece of paper.

I love traveling. I love living in different countries. I think visiting is great, but by actually residing in a new culture, you really learn about them and yourself.

But seriously, people.

13 May, 2018

Traveling in Tandem

We are moving. 
I will tell you where to later this month, but it is a big move.

This trip is different from our previous travels together, however.  Typically, I make the travel arrangements along with any required stop points on the trip, and he handles other logistical details, like forwarding mail etc.

When we had been dating less than two months, I was in a wedding in New Hampshire and invited him as my guest. (I was living in Indiana, he in Illinois, at the time.) I handled tickets, hotel, all my bridesmaid stuff, and let him figure out how to get to me to fly out of Indy and what to do with himself while I was occupied with wedding stuff out east. It was an awesome trip.

The year we got married we had many road trips. In fact, truth be told, part of the logic behind wedding in May when we had talked about doing it in the fall was because we had so many places to go and wanted to go together! His daughter's graduation, my goddaughter's graduation, and about a billion weddings all took place between that May and October. It was a great summer.

We developed a system: If it was my family/friend, I planned the travel details. If it was his, he did. His planning tended to be along the lines of... let's see how far we get the first day, and contact Hotels.com while on the road. My planning was more detailed. I learned to incorporate some leeway because, when you marry someone who is at their best and most comfortable flying by the seat of their pants, you accommodate! 

October was the finale of the traveling and it was my friend's wedding in Moab, Utah. We both knew people in Colorado, so we chose to fly in and out of Denver and rented a car. I secured rooms in the hotel recommended by the bride - OUTSTANDING - but allowed whole days with no plans. There is so much to do out there, I had a vague idea of "we must visit this and that" but left timing to him. 

It was possibly the best trip of our lives so far. We were supposed to leave the hotel on Sunday but were having such an amazing time in Moab that we extended our stay by a day. 

That was a fun reminiscence for me! Circling back to my point...

For this move, HE got the tickets! Our last major trip was to return to the US after about a year in China, and he noticed that the arrangements seemed to stress me out. There are SO MANY details and potential pitfalls when traveling internationally, and going through a 3rd party, I found, added to the headaches. So this time HE did the travel arrangements and is handling logistics of moving like canceling the lease and dealing with banks and things. While I am home working few hours right now I am packing the house, putting out feelers for potential buyers of furnishings that will not travel with us, etc. 

I love our marriage. I don't know of any couple as thoughtful of each other.

07 May, 2018

#AtoZChallenge Reflections: A New Hope

A long time ago in a galaxy (well, continent) far, far away, I did the 2016 A to Z challenge. My goal was to re-start my blogging habit and hopefully find some new blogs to read. I succeeded.

Then life happened, and we moved to China, and I regressed. In 2017 the A to Z challenge was not designed in a way conducive for anonymous blogs such as myself to remain anonymous, so I did not participate.

This year, thanks to the efforts of the A-to-Z team - I know it was a lot of work to organize and maintain, so truly, sincere thanks! - I was again able to participate, link up, and connect with other blogs without breaching my own security. Similar goal to 2016: build better consistency in my blogging habit, and connect with others.

I made sure I visited a few new blogs each day - some days because of the time difference, only one new blog - and after a few days I had quite a list of blogs that I liked and wanted to visit daily. I did not make it to all of these blogs every day, but will be back later!

I hope the Master List will be available for at least a couple months. I think it will be, if I understand "road trip" correctly, but I know nothing about this road trip yet except that it was mentioned in 2 posts that I read on the A to Z challenge page, and I don't understand what one needs to do to participate. Hint: for events connected to the A to Z challenge, a separate page would be helpful

That said, I hope to do this challenge every year. In 2016, I had each post planned out including images, and most of them were written with time to spare. This year I winged it - wung it? - and still survived! I was blessed with limited work to interfere with my life and time, so I could take my time and visit blogs and comment. I made a point to visit at least one genre each day, that I would not typically search for. THAT was a great idea on my part. I highly recommend it. Great writers exist in all realms!

Every year is different though. Who knows what 2019 will be like? (Yikes. Just writing "2019" felt like a knife in my neck.)

What about you? If you did the A to Z challenge, did you meet your goals? If you didn't, did it keep you away from AtoZ blogs?

05 May, 2018

A New Month - New Plan

I was all set to write some sort of "A to Z reflections" post, but apparently, there's a right and wrong way to do it, and the post on how to do it won't be up until the 7th. For some reason. So I will wait until I have a clue what I'm doing and then post it.

Meanwhile, I added a page to my blog ^^ to explain my blog's name. I also need to update my other page, I'll let you know when that's done. 

My new goal is to write two posts a week, once during the week and once on the weekend. There will probably not be a theme to them, but there may be a lot of venting during May, as we are moving this month (I'm not saying where until it's done, so don't ask) and my husband is away on the weekends judging English competitions!

I can't really complain though. My work is rather random right now, so I am home a lot and have the time to take care of things. I just need to do it.

Keeping it short today, I'll be back soon!

For any new followers, is there anything you want to know without sifting through back posts? Ask below.