There I was - again, packing a bag - again, to fly to Hanoi - again, to have documents validated - again.
In the Very early morning, pre-dawn by a long shot, we headed out. No real luggage - just a backpack with some papers and electronics and a couple cans of iced Vietnamese coffee.
Having done this before, we opted not to stay overnight (hence, just the one backpack). This was to be just an hour or so at the embassy. Our appointment was early afternoon. Since flights get delayed - which ours did - and appointments can take longer than expected, we were flying up early and returning late. Even with a quick appointment it would be a long day.
In Hanoi, we had a taxi take us to the embassy's Vicinity, but got out to walk around and find food. Our intention was to find street food, hopefully a Variance from the fare in our town. We were Victorious! Very quick, very tasty, but also with seating where we could waste some of our FOUR hours of free time. We found a dish that is similar to, but a different spin on a dish we can find back home. Vibrant flavors blended together in a unique way.
With no Vehicle, we continued maneuvering through back streets, wending our way toward the office we needed. We knew there was a coffee shop next door to it, and decided to wait there for the last two hours. Luckily, the two comfy chairs had been recently Vacated. We made our home there with coffees, kindles, and occasionally closed eyes. As always, Brett saluted and waved at the kids running around - two brothers, it seemed, whose parents were having a coffee meeting of sorts. He caught a look of support from the dad, so knew it was okay... then the kids got comfortable with him and started sneaking around, trying to poke at him from behind, or crawl under his chair.
As usual, kids ignore me, so I remained unmolested. They weren't really causing trouble, just bored and recognized a friend in Brett. When I pulled out my notebooks and started reviewing my Vietnamese Vocabulary, they found their Voices. They asked a few questions in English: "How are you?" "What is your name?" and then ran off and came back with some Vietnamese words written on a piece of printer paper. Brett is not learning Vietnamese yet, so this brought me into the game, writing the English words above the Vietnamese ones I knew, and looking up on my phone the ones I did not.
Before we left to get in line outside the Embassy, we said goodbyes to the boys and their mom (moms?) who were now at the table, and who took a picture and connected to Brett on social media.
On to the embassy! We were first in line before the doors opened, which opened an hour before our appointment time. As first in line, first through security, first to complete our Validation form, we were actually done a half-hour before we were to begin! Woot! Now we had more hours to waste.
We Visited the Tiny Cafe - a coffee/smoothie/juice place we'd found on the last trip. But after a while, the feeling of inertia started feeling like drowsiness, so we got up and walked through a park, deciding to walk until we needed to eat something, and then get a taxi to the airport. ('Cause why pay airport food prices if you don't need to?) While walking, we found Vincom Center: a big shopping mall. Glorious! Air conditioned comfort, window shopping, and in the end, having a beer in a booth in a restaurant.
As we left to seek out a taxi to the airport, we did, this time, find street food to eat as we walked, and got to the airport in good time. There were a surprising number of families with small children hanging near our gate, and indeed, they were all on our late night flight! But that is a story for another day (specifically, Day "Y").
Now we are home safe, and when Brett went to turn in the Validated paperwork to our business partner this morning, she asked, "What about XX paper?"
We had forgotten to print out one of the important documents to be Validated! So I get to look forward to - again - packing a bag - again, to fly to Hanoi - again, to have documents Validated - again. Deja vu, anyone?