Tuesday, 22 November 2011

November 22

Ida asked for another post and Jo Ann asked about wether or not we had to get vaccinations so with the following words I willl kill 2 birds with one stone. Not litterally of course. Who does that?!

So yes we did have to get vaccinated and this is still somewhat of a sore spot. (and I don't mean on the arm....although it was tender for a few days..) By sore spot I actually mean upsetting, shocking, pick my jaw up off the reception desk, we so got ripped off type of sore spot. Infact I' m considering setting out on a quest to find the largest malaria infested moskito I can find in the backwoods of Vietnam (do they have back woods in Vietnam?) so I can sacrifice myself to it just to get my money's worth out of the retirement fund I supplied Dr Suri with at the travel clinic. Might I suggest that unless you have money dripping out of your pockets, you don't go to the Centerpoint Travel Clinic in Nepean. Anyway, can't put a price on health right?

Friday, 11 November 2011

Preparing for the trip - packing

We are permitted to have 2 carry-ons and 2 luggage each for our trip to the other side of the planet. We actually won't need all of that space for our own clothes since I am an awesome packer (Jacques if you are reading this, skip the next bit because Anne doesn't want you to know that I am a woman who can pack for a 5 day trip, to a warm destination, with different outfits for each day, 2 pairs of shoes, hot iron and necessary toilettries and clothes options to spare into just one carry-on and a large purse!) so we will pack empty luggage space with items we can give to people in Vietnam such as kids clothes, toothbrushes and toothpaste ( of course), Hallowe'en candy, gifts, meds etc...

Malcolm actually collected 162 Webkinz toys from kids at his school to deliver to an orphanage in Vietnam. We were able to get them all in to one suitcase but we were told we had better split them up so that customs doesn't think we are planning to open a store. Hopefully this whole plan doesn't blow up in my face at customs......I'll keep you posted.

Preparing for the trip - visas

Well, it looks like we need visas for the trip and guess what? They cost more than the passports. Another $400 bites the dust!


Preparing for the trip - tickets

Funny story.....Back in June, Phil had been shopping for plane tickets for a few months. I had no idea what a crazy process that would be! He realized the prices changed all the time and were different in the night than they were during the day. Everytime he spotted a good deal he was too afraid to lock in for fear he would find something cheaper. I feared we would never get tickets!
Anyway at the end of June my boss at the dental office had all of us staff fly out to Miami for an amazing continuing education experience. The course was outstanding the flight however was not! So as we were sitting in the airport cursing yet another delay I told my collegues that I would be sure to tell Phil NOT to book with UNITED! Here comes the funny part.....just moments later I get a text from Phil saying "We're booked!!!!" of course I nervously texted right back asking with who and you guessed it...UNITED! Can't wait to see how that goes. -_-


Why go now?

Phil, his brothers and parents arrived in Canada in 1979 leaving the two eldest siblings (sisters) behind with their husbands. 8 years later one of the sisters and her family came to join the others here in Canada. For over 30 years now Phil's only contact with the one remaining sister in Vietnam was the occasional phone call during family gatherings where he would politely say hello and pass the phone along to the next in line. She is a successful business woman running her own farm. She has four grown children and one granddaughter who is 9 years old. Her husband passed away a few years ago. She has tried twice to come and visit but has been denied by the Canadian government. (i don't fully understand why)
Anyway last Christmas during the family gathering in Ottawa we were able to see his sister via Skype! She never left her computer screen during the whole party even though she was 12 hours ahead of us because she didn't want to miss a thing! She was facinated to see everyones personalities come to life. She even joined us in a game of Bingo. A Tieu family tradition since being in Canada. Thankfully she never won a round because it would have been difficult for her to collect!

After that, Phil started Skyping with her from our house and it didn't take much to see that he was missing his sister and his birthplace. Now, anyone who knows Phil knows that he is not an emotional kind of guy. He looks the same when he is happy as he does when he's annoyed. (in other words he is not an emotional roller coaster like me! :) But I have to say, when I suggested in April that he go visit Vietnam in December he visibly lit up! (like a kid on Christmas morning before they realize that not every gift under the tree is for them) Because of the cost of the trip I had suggested that he just take Emily this time around and he agreed they would go. I tried my very best to show only excitment for him and not my dissappointment at being left behind but, allong with being an emotional roller coaster, I am also an open book! So as I was listenning to him tell Emily all about the amazing places he would take her to and the people he couldn't wait for her to meet, I kept reminding them that I expected them to document everything with photos and a journal. I explained (with happy for them tears in my eyes) that I would need a full report not only about what they saw but how they FELT about what they saw. This is pretty much when Phil decided that he would rather go into debt bringing me along than have to try to report his feelings to my satisfaction. (works for me!) And so it was agreed that this trip had to be a family adventure that all 4 of us would experience together! Yipeeee!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

My turn to test...

Hello everyone! ( assuming anyone is reading this)
As Phil mentioned we are a mere 4 weeks away from leaving for our family adventure to Vietnam! But who's counting? It will take at least 25 hours (Gasp!) to get there if none of the three flights are delayed. (ha! We're flying united -_-) We leave from Toronto early on December 8th and fly to Chicago. From there we hop over the pond (my first time) to Hong Kong and then to Ho Chi Minh City In Southern Vietnam which Phil still refers to as Saigon. When Phil left Vietnam just over 32 years ago he left on an old barge with his parents, 5 brothers and approximately 1500 other people packed in like sardines. His two older sisters stayed behind. They were married already and settled. It was 1979. The communist government was encouraging anyone with Chinese decent to leave the country. As it turns out Great-Grandpa Tieu was chinese so Phil's parents decided to pack up their six healthy boys before they could be scooped up as soldiers and take their chances with the open seas. (i know, i too was shocked that he hadn't traveled all this way just to find me) Anyway, to make a long story short (extended version to come), they left on a barge, barge hit a reef and was damaged so they were stranded on a beach for 20 some odd days where they ate nothing but sweet potatoes, barge was fixed then beeched in Hong Kong. They were herded into a camp where they stayed for 3 months until representatives from Canada came along to offer a home in Ottawa to 4000 Vietnamese refugees. Lucky for me, Phil's family was among them. So, if you were doing the math, it took them approximately 4 months to get here. Thank god it will only take us 25 hours in the comfort of airports and airplanes, not to mention the access to a varried diet......not sure it will taste better than the poatoes but there will definitely be more variety. And hey, I'm travelling light.....only 2 kids instead of 6. Am i making you dizzy yet with the positive spin I am puting on the whole travel thing? Ahh, it's all part of the adventure. Bring it on!


Another Test Post

Today is the eve of the 4 week countdown. I am trying to post another page to try out all the buttons on this blog. Maybe I will attach a photo for good measure. It's one of my favourite art pieces.

It's November 9th and the weatherman is calling for a summer like forecast. High today will be 17 degrees meanwhile it's 30 degrees in Saigon. We can't wait to pick up some of this heat in December. It won't be 30 degrees in Saigon in December but I am sure it will be much warmer than here in Ottawa. If we are lucky it won't snow before we leave!

Lots going on from now to then. The packing, photocopy of paperwork, medical prepareness, money, schedule, the list goes on. We also have to get the house in order while we are gone. I also need to contact Chi 2 to go over the itinerary. I know she is really busy this week with her son's wedding on Saturday November 12. I found an excellent online travel agent. It's called Tun Travel @ tuntravel.com. So far this the cheapest site for hotels.


That's it for today.

Sunday, 6 November 2011