Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Stranded again!

We thought Monday was going to be pretty uneventful, get to the bus station before 10am, hop on the bus to Syracuse, jump in the truck and be home by 7pm so Em would have time to finish her project due the next day. Unfortunately though, it didn't quite work out that way. When we got to the station there was a huge line-up. They filled a few busses and at the couple just before us, they said they were all full and we would have to wait until 11:45. Crap. Being second in line now we didn't want to risk losing our place so we stood there for another hour and forty-five minutes. At one point Phil wandered off in search of food and guy came along and told us we'd have to move to another gate! So much for being second in line. Crap. The people at the back of the line were closer to the other gate so we became last in line. It didn't help that I had to keep an eye out for Phil so he would no where we were. It was a wee bit chaotic but in the end we made it on the bus. We didn't get very far though before we were stopped in snail paced traffic. The bus driver tried to make up time by taking an alternate route but it turned out to be worse. That put us behind close to an hour. We were glad we were on the bus comfortably relaxed and not in our own vehicle feeling the frustration of the roads. Traffic is so much less stressful when you can close your eyes and sleep through it! Anyway, we finally got moving and with only 2 miles to the station in Syracuse the engine blew and the bus pulled to a stop at the side of the highway. While many of the other passengers expressed their frustration and concern (with being stranded safely inside the cozy bus on the side of the highway) and frantically made calls to friends and family to come and rescue them from this horrible nightmare, the four of us were laughing! Emily said "What is the problem? It's not like we're on the side of a cliff on a mountain 2 hours from civilization with a cockroach infested bus and rain pouring down!" hahahaha I have a feeling we learned a lot more than we realized on our trip to Vietnam!

We got back home shortly after 10pm and Emily finished her project by midnight. I know this because I stayed up to keep her up I mean slumped over on the sofa snoring until she tapped me on the head and told me she was done. Hey, I do want I can.......sometimes it isn't much!

Can't wait for the next adventure!


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Well this was our last full day in New York so we made the best of it. First thing on our list was to find Valerie Goneau's special spot in Central Park. For those who don't know, Valerie is the very special niece of my friends, Anne and Jacques, and founder of Valerie's Flutter Foundation. She suffered from a very rare cancer and passed away last year. She loved to travel so her ashes were placed in a few places and one of them was in central park, New York. We were given some directions on where to find the exact spot and were told there was a purple ribbon attached to a tree near by so we pretended it was our easter hunt. We think we found the spot but could not find the purple ribbon to confirm it. Maybe the birds took it. I wished I would have brought a new ribbon to place there but unfortunatly I didn't think of that until I was there. Timing is everything isn't it and my best ideas rarely come at the best time.

After Central Park we checked out the Plaza Hotel and wandered over to the Apple store. C.r.a.z.y.!
Next door was the FAO Schwarz toy store. Definition of cruelty: let's go in to the biggest toy store you've ever seen kids, but just to look around. Not buy anything! And since karma is a b*{%£ I got the bleep scared out of me when I thought I lost Malcolm. In the end everything worked out fine. The kids got to try out the giant floor piano and my heart beat went back to normal eventually. From there we went to Madisson Park to have lunch at the Shake Shack. The burgers were worth the very, very long wait. With full bellies we hopped a yellow cab to take us to the Staten Island Ferry so we could enjoy the free ride past the Statue of Liberty. She was thrilled to see us, I could tell! After that it was back to Canal street because Em and I NEEDED new sunglasses and Malcolm apparently NEEDED a New York themed snow globe! Back to the hotel for a swim and it's onward home in the morning. And for anyone who is wondering, Mal's foot started to feel much better tonight, now that the trip is over. I must say though that considering all the walking we did, he was great!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Tieu's Take Manhattan

Happy Easter weekend everyone! (assuming anyone is reading this) I'm not sure which I am more excited about; travelling or blogging. Without the travel I have nothing to blog about and without the blog well, I could still travel ...........I guess it's like a peanut butter and banana sandwich; each are good alone but together they are just so much mor enjoyable! In my opinion anyway.

So, as Phil already mentioned, we are in New York City! We thought we left Vietnam without catching any illnesses but it would appear we cought the travel bug. Phil spent many hours on his computer in the basement working his side job and decided to reward us all with a little getaway. I didn't expect to take another vacation so soon but hey, it's not like I'm going to say no! Today was lots of fun. We are doing this trip on a tight budget so Phil booked a very comfortable hotel in Queens instead of Manhattan. It's way cheaper! And instead of taking an expensive cab ride we bought passes for the city bus and subway. These little details are what turn a holiday into an adventure! After all the modes of transportation we took in Vietnam we figured we could do anything! Turns out it's a lot of fun and Phil is a pro at finding his way around. So you are probably wondering what we did today........well once we got off the subway at Grand Central Station it took about five minutes for Malcolm to get a sore foot. Not to worry though, we've got him all figured out. Phil offered to make our first stop be the Lego Store if he could find the strength to go on. Miraculously he did! He had to hop on one foot occasionaly but he didn't complain.....much. We used the M&M store and Hershy Factory as future bribes. So after making a little purchase we wandered by the Rockerfeller Centre, checked out the skating rink and headed toward Time Square. We went right away to the Broadway ticket booth to take advantage of the same day ticket sales of 40% off. After what seemed like forever, Emily finaly decided on How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying starring Nick Jonas of The Jonas Brothers. We bought our tickets then Em spotted the Forever 21 store. I know, we just got one in Ottawa but as Em put it, this one is 4 massive floors!! How could she resist! At 2pm she and I went to see the Broadway show while Phil and Mal went to see the USS Intrepid. It''s a retired air craft carrier that was used in the Vietnam war and is now stationed in New York as a museum. They loved it and get this, as they lined up to pay for their tickets some guy comes up to them and gives Phil a pass he wasn't going to use. Not only did they get in for free but they were told to enter ahead of the line-up. Even Phil couldn't have planned that sweet of a deal! We met up again in Time Square at 5:00 then took the subway to Canal St (China Town) for supper and a little purse shopping. So many purses, so little time and money. For those of you who don't know this about me, I have a thing for purses! I showed great restraint though. Just 1 and a half purses for me. The half is because I bought one very practical one and the other is a cute clutch type which Emily discovered goes very well with the dress she bought at Forever 21. I now have to share it. It's a mom sacrifice! (Em loves when I use that line. lol) We finaly returned to the hotel around 8pm and all went to the pool. Emily had offered to stay with Mal at the hotel so Phil and I could go out on a date but we were pretty tired so we didn't take her up on it. Tomorrow Central Park! Good night!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Big Apple

Hi again.
I am happy to blog this one from the Big Apple aka Manhattan or NYC or City Never Sleeps or Times Square .....
We arrived this afternoon at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It's busy as I thought it would be, maybe it's busier today because of the Easter Long Weekend. Took Emily to downtown in search for One Direction as she learned the group happens to be in NY and will appear on SNL. We got down to the NBC Studio but OD was no where to be found. Oh well we'll have to catch them on SNL show. What a city ... Pitbull was in the house at RCMH, J Z was at 4040. Just to name a few. Em & I picked up supper at the famous The Halal Guys on 6th & 53rd - chicken platter. Em liked their BBQ sauce on the rice. We also found 2 Timmys just around SQ area. Sat on the Red Stairs and watched the action and lights. It was fun. Mal and Carol stayed back at the hotel and went for a swim. The weather was perfect today. We have a full day planned for tomorrow. Later.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lost and found

Yahoooo! Phil got a call from Continental and guess what? They found Malcolm's bag!!!!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Help! 3 loads done and I'm still drowning in laundry ........

Home at last!

Well we're back!!! Home feels like a palace right now, a warm (thanks Jean), bug free, clean (it's all relative) palace. Phil drove straight through from Toronto because as soon as I sat in the truck I fell asleep. I dreamed that I took a turn to drive so that he could have a sleep but that didn't help him very much. He didn't complain though so I assume he was happy to be reunited with his MDX. There was no snow when I dozed off in Toronto so it seemed very strange when I opened my eyes in our driveway and saw snow all around! Aside from the 3 hour flight delay at Newark the only mishap was that Mal left his bag on the plane. Every other flight I checked and rechecked and counted all the carry-ons and personal belongings to be sure we had everything and on the last flight we were so tired (it was night time in Vietnam) and relieved to be on the ground that I did a quick scan and got out of there. It wasn't until we were through the security checks that Malcolm asked where his bag that was usually over his shoulder was. WHAT?! You don'thave it? It was just a few cheap toys right? Ah....and the whole stack of movies we bought on our last day for .50 each that were packed in a carry-on but when the bag was searched at the check point in Newark Malcolm saw it and put it in his bag (crap) .......and his iPod that was usually kept in our bag that was put in his during the 15 hour flight and not returned to us (double crap).....and Phil's nephew's wedding video that was in with the other DVD's, we were supposed to deliver to Phil's parents so they could see the smiling faces of their friends and relatives (crap, crap, crap, crap) Anyway, my fault, I should have looked more closely. We did try everything to get it back but with no luck. Phil tried to be like a salmon swimming up river to get back to the plane but one you are through those security check-points they seal up tighter than Fort Knox. There was no going back! We ran around everywhere at the recommendation of the staff but couldn't get any useful help from anyone. We went back this morning before leaving Toronto and after a thorough check (hmmm) it is definitly not in Toronto so we hhave to try Newark since that is where the plane flew back to last night. I'm thinking we won't be getting it back. Unless.....anyone know anyone coming back from holiday via the Newark airport? If so let me know and I'll get you the info to check lost and found.
Anyway, time to start the laundry's good to be back!

We're back

We made it back to Canadian soil last night at 9:30pm Pearson International. Flying United / Continental Airlines wasn't bad at all until we had to deal with domestic connections. It was bad ... 3 hour wait at Newark EWR. We survived the 15 hour flight from Hong Kong HKG to Newark on the Boeing 777 aircraft. We preferred this type of equipment better then the jumbo jet 747. The 777 offers more personal amenities like personal tv screen with a wide range of movies and programs. The kids really enjoyed their flight which made the parents happy.

It's freezing here! Eventhough it was only +2 degrees in TO last night, it was cold for us coming a climate of 32degrees 24 hours before that. Anyways we're glad tobe home. We are experiencing a bit of jetlag from the time change. We are hoping to hit the road around 10 this morning.

Have a good Friday everyone.


Ps. Enjoy your trip Ann & Howard!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Last blog from Vietnam! :(

Well my friends this will be our last write up from the other side of the planet. As much as we are ready to come home we are going to miss all that VN has to offer. Some good, some bad, and some ugly experiences that we endured in this trip. All and all it was an amazing trip of a lifetime. There is so much that i want to tell you but there isn't room in this blog and also, I don't have the vocabulary to do so.... I'll show you in pictures instead when i return.

As humid as Saigon is this time of year, in 24 hours from now we will be facing the other extreme in freezing mode. Yuck!


As much as I am missing the comforts of home, I am getting very sad to be leaving. It's not like we can return any time soon. It was everything we were hoping for in a family adventure and then some! Phil did an awesome job of planning our our trips within the trip so that we were able to see and experience many different places and things in such a short time. And getting to know the family here made it that much more special. When I was out picking up items for Malcolm's birthday party I had the biggest smile on my face as I was ridding on the back of the vespa behind Que holding a birthday cake on one lap and several other bags hanging off my arms managing not to drop anything (no trunk to toss things into) i felt like a local!
If there is one thing I learned from being here that I want to remember when I get back into the rut of daily routine it is to never take the precious things in life for granted like family and friends, a job I enjoy that does not involve hard manual labour out in the elements and of course last but certainly not least, the comfort of the modern toilet! See you all on the flip side!.......and thanks for keeping me company during the trip.......


This was the best trip I have ever taken.. Not to mention the only one to this scale! There are soo many things i want to say but they're all crammed in my head so i'll have to tell you in person! During the "ugly experiences" as Dad had mentionned, all i could think about was to go home. Now I don't want to leave! It brings tears to my eyes to think that we won't be back here for decades, but i know i will return sometime before im 30! New goal! Lol

Until we meet again,

I had a great birthday party in Vietnam! I loved playing with the puppies at Co Hai's house and it was FUN riding the elephant! I got to feed it!

Correction: looks like we'll get a little more sleep than I thought. Our plane doesn't leave at 3am, that is when we have to be at the airport. Our plane leaves at 6 am. So much better! -_-

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

We left Hoa Long this morning at 10 am and it was an emotional goodbye....okay I was the only one crying but what's new! Actually, Cam cried too and Em broke down as soon as she got in the van. Phil and his sister hugged for a while and he told me later in the van that he was telling her this is the second time he says goodbye for the last time (okay, I'll admit it...the tears are running down my cheeks again) At least now we have skype, it's not so bad right?
Anyway, our last night at Chi Hai's was very special. We celebrated Malcolm's 8th birthday with a house full of family. There were cake and balloons and gifts and we introduced them to one of my family traditions known as "The Card Game" . It's the game where you pass around a deck of cards and then you call out one card at a time from another deck and when your card is called you take a gift from a pile of wrapped surprizes until there are none left and then you steal from others who have a gift until there are no cards left. If you have a gift in your possesion at the end, it is yours to keep. It didn't take long for them to get into the spirit of the game and a good time was had by all.
We are currently sitting in a hotel room in Saigon with our stuffed suitcases. We'll head out for one last walk around town and then have our last supper at a nice restaurant Phil and I ate at a few weeks ago. We board the plane for Hong Kong at 3 am so I guess we'll have to be at the airport around midnite. Ugh! Good thing the kids packed their snuggies, it's going to be a long night! The fun thing is, because of the time change, we leave here on Thursday and arrive in Toronto on Thursday. See you soon!

Btw Anne, Emily thinks your Chinese exchange student should be given a Snuggie blanket. Best thing ever!

Monday, 2 January 2012

One more thing.....Em and I are diggin' the Vespas! We want one! I was a little nervous when they asked Phil to drive the motorbake since he's never done it but he was a natural!
Hi everyone! I would just like to add a little something about the sleeper bus......if you ever have an opportunity to try one I recommend you do, however, may I recommend you take a bottom bunk. We were all assigned a top bunk and there is a lot more motion on the top. Plus every, what felt like few minutes, I thought I was in a bad dream being questioned under the interrogation lights with some sargeant barking out questions I didn't understand. Panic would start to set in and then I would realize that it was just the overhead lights right above my eyes (hence the recommendation for the bottom bunk) and the bus attendant calling out the stops. The kids, not being responsible for getting off the bus at the right place were able to ignore all the interruptions and sleep right through. Good for them! :)
Today we celebrate Mal's 8th birthday a day early with cake and presents and I work my final packing magic. Part of me is excited to get home but then I look around and I know I will miss the warmth, the fruit, the family, the freedom that being on vacation allows.....and I dread the inevitable jet lag that I may still feel when I get back to work next week.......

January 2

Well we made it safe and sound to our home base early this morning. In fact we arrived much earlier then expected. The bus ride from Nha Trang was great but shall we say, uneventful! We were looking forward to this new bus style with the lay-down beds. Each person had a reclining seat that can turn into a bed. The kids enjoyed the ride completely as they settled right to sleep shortly after we left the hotel in Nha Trang. It made several stops along the way especially at Mui Ne and Phan Thiet at around 2:00am. It seemed that people (tourists) travel at any time to and from anywhere in the country. We were scheduled to arrive in Saigon around 7:00am but we got off at Long Khanh at 5:00am and took another bus to Hoa Long - 1 hour away. We got to sister's house just past 6:00am. We woke her up! Oops. She didn't expect to see us until 11:00am. Carol and I didn't get much sleep on the bus as we had hoped due to the stop-and-go so we just crashed when we got to sister's. But when we got up around 11:00am Chi Thu and her family were there to visit us so we greeted them over lunch. In the afternoon we decided to visit sister's farm which is not far from her house. I got to ride the motobike for the first time. It was awesome and easy. I used Bo's motobike and followed Cam with Emily, Que with Carol and sister had Mal. It was a blast.

We liked the bike ride so much that we decided to go to town to pick up some last minute shopping for Mal's birthday party tomorrow night. Carol tagged along with Que and I went with Cam to Ba Ria's market for some food and presents. We got back home just before 7pm.

ps. just wanted to send out a birthday wish to Tyler - Happy Birthday Tyler!


Sunday, 1 January 2012

We had another wonderful day at Vinpearl Land and spent most of the afternoon on the beautiful beach. We had a little surprise when we got there though, with the new year came a new price so we had to pay $20 dollars for the adult ticket instead of $16. Still a great deal! Now we are sitting at the hotel waiting for the bus company to pick us up. We are taking the sleeper bus which has two levels of single seats that recline into "beds". (this ought to be interesting) we decided that since it was a 9 hour trip it would be best to travel at night and not waste a day travelling. Also, it may help my nerves to be asleep and unable to see the dangers lurking outside on the winding roads. I just hope the bus doesn't break down this time!
Anyway, wish us luck!