Hanoi – Wednesday – part 27

_DSC0366Wednesday 19 November 2014

I’ve spent a very quiet day today, working on this blog (I lost a draft at one stage and wasted time retrieving it). But mainly I’m still feeling very washed out. I’m sleeping poorly – due to my chest, still wheezing and crackling. My cousin said he’s had his infection for six weeks so far.

There’s a set of scales in the room and if they’re to be believed, I’ve lost more than 10Kg. It wouldn’t be surprising, I’m eating less, missing meals and walking more. My hands and arms seem noticeably scrawnier. I know, it’s hard to believe, and I’m having trouble myself.

I’m also working on my ProShow production. I know you don’t want to watch my stuff, but you’ll be missing something. It looks magnificent. I’m just inserting hi-def video clips of the Shanghai Mag-Lev train at the moment. I shot pieces up to 1 min long but I have to chop them up into 5-10 sec segments, only retaining the steady and relevant bits. It’s slow painstaking work. I have hundreds of clips of this trip along with hundreds of still images. All have to be selected, worked over and resized.

_DSC0357One thing I don’t like about Hanoi is the bloody car horns! They blow their horns for any reason at all, loudly, repeatedly, often. It drives me nuts. The noise is virtually constant. They’re loud, too, with specials, obviously tricked up to be trendy. I won’t miss that. There’s a bloody car alarm going off and it’s been going for half an hour! I’ve had to close the window but I can still hear it.

As well there’s an intermittent loudspeaker voice announcement. What about? I have no idea. I saw its source yesterday, it’s a big horn speaker near the lake. And there’s a woman singer faintly repeating a phrase over and over in the distance, every 10 seconds or so. That get’s a bit wearing. It’s not there all the time.

But I do hear roosters crowing. That’s nice, I haven’t heard those in years. And the street vendors’ ting ting ting on their bottle or bell. I know all this because the window’s open. It’s not warm enough to have the air-con running and I like the fresh air.

Dinner now, and TV. They have satellite or cable in the room with 55 channels! Most are in Vietnamese, of course, but there’s an English movie channel and CNN. I have a good book as well.


Hanoi, still – part 26

_DSC0353Tuesday 18 November 2014

I’m a bit tempted to think, “Phew, only 12 days to go”, but I know it’s only the illness talking. Luckily I get enormous enjoyment out of doing this computer work so I don’t mind being a bit confined.

I did go out walking yesterday for nearly an hour, reaching the Hoan Kiem Lake. It’s not far. It’s quite picturesque – it’s a pity I couldn’t do it justice.



I stopped at a lakeside restaurant for lunch and ordered a chicken sandwich. I was surprised to receive a huge triple decker with a fried egg, salad and cheese in the middle, side salad and chips (to which I added salt). It was a full meal. Very nice, although their bread tends to be too white and too sweet for me. Beautiful lime juice, total 120,000 dong or $6.54. Can’t complain about that. (The exchange rate is A$1 = D18,365 approx. There are no coins and the smallest note is 1,000 dong or 5.5c.)


Tyred out before lunch

Then at 6pm it was time for dinner with my cousin who is stationed here. He lives in an obviously better area in a very fine colonial era house with a police guard at the front. I got out of the taxi and approached the gates, expecting to find an intercom. But the guard was having none of me. I couldn’t understand what he was saying but he wouldn’t announce me. I gathered he wanted ID but my passport is in the hotel safe. I pulled out my WA Driver’s Licence. He peered at it in the semi dark and it seemed to pass the test, so he pressed the buzzer and seconds later my cousin was there to let me in.

The first thing I noticed was a massive pair of QUAD electrostatic loudspeakers with matching QUAD amp and CD player. Wow. These are legendary. You can buy stuff like that here, but you wouldn’t find anything even close in Perth.

My cousin was suffering just like me from a chest infection so we walked only 200m to a nearby Italian restaurant where he knows the owner. Neither of us had a big appetite so it was antipasto with Italian cheese and a large mixed aperitif drink that kicked like a horse. It was a little bitter for my taste, but an experience.

Then spaghetti marinara cooked in a kind of pastry crust, full of small clams and prawns. Delicious.

Finally zabaglione – warm, specially made. I tried a bit – too sweet for me but nice. With a couple of hours of good conversation it was a good night. Thanks mate.

Hanoi again – part 25

_DSC0351Monday 17 November 2014

The hotel made the appointment for me at the Family Medical Practice Hanoi at 11am as requested, called the taxi for me and instructed the driver. No problems.

When I got there I found you have to go up two steep flights of stairs and feeling the way I did, that was hard, but I got there. I had to wait nearly 3/4 hr (just like at home /:( but eventually I got in to see Dr Brian. He’s an Irishman. I described how low I am feeling, weak and washed out. After some talk, I had blood taken (expertly! first go) and another 30 min wait for the results. They have their own lab in the building.

He called me in again – result – chest infection, different antiobiotic to the one I’m taking, and too low sodium level. That was a surprise. I need to eat more salt, add salt to my food. Wow. BP was 137/60, by the way. Pretty good, I reckon.

He prescribed several medications for me, all dispensed from the in-house pharmacy, all looking absolutely kosher in proper packaging, carefully labelled.

All this cost a fair bit – his fee was $60, the lab tests cost $110 and the meds added $90 for a total of US$238. Lucky they took Visa.


See what I mean? This is typical of the streets around here, but in other areas it’s much more open and normal.

So back to the hotel, getting quite an interesting tour from the taxi on the way. This is a great place, a wide range from total chaos, like in the street outside my room, to a Rolls Royce showroom! Huge classy hotels to ultra cheap but nice looking hotels. Sophisticated Italian dining to hawker food. Classy clothes shops to jam packed little crevices. I love it.

And I’m even a little cold. It’s cool and dry, perfect weather.

We ate around the corner with beers at $1.80 for 500ml and a gin and tonic for $4. Jan’s off to Ha Long Bay tomorrow. I can’t go due to my illness but also because I need mains power for my CPAP machine to sleep. Can’t do, I’m afraid.