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Shopping

It is no exaggeration to say that I can spend all morning shopping here in Hanoi. Pause a moment while I wait for friends and family to process what I just said. Karen shopping? It will seem unlikely I know but ….

I haven’t yet found a shop that sells everything that I want for a meal so I end up going from shop to shop buying meat here, vegetables there, condiments from a third and bread from – well, the bakery of course! Things aren’t so different here.

Or at least that’s what happened before the fabulous Chi took over the running of our household. Now, at least some of the traipsing around can be alleviated by telling her in advance what I need and waiting for her to arrive for work, happy, smiling and bearing gifts! Well, fruit, veg and/or meat to be accurate but it feels like a gift because the quality and price are far superior to anything that I can manage to buy and I’ve had to make so little effort myself.  When I complimented her yesterday on the quality of the Dragon Fruit she’d bought me she replied, with a totally straight face: “I am a Vietnamese woman. I know how to shop”.  Well quite a few of my friends know how to shop Chi but trust me, they couldn’t buy fruit at the absolute peak of perfection quite like you do!

In the UK I would often trek around one of the big supermarkets, aisle after aisle searching for a product that eluded me only to ask an assistant who pointed to the very shelf where I was standing (who does decide where all those products go by the way?).  Out here my inability to find items is greatly simplified by the clever Vietnamese grouping all their shops by item, especially in the Old Quarter.   Therefore if you need paper you simply go to Paper Street, if you want bamboo furniture head over to Bamboo Corner.  However, even this cunning strategy falls down, from my perspective, when it comes to two particular items:  nappy sacks and tea towels.  I absolutely can’t find them anywhere but I love the idea of Nappy Sack Street so am not going to give up.  Without wishing to further worry my family with talk of all things baby related I was thrilled to find, after only an hour’s searching, Paddling Pool Lane.  The dog (nappy sacks are the perfect receptacle for taking out on dog walks) is in danger of over-heating out here and absolutely refuses to go near water unless it’s a muddy puddle or Westlake where the only steps in and out are about a kilometre from the house and it’s too hot to walk there.  Hence the need for a paddling pool!  Tea towels?  I’ve no doubt I’ll find them when I least expect to and no longer want them.  Until then, I’ll make do with the one that I packed (accidentally I admit!) and await my furniture shipment from the UK.

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Paperwork

Well, we’re on Plan C regarding furniture shipment versus storage but at least we’re making progress (baby steps are still progress right?!).

There’s something so intimidating about official documents to my mind.  We’ve just got back our ACRO certificates of good conduct from the Police and, despite both being certified as 100% in the clear, we look like criminals on the photos and the document looks exactly as it would if we had convictions as long as your arm.  Couldn’t they put ‘good’ certificates on different coloured paper or would that be discrimination?  Okay, just a joke 🙂

We’ve got our visas sorted and were just about to send a load of paperwork off to be officially translated by an approved translation agency when it appears that can all be done in Vietnam provided it’s been notarised here, certified by the F&C Office and the Vietnamese Embassy in London.  Seriously?  I can’t help thinking that my husband’s firm is ‘doing things by the book’ but have a sneaky suspicion that 80% of people doing the same move wouldn’t be ticking quite so many of the boxes!  Ah well, we’re keeping a whole army of officials in business I guess!

The dog next – I need to sit my dog courier (okay, stepson!) down tomorrow and explain exactly what he’ll be required to do (as best as I can having never actually done it myself), including possibly needing some jabs himself.  Then I’m ready to get his visa and both their flights booked.

Interestingly, we were due to book our flights last week end and didn’t get around to it.  Not a great sign eh!!  I think  actually booking flights feels a little bit too real but we’re going to need to at some point given that everything else will be booked and sorted.  It would be  a shame to miss all the fun by not having plane tickets!

Procrastinating

Blimey, who’d have thought it was so complicated trying to decide what to do with various items of furniture and personal possessions?  First of all we decided (perhaps being a little cowardly) that we’d just ship most of it out to Hanoi and decide what to bring back when the time comes.  Then, after seeking advice from friends and people in the know, we decided to store stuff that we thought we’d definitely want back here at the end of our Vietnamese adventure.  And now …?

Well, the cost of storing it seems ridiculous and most of it is far too good to just give away but the second hand value of household things and furniture is almost zero and I can’t really be bothered trying to sell items bit by bit – surely life’s too short to go down that road?    I’m exhausted just thinking about it – mind you I am full of a cold and dosed up with Beechams Cold and Flu Remedy so that probably isn’t helping on the ‘clarity of thought’ front!

Think we’re going to end up shipping it out there and then deciding what to do when the time comes to return home – i.e. procrastinating 🙂

One down Eleven to Go

Yippee, we’ve agreed what we’re doing with all the items in one room of the house.  Okay, we haven’t done anything with them yet and I did pick the easiest room – the sitting room.  But, don’t knock it, for a hoarder this is amazing progress with 6 months still to go before we move!

I’ve devised a Ship, Store, Sell checklist; itemised everything in the room and then have a quickfire session where hubby gets to say what happens to each item.  Any that I don’t agree with we discuss before moving onto the next item.  I think this is called teamwork!

I haven’t quite worked out a prize system yet but really feel that something should be on offer to make a painful process a little more enticing! (Prize for me that is, Kevin (did I mention his name before – well, he’s the hubby!) isn’t sentimental about most ‘stuff’ and would happily get rid of 90% of it).

Ship and Store are pretty self explanatory but Sell actually means I need to give some thought to anyone who might want the item among our friends and family.  If not, whether it genuinely is worth selling, if it would better suit www.freecycle.org , the charity shop, local community furniture project, recycling or the dump.

Time for coffee and cake to give me the energy to tackle – the dining room 🙂