Finally got off of the couch and rode my bike 30km tonight. I have been so slack on the exercise, and have had two sets of friends in town so eating a ton and drinking a lot of beer. Felt good to get moving – although I didn’t push myself very hard. It started raining on my way back and I got about 80% soaked before I made it home. The rain was actually nice and cooling though.
Today was Independence Day here so I didn’t go to work. Backed out of the house deal, went to coffee with Thao to talk about where we want to try to live, played some Xbox, met some friends for lunch, played some Xbox, went and rode my bike, came home and ate a great dinner that Thao cooked, played some Xbox. Then Thao and I played two games of chess. I’m whipping up on her pretty good at this point, but I can tell she’s starting to get it and starting to think more. She really likes it, and I’m glad about that.
I study Vietnamese tomorrow morning at 8:30am, and other than that have no plans for the day. I need to try to do some exercise of some sort. I’m a little over a month out from my trip to Tibet and I think I need to exercise a lot more between now and then because it will help me acclimate to the client better.
Off to play some Xbox. (I don’t know what’s happened to me – I barely played it for months but lately I’ve been playing Call of Duty 2 and 4 online and I’m like addicted to it.)
This morning Thao and I went and looked at the new house I mentioned yesterday. Thao didn’t like the landlord – he was very stingy and wouldn’t agree to do anything that she asked him to do – like buy a gas stove (about $60) for the kitchen, put in an additional air conditioner, etc. He also insisted on a higher exchange rate than the current bank rate, meaning that the rent would have gone up from $400 to $420 a month – which is no big deal but is just kind of indicative of his approach. It’s hard for me to get a feel for stuff like that since my Vietnamese is so bad, but after she explained it all to me, I agreed that we should not rent that place. I lose my $150 deposit, but I’d rather lose that money than be locked into a yearlong lease with an uncooperative landlord. Oh well, I’m sure we can find something equally good or better. I’ll leave it to Thao to do the negotiating from this point forward!
Is there anything in the world happier than a freshly-bathed dog? You be the judge:
That’s Spartacus, my friends Aaron and Mirjam’s dog. Hilarious! Thanks guys! You made Thao and me laugh!
Wow, that was fast. My current lease expires on May 31st, and Thao and I have been thinking about moving in together after that. We need a bigger place if we’re going to live together. Anyway, this morning my Vietnamese teacher co Phuc told me that one of her students had looked at a house in my neighborhood that she really liked but had decided not to rent because it was too large for just one person. After class, co Phuc and I went and met the landlord at the house to check it out.
It’s about two blocks from my current apartment, and is about 5 times larger. It’s two floors of a house and is completely separate from the other floors of the house. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large living room area downstairs and a completely separate kitchen. Recently repainted so it looks nice. And here’s the best part: $400 a month, which is a steal for that location and is also $30 cheaper than the $430 a month I was paying for my tiny apartment. I put down the deposit to rent it without Thao even having seen it yet, and we will sign the contract tomorrow.
It’s not as fully equipped as my current apartment – comes with some but not all furniture and we will need to buy a stove and possibly a clothes washer and dryer if we decide they’re necessary (currently we have a washer but not a dryer). And I think we’ll fix it up a bit such as by buying some nice curtains, etc. But I’m very excited about living there. I think it’s a great size for the two of us and I feel lucky to get it for such a good price.
The only potential problem with it is we don’t have an enclosed downstairs area to lock our motorbikes up in. So we’ll have to negotiate with the security guards at some business or other apartment complex on our block to let us keep our bikes there. But that will be very cheap – certainly cheaper than the $30 difference in rent.
We’ll be moving in this weekend – and that means that for the month of May we’ll have two apartments a couple of block from each other. IF ANYONE WANTS TO COME VISIT VIETNAM IN MAY, YOU CAN STAY IN OUR APARTMENT FOR FREE!!! Just let me know when you’re coming!
My five-day holiday starts in about 20 minutes. Woo-hoo!
That’s the awesome chocolate cake Thao bought me for my birthday back on the 17th. It was seriously the best cake I’ve ever tasted – chocolate cake with a layer of chocolate mousse and covered in chocolate frosting. I literally ate the whole thing – by myself – in 3 days. Is it bad to eat chocolate cake for breakfast?
My nephew, Big O, is running in a fun run and I am sponsoring him to the tune of $1 per lap. There is a prize for the kid who gets a sponsorship from the most distant location – we figure O has this one locked up! I printed up a fake check so he has some “proof” that he got a pledge from HCMC, Vietnam. Run O, run!
[O's eighth birthday is coming up in a few days as well. Hard to believe he will be eight already!]
This was the first time Thao had ever been to a beach with big waves. We borrowed a life preserver for her from the jetski company and she went at it in the surf while the old man rested:
She really enjoyed herself.
Last week a former colleague of mine from Atlanta was in town with his two sons, and they had the chance to visit a coffee factory near Saigon and invited me along. It was a big factory – turned out to be the largest privately-owned coffee exporter in Vietnam, and the second largest coffee exporter in Vietnam. Here are a few photos:
In the “cupping” (tasting) room:
If it isn’t clear what happens at the end, I sneak up behind Thao and push her down in the surf. Was almost a bad move because as she was going down she knocked the camera out of my hand and I barely caught it in one hand before it hit the water.
Thao and I in front of our hotel, the Hoi An Pacific, which was very nice and had a great pool:
Chillin’ at a wine bar in downtown Hoi An:
Thao and her bike, waiting out the rain under a tarp:
The jetskis – one of which we rented:
Thao on the beach:
Looking out for approaching waves:
Continuing to look out for approaching waves while I proudly show off my six chins:
“Yes! I am an American!”
Getting my Jackie-O on:
Thao buys some peanuts:
We had a great trip!