So, I still don't have a camera. I'm not much closer to having one either, although I do have 'access' to a webcam so I suppose I could attempt to get stills and post myspace webwhore photos of myself, but I don't think that would show my dear readers much about Hanoi, or about anything at all.
I've almost been in Hanoi one month, and I finally got *properly* rid of my kindergarten job. In the first week, I got two part-time jobs: one at a small private kindergarten and one at a large language school. I thought I would prefer the small, private kindergarten. I was wrong. Teaching kindergarten children who don't speak my language is maybe the single most terrifying thing I have done + I love teaching the (mostly) teenagers at the language school corporation with no personality. So, I quit the kindergarten before things got messy and am going full-time at Language Link. Yay!
My living quarters: on the 5th floor of a narrow little Guest House in an alleyway in the Old Quarter. When I say Old Quarter, you are probably imagining some romantic Asia of old - and for once, this is actually what it's like. It's ridiculous, and crazy and fantastic. There are noodle stands everywhere, fruit stalls, ladies in those 'rice field hats' carrying baskets of things for sale, people fixing motorbikes and - this is my most favourite thing about Hanoi - all the old streets have a certain thing they sell on that street. I really love Tin Street, which has a delightful range of cake tins and cookie cutters. Also of note is Rum and Paintings Street, which - while lacking in the Rum department (times HAVE changed) - has the most amazing range of art shops, boutique fashion stores and shops full of the most beautiful home ware I have ever seen (vases, bedding, cushions, sheets, etc). I have become an interior decorating enthusiast overnight.
My room has unpolished wooden board floors, a doorway leading to a little 'balcony' (it's not nice) and most importantly for me - digital television. The Guest House is run by the nicest family in history, and my bestie there (she's my age) is called Lee, has a Californian boyfriend and is hilarious, loud, honest and nothing like any other Vietnamese person I have met. The mother is called Ha, is so beautiful it freaks me out and she dresses like she's going out for a 5 star dinner every day. The father seems to have a somewhat low opinion of me since I always come home after 11pm - just after! and he's still awake - but then does really warm things out of the blue, so I think that's just his way. They have a mother and daughter Chihuahua and a white, fluffy deaf cat they have to keep on a leash. The chihuahua's are both insane, but I'm growing an unexpected fondness for them - probably on account of the absolute ridiculousness they bring out in Ha and her husband.
The other long-termer staying at the Guest House (apart from David, Lee's boyfriend) is Gee, a Vietnamese, American, Dutch portrait photographer. Gee seems to have taken me under his wing and started out as a fairly cynical, gruff character but has (over a few beers) started to tell me of his relationship complications with this Vietnamese woman and how much he loves, and misses, his nieces and nephews in Seattle. Here is an excerpt of conversation with Gee, taking place on my cellphone:
Gee: Where are you?
Me: Uh, just around the corner... (I don't want to tell him I'm in an internet cafe; he always hassles me about how much time I spend on the internet)
Gee: Around the corner?! What are you doing?!
Me: Umm... playing on the internet...
Gee: Well, come here, I've made some mango salad. - and he hangs up.
The mango salad was the best thing I've ever had and I made him spend three hours the next day teaching me to make it.
p.s. Yay Obama, and New Zealand - you're on my "dead to me" list (well, fifty percent of you are).