Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The un-update

Another six months have passed and I really don't have much to report.  Same old, same old.  My mom moved this past week.  We still have the cabin where they lived, but it's going on the market, and now she's in the Chicago burbs.  A real city with neighbors, doctors, curbside trash pick-up, everything.  And significantly warmer than the North Woods, even in the winter.

My husband and I went on vacation in October as usual, but we were delayed several days by the typhoon, since we were connecting through Tokyo.

Our itinerary:
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia,
car to Siem Reap, Cambodia,
plane to Luang Prabang, Laos,
plane to Danang, Vietnam
car to Hoi An, Vietnam
car to Hue,  Vietnam (via Danang)
plane to Hanoi,
car to Halong Bay,
boat around Halong Bay,
car back to Hanoi,
then a plane to Tokyo for a day, then back home.

It was a great trip. 

Our favorite culinary discovery was Vietnamese coffee (which I think is strong coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk, but what you don't know can't hurt you!).  We also got hooked on pho, which we did not eat with any regularity before this trip. 

My weird sight-seeing highlight was seeing Ho Chi Minh's body in Hanoi.  That marks the third embalmed dictator I've seen -- Lenin and Mao were first. 

In terms of cities, we liked Siem Reap and Luang Prabang the most.  But I also loved chilling on a boat for a while in Halong Bay, where we got to meet our favorite new friends of the trip. 

Weather was good but soooooooo humid.  Highs were only in the low 90s for the first week or two, but the humidity was about 8,355,619%.  I carried a little day pack with me most days (real camera, guide book, phone charger, etc.) and I usually felt like my back was entirely drenched within 15 minutes of leaving the hotel, often within about 3 minutes. 

Most active city for us was Siem Reap.  I only went running once there (see below re injuries), but we found a bicycle tour company that hooked us up with bikes, helmets, and a guide (who also took great pictures).  And we were pretty much addicted.  We rode for a vast majority of the day for at least three straight days.  And then, going down a really big hill or mountain, in a tight switchback near the top, I took a header.  I have no idea what happened.  I was trying to shift and since my thumb wasn't strong enough, I had reached my right hand across to shift.  I was also trying to turn very sharply, and to brake very hard.  I flipped over the top of the handlebars and came down hard on my right shoulder.  Big bruise on my right quad too, and a scrape on my chin, but overall, I was pretty much fine.  It looked really bad, but I was barely moving at the time, so I didn't slide or anything.  So embarrassing though.  A bunch of men were sitting under a tarp near where it happened, and I heard them all yell as I was falling, and they ran over.  My husband was behind me, so he also saw the whole thing unfold.

Honorable mention for injuries:  twisted ankle in Siem Reap while walking on a totally unremarkable surface, and a thumb bruise when I stuck it into a moving fan in Siem Reap (I totally now appreciate how we have such big guards on most fans in the US, that's almost impossible to do, or at least it takes effort).  In this case, I had hung a workout shirt over it to dry, and went to pull it off, and my thumb went into the spinning fan blades.  But it didn't even draw blood.  So really escaped intact! 

I also managed to run almost everywhere else I think.  HCMC, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Hoi An (a run to the beach!), Hue, and Halong Bay.  We also biked in Luanag Prabang and Hoi An, but it wasn't the same as Siem Reap.  I intended to run in Hanoi, but we spent so much time lolly-gagging in other cities that we didn't have as long in Hanoi as I'd have liked.  There was an awesome little lake right by our hotel that I could have run around, and a much bigger lake not too far away, but I had a huge list of sight-seeing priorities (tops being Ho Chi Minh's body and "the Hanoi Hilton" (Maison Centrale, the prison where McCain was held as a POW).  So no running in Hanoi.  If we have a chance, we'd gladly go back there, so maybe next time. 

I almost overpacked by one dress (worn once mid-trip), as well as a long sleeved shirt and a light jacket, but I wore the long sleeves and jacket in Tokyo, so it was a win in the end.  I seriously overpacked hair products (conditioner (since not all hotels have it) and hair spray).  I wore my hair in a pony for about 2/3 of the days.  It was just too hot to have it on my neck.  Ugh!  I also overpacked jewelry, too many pairs of earrings and I didn't wear most of them.  BUT I underpacked blue earrings, which I wanted to wear on several days.  I also would have liked a bit more in terms of biking and running clothes, and more socks.  But overall, even with my new tiny tiny rollerboard, I got 3 weeks into it and my backpack, and didn't have to worry about checking luggage. 

Anyway, those are my basic trip notes.  I should post with pics at some point. 

Since vacation, I've been hammered at work.  My favorite co-worker of all time quit in mid-Sept, so I was balancing her caseload with my own for a few weeks before vacation, and theoretically balancing them during vacation (not!).  But a couple weeks ago, I got to transition about 50% of her cases that I took to someone else, and I got to cherry-pick the ones I kept, so pretty much only the easy ones.  But I've been travelling a lot since I've been home.  I barely know which end is up.  Philly, Baltimore (and then a weekend in DC for fun with a law school friend), and I'm currently at an airport in Indy.  I think all I have left this year now is two more Philly trips and one Baton Rouge or New Orleans trip, plus of course personal trips to San Antonio for the marathon and "home" for Christmas.  Hard to believe 2020 is on the horizon! 

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