Monday, June 18, 2007

First Action

Anna called about an hour ago (from Hanoi, she is flying here tonight) to make contact and let us know the plans for the next day. We are meeting Thao (Anna's assistant) in the lobby shortly to give her the cash necessary for the Vietnam side:
$300 - filing fee
$40 - "official fee"
$200 - translation fee
$200 - caregiver gift
$30 - stroller

The "official fee" is a complete surprise (although at least a small one). The filing fee we aren't sure if it's new or just called something else on the disclosure. The translation fee is also more, although I was kind of expecting that with two children.

Tomorrow morning, we are meeting Anna in the lobby at 7:00a to go to the orphanage - two hours to the orphanage, about 30 minutes there, then back to HCMC between 11 and 11:30 for Giving and Receiving already! I'm guessing that Anna couldn't do the orphanage today between the other couple coming in tomorrow and being in Hanoi, but got a call that the official was available tomorrow morning, so we are trying to fit the official's schedule. It's a little disappointing that we will not have more time to spend at the orphanage - depending on how it goes we may request that we can go back another "dead" day while waiting for the Consulate or something. Hopefully, we will be able to feel that we have spent enough time there tho, and it will be nice to at least feel like we made up for today.

Also, we are told that our reserved room will finally be available today. The hotel reservation system is more of a suggestion really, not unlike the major hotels in the US. They had a perfectly comfortable room available at least. (I understand that is sometimes a problem at this hotel based on the reviews online). Starting tomorrow, I think we may want the better space, however. :) Between moving rooms, finally unpacking in the new room, and rearranging for going to the orphanage tomorrow I expect the majority of the time between now and dinner, if not later, will be pretty busy.

Got the lunch buffet at the hotel. We were expecting similar to breakfast - both Asian and Western offerings. It was all Asian. Luckily, Shannon was in heaven, as they had sticky rice (they translate it 'glutinous rice' here) and some dim-sum style dumplings. The sticky rice here is much better than home if one can believe that, although it should be since it's the real thing. The buffet also had some other offerings that deviate a bit further from our comfort zone (like braised pigs feet and snails in shell) that we passed on for today.

We also paid for Internet for a quick email check. It's available at the hotel, but is pay-by-the-minute, so we hurried a bit. When we got upstairs, I did the math and found out that it cost all of $0.62 for the 12 minutes we were on! Internet is actually fairly available here (although a bit slow when accessing USA sites), but it's hard to find a place that you can sit down and get comfortable when using it, rather than standing at a kiosk (whether paid or free). There is a (French style?) coffee shop not far away that is advertising free Internet. We may check that out tomorrow, although it may be a pain to lug the laptop and the kids down there, so we may do a quick check at the hotel instead.

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