A long awaited trip home

Trip Start Aug 04, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Matthews B & B

Flag of United States  , Ohio
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Well after my false start in December where my eye surgery cancelled and took precedent over my trip to the 'Nati, I finally made it. And it was well worth the wait.

It had been nearly 2 years away from my friends and family and I was needing that reconnection in a big way. 
I left Hanoi without a hitch and the long flights back weren't any shorter except where as I usually can sleep on planes without a problem this time I struggled to sleep. The movies on the plane weren't great yet they kept me entertained. 'Alex Cross' a detective thriller, and the Kevin James comedy 'Here comes the Boom' were two of the three I watched first. Then I guess being out of touch with movies, I watched 'Argo' which was pretty incredible and well worth any awards it may be nominated for and possibly win. Movies and more food then I eat in a 2 day span, let alone a 17 hour trio of flights and I was touching down in Cincy at the bleary eyed hour of 11:30 pm
I secured a rental car  thru Hertz which I mention by name because the rental company that I booked online did a no show at the airport After calling 2 other rental companies wanting more than twice what I had booked for, Hertz price was nearly the same as the prebooked competitors online price. The quick & smiling service personnel at the pickup was very welcome after spending 20+ hrs in planes and airports not even figuring in the time changes. 
I arrived at my nephew Matthew's condo in East Walnut Hills about 25 mins later and I was pleased to see he waited up for me. His welcome home smile was worth the trip alone. Even though I was fairly tired we dragged my .5 under the weight limit bag and 2 other heavy carry ons in the door, plopped down on a sofa and talked for over an hour longer. Finally I think my dozing mid conversation was our cue to go to bed.
Dozing mid conversation was the going look for me for most of this trip as the jet lag this time was its worst.

I saw more people this trip than past trips and it was a glorious experience for me as I hope I was entertaining and friendly to you all. I tried to be upbeat and outgoing since I am usually a quiet kind of guy ha ha ha oh well I tried to sneak that in but I'm sure most of you were wondering who had written that last comment.
The time with my nephew was quite enjoyable as he had stocked his fridge, I think with me in mind, as there was salad stuffs, fruit and juice.It looked like my fridge in Hanoi. Actually it was nice having some good conversations with  him usually mid evenings as I was tiredly (is that a word?) stumbling in after a day of driving all over the place to meet people. Every drive was well worth the mileage to catch up another friend.

Dinner at Tony and Sherry's house was nice. Good food and fun times with my family. Everyone is growing up, changing jobs and generally living there lives. Thanks Sherry for the delish pasta meal, salad and garlicky bread.
My mornings though sometimes later than usual for me were started with me making the drive to the Groove for coffee most days. Even though I drink very little coffee these days I couldn't pass on seeing Pete and having his 'cup of the day' of which I purchased a lb of espresso and Guatemalan each based on a cup at the shop. I rarely did takeaway at the Groove - I generally just sat and chatted with Pete or whatever random customer strolled in including a a little girl named Quinn who said I had to pay her to take her photo but later settled for some sweet Vietnamese candy.
Coffee in Hanoi is said to be frequently takeaway but I just sit and people watch as I sip the creamy sweet nearly dessert tasting coffee. If it weren't so strong it would be considered dessert in my eyes. I people watch, actually I am watched more than the other way around. The once or twice I did takeaway from Groove I was reminded of how you can't really do takeaway or at least I don't in Hanoi. My walk across Main street in Covington to my car parked in front of the music store was calm and relaxed, almost not needing to even look both ways. People don’t walk in Hanoi. Nobody strolls sipping from a takeaway latte.Yes there are ways to cross the road, but most of us will go months between crossings. Hanoians don’t cross roads. When you literally park your bike in your kitchen, then on the pavement outside work, a cafe, shop or bar, why would you? Even if you’d like to walk you can’t. The pavements are full of bikes both parked and moving.
My  other trip to the Mainstrasse area was when Jami and Jeff scheduled a meet place at the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar before dinner. This is a newish place and I wanted to find it and try it first, especially with a name like that. I had some time one evening after attending a Hash (I didn't and can't run yet) and before meeting Mike and Cliff for brews at the Rock.  I decided to give it a try as I was in the vicinity. Wow, is this a great place for us lovers of the strong brown liquid called bourbon. If you haven't been there then you have to put this on your must do list. I am a huge scotch lover myself and bourbon is a close cousin I thin so I slid right into sipping this liquor. The bartenders here are so entertaining. Not like clowns and performers but more like teachers. They can and will tell you stories about every bottle on the shelf, history and general facts. Even bottles of bitters had stories to go with them. There drink making is unmatched. They take their slow loving time with each mixed drink they make. Its a joy to watch even if it isn't your drink they are making. So anyway I went here 3 times and tried 5-7 different bourbons with one from Japan possibly being my favorite - yes sake' making Japan makes some great bourbons, too.
Happy Hour at Moerleins was a fantastic time. Someone said there were 25 people there during one stint though I couldn't back that up as I was busy talking, and drinking Jeff's gift of his own home brew. The alcohol content was quite a bit higher than the Moerlein brews so it wasn't long before I was feeling a buzz. Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy evenings and came out to say hello to me and other friends they might not have seen since my last visit.. I think I got a gift to all of the ladies who attended. Wow what a great time I had and seeing so many good friends and a few I didn't see last time in town was really special ie, Mark O'Connor comes to mind.
Several breakfasts at Frsich's and Parkside cafe with Tim K and Bruce D were nice too as my breakfasts here in Hanoi are always alone. Coffee with Bruce at Starbucks was much overdue for catching up. 

Thank you Sharon for the pumpkin bread(s) - I had to share it with my nephew and Tim K or I would have gained more weight than I did trying to eat two good sized breads in a few days. I had it for breakfast every day after you gave it to me and I would've loved to have brought it back to Hanoi but I am too weak and would've consumed it between the meals on the plane. 
Yes I did gain a sizeable amount of weight as my dress pants for work were either snug or didn't snap at all when I tried to fasten them on Monday for work. Thanks to everyone that gave me mementos. The girl scout cookies are a big hit here amongst my expat and Vietnamese friends. I ordered 6 boxes and unfortunately I wasn't able to collect 2 boxes but in reality it was a bit of a blessing as my bags were considerably over weight, like its carrier. I had to take things out and in the end had to give one box of Thin Mints to TSA officials. They were pleased, I was not.

I loved taking pics if the Cincy scenery dressed in snow. It was the best of the two winter trips home I've taken on all fronts, esp. considering I fell on my rump the first time and no falls occurred this time. 

Between, the friends, family, food and drinks all in all it was a wonderful trip home. Now getting back to the teaching grind, attempting to drop about 5-7 pounds of extra weight and contemplating what to do next year, is my work at hand.

Thank you to all my friends and family for making this such a memorable trip.


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kwai_chang on

I think I would have a hard time living in Hanoi if I couldn't walk where I wanted to go and couldn't cross the street without trepidation. I'm sure I would get hit by a vehicle the first week there. The pumpkin bread was indeed quite good. Thanks Sharon. If you didn't fall on your rump this visit, I'll take that as a sign that your Tai Chi is getting better. (A Tai Chi man should never fall on his rump; certainly should never admit to it.) It was good to see you in person for a change. Try and come back more often.

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