New Home

It’s taken a little while but I’ve made the move from hotel to apartment. After getting a bit of a runaround from a couple of agents I asked Phuong, my hotel mangeress, to help me. She found a place within two days. It was the first one we looked at but I liked it right away and took it. One of the big features is that it’s much closer to my main school: about a 10 minute bike ride or a half hour walk. The first photo shows its location in the lane – the double green doors on the left (beside the two men walking) are the security doors to get in. I reach through two flaps to open a large padlock and then draw a bolt back. If I want to take my bike in/out I can draw a second bolt to open the other half of the door.

Location of Apartment in Lane

Location of Apartment in Lane

I’m on the third floor so I can see over the wall to the right. Also in the lane is one of Hanoi’s ubiquitous street cleaners. Much garbage just ends up curbside and these people come by and sweep it up. Garbage trucks go along the main streets and empty bins and carts.

The next photo shows the view from the bedroom. This is what may have sold me on the location.

View from Bedroom

View from Bedroom

Yep, a pool! And not just one pool, but to the right and down is another, smaller kids’ pool. They belong to a hotel in the next lane over and are available to the public for 20,000 VND a day (just over a dollar). I was a bit worried they might not be open as apparently Hanoi’s public pools close in September, no matter what the weather, but these pools are privately owned and stay open. This morning I saw a few people out there swimming. Don’t know how anxious I am to take my manatee-like body into the public eye, glowing white beneath the milky sun, but I think I’ll work up the courage.

Of course being on a lane means it’s slightly quieter than a main road. Scooters go by, honking as always, and there is construction next door, but in the evening it’s very quiet here. The lane is a bit narrow and twisting for cars to navigate. I’m not sure how the construction crew gets their material here. On the lane are little stores, a couple of beauty parlours, a computer gaming biz, a kindergarten and some tiny restaurants. I haven’t got the hang of the little street-side restaurants yet; I’m still eating at larger ones. Today, however, I’m off to a big supermarket to buy goods to stock my shelves. I’ll be cooking in my own kitchen soon.

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

The fridge actually has a freezer cold enough to make ice! The stove is propane, the water is hot (if I turn on the heater for it) and so far (keep my fingers crossed) I’ve seen no bugs (although there’s a can of Raid on the counter). Out the window are the neighbours, about four feet away, but the floors are staggered so we don’t see one another, plus there are blinds. There’s a six chair table, an exhaust fan and enough dishes to get started.

Livingroom

Livingroom

The livingroom showing the large sofa with its studio section for lazing out in front of the big tube. I haven’t checked how many channels yet but it looks like a lot. Of course many are Vietnamese but there’s a good selection of foreign channels here. My laptop’s hooked up to fairly highspeed internet; not as fast as home but I can download movies in a couple of hours. Plus Skype with Sue and check the New Hanoian for info and reviews. There’s one air con here and one in the bedroom.

The Bedroom

The Bedroom

The bedroom is already changed since I took this photo as the landlady had a brand new, big fat mattress brought in. She and her maid carefully wiped down the plastic cover and put it on the frame. Later when we were signing the contract I asked if I could take the plastic off as it’d be hot. No problem. But I went to bed forgetting to take it off. About 3am I woke up drenched in sweat. Off with the plastic and, instead of turning on the air con, I brought in the big fan for a nice evening breeze.

There are two bathrooms also: a small one in the bedroom and a larger one near the entrance. They’re typical of here (or Europe) with no shower stall, just a handheld shower. As the rooms are all tile with drains it doesn’t matter if water goes everywhere. And then there’s one small room with a little washing machine which was the first thing I used here. So nice to actually get super clean clothes, not just handwashed in the bathtub.

Hanging Laundry

Hanging Laundry

After washing I take the laundry to the rooftop to hang. It’s a pretty good view of the neighbourhood from up there. Here’s a photo looking down into the lane, the construction next door, the tennis courts by the pools and the haze beyond.

View from Roof

View from Roof

And finally a couple of photos heading down the lane and out into the busy world beyond.

Heading Up the Lane to Cau Giay Street

Heading Up the Lane to Cau Giay Street

I step out the door, making sure it’s securely locked behind me (the little old lady on the ground floor is watching to make sure).

Tight Corner

Tight Corner

One of the narrow corners; gotta watch and listen for motorbikes coming around it.

Coming to Cau Giay Street

Coming to Cau Giay Street

Coming out into the world beyond – watching for bikes whipping in off the street.

Cau Giay Street

Cau Giay Street

Looking from the corner of the lane westwards, towards school. This was taken around 4pm, so traffic is just starting to build. By 5pm it’ll be thick. Crossing the street, 2 lanes one way, 2 the other, is a zany experience. Just watch for the big stuff: cars, trucks and buses. The bikes will hopefully avoid you. As long as they’re not busy texting someone on their mobile phone and not watching ahead of them :-()

In the coming weeks I’ll explore the ‘hood further. It’s kinda nice being out of the tourist area. It was convenient being in the Old Quarter with all its restaurants but this is the real thing, for better or worse. The apartment’s comfy, ideally located and not far from school and some lakes and parks.

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3 Comments

Filed under Travel

3 responses to “New Home

  1. jacquie

    Hi Kelly,
    Wow hot off the press! It’s not even the 8th here yet! Your place looks pretty upscale. Enjoy!!
    j

    • kellyeye

      Guess I’m not on Pender time anymore… or else I’m ahead of my time? I don’t think I can really say Vietnam’s ahead of the times. What wormhole sucked me into this space/time continuum? (it must be one of my cynical mornings)
      The apartment’s comfy enough. Upscale? Compared to many homes here I’m sure. But I’ve seen ads (aimed at expats probably) for Really Upscale housing. Some of the rents are really high. And I think I prefer the peace and quiet of home compared to the fairly constant noise and pollution levels of here. Maybe soon I’ll get out into the countryside for a taste of clean air and greenery.
      To see how the better half lives do a Google image search for “Ciputra Hanoi”. It’s the newish expat enclave on the north of town. Check out the foolish gate with the horses. It’s not even a real, working gate. Strictly decorative. Looks a lot like the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. And the housing could be almost anywhere in the world. I guess that’s the trend; a more homogenous world complete with all the big names: Gap, Prada, Nike etc etc.
      Maybe if I shower, eat and go for a walk I’ll be less cynical :o) But next time I ride in traffic it’ll just return…
      Happy Trails!

  2. Karin Kronen

    Looks like you are settling in, nice place that you found.
    Take care.
    Karin

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