Thursday, February 26, 2009

Good Morning, New Jersey!

After being on "vacation" in Vietnam from Feb 5-23, 2009, I landed in Newark Airport around 7:00 p.m., Jimmy was waiting, helped with the luggage and I was back in my apartment by 8:00 p.m. It only took 20 hours of airtime, plus another 8 hours going to, from, and in airports, from Bangkok, Thailand to Newark, New Jersey!

Once in the door, I realized that somewhere between Bangkok and Newark, they had cut through the zipper locking loop on my suitcase instead of opening the TSA Approved lock. Since the lock hasp is badly bent, they may have tried to cut through that first and gave up. I now have 2 suitcases that cannot be locked unless I get the zippers replaced. I guess I'll just pack stuff no one would want, and get a larger carry-on for anything of value. To add injury to insult, in Bangkok I was charged $50 because the bag was overweight. Northwestern charges the $50 flat fee if you are anywhere from 1 to 20 lbs overweight! No wonder I saw some really huge "carryon" bags being put in the overhead on the flight to Minneapolis from Japan. I was so tired I just made a quick check to see if anything was missing, and I think everything was still there. The only odd thing is that the small bag of salted nuts I had put in a plastic bag along with some Vietnam cinnamon and crystalized ginger, had been broken open and the peanuts scattered inside the larger plastic bag. Good thing...otherwise my entire wardrobe would have been covered in salted peanuts. Was some drug-sniffing dog tempted by the smell of peanuts? Who knows! I would have been really upset if they had broken open the cinnamon powder.

Japan to Minneapolis was some trip...they combined 3 flights; Northwestern, Continental and Delta, so every seat was filled. Fortunately I had an aisle seat and a nice Malaysian woman named Yeen in the seat next to me, so although almost 11 hours long, it was a pleasant flight.

Yesterday I went with Pablo to pick up Belle from the vets; she was in good shape, but the almost $500 bill is a shock to my financial health. Oh well, it was her 3-week vacation, too.

My feet, ankles and legs were badly swollen from the long flights, and I've been trying to get them back to normal before I have to give a tour at the Newark Museum later today. It's 2:30 a.m. and I am wide-awake...maybe I'm on Vietnam time. Besides keeping my legs elevated as much as possible, I've been drinking the Artichoke Tea I brought back from DaLat. The box claims it is a diuretic, among other good stuff. works. It also says it's good for "smoothing face skin," and reduces appetite, so I may become an artichoke tea drinker. I tried rubbing my feet and legs with Tiger Balm, but Belle starting licking my legs...what a crazy little dog. She even ate a little piece of the quite spicy sugared ginger.

I had a wonderful time on the trip and took a lot of pictures, but I haven't had the energy to start downloading and editing. I filled two 8GB and one 4GB memory cards, so even at RAW, I must have at least 1000 pictures. While in Vietnam I had four DVDs burned as back-up.

The weather throughout the trip was sunny, and very hot...except for DaLat, which was like a lovely warm Spring.

This trip has made me resolve to a) lose 50 lbs b) walk the treadmill in the Fitness Center at least 3 times a week c) eat a diet of mostly vegetables and fruit, with a little noodles, rice, and very small amounts of seafood or meat thrown in. There are no overweight people in Vietnam, and yet they are very strong, energetic and work hard. All those beautiful size 0-2 women with their perfect posture!

My usual philosophy is that one picture is worth a thousand words, but I do seem to be going on. Once I get the pictures downloaded, I will let the photos speak for themselves. I miss the wonderful breakfast buffets with delicious ripe fresh fruits. I especially liked dragon fruit and the tiny bananas. And where is the chef to cook my omelet to perfection, with tomatoes, peppers, ham and just one or 2 chilis? Washed down by cups of fragrant, strong, black coffee! Ah me, back to instant coffee and the microwave!

I did manage to go through three weeks of accumulated mail and to my pleasant surprise, the little swan manicure scissors I had to mail home from the airport in Bangkok were there, with some interesting Thai postage on the envelope. It only cost $2 US to send them home, and it was well worth it. I forgot to put them in the checked bag, and security found them in my makeup kit in the carryon. The security folks were sympathetic when I explained they were a gift from my deceased husband and had sentimental value, but I had to either throw them away or mail them home. Finding the airport post office, and finding the clerk was out to lunch, was a tense moment, because I only had 45 minutes to boarding time for the flight to Vietnam. Fortunately, while a clerk in another shop was telling me how to find another postoffice just outside the airport, the postal clerk got back from lunch! Whew! Since I was the first (and only) customer, the transaction went quickly and I had enough time to make it to the Departure Gate for Vietnam as Boarding began.

Well, it's 3:00 a.m....time for some Artichoke, Good Morning, New Jersey!


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