Hellooooo! It’s Sunday afternoon and I am sitting in the Tamarind Cafe, a favorite vegetarian restaurant I discovered when I was in Hanoi in May (Sara – You’d love it!). I’m working on my second cup of coffee (delicious) and I am hoping to meet up in a bit with my friend Pete who runs the hotel I stayed in in Sapa. He’s in town for the weekend opening a cafe with his business partner. I’ll probably take a long walk around the lake at some point today, too. I have refused to even look at work stuff today – I need a mental break.
I spent yesterday at the office and last night at Kurt and Anna’s home watching a movie. Kurt and I haven’t really seen each other for almost two weeks. He was at a luxury travel trade event in Cannes (lucky bastard!) and I was in Saigon and Hue this past week. So it was good to catch up and hang out. Kurt also asked if I was still happy to be here in Vietnam, if I still feel like I’m doing the right thing. And you know what? I really am.
The past three weeks have been a whirlwind for sure. I am meeting new people left and right. I’m soaking in all sorts of information about my new company, new job and the tasks in front of me. I looked for and found my new home; a lovely apartment in Tay Ho District. Hopefully I will be getting settled in my new place next weekend – I can’t wait!!! I will have to discover where to buy linens, housewares and even furniture, as the apartment is sparsely furnished. I’ll need to buy motorbike (and helmet!) and find some time somewhere in my busy schedule to get more and more familiar with Hanoi. It’s all very exciting, but taxing at the same time. In some moments, my head feels like it will burst!
I spent the last week in the Southern part of Vietnam…Saigon and Hue. In Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, take your pick, is where you’ll find the main Apple Tree offices. I flew in for a visit with the owners, the CFO and the IT Director, among other key people. Then I was off to the ancient city of Hue, the home of our very stylish and popular hotel, La Residence. Here, I became familiar with every aspect of the hotel and much to my delight, even the spa! Fabulous! I was also keen to explore the other hotels in the city, to check out the competition, so to speak. But I can honestly tell you that La Residence is one of a kind. The history of the property, combined with the art deco style and richly appointed rooms, sets it far apart from the other hotels in town. It is a unique property, indeed, and I can’t see how I would have any trouble selling.
I was also able to take a private tour of the Citadel and Forbidden Purple City. Hue is the city in which all of the Emperors of vietnam resided. You can tour the grounds of the royal palace, visit tombs of three famous Emperors and take in numerous other points of interest. The cuisine in Hue is some of the finest, as the Emperors demanded their meals never be repeated within a calendar year. This forced immense creativity in ingredients and presentation. La Parfum Restaurant, named after the Perfume River (another story), has an extensive Vietnamese menu. I love that my job requires me to try numerous items so I can speak of the Chef’s talents when I am selling the hotel! I learned a lot about Hue, and especially the Emperors, and fell in love with La Residence.
The holidays are approaching and I while I do feel a little sad that I won’t be home to celebrate Christmas, it’s not the first time, so I’m ok with that. I can SKYPE my parents, and be there through cyberspace! Plus we have lots of celebrations at the Press Club and I am very excited for the New Year’s Eve Party on the Terrace. Should be a good time! That Terrace sees a lot of terrific parties!
I hope you have a very festive holiday week. I’ll post again once I’ve moved into my home and have some more stories to share. I’m sure there will never be a shortage in Vietnam!!!
On the Bright Side,