High time for an update. I have had bugger all to post about as the last ten months has been a ground hog experience of endless days that I would not wish on my worst enemy. A bit like being in Guantanamo Bay without the razor wire, orange jumpsuits and abusive guards.
After many many interviews and a lengthy process to get a security clearance with the Australian Government, I have finally signed on a permanent role (with the company I was contracting for last year in Manila) to second to DFAT as Facilities Manager for the Australian Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam. Initially I had been flagged for Indonesia, then Thailand and finally it was Hanoi that became the destination. I had been semi interested in Jakarta as it came with trips to Bali ( surf ! ) however all my research showed Jakarta was not a very nice city to be based in. I was super keen on Bangkok as I have been there many times and it is an awesome city and so close to home ( Cambodia ). One hour and $80. Thai food is world famous and the city is cheap.
I am ashamed to say that despite living on its doorstep for almost a decade now, I have never been to Vietnam ! So when Hanoi got flagged towards the end of the process, I did some research with friends that are now living there or have traveled there and everyone universally says the same thing ; that Hanoi is a great city ! The only negatives I have heard are that the weather gets cold ( I am told Hanoi has 4 real season – good ! ) and the northern Viets can be a less patient with foreigners than their southern counterparts in HCMC. Whatever. The positives I am told are a vibrant city with world famous street food and a coffee culture that are both insanely cheap, beautiful french architecture and an overall low rise skyline, plenty of natural greenery , many lakes inside the city centre and easy access to the stunning north of Vietnam. So I am very looking forward to this move…
The one huge downside is that the family will not be relocating with me. All my research to date shows that schooling in Hanoi is insanely expensive ( as it is in all the cities i had to research ). I am talking USD$2000 per month per child / USD$48,000 per year. And that is AFTER we have to pay several thousand USD to get the kids enrolled. I am EXTREMELY bummed out about this aspect of the move to Vietnam. I have loved having the last ten months with the kids. I take Grace to school every day and pick her up. We do homework together, Angus and I get our haircuts together every month and ride bikes and skateboards together. We all sleep together and eat together and the separation is just going to be a killer. In actual fact HCMC would have been a better location for me as it is only a 5 hour bus ride from Cambodia to Hanoi’s 4 hour / $400 flight but at the end of the day.. man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do ! There will be holiday visits etc so I am sure we will survive. I am currently investigating whether the kids can participate in the Australian School of the Air from Vietnam and have been in touch with them. I have already floated the idea of home schooling to Leakhena ( she is on board ) and I have asked Angus’ amazing Russian teacher Anya if she would be interested in tutoring the kids in Hanoi. She is due to return to Russia soon with no real plans and I have run the sums and if I can get the kids in to the ASOA and get Anya on-board it would be a hell of alot cheaper than the private fees in Hanoi. So lets see where that goes.
I start June 15th so stay tuned for a more vibrant blog. I plan on really exploring Hanoi and surrounds as I did Manila so hopefully this will translate to some good reading for you guys.
oh…ps : I will have a rather nice 3br apartment so all visitors welcome….