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Final Adoption Timeline

  • July 25, 2006
    Leave for home!
  • July 24, 2006
    Visa issued
  • July 21, 2006
    2nd INS interview
  • July 20, 2006
    Back in Hanoi
  • July 18, 2006
    Leave for R&R in DaNang
  • July 14, 2006
    Medical exam
  • July 14, 2006
    1st INS interview
  • June 13, 2006
    Leave for HoChiMihnCity
  • July 13, 2006
    G&R
  • July 11, 2006
    Meet Sissy for the first time!
  • July 11, 2006
    Leave for DaNang
  • July 10, 2006
    Arrive in Hanoi
  • July 8, 2006
    Leave for VN!!
  • June 2, 2006
    Received word that we’ll be traveling July 15th
  • April 23, 2006
    Officially accepted our referral
  • April 21, 2006
    Received REFERRAL for the beautiful Quynh Huong
  • April 17, 2006
    Mailed Contracts off to VORF
  • April 10, 2006
    Receivedcontracts from VORF
  • April 4, 2006
    Mailed completed application off to VORF
  • April 4, 2006
    Complete Dossier sent to G.T. Le & VORF
  • April 4, 2006
    Dossier hand delivered for certification
  • April 3, 2006
    Started working with VORF
  • March 30, 2006
    Chose VORF as possible placement agency
  • March 29, 2006
    Dossier all notarized
  • March 26, 2006
    Still no license issued for PLAN
  • March 24, 2006
    Dossier completed!
  • March 6, 2006
    Talked with PLAN about switching agencies
  • February 16, 2006
    Received final dossier requirements
  • February 15, 2006
    Projected licensing date – No license issued
  • January 28, 2006
    The new 171-H arrived indicating Hanoi as cabling embassy
  • January 21, 2006
    171-H arrived today!
  • January 4, 2006
    Fingerprinting appt. for BCIS application
  • December 23, 2005
    Received second set of Dossier instructions
  • December 14, 2005
    Our homestudy has been accepted!
  • November 14, 2005
    Received first set of Dossier instructions from PLAN
  • October 5, 2005
    Hub’s passport is back and correct
  • September 27, 2005
    Final meeting with social worker
  • September 24, 2005
    First meeting with social worker
  • September 15, 2005
    Received Passports with typo in Matt name, sent his back
  • September 9, 2005
    Got the acceptance letter from PLAN
  • September 3, 2005
    Received passing coursework back
  • August 31, 2005
    Matt doctor appt.
  • August 29, 2005
    Nicole doctor appt.
  • August 23, 2005
    Received notice from BCIS needing new paperwork
  • August 22, 2005
    Sent Correction for Erred Paperwork
  • August 19, 2005
    Applied for Passports
  • August 17, 2005
    Sent I600-A
  • August 16, 2005
    Sent back contracts and course stuff
  • August 11, 2005
    Loan funded!!
  • August 6, 2005
    PreAdopt Course received
  • August 5, 2005
    Signed Loan papers
  • August 2, 2005
    Received contracts from PLAN
  • August 1, 2005
    Applied for PreAdopt Course
  • July 30, 2005
    Received info books from PLAN
  • July 27, 2005
    Applied to PLAN
  • July 26, 2005
    Chose PLAN Loving Adoptions
  • July 18, 2005
    Applied for Home Refi
  • Thanks and Questions Answered

    I just wanted to post a quick thanks to those of you who answered my question about Sissy’s dry skin. I had NO clue there was such an issue with this. You guys are REALLY dedicated to skin care! I could never do all that! I hardly have time to make dinner every night. haha But I did go check out the lotion section with a little more vigor. I found Eucerin’s PLUS Intensive Repair Body Cream. The first time I used it she was soft for 2 days! Now we put it on after a bath and she’s good until the next bath time. FANTASTIC stuff! Try it. Really.

    And, for those of you who asked how I’m feeling….I’m good. I noticed a few weeks ago that I was getting sicker during the day after eating meat. I stopped eating meat (it’s been several weeks now) and I’m feeling MUCH better. I’m still getting alittle upset in the evenings but I haven’t thrown up at all! I’ll be 10 weeks tomorrow. You know what that means? I’ll be 1/4 of the way done! Yay! Thank you guys SSOOO much for being so happy for us! I was afraid I might loose some readers over it but you guys have been great!

    Oh and Jenn asked about the Japan adoption. There’s an agency named Reaching Out thru International Adoption that has has a pilot program in Japan. They have a waiting child list….they’re mostly school-aged, special needs kids. I don’t know anything about the agency, or their reputation, but I have received some paperwork from them. When we’re ready, I’ll do some more research. I do, however, remember reading about the process and the fact that Japan does not require a dossier. Just a homestudy and a 171.

    This weekend the kids spent last night with their Nanna. Today I’m baby-free until 1:30! I’m off to the mall and the outlet stores for alittle shopping. Right now I’m watching Fatal Attraction. This movie is funny. I don’t find Glen Close attractive at all. haha

    Sissy’s story and other news…..

    Have I ever told you guys Sissy’s story? If you haven’t, here’s your chance, and if you have, read it again, you’ll be rewarded at the end, I promise.

    Hubs and I were married in April of 2001. I was 18, and he was 20. 9 months later we decided to try to have Dee and got pregnant right away. Another 9 months passes (and 90 pounds!) and Dee is welcomed into the Robinson household on October 11th, 2002. Time goes by and Dee gets bigger and bigger. Just before his first birthday we learn that Hubs’s National Guard unit is being deployed and they’re shipping out October 12th, 2003. That’s right, one day after Dee’s first birthday. We had 2 weeks to prepare.
    Thankfully the unit’s first stop is a town several hours. They get to spend the weekends at home and the weekdays there training. During one of those weekends, we get pregnant again (without trying this time). Things are stressful, to say the least. But nonetheless we’re excited and my due date is July 23rd, 2004. Several weeks later I start spotting and we lost the baby. I was crushed but most of all, Hubs was crushed. We chalk it up to stress and move on.
    Times go on. Hub’s unit reaches Iraq in March 2004 and spends 12 months there. Dee keeps getting bigger. They’re sent back to the states in March of 2005….a few more months of training in the states and he’s officially out of the Guard (and home) in June 2005.
    Once he’s back for good, we start talking about our next kiddo. It had been almost a year since my due date but I still wasn’t ready to try and get pregnant again. Adoption came up and started the process as soon as we refinanced our house. Yay!
    When we originally started our homestudy, in September of that year, we asked for a child between the ages of 3 and 4. I was done with babies. Still being wounded from the miscarriage I decided that raising babies was not something that I wanted to do over again. As the adoption reached the referral stage, it was clear to us that a toddler was just not going to happen. Our agency gave us 2 options at this point: 1. we could wait the several months they estimate it could take, or 2. we could agree to look at the one of the files they have of paper-ready babies who were a little younger than we were requesting. We agree, cautiously, to view the files. The first file we open and there she is. Our daughter. We talk about it as I read through her paperwork. Then I realize her birthday is July 25th, 2004; she was born the week of my duedate from the miscarriage! I knew then that she was destined to be ours. We called our agency right away and accepted her. (I called weekly to check in on the little boy who we did not accept. He found a family and lives with them in Maine. His referral was accepted by them very soon after we accepted Sissy. Their blog link is on the sidebar but I won’t tell you which one.)
    I believe that Kinhly was not only meant to be ours but came to us in some sort of cosmic fashion. Our little girl had to do some very important work before she came home; she had to change someone’s life. I can’t even begin to imagine what her birthmom’s story is (although I’ve already started a post addressing that, but that’s for a different time) but I’m 100% sure that Sissy had a HUGE impact on her and her future. Our girl has been very busy in her short life.
    With all that being said, it’s time to announce that we’re adding to the family once again. That’s right all my faithful readers: I’m pregnant. The new baby will be here October 1st, which makes me just over 9 weeks. Since we now have Sissy, she’s healed that part of me that was wounded by the miscarriage. Hubs and I discussed it and decided that another kiddo needed to happen but soon since we’re not getting any younger. :-)
    We’ve gotten alot of “of course you’re pregnant, you guys just adopted and that’s how it happens.” Well, yes, and no. For one thing, getting pregnant was never our problem. And secondly, this pregnancy wasn’t an oops. For the record we’ll be finishing the family with another adoption in several years. Perhaps Japan, Cambodia (if it reopens), or Vietnam again.
    Anyway, I hope you guys can be happy along with us. I probably won’t be posting about the specifics very often, except when there’s something really exciting to say, but now the blog will be taking a slight turn from how we’ve all coped with the adoption and the transition, to how we’re preparing to handle 3 kids! 3!!! Oi Vey.

    At home: Week 1

    Our transition home as been good, all-in-all.
    As for pictures, I’ll get some up as soon as our house isn’t a wreck and my kids look decent. I have a cute picture of the two of them but Dee’s not wearing pants. I might photoshop some pants on him and post it….I’ll see what I can do.

    Sissy: (Yes, we’ve decided to name her Sissy. I know that some people we’re opposed to it but I realize that we can’t please all of the people all of the time…it’s just the way it is. She enjoys it and so do we.) Her transition has been smooth, to say the least. For those families that we able to meet her in-country and were able to see the way she was before, wouldn’t even recognize her today; she SO happy-go-lucky, it’s not even funny! And each day just gets better and better! She’s learned to say “hello”, “goodbye”, “more”, and “no!”….she’s learning by leaps and bounds! Nap and bedtime is a fight still but that’s the way it was with Dee too, so we’re not phased by it. While she LOVES to play with Dee, he can be alittle rough with her still, after all, he’s a 4yo boy. One thing that I was amazed with is her adaptability with company and our roommate; One day we had about 9 people over, both friends and family, and she was totally ok with it. She was sociable and a complete ham! I think we have success!

    Dee: We’ve been preparing Dee for her arrival for about a year and it seems to have worked. He loves her, although he doesn’t like her from time to time. We’ve been explaining to him that it’s ok for him to love her but not like her (all the time.) He was happy to know that. We have a stockpile of toys that are labeled “Dee only”, I’m trying to keep it down to just the big-kid toys but there are other things creeping in that will have to stop soon. Whatever he needs to do to make himself feel better.

    That’s all for now. Dee is spending some one-on-one time with his Nana this weekend, which gives Hubs and I some breathing room from the toy issues. Maybe we’ll see a movie, or go have dinner….as long as my mom is in the house, we’re free to play tonight. Yay!

    Hotel Reviews: Vietnam

    Hanoi: Horison

    Facts: Rated as a 5 star hotel
    At the Horison, rooms range from $95-105.
    Located downtown Hanoi on a gated lot
    Internet available in the rooms via wireless access for free

    Review: The Horison is nice’ish. We stayed here twice during our trip, once at the beginning and again at the end. The staff is not that friendly but they’re good at what they do. Each room comes with a buffet-style breakfast that was one of our favorites. In the lobby they offer a cozy little cafe, serving cheap french bread and tarts, but don’t buy water there…You’ll end up paying about $3.25 a bottle. The pool, while on the small side, is perched on the 2nd floor and features the cool run-off-the-side look. All-in-all, I think this hotel was a little stuffy. The beautiful lobby and second floor are slightly deceiving of your whole hotel experience. On Sunday’s they have a kid’s “fair” in the buffet area that has video games on a big screen and a ball pit; it’s great if you’re taking older kids. Now, I’ve been a little contradictory about how I feel this hotel is stuffy and yet they have a kid’s fair, I know and I’ll tell you, it was the only day we stayed there that I saw the hotel have any life.
    Matt gives the Horison: 3-stars (of 5)
    Nicole gives the Horison: 3-stars (of 5)

    DaNang: Palm Garden Resort

    Facts: Rated as a 5 star hotel
    At the Palm Garden, rooms range from $70-360.
    Located on the beach, 20 minutes from DaNang, in the town of HoiAn
    Internet available in the rooms via DSL cable for free

    Review: From the first time to step into their open-air lobby, you’ll know that you’re in paradise. This place is amazing!! While it’s not actually in DaNang it is just about 20 minutes away in the town of HoiAn. The common area is often over run with dragon-flies (I don’t know about you, but we loved that part if it.) Their pool is very big and features a pool-side bar that’s always stocked with staff to help you with towels or a drink. Just beyond the pool is one of the hotel’s restaurants (they have one open-air and one closed in) and then the white sand beach of the China Sea. The staff is the best; always friendly and personable, it was the best we’d seen in all our stays in Vietnam. The internet is free here and they have 3 computers. During our stay there was always computer space available and there were very few kids staying there. Also of notable significance is their on-site tailor who will custom make almost anything for you in 24 hours. One of our travel companions brought a dress with them that they bought at a high-end American designer for $360, she had it reproduced by the house tailors for $60! And they did a great job. We will be staying here again. The other places I could take ’em or leave ’em, but this hotel is a keeper!
    Matt gives the Palm Garden: 5+ stars
    Nicole gives the Palm Garden: 5+ stars

    HoChiMinh City/Siagon: Hotel Sofitel

    Facts: Rated as a 5 star hotel
    At the Palm Garden, rooms range from $100- 180.
    Located near the embassies in Ho Chi Minh City
    Internet available in the rooms via DSL cable for free

    This place is also nice. With every guest in your room you receive a free buffet dinner coupon and drink coupon for the lobby bar (and the dinner is good.) You also receive free buffet breakfast every morning that you stay, which isn’t bad. They also have a chocolate “bar” in the lobby that offers really great treats but it’s very spendy. The rooms are alright. The internet is about $4 for 30 minutes, as most of the other hotels are. There’s nothing spectacular about their pool but there is a small one. Really what you’re paying for, and what makes it worth just the “nice” review is the hotel’s proximity to the government buildings. All of the Embassy buildings seem to be in a row and are just a stones-throw from this place.
    Matt gives the Palm Garden: 3 stars
    Nicole gives the Palm Garden: 3 stars

    DaNang: Sandy Beach Resort

    Facts: Rated as a 5 star hotel
    At the Palm Garden, rooms range from $95- 380 ($55-180 if booked online)
    Located on the beach in DaNang
    Internet available in the rooms via wireless access for free

    On our way back through DaNang one of the families suggested that we change it up a little and try the Sandy Beach…we didn’t want to rock the boat and thought that it might be nice to get another perspective. It was nice because it reminded us of how much we loved the Palm Garden. The Sandy Beach is beautiful but it’s lacking in some of the areas that made the other place special. For example, all the watering here is done with sprinklers, but the Palm has men out hand watering; the Sandy beach has 2 pools (one near the rooms and one beachside) but their both small, where the Palm has one very big pool. The list goes on…. The internet here is also free but this hotel has ALOT of kids staying at it, which means alot of kids paying computer games and instant messaging their friends for hours on end. I got on the computer 2 times the whole time we were there and it was for only 10 minutes each because there was a line of kids behind me waiting. For those of you bringing your own computer, the private internet here is wireless access only. Also, if you get their standard room with a garden view, you’re going to be getting a nice room but their very “dorm style” and lack anything really “special”. There are private beachside villas available for the $180 (online price) if you’re looking for that kind of thing, but the villa area really is lacking basic lawn maintenance and looks more neglected than it does tropical.
    Matt gives the Palm Garden: 3 stars
    Nicole gives the Palm Garden: 3 stars

    Last note: I know that there was only one 5 star and the rest are 3 stars (as rated by me and Matt) but I have to say that the Palm is the only hotel that got a customer for life. When we go back to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, we will be shopping other hotels.

    Nicole’s Travel Tips for Vietnam Adoption

    #1 Pack light
    All the way around it’s just a good idea to pack light. We had families carrying 2 checked bags for each person, on top of their carry-ons, and they weren’t any better for it. Matt and I took one carry-on each, and then one carry-on-sized checked bag between the two of us…we liked not being high maintenance at the in-country airports. The bags that we actually took on the plane with us carried our clothes and our toiletries. We were sure to pack non-essentials in the bag that was checked, just in case it was lost.

    #2 Don’t stress about packing the small stuff
    You’ll basically be able to find anything in Vietnam. In the larger cities, there’s a mini-mart within walking distance of almost any 3-4-5 star hotel. On the list of do-not-pack is, formula, more than a day (or two’s) worth of diapers, water, etc. These things are cheap and readily available. It’s just going to be a hasstle when you’re getting in and out of the country.

    #3 Coordinate with other families traveling with you
    If you read the suggested packing list on most Adoption Doctor’s and agencies’ websites, you’ll often see a staggering list of medications and what-nots to bring. My suggestion: talk with the other families in your travel group. You’ll cut down on space and stress if you don’t pack everything under the sun. For example, before we were set to leave, I spoke with both mothers from the other families and found out that I was the only one bringing lice medication and scabies cream. That’s ok because both of those things are packaged in huge amounts so if another family needed one (or both) products, we could easily share. That way we didn’t all need to pack duplicates of things. (By the way, we didn’t need any meds for our little girl except the antibiotics, which we brought, and “Little Tummies” drops, which were borrowed from another family.)

    #4 Shop around for fares and schedules
    If we had blindly gone with the agent that our agency recommended then we would have been on a crappy schedule and paying $200 more per ticket. Shopping around is the best thing you can do before you travel.

    #5 Pay for your tickets on a CC with rewards points/miles
    If you get an adoption fare through your travel agent you won’t be getting any frequent flier miles. It’s a drug deal they have set up so that they can give you a lower fare without giving you any perks. It’s alot of miles you’ll be missing out on…really, it is. We signed up for an American Express Card for the sole purpose of getting a point for every dollar and a point for every 3 miles we fly. We’re going to end up with enough points for free flights to Vegas this fall. Totally worth it!

    #6 Don’t bring a stroller
    If your kid will be over 12 mo when you travel, don’t bring your own stroller. They’re a hasstle to bring through the airports without a child and you can buy nice ones in Vietnam for under $30. That way you’re not lugging one around when you don’t need it. On the same note, don’t spent a huge amount on a baby carrier before your baby comes home. Out of 4 babies, only 1 would actually allow her mom to wear a sling/carrier; 2 loved the stroller (including our little one), and one would only let her mom carry her.

    #7 Don’t bring travelers cheques
    We had one travel companion in our group that brought some traveler’s cheques and had a hard time getting anyone to cash them. At one hotel they wouldn’t take them because the bank made her date them when she bought them, and another hotel had her sign them but afterwards said that their computer wouldn’t take them. She ended up not being able to use any of them.

    #8 Be prepared to do your own laundry
    Laundry at the hotels is really expensive. Our last hotel charged $2 per t-shirt! Some times your in-country helpers will have local hook-ups that will do wash for as low as 3 pieces for $1 but it might not be the case in every city. We ended up handwashing the clothes that we really needed in Hanoi but we didn’t check to make sure that we had opening windows (which we didn’t) so the clothes tried to drip-dry in the bathroom but they ended up smelling like they were left in the washing machine for days. You know, that moldy smell that just makes you wanna gag?! I suggest that you bring a couple of the individually wrapped liquid detergent packets that you find at laundry mats, and always check to make sure that your windows open before getting everything you have wet. :-)

    #9 If you want to keep in touch, bring your own laptop
    As I’ve complained about before, internet at the better hotels is usually $4 for 30 minutes. On the computer for 15 minutes, it’s $4. On the computer for 35 minutes, it’s $8. It’s a total rip-off. And, even if you find a hotel that has internet for free, you have to compete on a regular basis for a computer with high-schoolers checking their myspace and chatting with friends. It can be a pain in the butt. Just bring your own. Some hotels have wireless in every room and others have wires in the room. It’s true that there are internet cafe’s on almost every block but with a new baby in tow, the last thing you’ll want to do is venture out of the hotel in the heat to sit in an internet cafe for an hour.

    #10 Bring antibiotics, for yourself and the baby
    Matt and I didn’t need our antibiotics at all but it was the only medicine we brought that she really needed. I’m sure it saved us a costly and time consuming trip to the SOS clinic.

    #11 Look into a cheap intl. cell phone or calling cards
    We never ended up finding a place to buy phone card while we were there. Most of the places that sold things that looked like calling cards were actually internet time cards. It was almost 7 days into travel that we actually got to call home to talk to Diesel, and even then we had to bite the bullet and call from the hotel room without any cards. All-in-all, I think we spent $75-100 calling home, and we only made about 6 calls in 2.5 weeks. Not as much as I hoped.

    #12 Bring your USB cord
    While it is true that you can get your memory card burned onto a disc really cheapy in Vietnam, it’s just like the internet cafe’s, not convenient. Hotel’s don’t have card readers…..unless you being your own laptop and it does. :-)

    #13 Bring your own hair dryer
    If your hair is longer than the bottom of your ears and you blowdry it on a regular basis, do yourself a favor and bring your own hair dryer. The hotels have them in the rooms but I dried my hair twice and got it caught in the back of the dryer both times. I had to rip it out of the fan…it sucked. Invest in a hairdryer that has a foldable handle so it doesn’t take up any extra space in your luggage.

    #14 When it comes to your spending money, 5’s and 10’s will be more useful than 1’s
    There will be a rare time shopping when you will spend under $5. Most places have things so cheap that you’ll buy more than one item. Thinking that we would need alot of ones, we brought $800 in 1’s, $400 in 5’s, and $400 in 10’s. I wish we would have brought more 5’s and 10’s and less 1’s. We took a total of $2000 spending money but brought home $500 in 1’s.

    #15 Be prepared for schedule changes
    One of the best things you can do for your sanity is go to Vietnam with an open mind. You’re trying to coordinate things with two governments. While their governing styles may be very different, their redtape is alot of the same BS. Appt’s will change. 9 times out of 10 you’re going to get everything done in the allotted time, but it might not look like the schedule you had in mind before you traveled. Don’t let it stress you out too bad. It’s just the way things work.

    #16 Read everything you can on attachment no matter how old your kid is
    I’m glad I did.

    #17 Be prepared for questions, alot of them!
    The Vietnamese people as a group, are open to asking alot of questions about the adoption process. I don’t think I can even remember how many times I was asked how much she cost. The best thing to do is to not let these things get to you. They’re not familiar with the process so just explain it to them. They’re sincerely interested in what it takes (most of the time) so taking a few minutes to talk with them will really make them appreciate you more.

    #18 Get kids over 12mo a seat of their own on the plane
    If our little one didn’t have her own seat on the plane ride home, things would have been a mess. While it’s nice that your 18 mo doesn’t need a seat, it will save you some agony just to fork out the extra $500 to make your last plane ride easier. Even if your kid won’t let you put them down, at least you can lift up the armrest and lay over 2 seats instead of cramming both of you into 1 seat. Coach seating is getting smaller and smaller it seems (or maybe I’m just getting bigger and bigger…)

    #19 Remember, you can always buy luggage in Vietnam
    While we only entered the country with 3 pieces of luggage, we left with 4. We bought a great suitcase at an international mall for $20. It was worth it and we just packed all our shopping goodies in it for the ride home. 95% of what we bought made it home safe and we didn’t have to lug it around for our whole trip.

    #20 Give yourself at least a 3 hour layover at your first stop back in the US
    Our first stop back in the US was at LAX. Great airport but it’s huge! Their international wing is removed from their domestic wing, which means, if you have another flight to catch from LA to home, then you’re going to have to get off the plane, go through 2 customs lines (one for you and one for the baby), collect your baggage, treck to the domestic wing, check in with your domestic carrier, recheck your bags, and go through security all over again. It’s not as bad as it sounds but it’s really time consuming. We ended up with 3 hours and it was just the right amount of time. We arrived at our gate from LAX to PDX with just 30 minutes to spare. Any less and we would have missed our flight. I don’t know about other airports but unless you’ve arrived internationally at the airport before and know the procedure, I would give at least 3 hours where ever you fly into. Just to be on the safe side.

    #21 Remember, this is a trip of a lifetime!
    The unexpected is going to happen; things are going to cost more and bumps are going to occur, you just have to remind yourself that this is a once in a lifetime trip and you’ll never experience anything quite like it again. Enjoy it for what it is.

    #22 Clothes: Not a big deal
    Tank tops, shorts, halter tops, tattoos: no problem. Of course when you’re giving interviews with either government, or visiting the orphanage, you want to be dress in something a little more appropriate, but when you’re just kicking around the hotel, sightseeing, or touring the city, dress in whatever is comfortable. I spent most of my time in a tank top and gauchos, while other families lived in their favorite pair of shorts and a t-shirt. It’s up to you. Of course there is a line of what’s appropriate…..and it’s not a thin line, so decide for yourself.

    #23 Gifts
    We brought gifts for the 11 orphanage workers, government officials at the G&R, as well as the G&R staff. We brought, 5 necklaces, 4 portable desk fans, and 10 sets of hair clips. We gave the first two items for the G&R officials and their staff. The hair clips were originally supposed to go to the orphanage staff but we never ended up giving them over. Instead, all the families pooled together over $110 for the nannies to split. That way our facilitator could make sure that all the nannies got an even take. It’s an extra weeks salary, which I’m sure they could use more than some hair clips.

    #24 Sightseeing, not for everyone
    Hubs and I had to decide early on in the trip which of us would go sightseeing and which of us would stay with the baby. Matt got the privilege. With the baby being sick and me being super emotional, there was no room for us on excursions. Matt took my camera and had a good time, while I stayed behind and tried to make baby feel more comfortable. It would be a good idea, if you’re traveling with your spouse, to have this conversation before you leave. If you wait until the time comes and you’re on the spot, one of you might feel angry that your getting “left behind” or something like that.

    #25 Not all hotels are created equal
    While we were waiting for our first INS interview we happened to run into some people we knew from online communities. They were staying at a hotel not far from ours and were having a very, very rough trip that was lasting 3 times longer than expected. While their hotel seemed to be on the nicer end of things, they were missing an important basic: Their hotel was lack of a pool! Other important ammenities include English speaking TV channels and decent room service. While you might say to yourself, “who needs those things while your in a country like Vietnam?” Well normally I might agree with you but with temperatures in Ha Noi, DaNang, and HoChiMinh City ranging between 80-100 degrees (with almost 100% humidity) while we were there, going outside with a cranky baby, or an upset stomach, or almost just in general, doesn’t sound like a good idea most of the time. Without English-speaking TV to keep you sane, a pool to keep you cool, and decent food to keep you strong, you’re going to be screwed. The really crappy thing is that they were paying just as much for their room as we were. So, the moral is, if you’re stuck booking your own hotels, do alot of research because it does matter. And, if your with an agency that is booking your hotels for you, make sure you know what hotels your staying at before you go, so that you can make adjustments to your packing list based on hotel amenities. (ie. you might want to bring a portable DVD player and some DVDs, or it might make the argument stronger for you to bring your laptop; you also might want to stock up on your favorite treats, because if you’re down, peanut M&Ms will always make you feel better.) (If you want hotel recommendations, email me and I’ll let you know what I thought of the hotels we stayed at, or if I have an overwhelming request, I’ll post it here. We were at hotels in HaNoi, DaNang, HoiAn, and HoChiMinh City.)

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