Visiting Anne in Edinburgh

A few weeks ago I got to visit my sister in Edinburgh, where she’s studying to be a vet. It was a great trip.

We got to see some of the major sites of the city and got lucky because the weather was beautiful (apparently it rains a lot there). We had sunshine all weekend.
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I’m back: but in a new geography

Well, it’s been awhile since my last post. Actually it’s been 2 years and 181 days, in fact. I have a lot to update you on:

I never used my other blog

I was originally going to move my blog to a new address, but daunted by the process of building a new brand from scratch, it never took off. I should have known better though. Maybe in the future this blog will have to migrate, but since it’s mostly friends and family who read it, keeping it the same is no problem.

I no longer live in Japan

Shocking I know. Japan for me was a temporary step – a “gap-year” if you will. I had an outstanding job offer from PwC in the States. They basically gave me permission to go to Japan and they’d keep my job offer open for the following year. I have a lot of awesome people to thank for that and I remember my time at PwC fondly. Which leads me to…

I quit my job at PwC

As much as I loved the people I worked with, the challenges and hours put into my work at PwC made it prohibitively hard to pass the CPA, which I would need to be promoted to Senior. Finally I had to make a decision: take time off, quit, or keep working and forgo a promotion. You already know which one I chose. However, serendipitously when I was thinking to leave I received an email from a recruiter for a job in Internal Audit with a company based in Paris. So…

I moved to Paris, France

It’s true. I went from the East to the West to the Middle-West. After living and working in Denver, Colorado for two years, I’ve packed my bags and moved to a city I’ve never had an inclination to pursue. Everyone visits France. So cliche, no?¬†France, French people…. what am I even doing?

However, I did bring my camera and I still like to take pictures. A lot has happened over the last 2 years and 281 days, but it’s time to start again keeping family and friends updated, while also venting about some of the daily bullshit I have to put up with (it’s France, so there’s a bit). However, I’d also like to share the nice parts (it’s France, so there some of that too). Someday perhaps I’ll return to Japan, or to the US, but for now I’m focused on a few more practical things. That doesn’t mean weird stuff doesn’t still happen though, so don’t worry.

Anyway, if anyone still pays attention to this blog, get ready. Dfoxinjapan will stay the same, except Dfox is no longer in Japan. Now, he’s Dfoxinparis.

Au revoir,

David

Da Lat, Vietnam

During my time in Ho Chi Minh, I decided to take a day trip to Da Lat. It’s about a 6 or 7 hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh, and it’s up in the mountains where it’s a lot cooler. Apparently Da Lat is a prime destination for couples because whenever I told someone I was going there they would look confused and say, “By yourself?”

More Vietnamese friendliness happened on the bus ride there. The girl next to me was going home to visit her family and asked if I needed a guide. I said sure, and she called her sister to see if she would show me around for the day. Her sister was busy and couldn’t do it, but I was amazed at the thought.

I rented a scooter (yes, even after the Thailand experience) and drove around the city. Stopping at the infamous Crazy House, I met two girls who had studied at CU in Boulder. They spoke to me when they noticed my CSU tshirt. We spent the rest of the day eating awesome food and seeing some great waterfalls.

This is the Crazy House:
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The insides of the rooms are decorated, usually in a crazy way.
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It costs $20-$50 a night to stay at the Crazy House, and it’s actually a few houses on the property with several rooms. It seems like it’s constantly under construction, so I’d be excited to go back and see it in another few years.

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This is Elephant Falls. It’s one of the closest falls to the city.
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And then there’s the food:
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Unfortunately the day ended with rain, so I didn’t get to do much else, but I sat at a restaurant and watched the rain fall while eating spring rolls, so it’s hard to complain about that.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

I took a plane to Ho Chi Minh city next. It’s in the South. Amazing city. Take a look.

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Pho. It’s so so good.

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The views from Lofi’s Inn Siagon. A bed in a dorm is about $7. Very clean place too.
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Coffee w/ new friends.

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On the left is Thao, and on the right is Phuong. I met them on couchsurfing and they helped me so much. They took me to some of their favorite places, let me try some avacado smoothie (yeah!) and were generally great people. They even took me to eat some dog meat, which was a little strange to think about, but it tasted like any other meat.

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Bill Clinton ate here back in the day, hence the “Pho for the President” title.

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Ben Thanh Market.

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Old and the new.

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The People’s Committee Hall.
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And at night.
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The Post Office. A good representation of European architecture, built during Europe’s occupation.

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A WHOLE buncha turtles.

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Central Park. A good place to relax.

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Street food. Always bring a local with you. They’ll help you find a place where you won’t get sick;)

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I’m not sure what this was.

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Saigon traffic.

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Old and new #2.

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Coffee.

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This is Anna. She worked at the hostel but her and her friends took me out for food and to a movie! It was just like home.

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Watching the birds. That’s Winnie closest to the camera. She also worked at the hostel. She was a little busier, but still took some time to take me out.

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City at night.

Overall, Saigon is a pretty amazing place. The people are really friendly. I’d be careful at night and you’ll have to learn to keep smiling even when you have to turn down your 900th offer for a motorbike taxi, but if you can find a local person who is willing to spend some time with you, I think the experience is well worth it.

Hanoi, Vietnam’s Capitol

When I got back to Hanoi from Ha Long Bay, I stayed in a hostel (which was $5 a night!). I met up with someone from Couchsurfing who offered to take me around the city for the day.

Vietnam’s traffic is crazy. There are scooters EVERYWHERE. Cars are definitely the minority, and most of those cars are taxis. Everything else is a scooter. Watching traffic is like watching a large-scale model of a circulatory system as bikes slip and slide past each other, somehow managing not to hit each other. Let’s just say I’m glad I wasn’t driving.

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There are no rules.
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Sometimes you drive through a market.
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Sometimes people just walk in the road. Just cuz you can…

She took me to the Temple of Literature in Hanoi, and a few other places. Overall, I didn’t find the city so amazing. The food, however, was incredibly delicious.

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The temple of Literature
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We drove basically all over the city. It was a really great day.

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At night, the central city lake lights up. It’s definitely not historic-looking, but it is pretty and colorful.

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The food is super spicy.

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Afternoon nap time.

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Vietnam is famous for its coffee. It’s mixed with condensed milk and it’s sweet and creamy. It’s really, really good:)

We stopped at a coffee shop, opened in 1946.
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We got some coffee.

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This man is in the picture above. He is the boy in the bottom left. All grown up and still serving coffee:)

Ha Long Bay

The day after my last day at work, I caught a plane to Hanoi, Vietnam. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do there, but I had the first two days planned. I booked a tour through Vega Travel after seeing it recommended on another person’s blog. It was actually really great. The weather was hot, but the water was cool. Meals were included, but drinks weren’t, which was kind of a bummer. They picked me up from my hotel in Hanoi and we started the ~3 hour drive to Ha Long Bay.

There were about ten other people on the tour. There was a Vietnamese family who was living in Germany, who came back to visit family, then there was a group of 3 Irish sisters and one of the sister’s fiance. We ended up getting along really well and I didn’t feel awkward at all being the only one. It was a great tour.

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Approaching Ha Long

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These are the “junk boats”. I’ve heard that for some of them, the name matches the condition of the boats, but I was very impressed with our boat.

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Here’s the famous cliffs! They plunge straight down into the water. It’s amazing.

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Fishing in the caves.

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We came up to a cave. The cave’s name was “surprising cave”, which was almost as comical as the dolphin-shaped trash cans that lined the pathway inside. The cave was bigger than I thought and they had it all lit up for tourists.
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I’ve never been so sweaty in my entire life as I was when I got out of the surprising cave.
Thought you should know.

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A big benefit of the two-day trip is you get to spend a night on the junk boat. They anchor it in the bay (which is huge) and you can hang out for the night, eat dinner, and listen to music. It was amazing.

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They also let you jump off the top of the boat into the water. There’s me diving, and my Irish friends not being so keen on jumping on the number “3”.

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We watched the junk boats light up as the sun went down.

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And we ate dinner on the boat.

I should preface the next few pictures by saying that the Irish had a thing for drinking. And drink they did. I might have joined them. We were supposed to wake up at 5 in the morning to see the sunrise, but I never made it to bed, let alone watched the sunrise. There was a German girl on our boat who was traveling with the Vietnamese family. Her name is Joyce. Joyce was really sweet because she woke up at 5am while I was sleeping, took my camera, and took a bunch of pictures.

Thanks Joyce.

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Me in my moment of glory.

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Joyce is actually quite the photographer.

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Then I finally decided that I could (groan) get up.

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They took us to an island with a beach and a viewpoint. The views from the top were amazing.

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We spent some time on the beach and got some sun before getting back on the boat and heading back into the dock. I highly recommend Vega for the tour. I heard some horror stories from other people who just showed up at Ha Long to catch a boat. They paid the same as I did, had to transport themselves there, and the crew took everyone’s passport until they got off the boat. It sounded super sketchy. I highly recommend the tour, and Ha Long Bay:)

Last day at Work!

Last day of work.

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Me, Mariho, the new teacher (Ryan), Tina, and Richard. All my coworkers.

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One of my private lesson students. She reads this blog (Hi Kayoko!).

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A few of my beginners:)

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They made this great photo album for me to take home. It was so nice!

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Mariho

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Miyuki

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Rich

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My, now Ryan’s, desk.

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Looking at the book they made.

Thanks so much everyone:)

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

George had an extra ticket to a baseball game, so he invited me along. It was amazing. The whole thing is inside, which is a little weird. Oh, and it’s air conditioned. So much for bringing sunscreen.

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Mascots.

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Everything in Japan is cute. If it’s not cute, it’s not cool.

Saying Goodbye

It’s never easy. Especially as I meet new friends. So close to leaving it seems pointless even getting to know each other, but we do anyway.

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New friends and yakiniku dinners…
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As per tradition, we have a goodbye/welcome party for the leaving and arriving teachers. We had a pretty good turnout.

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This is my boss. So great.

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I will miss these people more than I can imagine. They made my time in Japan what it was – amazing!