Joined May 2018 Message
  • Day19

    Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh

    May 31, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌧 25 °C

    Hotel is good but the thing we notice the most is that people in Saigon are not as friendly as in other places we have stayed which is a shame and makes me think they are too Westernised and are pretty much over tourists. Still we had a great breakfast and then headed off to explore, after I spoke with my Mum and felt that she was ok!

    First stop was the War Remnant Museum. This was probably for me one of the most distressing and emotional things we have done. I found the pictures of children killed by American troops and women who they suspected as being Viet Cong really sad and I had to leave the rooms with photos of this as I could not understand how this had come about. Between the Killing Fields in Cambodia and the history here in Vietnam, I am stunned at the realities of war. I know there are atrocities in all wars, including what is going on at present, but the senseless killing and devastation of peoples lives confounds me and I feel powerless.

    I have learnt so much about the history of Vietnam and surrounding area during this trip and as distressing as it has been, I finally have a basic grasp of what happened here while I was growing up. Really puts your life into perspective.

    We walked for awhile after this experience and went to the main market area and wandered around feeling overwhelmed. Headed back to the hotel stopping for some food and an incredible coffee experience for Pete, and egg Vietnamese coffee which he loved.

    After a brief time by the pool we retired to our room, yes more cheese and bickies and an early night before our Mekong tour tomorrow.
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  • Day18

    Vietnam - Hoi An Day 4

    May 30, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌧 28 °C

    Sad day to wake up and know it’s your last day in Hoi An. After another great breakfast, amazing mix of cultures at breakfast with a great latte and Vietnamese pho for breakfast, we jumped on the push bikes and headed into the old town to pick up my boots and sandals. Both were fantastic and I was really happy with them.

    About to head back to the hotel when I noticed a missed call from Phil, my Mum’s husband. I immediately had a scary feeling, so we headed back to the hotel. Unfortunately Mum was not well and was in hospital and I was pretty upset and scared and was contemplating heading home. After being reassured by Phil and nurse on call Jenny that she was ok and not to rush home, we decided to stay. Scary though being a long way home when something happens. Luckily the boys Nick and Hayden are also there to check on her for me! Thank you to Phil, Jenny, Nick and Hayden for helping me through this, and of course Pete for being there to hold my hand.

    Anyway after getting through this we headed to the airport to our next stop in the adventure Ho Chi Minh. An easy flight and transfer and we arrived at our riverside hotel Liberty Central, which has an amazing sky bar and pool area. After settling in with a couple of cocktails we went for a walk through town. Wow there are so many bikes and cars it is incredible and really dangerous crossing the road! We found a hidden supermarket on the 2nd floor of a building and went back to the hotel to feast on cheese and bickies. Stressful day with a relaxed ending!
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  • Day17

    Vietnam - Hoi An Day 3

    May 29, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    We had to wake up early this morning as we were heading off for a walking food tour. This tour is run by Neville who is an Aussie that has been in Hoi An for 8 years and has set up this tour in conjunction with local Vietnamese. We set off with a small group walking through the market and stopping at local street vendors sampling new delights. Sooooo much food, we tasted 40 local dishes and didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day. There was a bit of history and local custom thrown in and we enjoyed the morning. Seriously hot though and we spent a bit of time by the pool when we got back. After cooling down we rode our bikes back into town to the bank and to try on my boots and shoes, which were great. Pete wanted an ‘Alan ManBag’ (from the movie Hangover) so we found a leather shop recommended by Neville and he found a great bag at a good price.

    We headed back to the hotel and got ready to go out to dinner with Elinor and Bruce (old friends from my Nissan days!). We caught a taxi to An Bang Beach and had a lovely night catching up on travel stories and sharing a lovely meal. Really good to catch up and hope to do some travelling together in the future!

    Again, we must be old but after dinner we were all happy after a relaxing time by the beach to head home to bed!
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  • Day16

    Vietnam - Hoi An Day 2

    May 28, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

    So we woke up really refreshed after a great night sleep. No aircon, just a fan - heaven! I love being cool at night but the aircon really dries you out, but our room was perfect at night with just the fan.

    We took our time over breakfast and got ourselves organised to go to An Bang beach by the resort bus. Had a fabulous day just relaxing at the beach. One of the many ladies selling stuff on the beach managed to win me over with discussions about her children. I think that so long as you are happy with the price you should at least buy something. A lot of the people selling use this as their only income. Women look after the children, try to earn some money and a lot of the men spend their day drinking coffee in the coffee shops. So I’m happy to support the families in some way even if it is pretty insignificant.

    It is really a lovely beach and we enjoyed the day just relaxing there. Caught the bus back, picked up our washing and after a shower walked into town for dinner. We couldn’t believe the amount of buses and tourists in the old town. It was Buddha’s birthday celebration and so I guess it was understandable.

    So good having this relaxing time in such an amazing place!
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  • Day15

    Vietnam - Hoi An

    May 27, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    So after a flight where we slept most of the way, we arrived in Da Nang and took the 50 minute ride to Hoi An. This time staying in the La Siesta Hoi An which is just as lovely as the one in Hanoi and the staff just as helpful.As we were there by 9.00am they gave us breakfast and then our room was ready. It is an amazing room and we are feeling very spoilt. We took our time getting organised, spent some time in the pool and then we jumped on the bicycles and went for a ride around. What a beautiful little city, so relaxed and we had a lovely time exploring. Found a shop to order some shoes and boots and a bag to be made, will be interesting to see what we get!

    Seems hard to stay still when there is so much to see. Found the hotel where Bruce and Elinor will be staying and we will catch up with them on Tuesday. Dropped off some much needed washing and back to the hotel for a shower and then out for a walk in the crazy traffic to get into town for a dinner on the sidewalk watching the many boats with people launching floating candles. Lots of celebrations for Buddha’ birthday, and everyone seemed to be out celebrating.

    We finally succumbed to tiredness after being up since 4.00am and we again ended up home in bed about 9.30. The bed is massive and so comfortable I think I will sleep forever!!
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  • Day14

    Vietnam - return to Hanoi

    May 26, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 36 °C

    Woke up to our last morning on the Dragon Legend, and of course they fed us - breakfast at 7.30 and lunch at 10.30! Wow we were stuffed. All the time we were eating the boat was slowly gliding back to port and we sat in the pool watching our wonderful trip come to an end.

    When we got to port we decided we didn’t want to go to the village and walk around for three hours so we teamed up with Grace and Stefan and caught a private limo back to Hanoi to give Grace and Stefan an opportunity to spend some time in Hanoi. They left their bags in our room and went out to explore. We met them later at Beer corner where we had food and drinks and wandered slowly doing a bar crawl back to the hotel. We had a wonderful fun night and managed to get back to the hotel so they could catch the taxi to the airport for their flight home! We had a great night, but getting up at 3.45am for our flight to Da Nang was really hard work. Lucky we were pretty much packed and the hotel once again had breakfast packs (much needed) for us to take. We dragged ourselves through the airport and felt nearly human when we arrived in Da Nang, and so another adventure begins!
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  • Day13

    Vietnam - Halong Bay day 2

    May 25, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    After a wonderful nights sleep we woke early and went up to the deck to do Tai Chi, but I could only do the arm movements as my knee is still a bit unstable. Pete was happy drinking coffee and watching. Great breakfast and then we went to visit a fishing village. Shame that it is really just a display village now with the government moving all the villagers out and moving them into the city and then just leaving the village set up for the tourists! Still it was fun going around in the bamboo boats and seeing how the villagers used to live.

    We then went back to the boat for a brief rest and the boat was moving further into the bay. We then went to a small island and everyone but me walked up a mountain and into some caves. I sat on the beach reading and waiting for everyone to arrive so we can have a BBQ lunch on the beach. We couldn’t swim because apparently there are big fish in the seaweed that attack swimmers so they wouldn’t let us swim!

    Back to the boat and another swim in the pool, some people (pete included) went on another kayaking trip, and i had a wonderful hot rock massage! Very good and super relaxing. When they got back from kayaking we had a swim behind the boat, though I felt a bit wary that those big fishes might have followed us, so quite happy to get back to the pool!

    We had sunset cocktails on the sundeck and then another incredible dinner. Another 9 course meal, there is so much food on this boat! The staff then made presentations to the honeymooners and a 50 year old birthday boy. Pete wouldn’t let me tell them this was his 60th birthday treat, spoil sport we could have got a cake ! Like we need anymore food.

    We have made friends with Grace and Stefan from Philadelphia who have just got married, they are good fun and are coming back to Hanoi with us to hang out while they wait for their flight. Should be fun.

    It’s hard to stay up late, I know we are old! But I think the heat takes it out of you too, and the wine probably helps too!
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  • Day12

    Vietnam - Halong Bay

    May 24, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    We were picked up from the hotel at 7.30 by a luxury mini van that was amazing, so comfortable with single reclining leather seats, wifi and heaps of room. Very nice way to take the 3 hour drive to Halong Bay. We arrived at the Port and was finally transferred onto our boat, which was fantastic. We started the cruise with a briefing. Our boat has 24 rooms but there were only 7 couples and 1 single guy, so we had heaps of room to move and we met all the couples and it was worth every cent! There is a mineral pool that is so warm, but a great place to sit and watch the scenery go by.

    We had a gourmet lunch, there is so much food and it was all delicious. After lunch we went rafting and stopped at a beach and had a swim. Afterwards we just sat around watching the scenery and relaxing! It is beautiful and so quiet. Really lucky to have this opportunity as in 2020 there will not be any more overnight boats in Halong Bay, for ecological reasons. Which will be great to protect this majestic place.

    Our dinner was spectacular with nine courses and sitting out on the deck as the boat quietly sits in the water surrounded by these amazing limestone peaks. Ended up going to bed pretty early as it had been a long day.
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  • Day11

    Vietnam - Sapa Day 3

    May 23, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    After a hot night we woke early and had an amazing breakfast of pancakes and banana with sugar cane syrup! Yum!!

    As I was not very mobile I decided to spend the morning relaxing and Pete went to the hot springs for a relaxing swim. The others went for a short walk and then returned and we had more food! Going to be fat as a pig if I keep eating all this food. As I was having trouble walking I was given a ride down to the road on the back of a motorbike, spoilt. We then had an hour drive back to Sapa town and waited for our taxi back to Lao Cai to catch the train. We wandered around Sapa, well Pete wandered I limped around! Had a funny ride to the train with one crazy driver. When we were waiting for the train had my runners cleaned for a whole $2.50. Great job they look like new again!

    The train ride was very good and we slept and got to Hanoi at 5.30am. Got ripped off by a taxi driver, who had the meter running while he was waiting for the train to come in, but at least we got back to the hotel. They were amazing at the hotel, organised for us to have a shower in the hotel spa and packed two breakfast packs for us to take with us to Halong Bay. Would definitely recommend the La Siesta Trendy in Hanoi.
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  • Day10

    Vietnam - Sapa Day 2

    May 22, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Today after a great breakfast with the family we left to continue our trek. It was to be 14 kms today and so we organised Mu to get a motorbike to take our back packs to the next home stay! Much better idea and we also decided to stick mainly to the roads to avoid me falling down again. Good plan if it had if worked! We walked for about three hours and went to Mu’s house where she cut pineapple for us. Mu works as a guide and her husband stays home and looks after their son. Apparently men think it’s good to marry a guide as they make money.
    The Vietnamese people work so hard in difficult hot conditions. Most of the rice paddies are for their own use not to sell and families help each other in getting the paddies ready. The children have to take the water buffalo out to eat making sure they keep off the paddies. It’s hard hot work for all the family. The local tribe women sell their work and sometimes this is the only money the family gets. I am truly amazed at their stamina.

    We stopped for lunch and met up with some other trekkers from Australia who gave me some drugs! Just panadol and Ibroprufen to help me get through. Maybe that was the problem I was feeling fit and pain free for the next part of our walk. We walked along the road past lots more paddies and the views were spectacular. On the last part of the trek we went off road and headed down hill into the valley where the home stay was. Only 30 minutes left and ‘bang’ my knee gave way and I did a somersault with my knee ending up twisted under me. I thought I was in trouble! Managed to stand up with help from Mu and a local lady and they helped me down the last bit of the track. Most embarrassing as there was a heap of trekkers following and watching the old lady - me - fall!

    Made it to the home stay with my new local lady friend helping, and of course I then had to buy something from her for helping me!

    Home stay is good but different from staying at the local house where we were the only tourist, here we have 11 other tourists. Still good to swap stories and experiences. Lucky our luggage turned up ok and we could have a much needed shower. Ate still more food and went to bed early but didn’t sleep until I found a fan to cool us down. Tomorrow looks like being a rest day for me, I’m stiff and sore and my knee keeps giving way! sucks being a cripple.... but wouldn’t have missed this for anything. Love the people, food and the culture .
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