Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Well today we spent having our last meal of tasty treats. On the must eat list was PHO which is really just a noodle soup but to die for, sticky rice and vietnamese coffee.
We roamed the streets trying to get rid of our last dollars and to take home some of our favourate treats. We picked up coffee, banana chips and vietnamese lollies for the kids. It will be interesting to see what we get through customs. So look out for us on boarder security.
We did a last walk through the crazy scooter ridden streets breathing in the smog and polution with great fondness.
We are not looking forward to the long trip home as we have to fly from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City change planes and then the trek to Sydney, change from international to domestic and then fly home to Brisbane. All up we get to the airport at 3 pm and then arrive in Brisbane at 11.30am the following day. A much longer trip home than on the way over.
It has been a fantastic holiday and we cant wait to share and drive our family and friends crazy with boredom when we come home. See you all soon.
Location: Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay was awesome, sensational just the most beautiful place. It was romantic and the view as good as the post cards.
We sailed on this junkboat. There were 4 couples with more staff than tourists and each couple had a guide that spoke their language to support them during the trip. We were the only English speaking couple as the others were all french. In vietnam a lot of french people visit. We have however been observing the french and have found a facial feature consistent across all the tourists we come across and that is their nose, often larger and pointed. The men always wore safari vests and this was probably the biggest give away.
Back to Halong bay.
The view was amazing and we hope to get photos up soon. The polution has been bad in vietnam, the locals say it is only in winter. We climbed a mountain that gave us a lovely view, climbed through caves and took a rowing boat through mountain grottos.
This was in between fresh seafood for 2 lunches and a dinner that was a banquet for every meal. It was amazing the boat still floated with the food they brought out.
Halong bay is a must see location if you every visit Vietnam probably our second favourite location to Hoi an.
Well tomorrow we fly home, we have had a fantastic time but we can hear our own bed calling us. We will do a final wrap up and put the rest of our photos up.
Thank you for sharing our adventure, it was very nice to see new messages and the number of people who had visited our site. We look forward to sharing our adventures.
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
We have been in Hanoi. It is a very busy city much like Ho Chi Minh City. Scooters everwhere, markets and stalls everywhere and people selling postcards, silk pictures, wallets, street maps and friut. Erwin has been trying to sell his postcards and street map back to the local sellers at the same price they tried to sell them to him. It has been very funny and they have been very amused by it.
We walked for 8 hours looking for a cheap laundary. We have asked ourselves several times whether the walk was worth it. We paid $2 instead of $5 to have all of our washing washed and ironed. HMMMMM............ We have seen every street in Hanoi. It is amazing every street has a theme. We walked down clothes street, sunglass street, Christmas Street, CD and DVD Street, coffee street, lollie street, even army disposal street. Everything you can imagine has a street full of venders selling exactly the same thing so shopping around for the best deal is easy (if you can get use to bargaining with the locals). It is amazing how much we paid for things that we can now bargain for much less. We really don't mind I guess that is how the economy is booming in vietnam and some people who have previously been very poor are much more financially secure.
In reflection one of the most amazing things has been what people carry on scooters. We are trying to take photos but they have often wizzed by before we can even take a snap. But here is a bit of a list. The record of people on one scooter has been 5, 3 adults and 2 children (1 being a baby) and their dog (granted it was a little dog). We have seen 300 chickens, 5 plate glass windows, a wardrobe and two people, 15 bags of goldfish, 2 televisions and 2 people, just to name a few. In the spirit of vietnam we went to the market both of us on the scooter and purchased a suitcase, so we returned to our hotel, the both of us and a suitcase (of course in peak hour with no helmet).... It was hilarious.. you can imagine......
Well we are off to Halong bay, we are really looking forward to our overnight stay on the bay, relaxation, seafood and a beautiful world heratage site, until then.
Location: Hue, Vietnam
Today we spent time in Hue. We went to the Citidal (the forbidden purple city) which was the palace for the emporer in the 18th Century. It was very opulant but heavily damaged during the vietnam war due to the vietnam troops basing themselves there.
We met some lovely law students who took us out for coffee. They were interested in practicing their english and teaching us vietnamese. It was a very nice surprise because everyone else seems to want you to pay for something. These students took us for coffee and were very interested in hearing about australia and australian culture.
We will try putting photos up at our next location.. Off to Honoi today. Until later....
Location: Hoi an, Vietnam
Hoi an is a very beautiful place, it is very romantic. The streets are full of lanterns at night. The people are very happy and friendly. There is no begging and very limited postcard selling. We have been to the tailor Erwin has had 5 sets of work clothes made and me a couple of shirts and a suit. They are very nice, made from cashmere. The tailor treated us as family, hugging us everytime we went for a fitting, giving us beer and soft drinks and gave us a gift of chips, beer and soft drinks when they had finished. We learnt some new Vietnames words and taught them some english. It is amazing to come to such a place and english is really the international language.
We hired a scooter and headed for China Beach yesterday. We road through villages and found a couple of shacks on the beach where the local villagers made us coffee and prawns. We had the perfect view of the beach, no tourists. The local villagers were fishing in giant baskets. It was really amazing to see them out at sea in big laundry baskets. Do they know there could be sharks out there.
Drum quest update. No kit yet, but as you will see when we are able to up load our photos, Erwin has found a Gong shop. The local school next to our hotel uses drums to call the children to school and we could hear drummers in the village this morning yet still no drum kit to be seen.
This morning we headed off to the laundry, shopping around for a good price. 10,000 dong per KG (washed and ironed - less than $1 - it is really heaven here)......... Our next adventure is HUE.... until Hue..........
Hoi an is our favourite place and we will be very sad to leave tomorrow.
Location: Nha Trang, Vietnam
Well Erwin got his relaxing day today. We did go to the beach but it was not very pleasant. Apart from the people trying to sell postcards, massages, water paintings, jewelery and cigarettes the beach was not very nice it was full of rubbish. It is a real shame that it is not kept very clean. It was not good to lie on the beach, when we went for a walk and saw a dead rat and dirty needles.
We then went back to our room for a relax. We did a lot of walking and exploring the back roads of Nha Trang.
Erwin actually found a real drum kit at a travel agency. He went in to have a bit of a bash to find that there was no drum sticks but they gave him chop sticks to drum with. The kit was so old and ricketty it nearly fell apart with one hit. Oh well a good excuse for Erwin to keep looking.
Tomorrow we head off to Hoi an. All reports are that this is a very lovely place with lots of tailors to tailor make clothes. Until Hoi an.......
Location: Nha Trang, Vietnam
We have risked life and limb today taking a motor cycle tour around the city and village area. We have hired some locals to take us on their motor bikes. We have toured busy roads and rough back street village roads, through water, mud and very rocky roads.
We saw some lovely historical sites of Long Son Pagoda (a very large white budha high in the hills overlooking the city) a church and Ponagar temples which are some very old ruins and still a place of worshop for the local people and tourists. The local people have shrines everywhere to worship, in their homes, in their shops on the side of the road and then in these public places.
We had an amazing day visiting a local monastary where orphaned children live. They were very friendly and very interested in our translater that translated English to vietnamese, they thought it was very funny.
We also visited a local family who weaved mats that were used by locals for their beds. They made us feel very welcome, showing us how to weave mats, a seat and a drink. They thought it was very funny watching us weave mats, we were very slow and clumsy. They showed us how it should be done. I think we should keep our day job, I don't think we would get work here.
We did break our "only drink from a bottle, can or if it is boiled" rule as we did not want to offend the family.
I think Erwin might still get to lie and do nothing tomorrow... well maybe.
Location: Nha Trang, Vietnam
Well today started out nice and early. We had breakfast which I must say has been very good for the last few days. It has been a buffet style with both western and asian choices for breakfast.
We left at about 8am and headed off for Nha Trang today by car. It was the same driver who picked us up from the airport. Lots of guestures as neither of us had enough of each others language to make anything more that a word or two.
It was a very hairy ride down the mountain. The view was amazing with lots of waterfalls going down the mountain and under the road. We wound through villages which were really lovely, people working in the fields and carrying their tools in baskets on their back. It is really a basic life people have but a very rich sense of community.
We nearly got bogged a couple of times and the car we travelled in was mud up to the roof when we arrived. We were happy we got there in one piece and that we were actually able to drive through given the landslides, the mud and the road that had fallen down the mountain. But it was their new road and the locals were very proud of it.
We have a nice view of the sea from our hotel room. But there is nothing like the beaches of queensland. You really do get to appreciate that we have the best beaches in the world right at home. It was a very smoggy day and so we are hoping that it is sunny and the beach is a lot more attractive tomorrow.
There is a lot of development happening in Vietnam, even in our hotel. We went to have a look at the pool but there was no water in it.
Belinda is heading off to the day spa today, no treatment over $2.50. We will have a look at the travel agencies to see what trips are on offer and what we might go and see. Erwin is very keen just to lie around so we will see what happens.
Until next time
Location: Dalat, Vietnam
Yesterday we had a tour around Delat. It really is a lovely lushious green countryside village. We went into the village and walking through the streets the village people were friendly but we were obviously entertainment for them.
We went to some beautiful pagoda's, had a boat cruise on the lake to an island where we road an elephant. It is amazing how big an elephant is when you are on its back. The elephant owner took us through the forest along the waters edge. It felt like extreme sport. The elephant was wanting to take us for a swim in the lake while the elephant owner was working very hard to keep us on dry land. The village people do elephant rides as their income during the day and then they let the elephants free to roam the forest during the night. The elephants then come back in the morning when they feel like it to do the elephant rides.
We also went to an historical village where the women do embroidary. Their work is really amazing it looks like paintings unless you look really closely. We spoke to one young women who indicated that it took 9 months to make one picture.
We are off to Nah Trang today by private transport (what ever that means?) we just wait in our foyer and at 8am someone will come for us.
Until the next update.....
Location: Dalat, Vietnam
We got up early today to fly to Dalat (crazy taxi ride at 5.30am). We got to share our flight with some English Yobbos on a golf tour, they held up the plane for 20 mins with their opened alcohol which they managed to polish off all before we left the ground. It was the inflight entertainment.
Dalat is in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and a very pretty location in the mountains. It has a very french influence here with the old buildings built in the 1900's.
We had mug written on our face and our first visit to the village and the locals were trying to charge us 50,000 Dong for a mango which was probably really only 1000 we settled at 5000.
We are off on a tour tomorrow on a cable car in the mountains, a boat ride on the lake and elephant riding, hopefully we can get some really good photos.
Erwin tried the local beer. Will let you know how the elephant riding went.
We are in HCMC sightseeing today.
We have visited the war museum. It was very sad to see the damage to the people and the country and interesting to see the similarities regarding the American influence in Iraq today.
We plan to visit the Palace today. We have had more shopping, Erwin is in his glory we found Electronic heaven in street markets down town.
We found a great coffee shop, good coffee and free internet. Unfortunately we are not able to upload photos at this site but will see what we can do at our next city.
Well we made it safely to Ho Chi Minh City (although everyone here still calls it Saigon).
We arrived in peak hour traffic, it took us 50min to go 7 KM it took 20 years off our life......... Oh my god scooters, buses and cars everywhere. Traffic lights but no one takes any notice. Crossing the road is like extreme sports. There is no way to explain the crazyness and the huge courage and leap of faith it takes just to cross a road here. Millions of people live here and they all ride a scooter at the same time during peak hour traffic. There is nothing you can not carry on a scooter. A family of 4 (including new born baby) and a dog, work equipment, another scooter, a full length plateglass door, keg all this while talking on a mobile phone and without a helmet.
HCMC included shopping, shopping, walking and more walking from 9AM until 10PM. We went to the water puppets, Erwin was very impressed with the local drummer and his kit....... amazing what you can do with a wine barrel.
Today we went to the Mekon Delta, it was an amazing day. We travelled for 2 hours the incredible contradictions where one family lives in a mansion right next door to a thatched shack.
We went on a boat trip down the river, through some local villages and markets, Belinda even helped paddle down the river and got thumbs up from the locals.
Check out our lunch with our photos.
For our work colleagues we will be posting a series of "gnoming in Vietnam" so check them out as well. Unfortunately the kidnapped gnome has a broken hand and some sores on his back so he is in bed at home but should return somewhat better. We have however taken his mate instead.
We are really starting to prepare for our expedition now. Today we completed our one day intensive simulated flight training to prepare for any event which may occur. Yes thats right, today we watched 'snakes on a plane'. Can honestly say, should a mid air reptile invasion occur, we are prepared!! I think next week we may continue our training and develop our understanding of the airline industry, we're thinking 'view from the top'.