Saturday, May 14, 2011

Back from our Vietnam adventure

Woman off to set up her food stall
Wow, what an interesting country. It was hot, humid and smelly, but the culture and history is incredible.  We hit Ho Chi Minh City at the beginning of April and what an assault to the senses.  The noise was all around us. HCMC has a population of 10 million and 5 million people have scooters to get around. They toot as they go past other vehicles or pedestrians so there is constant honking.  So once you adjust to the noise levels, you try to adjust to the heat...it was mid 30s (100 fahrenheit) and humid. I spent a lot of time having cold showers! And then there is the smell of sewerage, cooking, fumes and goodness knows what else!

Barge on the Me Kong Delta carrying rice husks
We travelled out to the Me Kong Delta, the Cu chi tunnels and then went up to Dalat in the highlands. It was lovely up there...much cooler and very green. Spent a night there and then headed over to Nha Trang, a beachside city via the central highlands.  Didn't enjoy Nha Trang at all....very touristy, agressive hawkers and the beach wasn't very clean. Plus it was incredibl;y hot and humid here.

Hoi An fruit seller and local in the traditional ao dai
Headed up to Hoi An after this which I loved! It has a French feel to the town and is very old.  Could have stayed here for the rest of my holiday! Hoi An has over 400 tailors here and you can get clothes made very cheaply. I bought some silk here which has the most beautiful fondle factor.   We drove from Hoi An to Hue via the Hai Van pass. The scenery along this route was some of the most beautiful and spectacular that we saw during our entire holiday.

Our Hanoi Kids guides outside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
We then flew to Hanoi.  I loved this very old city with the Old Quarter. One of the highlights was taking a trip with Hanoi Kids, a volunteer organisation made of of university students that wish to show off their city. They also use it as an opportunity to improve their English.  We had 2 amazing guides who spent the entire day with us showing us around Hanoi. We certainly had an insight into their lives and culture doing this. The service is entirely free and they will not take any financial recompense at all.

Halong Bay
The highlight, though, for both Tony and I was Halong Bay. We spent 3 days and 2 nights doing a cruise on Halong Bay, a World Heritage site that has over 3000 limestone karsts. It was a great way to finish the holiday.  We took over 2000 photos, and I have put a few of my fav ones on Flickr.

The food was amazing. I did a cooking class there at the Morning Glory cooking school. It wasn't just about cooking...it was also about their culture and customs and why they eat what they do. Fascinating. My fav food had to be the fresh spring rolls and the Cao Lau noodles, a local specialty in Hoi An.

The other highlight of my trip is that I bought an Ipad 2!!! Yay!! I just LOVE my new toy.  They had sold out in NZ as I had tried to buy one before I left so I could keep in touch with the kids etc while I was away. (All the hotels have free wifi which is fabulous). Anyway, found one in duty free on my way out of NZ.  How lucky was that!!

3 comments:

  1. Welcome home, Enjoyed your photos. Why did you choose VN for vacation?

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  2. Oooh I am off to Vietnam in a few weeks. Any hints or tips would be great. Place to see etc. Love the idea of having a cooking class and how did you meet those lovely students. By the way, love your quilt.

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  3. Sounds like an amazing trip, I am glad you got to experience that - I went to Hanoi a few years ago and loved Halong Bay too. I remember chatting with a German lady on the boat and the feeling of liberation that came over me as I stared out at the beautiful scenery! Food awesome too. :)

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