A Travellerspoint blog

April 2009

Hoi An, 29 April - 2 May 2009

Overnight soft sleeper (again) to Danang and then six of us shared a taxi to Hoi An. Here by 06h00 - in the pooring rain!

Well, although its highly tourist orientated, we liked Hoi An so much we stayed an extra day! Happily its one of the few historic places to have been spared significant damage during the American/Vietnam war. It really has the architecture and feel of what you like to hope an old town in this part of the world would have.

The weather seems to have broken and it rained a lot each day but we still had plenty of time to potter round the old town, looking at the sights and the shops - apart from the handicraft shops, there were dozens and dozens of tailors where you can have anything made in next to no time.

The food is excellent in Hoi An and there's quite a few restaurants offering cooking courses. I did one at the Citronella Cafe (excellent and professionally orgnised and run, and were OK with just having one pupil ... a visit to the market, then preparing 4 courses, which you get to eat of course, for not a lot more than the cost of the meal), whilst Lindsey went round and checked out the tailors. We both ended up having a few items of clothing made very cheaply, and were happy with the results.

We went out (by bus and then boat for part of the way back) to the temple complex at My Son. Its a pleasant trip and the few temples remaining are quite characterful in their verdant surroundings. (50 out of 70 temples were bombed out of existence by the Americans when they (wrongly) assumed that the Viet Cong were holed up there!! Any figures on the temples had also apparently previously had their heads removed by the French!). It pissed with rain most of the time!

With the weather improving, we also hired a bike on the last day and, in between showers, headed the 5kms to the beach at Cau Dai ... really enjoyed the ride and a walk along by the sea.

We came across Bia Hoi for the first time here in Hoi An. Its "Fresh Beer" - a light pilsener type real beer with no additives to make it keep for a long time, so it has to be drunk within a day or two of being made. We felt we should help them! Tastes very good indeed and costs ... ... ... 15-20 Euro Cents for 25 cls!!! Could be the cheapest beer in the world.

Around Hoi An 1

Around Hoi An 1


Around Hoi An 2

Around Hoi An 2


Around Hoi An 3

Around Hoi An 3


Around Hoi An 4

Around Hoi An 4


Around Hoi An 5

Around Hoi An 5


Around Hoi An 6

Around Hoi An 6


Around Hoi An 7

Around Hoi An 7


Around Hoi An 8

Around Hoi An 8


Around Hoi An 9

Around Hoi An 9


Around Hoi An 10

Around Hoi An 10


Around Hoi An 11

Around Hoi An 11


Around Hoi An 12

Around Hoi An 12


Around Hoi An 13

Around Hoi An 13


Around Hoi An 14

Around Hoi An 14


Goodnight Hoi An

Goodnight Hoi An


Hoi An Shopping 1

Hoi An Shopping 1


Hoi An Shopping 2

Hoi An Shopping 2


Hoi An Shopping 3

Hoi An Shopping 3


Hoi An Shopping 4

Hoi An Shopping 4


Hoi An Shopping 5

Hoi An Shopping 5


"Fresh Beer" !!

"Fresh Beer" !!


Temples 1

Temples 1


Temples 2

Temples 2


Temples 3

Temples 3


My Son in the rain 1

My Son in the rain 1


My Son in the rain 2

My Son in the rain 2


My Son in the rain 3

My Son in the rain 3


My Son in the rain 4

My Son in the rain 4


My Son in the rain 6

My Son in the rain 6


My Son in the rain 5

My Son in the rain 5


m1

m1


m2

m2


m3

m3


m4

m4


m5

m5


Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 1

Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 1


Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 2

Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 2


Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 3

Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 3


Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 4

Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 4


Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 5

Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 5


Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 6

Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 6


Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 7

Cua Dai beach trip by bicycle 7


accom1

accom1


accom2

accom2


This piggy had an unsavoury end !!

This piggy had an unsavoury end !!


Cooking Course 1

Cooking Course 1


Cooking Course 2

Cooking Course 2


Cooking Course 3

Cooking Course 3


Cooking Course 4

Cooking Course 4


c6

c6

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Nha Trang 26 - 28 April 2009

Its been quite hectic on our travels recently - so we thought we deserved a few days by the sea! Nha Trang is a resort town up the coast. We took the overnight train (soft sleeper = civilised and comfortable) and headed for a hotel recommended by a couple of Americans we had sat next to in a bar in HCMC. We even got the same room as one of them had recommended - large room on 4th floor with two large beds, air con, TV, balcony, great view of seafront, free internet, breakfast included for just US $20 !

Nha Trang is a pleasant resort with a nice beach but could be anywhere - we can see the multi storey Novotel from our room but, on the day we arrived, it was great just to wander the short way down to the beach, and laze under a thatched parasol.

One thing to do here is to head out to the islands on a boat trip for the day. We ended up on a boat full of Vietnamese (and Koreans apparently, we did not notice the difference) and an Australian couple. The places visited were certainly not anything special, but it was good fun as we got nicely fed, listened to the boat crew turn band (with drums, electric guitar and our host as a singer + karioke ...), and then endulged in a "floating bar"!!! The convivial host swam out beside the boat with a large piece of polystirene with a bouquet of plastic flowers on, several bottles of local Dalat red wine and plastic cups for those who wished to partake! The revellers then just had to jump in the sea, wait for a tube to be thrown for them, swim out to the floating bar and join in the fun. Probably would not make a special effort to drink the local wine otherwise ... but this was quite memorable!

Incidentally, the photos of the floating bar just show our convivial host and myself because we had to wait until Lindsey was back on the boat before we could get a photo! Quite a few of the locals joined in.

Nha Trang station 06h30

Nha Trang station 06h30


Blue Star Hotel

Blue Star Hotel


View from hotel room balcony (incl Novotel)

View from hotel room balcony (incl Novotel)


Chilled ripe mango - delicious!

Chilled ripe mango - delicious!


View from hotel room balcony

View from hotel room balcony


Nha Trang Beach 1

Nha Trang Beach 1


Nha Trang Beach 2

Nha Trang Beach 2


Nha Trang Beach 3

Nha Trang Beach 3


Boat Trip - Harbour

Boat Trip - Harbour


Boat Trip - Fishing Boats

Boat Trip - Fishing Boats


Boat Trip - Partakers

Boat Trip - Partakers


Boat Trip - Scenery

Boat Trip - Scenery


Boat Trip - Lunch on upper deck for a few

Boat Trip - Lunch on upper deck for a few


Boat Trip - Kareoke Time!

Boat Trip - Kareoke Time!


Boat Trip - Floating Bar!

Boat Trip - Floating Bar!


Boat Trip - Floating Bar 2

Boat Trip - Floating Bar 2

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Ho Chi Minh City 2, 24 - 25 April 2009

We bumped into a guy who had been with us on the bus from Phnom Penh to HCMC before heading off to the Mekong Delta and he said that we must go and have a look at the place he was staying which was very friendly, good and cheap ... anyway we decided that it would be nice to change from the 8th storey room on our first visit to a small "rooms for rent" place hidden in the back alleys for a change (and cheaper room). We probably would not have got down these alleys otherwise ... quite interesting to see how the locals live at close quarters - mostly it seemed laying flat out on the floor watching the tele ... and the women often wear what looked very like pyjamas ... perhaps it saves changing when they go to bed!

There's not a great deal of specific sights in HCMC, but we had a busy couple of days - lots of atmospheric pagodas and the "popular" War Remnants Museum. It was previously named the Museum of American War Crimes, but was subsequently renamed. Not pretty viewing!

Around HCMC - Typical traffic !

Around HCMC - Typical traffic !


Around HCMC - Cyclo driver having lunch

Around HCMC - Cyclo driver having lunch


Around HCMC - Backpacker Area

Around HCMC - Backpacker Area


Around HCMC - Typical thin hotels (including ours)

Around HCMC - Typical thin hotels (including ours)


Around HCMC1

Around HCMC1


Around HCMC 2

Around HCMC 2


Around HCMC 3

Around HCMC 3


Around HCMC 4

Around HCMC 4


Around HCMC - Cholon area

Around HCMC - Cholon area


Downtown

Downtown


Colonial buildings - Notre Dame Cathedral

Colonial buildings - Notre Dame Cathedral


Colonial buildings - Ex Hotel de Ville

Colonial buildings - Ex Hotel de Ville


Colonial buildings - Post Office

Colonial buildings - Post Office


Barbecue your own !

Barbecue your own !


Barbecue your own 2

Barbecue your own 2


Giac Lam Pagoda 1

Giac Lam Pagoda 1


Giac Lam Pagoda 2

Giac Lam Pagoda 2


Giac Lam Pagoda 3

Giac Lam Pagoda 3


Pagoda in Cholon

Pagoda in Cholon


Colonial buildings - Cha Tam Church

Colonial buildings - Cha Tam Church


Jade Pagoda 1

Jade Pagoda 1


Jade Pagoda 2

Jade Pagoda 2


Jade Pagoda 4

Jade Pagoda 4


Jade Pagoda 3

Jade Pagoda 3


War Remnants Museum ! - Ex US Hardware

War Remnants Museum ! - Ex US Hardware


War Remnants Museum

War Remnants Museum


War Remnants Museum - A child's painting

War Remnants Museum - A child's painting


Regular Evening Stop!

Regular Evening Stop!

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Mekong Delta, 22 - 23 April 2009

I think it would rather better to 'do it yourself' round the Mekong Delta but the tour is certainly the only way to get a decent glimpse in a couple of days ... and the tours really are inexpensive.

Over the two days it was based around the two centres of My Tho and Can Tho and was quite well organised with lots of time on the water, using a variety of boats (from ones carrying half the group right down to two persons paddling just two occupants through very narrow channels), visiting a variety of locations, for a variety of activities ... to look round and sample the produce from cottage industries - and have the opportunity to buy the produce of course! (eg coconut candy 'factory', honey bee farm (tasty honey tea with lime), rice noodle 'factory' ...), have lunch, visit orchards and sample some exotic fruits, check out a large floating market ... Quite a hectic schedule. We are just not used to being herded around places with 20 - 30 other people!

However, we did make the choice to spend a small amount extra to stay overnight at a homestay rather than stay in a hotel with the rest of the crowd in Can Tho. This certainly was the highlight of the trip. There were just six of us altogether. We left the others at the hotel, had a minibus take us on to a landing stage where we were taken 10k out of town on a small waterway to stay in bungalows next to the water. We were immediately invited in to help make and cook some sweet potato and tofu spring rolls, and then were presented with a lovely spread of food. One thing we have never tried before was making our own fresh spring rolls - laying rice paper on the palm of the hand, adding lettuce, mint, rice vermicelli, cucumber, tomato and the deliciously prepared elephant fish, rolling it up and then dipping in a superb fish sauce ... delicious! Add a few local beers and pleasant company ... The following morning the guy from the homestay took us round the local village (at 06h00!!) - really a plus. Then we left by boat to meet up with the rest of the group on the main river and transfer to the boat going to the floating market ... ...

Mekong River near My Tho

Mekong River near My Tho


Mekong River near My Tho - Fishing Boats

Mekong River near My Tho - Fishing Boats


Mekong Waterways near My Tho

Mekong Waterways near My Tho


Mekong Waterways near My Tho 2

Mekong Waterways near My Tho 2


Mekong Waterways near My Tho 3

Mekong Waterways near My Tho 3


Mekong Waterways near My Tho 4

Mekong Waterways near My Tho 4


Mekong Waterways near My Tho 5

Mekong Waterways near My Tho 5


Mekong Waterways near My Tho 6

Mekong Waterways near My Tho 6


Mekong Waterways near My Tho 7

Mekong Waterways near My Tho 7


Homestay - Lindsey cooking Spring Rolls!

Homestay - Lindsey cooking Spring Rolls!


Homestay - Dinner - delicious!

Homestay - Dinner - delicious!


Homestay - Dinner - DIY Spring Roll

Homestay - Dinner - DIY Spring Roll


Homestay - Dinner

Homestay - Dinner


Homestay - Accommodation

Homestay - Accommodation


Village nr Homestay - Crossing river

Village nr Homestay - Crossing river


Village nr Homestay - Crossing river with ADH

Village nr Homestay - Crossing river with ADH


Village nr Homestay

Village nr Homestay


Village nr Homestay 2

Village nr Homestay 2


Village nr Homestay 3

Village nr Homestay 3


Village - Leaving Homestay

Village - Leaving Homestay


River near Can Tho

River near Can Tho


River near Can Tho 2

River near Can Tho 2


River near Can Tho 3

River near Can Tho 3


River near Can Tho 4

River near Can Tho 4


Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 1

Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 1


Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 2

Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 2


Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 3

Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 3


Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 4

Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 4


Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 5

Nr Can Tho - Cam Rai Floating Market 5


Menu  in Can Tho - Anyone for Rats ? !

Menu in Can Tho - Anyone for Rats ? !

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Ho Chi Minh City 1

We took the "Mekong Express Limousine Bus" from Pnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (Only USA $12 per person) - and, in fact, it was excellent! ... 6 hours, comfortable, smooth and organised passing through Cambodian and Vietnam passport/visa controls, and even a host who gave commentaries/explanations in Cambodian, Vietnamese and understandable English! Highly civilised - and we even got dropped off right in the middle of the main backpacker accommodation area.

The first impression of Vietnam is of an enormous quantity/proportion of motor cycles and scooters, with "free for all" road rules! Crossing the road here in the city tends to be a case of walking slowly and purposefully through the incessant traffic and relying on the drivers missing you!

Things are faster paced here than Cambodia and a lot faster paced than Loas - but we quite like the feel of the place. Beer is practically given away (eg Saigon beer is less then 0.50 Euro Cents a 450cl bottle), and the food so far has been really very good and lots of variety.

We checked out quite a few tour agencies before booking the Mekong tour ... they are all pretty similar but we decided on one eventually ... and found the direct railway booking agency to book three overnight sleeper journeys heading up to Hanoi (good job as the "soft sleepers" were close to full in a couple of cases). Had some time for a bit of a look around, and to find one or two nice "addresses", but we will be busy for the couple of days when get back here ...

I'll upload the photos in the other HCMC entry.

Posted by Lindseyalan73 17:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)