Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Travelling to The Mekong delta....Day 15

We left Ho Chi Minh City for a tour up the Mekong Delta, our guide, Been, pick us up at the hotel, we were expecting to be going on a bus with other tourists, but no, along with Me Ggung, our driver,  it was just the four of us in brand new 4x4 Toyota.

It was a two hour drive passing paddy field after paddy field, our first stop was the  Vinh TraNg Pagoda, where Been gave a run down on his faith of Buddism and introduced us to the Monks.

We then went down to the pier to get a boat to cross the mighty Mekong River, we landed on Unicorn island and visited a natural chocolate workshop and tasted their lovely products. We then moved on to a honey making workshop to taste their wares and have some wonderful local fruit. We were also serenaded by local musicians as we drank honey tea.

We then sailed over to "Coconut island " where they use every part of the coconut for a number of uses including the delicious coconut ice cream, a potent drink, coconut candy and even coconut lipstick.

We then boarded a small boat to sail up a small  off shoot of the river  called the Thoi Son canalthat was a bit spooky until we came to a landing area that led to our lunch stop restaurant that had a number of crocodiles next to it. The main course was an odd looking fish named " Elephant ear " and a young lady made fresh spring rolls at the table. We continued to sail along the Mekong River seeing how local people live their lives.

After a long day we headed to our hotel in Can tho, while we were driving to the hotel we heard that the Vietnam under 23 football side had won a match on a penalty shootout, we arrived in a city of utter and total Harlan. Thousand of fpeople are on the street celebrating and the noise from the car horns is deafening.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Ho chi Minh city /Saigon City tour....day 14

 Another early start for a tour of the City, we were joined by six other people and our  guide, Hang. Our first stop of the day was at the impressive Reunification Palace, the working and administrative building of the old South Vietnamese government. The tanks that smashed through the Palace gates in the early 70's are still in the grounds.

Our second second stop was at the famous old Post office building built by the French in the late nineteenth century, it's still a working Post office today.
Right across the road is the Notre Dame cathedral, this a beautiful building but sadly it was closed for restoration.

We then went to the War remnants museum dedicated to Vietnam' s war against the USA.  Of course there is the well know display of captured American military harware in the grounds including   tanks and helicopters .

 But it is the inside of the museum that really brings home the horrific loss that this country suffered.
This is a very sobering experience with some very graphic photographs and personal stories of the victims of that conflict. We learnt a great deal from this visit some of which was difficult to digest, it was quite moving.

In the evening we made our way over to the Saigon Opera house to see the production of the OA show, a cross between dance, drum, drama, ballet and Comedy. We then have a lovely meal at the Saffron Bistro around the corner from the theatre.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Travelling fom Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City.... Day 13

We said  goodbye to Nha Trang as we returned to the airport and hopped aboard a Vietnam airlines flight to Ho Chi Minh city, the flight took about 45 minutes.

As soon as we landed we could feel the rise in temperature and humidity, we were collected by a young guy who zipped through the City streets. We thought that Hanoi traffic was crazy well HCMC is just pure barmy.

We checked in to the Harmony Saigon hotel had  a siesta, a shower and then hit the mean streets of Ho Chi Minh city. As soon as we reached our first port of call, the Glow skybar, the heavens opened and it poured down. We managed to find some shelter in the Glow and as soon as it stopped raining we managed to take some good photos of the City's skyline.

We then searched for a place to grab a bite to eat, we were turned away from our first choice because they had a private party under way. We then happened upon the BBQ garden and asked two Americans who were leaving how the food was, they said it was fine but you had to cook it yourself at the table.

Sadly it turned out to be the poorest meals we have had so far on this trip, still there was enough spring rolls, rice and tiger beer to fill us up, by the way, they charged us for extra paper napkins, How wierd is that.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Emperor Cruise out of Nha Trang.....Day 12

This morning we were picked up at our hotel and taken down to the local dock, we the boarded a replica of a Chinese junk and set sail out of the bay towards the South China sea. The inside of the junk was elaborately decorated with arm chairs and sofas and a splendid dining room.

Our first stop was the Island of Hon Mun where we were transferred by speed boat to a hidden cove with a beach set up for our arrival. After a few hours of sunbathing, swimming and the odd Tiger beer we returned to the Junk for lunch, the menu included,

Bird nest soup
Mango salad
Fresh spring rolls
Grilled Tiger prawns
deep fried spring rolls with noodles
Sweet and sour chicken
Roast vegatables
Lemon sorbet

We then relaxed on the sundeck with the beautiful mountains surrounding us before setting sail to our next stop at Hon Mieu where we visited a local floating fishing village where they still use the old conical boats.
We then set sail for Nha Trang with the wind blowing through our hair.

In the evening we decided to have an Italian meal so we went to the recommended "Olivia" restaurant and we were not disappointed as we enjoyed a lovely meal. On the way home we stopped off and watched the Under 23 quarter final in the European football championship....and the bar went crazy as Vietnam won on penalties.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Nha Trang...Back to our Childhood....Day 11

After a light breakfast we hopped in a cab and Made our way over to the Vinpearl Island entertainment center. You reach the Island by way of a 3,200 metre cable car, the longest over open sea in the World.

The views from the cable cars are quite dramatic as cargo ships pass beneath you. Once we landed at Vinpearl, Mandy surprised me by asking if we could go on the first Rollercoaster that we saw, but boy did she scream the house down. 

To recover we strolled over to "Blooming hill" an absolutely beautiful area of manicured gardens with superb views across the bay to the City. Nearby we toured the huge glass cones with different eco systems inside, the flowers, plants and waterfalls were simply stunning.

We had a mid morning break at replica Japanese tea house that over looked the bay.  Duly refreshed we make our way to to the bird aviary, another wonderful attraction and you walk among hundreds of birds flying around you as duck out of the way including herons, peacocks, hugely colourful parrots and many more species.

I am getting tired here just recalling the day, so then we took a break at one of the restaurants overlooking the bay for a sandwich and a Tiger beer. We continued down to the complex's beach area for a paddle, sunbathe and to watch the water sport, especially the guys using the jet packs to hover over the water.

To finish off our visit we visited the aquarium and watched a hugely entertaining 4D film in their theater when a lot of special effects attacked you in your seat, Cue Mandy for another bout of screaming. So after six hours we decided to make our way back to the City, even though there was more we could have seen, Vinpearl is a hugely impressive complex and for all of the above we paid only 20 euros each.

Arriving back in Nha Trang Rob decided to have his hair clipped, only one problem, a Number two cut in Asia is different from a European cut of a number 2......she scalped me.....tho it will keep me cool.

In the evening we took a trip up to the Sky deck bar, the highest building in Nha Trang which has superb views over the City. We ended our day with a fine dinner at Lanterns restaurant.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Leaving Hoi an for Nha Trang....Day 10

We left Hoi An and took the  40 minute drive through the impressive City of Delang until we reached the airport. We then boarded the one hour flight on Vietnam airlines down to the City of Nha Trang. We were collected by a very talkative transfer driver who pointed out all the new huge five star hotels being built on the outskirts of the City.

We soon arrived at the Rosaka hotel, the base for our stay in Nha Trang, as always in Vietnam our check in was quick and easy. We dropped off our bags and headed for the beach side waterfront, we strolled along the beach as the sunset and stopped off at beach bar where we met two interesting guys from South Africa.

We walked back to the City centre and had a tasty meal at a local restaurant, the restaurant had a huge variety of fresh fish and seafood still alive in tanks outside close to the pavement.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An Bang beach... Day 9

On a warm and sultry day we hopped into cab and drove from Hoi An through the paddy fields to An Bang beach. The beach was quiet when we arrived and we enjoyed a long walk along the shoreline.

We then decided to stop off for a cooling drink at "The Deck" beachside bar, in fact it was such a relaxed atmosphere their that we stayed for lunch.

In the evening we walked into the old town and had another superb meal overlooking the old ancient town and river.

We then went into the "Dublin gate" Irish bar and listened to the most amazing musical Duo, the lady had great vocals and the guy on the guitar could make it sing.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Hoi An and the Riverside hotel was exceptional, but now it's time to Move On....