April 26th – A day by the Pool & Hội An Town

We checked out of our hotel in Da Nang after breakfast as were on the move again  this time by taxi to Hội An which is a historic town which is also an  UNESCO World Heritage Site. We went in 2 taxis due to the luggage we had between us. It was a good journey out through to the country going past many amazing marble carvers with huge buddhas everywhere – stunning statues.

When we arrived at our hotel the Lasenta Boutique Hotel it was beautiful with spanish charm and the most amazing view over the rice fields.

  

Simon, Chim and Kyan had a room with a view and we had a balcony room (we had upgraded to the best room on the top floor and it was worth it for the view). 

We settled in and decided that we would spend the afternoon relaxing we went for cocktails and snacks in the lounge bar and it was wonderful to sit and relax with a cool breeze blowing through.

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We ate in the hotel that evening too and the food was really good we had a selection of western and Vietnamese dishes and all were very tasty and presented beautifully.

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The next morning after breakfast we took the hotel transport to the old town which was about 10 minutes down the road.

The town was stunning you start by walking through the market stalls including the wet market direct from the river, the produce there was wonderful and if we had time we would have had a fab walk around but as it was very hot and we had Kyan with us we did not want to spend too much time in the heat.

 

We then walked along the river and decided to pop into a bar for a drink to cool us down.

 

We then entered the main old town area and spent time looking at the shops and the stunning old architecture, it was good to walk around the old streets which have been a trading port since the 15th century. We bought some lovely bits ( you have to haggle and Chim was great at this as we did not know where to start ) .

 

We then Carried on to see the world-famous Japanese Covered Bridge, there has been a bridge on this site since the 159Os and inside the bridge is a shrine to visit ( no photos allowed ) you can pay an entrance fee ( you can get tickets for all the attractions in town) but as we were just browsing we did not bother to get these ( about $5.00 each) The bridge was stunning and an amazing structure to walk across ( free) The decoration inside was even better than the designs we can see on the outside.

 

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After we had visited the bridge we decided to go for lunch and found a great Art restaurant with unique modern art on the walls and for sale and it had fab food too.

 

 

After Lunch we carried on walking through the town but by then it was really hot and humid so we decided to go back to the hotel and have a swim in the pool.

It was a great swimming pool and really nice for Kyan to go into also as it was his first swim ever and he loved it.

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We ate again in the hotel restaurant that night and again the food was great quality, I would certainly stay at The Lasenta Boutique Hotel and spend more time looking around Hoi An ( there is even a beach we did not have time to visit) and the hotel transport runs on a regular service to both so will save getting taxis too.

It really was a stunning town, setting and hotel and I was sad to leave but we were flying to  Phu Quoc Island the next day via Hồ Chí Minh city so 2 flights, a taxi, then a paradise island.

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April 25th – Day Trip to Hue

 

I woke up early the next morning (at 5AM – it’s getting to be a habit now) and was awake in time to watch a beautiful sunrise over the sea. I was so amazed I woke Tim to show him and he was glad I did. There were even people swimming in the sea at that time but as Simon said they wanted to swim before it got too hot to be on the beach and it was already 29ºC  so it was going to be a hot one.

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We went down for breakfast  (in a different restaurant – a fish restaurant at night)  and were very impressed with the selection of breakfast dishes, they had a full Asian, Indian, European, and American selection, after the evening before it came as a lovely surprise. 

Chim had arranged a private driver for the day for us to go and visit the Old Citadel and Pagoda in Hue another city not far from Da Nang, He was a very nice chap who works for one of Chims clients hotels and as he was employed as a guide for the hotel guests knew the best places to stop.

We were going through the Hải Vân Pass to Hue which is approximately 21 km (13 miles) long mountain pass on National Route 1A in Vietnam. It traverses a spur of the larger Annamite Mountain Range and has amazing views down to Da Nang Bay.

We started by leaving Da Nang by the Dragon Bridge which is a stunning bridge which gets set alight and breathes fire at weekends and Bank Holidays. As it was a Bank Holiday on that day we thought we may go down later but depending how tired we were after our day trip.

We started climbing the Hải Vân Pass and the views were amazing, it was fairly misty so the view was not as good as on other days but in Vietnamese Hải Vân  means “Ocean cloud” which refers to the sea mists that rise below the mountains so it was a normal occurrence.

We stopped at a viewing site which was packed with people out on the Bank Holiday but it gave us the best views. It was at the Hải Vân Gate which was an old border gate which had been part of the frontier protection of Vietnam. It is a popular place for both tourists and locals to stop (there were a couple there having their wedding photos taken while we were there), this also means there are tourist stalls and slightly pushy sellers but if you cross the road away from the car park they do not follow.

It was a lovely journey through to Hue and it takes about 2 hours from Da Nang. When we arrived, we parked in the car park next to the citadel and went for a bite of lunch before our visit.

The Imperial City is a walled palace within the citadel of the city of Huế, the former imperial capital of Vietnam.

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To enter the citadel you cross over the original moat and enter through the The Meridian Gate (also known as the south Gate). which was built in 1833.

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When you enter the main Citadel you then face toward the Imperial Palace in the center after crossing lily ponds with koi carp swimming up to you.

 

The building was built in 1362 and took around 200 years to complete although most of the buildings are 19th century as they have been built by various emperors in their reins they are still great to look at. The whole site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As you walk forward to stand in front of the forbidden city and can see the amazing colours and designs even after all this time. The reds and golds are astonishing you can then enter the inner sanctum (a notice states that you are not allowed to take photos in there and have to cover your shoulders – although i seemed to be the only one following the rules as there were many strappy tops around! ) In there you can see the Emperor’s throne and examples of the documents they used and the seals to stamp them (huge). There is also an exhibition of photos of the boy Emperor Duy Tân who reigned from when he was 7 until he was 16 and his entourage

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When you have been in the inner sanctum you pass into the long corridors again with original colours and designs the doorways are beautiful and you can imagine the Emperor walking with his advisors along these very walkways.

By this time the heat was quite unbearable so we decided we would make our way out there were over 4km of gardens and paths to see but some were being restored and others were rubble, Simon pointed out where there were gun holes from the Vietnam war and we also saw where heavy machinery had been used as this was close to the military area campsites during the war. It is a shame that again war has damaged such beautiful historic sites.

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As we left the Citadel we walked past some of the other buildings and gardens and they were beautiful. There was lots of activity going on as it was Hue festival week starting the next day, stages were being set up and lighting arranged but we could still experience some of the peace of the place which had been the center of so much upheaval in the past.

 

We decided we would go next to the Thien Mu Pagoda, it was extremely hot but decided we would go for a quick look and at least we could say we had seen it, even if we come back next time for a longer visit in the cooler season. It is just down the road from the Citadel and as we had thought was very busy so we just popped out of the car and walked along the river to see it from the bottom of the hill.

 

On the way back the driver suggested we go home via The Hải Vân Tunnel, which is the longest tunnel in Southeast Asia at 6.28 km (3.90 mi) long and was a great experience which cut an hour off of our journey and was new for us too.

We then drove back to Da Nang but were completely shattered and as it started to rain on the way home too decided that we would not visit the dragon bridge but would go out for a meal and booked a table along the river just down from the bridge. 

It was an International and Vietnamese fusion restaurant called Waterfront and the food was great quality and although we sat at the back downstairs as wanted a quiet meal they have an upper section too and a great menu.

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With a great desert and good cocktails too it was a good end to a very busy day.

 

We knew the next day we were on the move again to a very special place  – Hội An.

April 24th – Flying to Da Nang

Our Flights were not until later in the afternoon so we had time to relax in our hotel before we left for the airport. We were flying from the domestic terminal which is a lot smaller than the International one and you get coached out to the plane. We arrived in plenty of time and our flight had already been delayed a bit ( all the domestic ones seem to get delayed most of the time so if you are arranging onward journeys allow plenty of time).

When we left I did get an amazing view over Ho Chi Minh City showing the vastness of the city.

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It was only  just over an hours flight and Kyan was great to start off with but then got fed up so he was glad when we arrived (and so were Simon and Chim).

 

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I will say it was an interesting flight over land ( and unbelievable how many people still had their mobile phones switched on the whole time! ) I managed to get a few nice photos of the cloud formations over the mountains and some good views of the Vietnamese countryside.

 

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When we arrived we got 2 taxis to the hotel which was on the beach front, as it was a bank holiday the next day it was quite busy and there was a music gig being set up outside which was loud but the view from the hotel was stunning and the room was nice with a great bathroom again.

 

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We were quite late arriving so as we had been offered a free cocktail in the sky bar thought we would take advantage, When I reached the pool area I realised the sky bar was up a spiral staircase and would be difficult for me but the manager was there and was happy to let us sit in the restaurant with the cocktails and very yummy they were.

 

 

 

The hotel restaurant was described as a Greek fusion on the information and we decided that as we had been travelling we would stay and eat there. This was the only mistake we have made during the holiday as the food was disgusting and inedible. Simon ordered mussels and they had been microwaved, and were mushy so he sent them back, and was told they would cook him fresh, he then got his main course out before the new starter had been served and this was cold and microwaved too, as Tim was still eating his bisque ( not good ) and I had not been given anything at all then we decided to complain and go somewhere else. we were not charged for the food thank goodness but was a real disappointment. 

We went out and along the front a bit and into the town area we looked at some menus but were not sure what we wanted, we then came across a Korean Barbecue place which smelled yummy so went in and gosh we are so glad we did.

Korean Barbecues are partially cooked in front of you then you have them at the table to finish them off. Simon and Chim had Filet mignon-steak and Tim and I chose the skewers it really was the best steak we have eaten for a long time.

 

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I had Korean rice wine to go with it, I loved this as it had a different taste to Saké it was much sweeter but was also 19% so rather strong.

 

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In the end it was a very good evening and we were so pleased we found the steak house as it was a great meal.

April 23rd – Skyscrapers, Traffic and Dinner in the rain.

Well after the big day yesterday I was so glad we were not doing much today other than looking at the shops and relaxing, We had been invited to visit Chims parents house in the evening and as Simon and Chim did not have Kyan for the day they arranged to meet us at one of the local shopping centres. 

When we arrived it was huge on about 4 floors and ultra modern really nice but very posh. As all I needed to buy was a backpack and a hair brush (to be honest we do not need any more stuff ) we decided to go to some of the more local markets and look there.

I did manage to find a bag but not the type of hairbrush I wanted and the weather was getting very hot again. so we grabbed a car to the Bitexco Financial Tower which at the moment is the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City although they are half way through building a new even taller one.

The Bitexco building has a restaurant on floor 50 and a bar on floor 51, it is a working tower with office space so the way you access the 2 floors is strange – When you enter you have to go up an escalator (no lifts or stairs) then pick up a lift to the 50th floor , walk over to another lift and go the last floor to the bar. a bit higgledy-piggledy but the lift was unbelievably fast shooting us to the 50th floor in a couple of seconds!

We started by having a cocktail on the 50th floor and very nice Mojito it was, and Tim enjoyed his watermelon smoothie too.

 

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After this we went up to the bar area and had more drinks and Tim and Simon had a walk round looking at the view. It was stunning and gave us an idea of how the city spreads out ( over 11,000,000 people live in Ho Chi Minh ) and although there is always a large amount of pollution and smog we could see quite a way out.

We ordered a bite of lunch – chicken wings and tempura mix ( prawn and veg)  and they were really yummy ( but not cheap ).

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As we had decided to have a quiet day we then went back to our places to get ready and meet up at Chims parents that evening.

By the way here is another couple of views of our bathroom at The Millennium Boutique Hotel which we were staying at in Ho Chi Minh – it was a huge bathroom as I have stated before.

 

 

Now earlier in the blog ( if you have been following) I fleetingly mentioned the traffic in Ho Chi Minh and I have been trying to think how to describe the force of nature which are the mopeds in the city. It is one of those phenomenon which is very hard to describe unless the person who you are telling have been to the city and experienced it too .. yes those of my friends who have travelled here you are right – it has Character, it is unusual, it is an experience,  and all the other polite things people who have travelled here said to me trying not to not put me off!

I say it as it is – it is the most mental place we have ever been –  even giving Cairo a run for its money.

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There are set traffic lanes  one for bikes  ( mopeds ) one for a mix and one for cars / busses only well with 11,000,000 people that means 11,000,000 mopeds (yes really) so you have bikes on the road, bikes on the paths, bikes going in both directions down the same lane, bikes crossing from crossroads ( in groups of about 50 like a shoal of fish),  in between Taxis, Busses, private cars, lorries, push bikes and people ( like us ) crossing the road!

Crossing the Road in Ho Chi Minh – A Brief Guide

  1. DON’T! 

Or if that is not Practical –

  • Get ready to cross – take no notice of zebra crossings  – no one does.
  • Wait for a break in the traffic – busses / taxis never stop so don’t walk in front of them.
  • Keep walking even with a sea of mopeds coming towards you – they will go round you. ( on both sides) 
  • NEVER stop as people do not know what you are doing and that confuses the situation.

This even is the same if you are getting in or out of cars as the bikes will be constantly coming. but will go round you, and don’t forget they may come from any direction as people do not always take notice of the traffic lanes / direction.

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The other thing to note is HORNS – now all vehicles – including mopeds – have horns and they are used, If you are overtaking someone ( on either side of them!) …. you blow your horn, If you are crossing a crossroads to warn others coming ….you blow your horn, if you are slowing down …. you blow your horn, basically you must blow your horn every 60 seconds or so or the world will end. 

 

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We experienced  traffic in all its glory when we went over to Chims parents house as we were travelling over in rush hour from district 1 to district 10.

They are not that far apart as the districts are very similar to the Paris ones and do not go in a set order but are spread over the city. so District 10 Where Chims parents live is next to District 1 where we were staying ( where Simon and Chim live in district 2 ).

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The amount of people on the roads was unreal as though the whole of Ho Chi Minh city were travelling at the same time – and they probably were! I don’t think I am ever going to complain about the Marsh Mills, or Manadon roundabouts in rush hour at home ever again.

 

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We arrived at Chims parents house, it was lovely and they are so nice, Su came home too and it was good to see her one more time before we left as we knew that we would not have a chance to go back to Ho Chi Minh before we go home so wanted to make the most of our time visiting them. As grandmas do Chims mum settled Kyan down and he went to sleep so they offered for him to stay there while we went out to eat.

We had already arranged to eat in a roof top restaurant in the city that evening opposite the shopping centres we had been to during the day, Chanh Bistro  – we were a little unsure if it would  be OK as it was on an open rooftop but we phoned to ask and they had covers to put over and Simon had eaten there before so knew the food was good.

I Had beetroot and goats cheese salad

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Tim had the boneless chicken wings

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Chim had lamb shank

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Simon had Prawns and scallops

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They were all very delicious and for our last evening in Ho Chi Minh city it was perfect and when we finished eating the rain had stopped too.

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How do I feel about Ho Chi Minh?  It is a strange city and the traffic is scary – Tim had his eyes closed for most of the car journeys – it is a mix of old and new and there are a lot of building works going on. I found there were too many people for me and it is constantly busy but for a younger more able person there is a lot to explore.

 

 

 

 

April 22nd -The Mekong Delta

Most of our trip we have let Simon and Chim arrange where we go and what we see but I had booked the one tourist trip which was this one to The Mekong Delta and a river trip. I made sure it was a small group tour from Viator as we have used them on a number of occasions and have never been let down.

We were ready in the lobby of our hotel at 8am and were due to be picked up between 8am and 8.30am. at 8.25 the reception team saw we were still waiting and offered to call the company to make sure there was nothing wrong, they were assured the bus was on its way and would be with us in 5 minutes – and it was.

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Our tour guide was a young man called Danny – not his real name which he told us but thought we would have trouble remembering and he was right as we have forgotten it. 

There were 9 of us on the tour ourselves a young couple from Germany, a man from Korea, a chap from Malaysia, a lady from Brisbane Australia and a couple our age from … Birmingham! As you can imagine the banter started immediately between Tim and the gent, it was going to be a fun trip.

It was about a 2 hour drive the Mekong delta and Danny gave us great information all the way.

Our First stop was “The Happy Happy shop” now for anyone who has never been on one of these all day tours the thing to remember is yes you are there to see things but you are also a sitting customer who has the ability to buy things; so there will be times on any tour where the guide either knows a good bargain shop which you must visit  or wants to show you some demonstrations of local crafts / produce, now it is always up to you if you buy or not these days we only buy if it is something we had planed to get in the first place.

In the Happy Happy shop we were taken in to a room and the door closed ( nothing unusual there either ) and given a demonstration by a pretty girl on all the great products made by her company locally out of both coconut and bamboo. we had demos of cleaning products, clothing, toothpaste! you name it she showed us it. we all looked at each other and all I could think of its like being on a live QVC programme haha!!

We were then taken in to the warehouse which was piled high with these products and the walkway in an s shape pattern with girls offering us at every product it was so funny.

We actually did buy 3 things some bamboo and charcoal toothpaste, some bamboo toothbrushes and a nice set of chopsticks all together £5.00 . Since getting back to the hotel I have had a close look at the toothpaste and looked up the manufacture information – Made in China of course.

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Our next stop was to the Vinh Trang Pagoda which was stunning and had beauty both inside and out the weather was perfect and Danny told us a lot of information about the Pagoda, how it is used and what the Buddhas represent.

 

 

 

 

As you walk about there is so much to see and take in I wish we had more time there but we still managed to capture the essence of the building.

 

 

 

 

The last 2 things to see are the laying down Buddha and the laughing Buddha they are amazing and unless you are close to them its hard to imagine their size.

 

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We left the pagoda and a short hop took us to the quay where we were picking up our boat. Now for those who know me I am a large person who has a few problems with my knees and hips, when I read the information on the website it mentions a sampan  which i was unsure about but when we reached the quay I stressed out as the “Big” boat was OK but to get to it you had to climb over the front end while it wobbled about. I decided i could not do this but Danny our guide said he would help and also a couple of the other chaps did too and YES i managed it!  What an achievement for me but i did wonder if there was more to come….

 

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Yes I got on one of these!

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The first island we came to was where they make coconut sweets we watched them desiccating the coconut before pressing the juice out, boiling the sweets and then wrapping them I would have bought some but knew we were going to be travelling round and am sure you can buy the same in the shops anyway.

 

 

We then  took a horse and cart ride to the restaurant for lunch, I have never been keen on these type of tourist things as we know the animals are never treated as well as they should be and are often over worked. It was a really hot day but he did not have water on board for the horse which was wrong and we all told him. 

 

 

 

We stopped by the river for lunch and it was a nice selection of local dishes, Tim enjoyed it but it was a bit early for me as was only just after 12.00 so I did not eat anything. 

After lunch we then got on to a smaller boat (yes really) and took off to go and see the honey bees and drink honey tea.

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An even smaller boat

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After the tea we all walked though a market ( tourist) and down to watch traditional Mekong folk singing we were given fruit ( the mango was amazing ) and green tea it was nice but by then we were all shattered and were ready for the drive home.

We were all very hot and I will say I was aching from trying to get in the small boats but the next one threw me in to a real panic as it was the smallest one which was a traditional sampan but again i had to get on as there was no other way back.

It took a bit but I managed it and it held 3 of us with 2 ladies paddling , they did it very well although the one behind me was asking for a tip all the way!

I did give her 10,000 VND ( about 35p) 

We did not manage to take any photos of the sampan as Tim was concentrating on helping me and I had to clamber out on my bottom as usual ( without falling in the river!) . We were transferred to the original large boat – which looked very large after the other small ones and back to the mini bus for the 2 hour drive back.

It was a good if tiring day and by the time we got back the whole group were friendly and it made it special. 

Would I do it again – possibly but people should be aware that the whole of the trip is like a sales campaign and you are the customer – it does not mean you have to buy but this can get quite wearing after a while. 

When we arrived back at hotel we decided we would eat there as the food was good so we had some traditional food – Tim had Teriyaki Chicken and I had Fish and Chips !

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Sat April 21st – Into the Unknown

We were up fairly early and went up to the restaurant for breakfast and were really amazed at the selection there as it included everything from fresh fruit (the water melon was stunning) to noodles, dim sum and American style pancakes (freshly made) and a chef to make your eggs however you wanted them. I just had fruit and yogurt as that was plenty.

Simon, Chim and Kyan came to meet us at about 9.30 and we took a Grab car to the Reunification Palace where the President of Southern Vietnam used to live before the Vietnam war – people may remember it as it was the site at the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.

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We arrived fairly early but there were still a lot of people there as it was a Saturday and there were also a number of school trips which was so sweet as all the children saw we were European and were practising their English on us I think I must have had 75 “Hello and How are you today’s” it was cute as some were very young, I think as a grandma I appreciate it more now, and also feel proud that Kyan will be at least Bi-lingual from a very early age so will have a head start.

We bought Tickets (and I got a hat) and walked into the Palace, it actually felt very peaceful compared with the city. We had a look around the grounds to start with before the heat set in; there were some lovely shaded areas and good views of the Palace.

 

 

We entered the Palace and looked at the kitchens which were fascinating as you can imagine them bustling to prepare banquets for important people and being very hot. We then went further through the corridor and saw these interesting cars –

 

 

After this we got the lift to the top floor as we had decided to work our way down.  We started by looking at the Reception rooms and the first one we saw was the First Lady’s room.

 

 

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We could tell it was 60-70s by the design of the furniture, and again the same styles were to be seen in the next room, which was the cinema.

 

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Again very elaborate, we did wonder that while all this glitter and rich decor was in place how many of the real Vietnamese citizens were living by having a very basic and hard lifestyle. This was often the same though in any country including our own in the past, the leaders have so much more than the normal people and do not consider how they are suffering.

After the state rooms we went to the roof and viewed the helicopter which was always on site to transport the President. There was an amazing view of the city from the roof of the palace.

 

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We then carried on looking at the private apartments which were all very swish and then finally we visited the War cabinet room which was used during the war and was next to the President’s office.

 

 

 

By this time it was extremely hot so we thought we would go and get a drink and then some lunch so we went to the cafe in the grounds and I had a passion fruit tea which was not only yummy but also very refreshing I will say the fruit teas here are my favourite things as they are sweet but healthy.

Simon had decided to try a restaurant he and Chim had heard of but never visited for lunch and it was a great choice. It was called Propaganda and it was very small (lucky we did not have the pram with us) but the food was amazing Tim and I had the spring rolls and they were fresh with great taste and just enough for lunch. Chim and Simon had the Pork and rice and the chicken.

 

 

After lunch we visited The War Remnants Museum to be honest I was not happy with the museum and did not enjoy looking at the pictures on the walls ( which were the main exhibits) these were gruesome photos of the monstrosities of war and although it is important to remember the unimaginable atrocities which took place, I did not feel at all comfortable at looking at the human suffering knowing that this happened during my lifetime and the families of the people in the photos would still be living.  It was also not a true view of the war as was really showing what the USA did.  It did not give you historic information about pre-war or why the war started which is information I would have wanted to know.

I also did not take any photos of the Museum as I believed it would not be a correct thing to do. Chim was visibly upset by the place as it was her first visit too.

After the Museum we got taxis back to our hotel and the others went home to rest before dinner as in the evening we were having a big family get together so we could meet Chim’s family.

We all met up at 5.30 in a rooftop barbecue restaurant it was amazing, and all Chim’s close family were there, it was lovely to meet her Mum Dad and Sister after all this time as although we are friends on Facebook it’s not the same as meeting face to face. Chims Aunt and Uncle were there too, they all adore Kyan it was good to meet them also.

We loved the restaurant as there were built-in barbecues in the middle of the table and you cooked your own food and there was a huge selection of side dishes and dips. it was good evening and Chim and her sister Su translated for us and it was so much fun.

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After dinner we went downstairs to an Ice cream parlour called Fanny we had the yummiest ice cream sundaes Tim and I shared one which was a white chocolate shell with  strawberry sorbet and salted caramel ice cream  and it was delicious.

 

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After Ice-cream Chim, Simon, Su and her husband walked with us down the “Walking street” this is one of the main shopping streets which on Saturday and Sunday Evenings are closed to traffic and there are street entertainers and music – it was lovely. We then said goodnight to Su and Pinky.

Simon and Chim walked us back to our hotel we saw some great architecture on the way.

 

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It had been a busy but interesting day and we knew the next day was going to be just as hectic as Tim and I were going to visit The Mekong Delta and experience the river delta.

April 20th -A Real Meet and Greet

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After swapping planes in Hong Kong which went as planned we arrived at last in Tan Son Nhat International Airport at Ho Chi Minh City and were soon in customs. Simon had already warned us that customs can take hours. There were lots of people queueing in lots of lines but it was not too bad they only take one person at a time so if you have a family of 8 for example it can take ages. Simon was very surprised we got through so quickly.

Simon was waiting outside the customs area and although there were 100s of people there ( like a football match) he was easy to see as was so much taller than most of them.

We then drove to Simon and Chim’s apartment as it was too early to check in and we also wanted to drop off the extra stuff we brought over for them. They live in a brand new apartment block over looking the river it has a beautiful view on the outside but a stunning one on the inside too.

 

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Meeting Grandma for the first time

We had lots of cuddles with Kyan but he is going to be a granddads boy as he likes playing with his moustache lol.

After the cuddles Simon called us a Grab car which is like Uber to take us to the hotel English is not widely spoken by all here so it is easier if Simon and Chim call the cars for us and tell them where to take us and anyway …. They have an App!

It is easier as they then know the price before we get in so we can have the money ready, Travelling around the city is usually between 25,000 VND and 160,000 from ours out to Simons place  so between  70p to £5.00 as it’s roughly 32,000 to the GBP. (£).

 

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Makes you feel Rich

 

They do not use coins here so its all notes there are smaller ones but the 10,000 is roughly 31 pence (31p) and the 500.000 is roughly  16 pounds ( £16.00 ) you just need to add up in 32’s to figure out a rough pound conversion all very good fun lol bearing in mind i went to get some cash out of a ATM today and got confused and put in 150,000,000 instead of 150 pounds worth (350,000 ) as Simon said that’s nearly 1/2 a year wage! not sure my bank would have been impressed.

Now Traffic – that will be something i cover in another blog and one you may look forward to seeing! one word though Crazy!!

 

We reached our hotel and it is in a nice quiet street although all around is mayhem but as you walk into the air con marble reception we were warmly greeted and were impressed by the welcome drink and they also offered us an upgrade to a suite which was nice. Our room is modern ( as is the hotel ) and has an amazing bathroom and 2  x 50″ TVs.

 

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The sitting area

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TV in the Lounge and bedroom

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We even have a doorbell for room service calls!

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7 foot bed facing the TV

 

In the Evening we had arranged to meet Simon. Chim and Kyan at The Deck which is a really nice Restaurant on the river  near to where they live ( they can walk there ) – we were only going for drinks as they had planned for us to eat somewhere else, but it was fantastic to sit with a cocktail and spend time with Kyan

 

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LYCHEE CILANTRO GIMLET – Bombay Gin Lychee Lime Cilantro

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With his Grandad Tim

 

To then watch our first sunset in Vietnam.

 

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Sunset on the Saigon River

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After sundown we walked to a local traditional Vietnamese restaurant which they both like again sat down by the river watching the swallows collect insects off of the water and eating yummy food – Chim ordered a selection and we loved it.

 

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All in all a very good first day Tomorrow we will explore !