After shopping too much in Hanoi, we had to do a spot of panic-packing today. We’ve gone from travelling ultra-light (just 2 rucksacks between all 4 of us, with all our surplus stuff stored at our guest house in Bangkok) to suddenly travelling heavy. After we’d assembled all our purchases, we had to go out […]Read more "Packing up to move on"
Took the girls to see a dead body today. Hmm. Perhaps I can write something better than that.We all went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to escape the hustle and bustle of Hanoi today. He’s still revered within Vietnam, despite many of the Vietnamese living abroad hate him with such a passion (the Lonely […]Read more "Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum"
The streets of Hanoi are teeming with shops selling all kinds of things. Like most Asian cities, the shops tend to be bunched together according to what they are selling – you’ll find streets entirely devoted to bookshops or ironmongers or tailors or stamp-makers, or almost anything else you could imagine. It seems very alien […]Read more "Shopping in Hanoi"
We’ve just returned from a 2 day trip to Halong Bay, 3 hours drive from Hanoi. It s a huge bay with limestone karsts rising up from the sea all around it. There are various ways to do the trip to the bay from day trips to week-long trips involving snorkelling, kayaking and lots of […]Read more "Halong Bay"
Do you remember this photo? It was taken a week ago, when we visited a water park in Saigon. What we didn’t know at the time was that three days later the girls’ hair would turn green! After soaking their hair most of the day in what was obviously a pool full of strangely-chlorinated water, […]Read more "Bad Hair Day"
We’re here – another city name that rings a bell – Hanoi. Isn’t this where Robin Williams said ‘Hanoi Hannah’ lived? Is my cultural understanding so low that my knowledge of the world is set by Hollywood films? (That’s a rhetorical question, not one to email me about. I already know the answer you’ll give […]Read more "Arriving in another famous place"
On our last day in Hue, we travelled across the river to the Forbidden Purple City. This citadel, used up until the middle of this century, was the residence of the Emperor and his clan – including his 104 wives, his concubines and his eunuchs (now, explain that one to an 8-year old). It was […]Read more "Hue and train"
Hue is an amazingly beautiful city – not only does it seem to have a slower pace than other cities in Asia, but the river right through the middle provides a centrepiece to the parks and shady side roads. Outside of the city, amongst the hills and paddy fields, are tombs of the previous Emperor […]Read more "Hue city"
After three nights in Hoi An, we’re ready to move on again, just 70 miles north this time, following the coast to Hue. It’s very strange being in Vietnam for the first time, because lots of place names ring bells from history, but my knowledge of the Vietnam war is so thin, its probably from […]Read more "Further north to Hue"
To get a break from walking, we hired a boat this morning for a trip down the river towards the sea. For an hour we just pottered along the river, watching life carry on on the banks. One of the strangest sights, that we hadn’t expected at all, was the coracles that the local fishermen […]Read more "Hoi An boat trip"
We woke up this morning to find that Hoi An town is as peaceful as it had seemed last night Well, all things are relative, and it’s peaceful in a Vietnamese sense – its still full of the sounds of moped engines, and their honking horns, but these are inescapable in a country where there […]Read more "Hoi An town"
When we woke up we were far away from any city, and deep in rice paddycountry. Outside the window was an idyllic scene of vivid green ricepaddies, being tended by people in pointy straw hats, and with waterbuffalo roaming the paths. It is like sleeping in a hotel room that moves.The Vietnamese railways seem fairly […]Read more "Vietnamese trains"
The Cu Chi tunnels are north of Saigon, in a wooded area, where the VietCong used to live and fight underground against the American and southVietnamese troops. There are 200km’s of tunnels, up to 8 metresunderground, and they contain kitchens, bedrooms, meeting rooms, andfighting bunkers. Until you see them, you wonder how anybody could hidesuch […]Read more "Cu Chi Tunnels"
All the time that we’ve been travelling, we’ve tried to mix togethersightseeing and some fun things for the girls. So we decided to go to oneof Saigon’s waterparks for a bit of playtime. Like all good plans, thisone fell apart straight away! We took a taxi to the Saigon Water Park, onthe outskirts of the […]Read more "A morning for the girls"
We had to get up early to go on our tour of the Mekong delta today. Thismeant waking up at 6.15, and having a shower. This was a novelty initself, because for the first time since we’d arrived in Asia the guesthouse had cold and hot taps – so I could shave with hot water […]Read more "The Mekong Delta"
There’s still confusion about whether the city is called Ho Chi Minh City,or Saigon (its previous name until the North Vietnamese won the war), andbecause its such a mouthful many still refer to it as Saigon (the innercity is still officially called that, while the greater metropolis has thelonger name), or HCMC. I’m going to […]Read more "Ho Chi Minh City – or is it Saigon?"
Another day, another long bus trip! For our trip from Phnom Penh to Ho ChiMinh City in Vietnam, it s the usual story of waiting around, unexplaineddelays and that feeling of not quite being sure of what’s going on. We’dbeen told the bus would collect us from our guest house at 6.45am, andthat it would […]Read more "Overland to Vietnam"