This page is reserved for those who have funny tales and don’t have a blog of their own to post them on. If you’d like to contribute, please contact the editor-in-chief, me.
Here are the superstars who have contributed so far:
MK from Toronto, my twin Olsen sister
Anh, my real blood sister
Michelle, aka Celly, the petite sister
Junella, good ol’ Van buddy
ENTRY FROM AUGUST 2007: LUSHious Vietnam
Hello! Iâ€™m Junella and I went to visit Cathy in Vietnam this summer. Iâ€™m excited to share with you some of my impressions of Vietnam, but I must admit that there will be very little information about museums, monuments and historical sites becauseâ€¦well, I was a terrible tourist. Having just finished visiting medical clinics in the rural Himalayas in India, it was a bit of reverse culture shock returning to a big city like Ho Chi Minh City. I had a wonderful time in India, but after 5 weeks of grueling heat, several bouts of diarrhea, altitude sickness, hiking up and down hills everywhere, avoiding stray dogs and living with no hot water at the top of the mountain where it was cold, I went to Vietnam with really nothing more in mind than to meet my best friend and to take it easy for 2 weeks. However, that would have been a waste of a vacation, nâ€™est pas? As luck would have it, Cathy is the ultimate multi-tasker and a hub of knowledge. What a fantastic woman! So, with her expertise, I visited Vietnam from South to North in style, yeah!
Ho Chi Minh City is a wonderful place to party and have fun. There are tons of things to do! For example, in one weekend, Cathy and I went to a networking breakfast, 2 clubs, and a party; did rock climbing and swimming; and had a hot stone massage, manicure and pedicure. HCMC is also a great place to shop. And I canâ€™t forget the food â€“ the food is great everywhere but thereâ€™s this particular restaurant called quÃ¡n Äƒn ngon where the food is absolutely fabulous! The concept behind this restaurant is that the owner recruited all the best street vendors to come and work for him so that customers get the benefit of eating the best street food available at street food prices in a fancy restaurant â€“ great idea, huh? Inside the restaurant, all around the walls are little food stalls where the different specialty dishes are cooked and you can even watch if you want! However, the best part by far about HCMC is the people I met! Thereâ€™s nothing like meeting good friends of good friends =)
Next stop was Danang, which is in the middle of Vietnam. While Cathy was away at work, I slipped in a day of doing absolute nothing 😉 but there must be something to be said about the lounging around that can be done at her mansion! The home is spotless and filled with all the comforts of home â€“ a fabulous roommate, Sharon, who is super kind and shares her lunch with you; cute Korean food like seaweed soup; TV; internet; and even a hammock upstairs. Nearby is supposedly a beach which I tried but ironically didnâ€™t have time to visit. This might seem rather random but there is also a fabulous jewellery gallery nearby. The jewellery is created by a couple who specialize in beadwork and all their pieces are so beautiful! I went to visit and coincidentally, met the artists at their front door when they happened to come home from the beach. Ah, isnâ€™t life in Danang just easy breezy? Finally, there was always time, even when I had a flight to catch in 50 minutes, to stop by and eat fresh seafood by the beach. Cathy took me to this outdoor restaurant that seriously serves the best fried fish on a stick and the fresh oysters are excellent too. Mmmmm!
Hoi An is a cute little toursity place near Danang and like all toursity places, the first thing that can be done there is shopping. However, how many places have you visited where instead of just buying clothes, you can have them commissioned in 1 day? Almost every other store in the toursity area of Hoi An is a tailor store or souvenir shop. And Iâ€™m sure that in most of the unmarked buildings in between the shops are the sewing workshops. According to the Lonely Planet, apparently you can hear the clickity-clack of the sewing machines at night but honestly, I didnâ€™t hear anything. A trip to the tailors is quite fun and consists of picking what kind of clothing you want (shirts, pants, dresses, jacketsâ€¦choose any design you want and youâ€™ve got it), choosing the fabric and colours, geting measurements done, returning for a fitting and adjustments later in the day and finally, picking it up! The lovely ladies at Cathyâ€™s favourite tailor shop even brought in lunch â€“ it was a delicious bowl of cao lao, which is noodles, pork, fresh veggies, herbs and croutons, mmmmm!!!!
In between shopping, thereâ€™s also lots of time to enjoy the sights and scenery in Hoi An. In the market, no space is wasted â€“ stalls for seafood, fruit and vegetables, housewares and souvenirs are separated by tiny little walkways filled with people and the occasional motorbike cruising by. For meals, try the riverside cafÃ©s where you can enjoy a cool drink and delicious seafood. I loved the local specials! It wasnâ€™t hard to get them as they were usually advertised up front in the menu and only costed $1. From the cafÃ©, youâ€™ll see kids enjoying their day fishing, people selling newspapers, other tourists and local people going to and fro. Just at the edge of the toursity part of town I wandered upon an orphanage. The gate was open and with permission from some official looking people I went in to visit where I learned from the staff that are about 75 children aged 2-14 years old, half with disabilities and half healthy. The older children were busy in class, and the younger ones were being cared for by nursing staff. There was more staff than I expected â€“ in a room of about 10 beds, there were 5 staff members. Most of the staff were busy feeding the children porridge â€“ extremely patiently â€“ a lot of the children with disabilities did not look like they could eat well and a nurse would often give one spoonful of porridge only to have most of it slip back out of the childâ€™s mouth. One of the babies was quite playful â€“ he took me outside and got me to push him around in a buggy. After a long time, he didnâ€™t want to leave the buggy but luckily a staff member came by to help me out. Unfortunately, he ended up having a bit of a tantrum, but I suppose he was only acting his age 😉 I saw quite a few children with disabilities, most likely cerebral palsy, and at first I felt awkward about approaching them because some looked like they werenâ€™t aware of their surroundings, but when I spoke to them they responded with big smiles â€“ it was so sweet! There was a medical room in the orphanage where I met a nurse, and a physiotherapy room where some children were getting daily exercises done for their various health conditions. I met the resident physiotherapists as well as some visiting physios from Germany. As I wandered through the halls and along the playgrounds, I saw a sign that encouraged visitors to give nutritious foods such as fruit instead of candy to the children. Unfortunately I was unprepared and didnâ€™t have either!
Hue is another small city not too far from Danang and to get there I took the open bus tour thatâ€™s recommended to tourists for some ridiculous price of $2. I canâ€™t say I would try it again. The bus driver managed to take 5 hours for a 2 hour trip which included leaving 1.5 hours late and stopping for 45 minutes on a bridge! Iâ€™d recommend taking the public bus instead â€“ it can make the trip in just under 2 hours also for the ridiculous price of $2. In between Danang and Hue is the longest tunnel that Iâ€™ve ever been in â€“ if youâ€™re a fan of holding your breath through tunnels, this would be one to skip. The Hai Van Tunnel is 6280 m long â€“ I fell asleep during the ride through the tunnel and when I woke up we were still driving along in it! Now if youâ€™re interested in history, pay attention here because unfortunately this will be all I have about monuments 😉 Thuy was my tour guide and she took me on her motorbike through the countryside to several royal tombs. The first tomb we visited, was small and had an entrance of steep stone steps. The actual tomb in the centre of the building was decorated very ornately with murals made from tiny pieces of broken ceramic bits. There were also items that had belonged to the king, who died in his 40s, on display in the building. In contrast, the second tomb we visited, the royal tomb of Tu Duc, was an estate filled with beautiful forests, ponds and gardens. The actual tombs themselves were situated outdoors and unfortunately the ornate decorations that were once there had deteriorated from time. Thuy also took me to visit the old citadel which was where some emperor lived a long time ago (Iâ€™m sorry, thatâ€™s a terrible summary of the history!) but during the Vietnam war, most of the citadel, which used to be 10 km in diameter, was destroyed. In fact, in some of the bronze vessels around the citadel, one can see bullet holes. Today, only the main gate and a few of the palace buildings remain. One of the buildings housed shrines for the nine important emperors of Vietnam. The shrines were quite elaborate, with photos of the emperors at each shrine. There are also numerous gardens throughout the old citadel. So thatâ€™s my bit about some Vietnamese history. The landscape that we drove through during the tour was beautiful â€“ we drove on small paved roads through lush green areas with small houses and cafÃ©s along the way. It was a hot sunny day but on the motorbike, you get a cooling breeze. We even zipped along a bridge so narrow that only motorbikes could pass along it! The best part of the tour was when Thuy invited me to her house along the way between the Tu Duc tomb and the old citadel. I didnâ€™t realize that houses were tucked away further in from the lush foliage seen from the road, and Thuyâ€™s house was surrounded by vegetable gardens and tall trees. There were some chickens, a cat and a dog. I met her baby boy who was being taken care of by his grandparents. He was a very happy baby!
Finally, I reached Hanoi in North Vietnam. By this time I was feeling super lucky to have such wonderful friends â€“ whenever they showed me their favourite places and things to do it was guaranteed to be awesome! In Hanoi, there was just so much good food to eat! Ben did a fantastic job with the food tour: soybean milk, sugar cane juice, the local beer, phá»Ÿ cuá»‘n (pho rolls), phá»Ÿ chiÃªn phÃ²ng (fried pho), bÃ² nÆ°á»›ng cuá»‘n (beef rolls), deep fried swallows (a little crunchy), hoa quáº£ dÃ¢m (fruit and condensed milk)…mmmmmm!!! The food in Vietnam rocks, seriously! All was good except when I mistakenly added salt instead of sugar to soda chanh (lime soda) 😉 Hanoi also has a lot of beautiful lakes, flowers and trees. It was a bit hot to hang out at the lakes during the day but in the evening, itâ€™s nice to cruise by on a motorbike or hang out by the water â€“ just make sure that you clear out when the police come by to tell you that itâ€™s late and that you need to go home!
Close to Hanoi is the famous Halong Bay â€“ it has beautiful green water filled with thousands of little islands that supposedly represents a dragon living in the water. Itâ€™s beautiful and definitely worth visiting. Inside some of the islands are limestone caves. A few tips if youâ€™re planning to go: try a boat trip with a stay at Cat Ba Island â€“ a couple of days would be nice â€“ with Cathyâ€™s expertise on a motorbike, we explored the island and found beaches and scenic walks (so thatâ€™s where everyone was!). The internet cafÃ© on the waterfront is definitely worth visiting â€“ the manager there can hook you up with not only computer stuff, but also motorbikes and information about the whole island! Alternatively, hearing from friends, the overnight boat trip is also very fun â€“ you can go kayaking and sleep under the stars.
Vietnam is a lively place where you can find people, motorbikes, cars, shops and beautiful lush landscapes. I saw a lot in 2 weeks but itâ€™s definitely a place Iâ€™d visit again! If youâ€™re thinking of visiting Cathy too, go! There will be stuff to learn when you get there, like being careful of taxis that arenâ€™t part of a big company and xe ohm drivers who say they know where you want to go but have to ask 4 people on the way for directions (donâ€™t worry, they usually get you there 😉 but itâ€™s all part of the experience. The people youâ€™ll meet, the places youâ€™ll see, and the food youâ€™ll eat will be well worth it!
ENTRY FROM JANUARY 2007: Celly-mander 🙂
Can you believe it was only a few months before that Cathy and I came up with a title for our vacation and that it would be called Vietnam Voyage? (That’s right everyone, she did not come up with that one herself, it took a team effort!) We joked that it could be a mini book series for kids and it would be about three sisters, two crazy ones who get into trouble and one sensible sister who manages to save her sisters from peril. From our experience, it’s safe to say that we all needed saving from:
1. food poisoning
2. fatigue, over exertion, fainting
3. tempers! (Ok, I did have an internal hissy fit when I went to the tailors and received a blazer that DID not fit well at all. I tried to hide it but it bothered me, oh yes it did.)
4. and of course, AUSSIES! KIDDING!–for the most part anyways.
There are always the stock answer stories that I tell everyone about what I did during this trip but then past them, I found that there were even more interesting tales to tell. We sang Christmas carols at the orphanage and received little ornaments from the kids as gifts on X-mas eve, spoke to a veteran at the East Meets West office on Christmas, explaining my connection and deeper understanding of Vietnam and my parents which is something I did not expect to develop during my vacation and we rode elephants yâ€™all!â€”lucky you whoever gets to read this b/c these are usually the untold stories. And yes, we HAD to wear the costumes.
Big thanks to Mimi otherwise the orphanage and x-mas dinner at East Meets West would have never happened!
By the way, Eric, Cathyâ€™s Vietnamese French friend, is SUPER FABULEUX even if he does look very much like our brother Nam.
Iâ€™ll take off where Anh left off on her blog entry which is Nha Trang and Cam Ranh. So Anh and I met our grandma for the first time ever!â€”Strange at first b/c I donâ€™t speak very much Vietnamese but she welcomed us into her home.
So we crashed . . . hard b/c flying around really does wear one down. We slept during the afternoon the first day in Cam Ranh and the next day we headed off the Nha Trang which is probably my favourite place so far in Vietnam. The food is great!â€”we had raw oysters and no food poisoning, so high ratings from my behalf. We watched some music television and Cathy and I have made a new enemy and his name is Alvey. Iâ€™m sorry, but we donâ€™t want to watch a show about arcade games, you idiot Alvey!â€”GET OFF THE SCREEN OR HOST A MUSIC SHOW! SHEESH!!!–and Iâ€™ll leave it at that b/c Iâ€™m usually not one to yell at the tv but I thought it couldn’t get worse than MTV (Laguna Beach is that channel’s only saving grace).
To top things off, Cathy did get sick (food poisoning, a plague onto your home! Thatâ€™s Shakespeare, R+J which we did see in VN) and she tried to rest but itâ€™s hard to do that with a bunch of LOUD Asian voices, construction and the sounds of a chicken being butchered in combo coming from the backyard. Gotta love our humble beginnings! I had to give her some earplugs poor girl. We went to the mudbaths . . . well, everyone else did sauf moi. I decided that it wasnâ€™t my thing so I spent time alone in the heated swimming pool instead and I got a new bathing suit from the whole deal so I rather pleased. We did spend a crazy New Years in Nha Trang at the Sailing Club and then it was two consecutive early flights (torture!) on the way home to Canada. What did I learn from flying early? There is actually NO traffic in Saigon at 4am. Didnâ€™t think I would ever see empty streets in that city but that would be the time. All in all, great vacation. Now I’m home, missing the super strong coffee that tastes like chocolate and picking up glass by the beaches.
For the next couple of days, we zipped around the city, going to Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza, etc. Visited an origami museum that Michelle adored. I adore all those vending machines! We met up with Aikawa, one of Cathy’s Japanese friends. He took all of us for kaiten sushi (conveyor belt style) which was very fun.
So after three days, we flew to Ho Chi Minh City and arrived early at the airport. But Cathy was there waiting for us already in the hot stuffy weather! We spent a few days there getting our hair done, experiencing pain and relaxation from a Thai-style shiatsu masage, eating and shopping. Michelle experienced some food poisoning and didn’t get to go down into the Cu Chi tunnels during a tour, but I did. Very dark and cramped.
Then we flew to Da Nang, after being delayed for about an hour. Cathy’s friend Eric picked us up at the airport and we drove to Hoi An to stay the night. The next day, we took a look at the old houses and temples around Hoi An while we had some clothes made. We took a little boat around the area and Michelle almost tipped it over while taking a picture! The beach was very windy so that wasn’t so enjoyable. We ended up staying late because our clothes didn’t fit properly, and our taxi broke down on the way home because it was overheated. We had to wait for anothe taxi in the outskirts of town with drunk guys walking around, but it wasn’t as sketchy as it could’ve been!
Now that we’re in Da Nang, things have died down a bit. We did spend the whole day in Hue yesterday, visiting temples and tombs, but besides that, it’s been less busy. I’m actually home alone right now while Cathy and Michelle are out carolling. Tonight we’re going to hand out presents at a orphanage and have a Christmas dinner at a French restaurant. I’m hanging out by myself now because my energy is at an all-time low. Haven’t fully adjusted to the time here in Asia, so I know I’ll be really messed up when I get back to Vancouver. We’re leaving to see our grandmother in Cam Ranh in a couple days and will spend New Year’s in Nha Trang. Then we’ll be heading home on January 2nd at 6am. Talk about a whirlwind trip!
(SPEEDY) MARISA KUNG: post of Nov. 29th, 2006
I’ve been in VN for almost 5 days now and it is something else here. I love how ghettofabulous it is here:
-sitting on plastic/wooden stools on the street next to motorbikes (there are 5 million of them on the street in Ho Chi Minh city everyday) eating pho and drinking cafe sua da
-ppl not driving in lanes and honking to alert ppl, even at 5 in the morning
-no crosswalks, but you won’t get hit
-no helmets or seatbelts, but everyone’s a-okay
-ppl drinking all day everyday…even when they are driving their motorbikes. Tiger and beer la rue are yummy.
-pets and whole families on motorbikes
-flashing put your seatbelt light in taxis all the day (just like you DNVV)
-ppl picking their nose with no shame
-ppl picking at their feet with no shame
-meat juice all over the place, esp at Ben Thanh market
-raver music everywhere…even at the dried goods stall at the market.
-feeling hot and dirrrrrrrrrrrrty all the day (take it whichever way you like hahahahahaha)
That’s some ghettoness that some may not be able to take, but I enjoy Asian ghettoness. And Safe Lee, you’ll be just fine. VN is pretty clean compared to other Asian places I’ve been to and there’s lots of fantabulous things about it:
-cheap and damn good food
-being treated really well. Whenever you buy something, esp at the markets, you get to sit down and everything is brought to you
-hot and cheap clothes and shoes…Cathy and I bought almost 10 pairs in like 20 minutes for $5-less than $15 per pair. You can even get ones that are both Gucci and Nine West.
-sitting on motorbikes and waving like you are Miss Vietnam.
-best massage ever. For less than $10, you can go into 2 saunas – dry & wet, then get a massage from a very cute VN girl who is so small, but she can flip you over like you’re on a rollercoaster
-manicures, pedicures, and getting your hair washed for like a $1 each. Who needs to wash their own hair when they can make it look so beautiful for a $1? I’ve had my hair washed and styled twice already.
-getting to watch music videos of my Taiwanese (Jay Chou) and Korean (Rain) boyfriends.
I’m thoroughly enjoying myself and it is so great to see Cathy and meet her friends. We also met some nice boys:
-Mr. OC from the OC who is such a good solid guy. He’s like an older brother I never had. He’s DNVV style – VN gentleman who treated us to a lovely princess day full of mani’s, pedi’s and hairstyling. Cute too.
-Mr. bum shaking gay friend that every girl should have. So funny and fab and great smelling.
-2 VQ’s (Viet Kieu = overseas VN). Cathy and her friend MV should thank me for this. Creative cute boys who speak English and dress well.
-and let’s save the best for last…Mr. Vancouver. He is so great (in no particular order) – smart, motivated, friendly, slightly cocky, cute, tall (5’10”), well-dressed, CBC who speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, from Vancouver (how come we didn’t meet him there?), good age (28), nice, good job, well traveled, adventurous, easy going and get this…had a motorcycle in Vancity! When he told us the last bit, we were like “are you for real?”
I’ve still got some more time here so I’m looking forward to more adventures.
If you are in need of a vacation, come and visit Cathy and get ready for some fun!!!!!
(SPEEDY) MARISA KUNG: post of Dec. 4th, 2006
Same same, but different
Since the last time I wrote, I’ve experienced some more ghettofabulousness. I love it!
I’ve been quite chilled on this trip a la DNVV, but I have done a lot. Danang is not as bad as everyone says. Actually, it is a great beach city. Here’s the jist of it:
-the beach is paradise. Catch it at the right time and you are practically alone. Think Surfer’s Paradise, Australia without all the tourists and skyscraper hotels. The locals come out later in the afternoon and you could go swimming with the long, white-haired grandma in a velvet swimsuit, check out teenagers breakdancing on the beach, and watch kids have fun and laugh lots.
-catch a ride on the fabulous Cathy (Cathy’s motorbike). It is very cute and Cathy is quite a pro at driving it.
-eat at restaurants with great seafood and yummy fried chicken.
-go clubbing at the new PD where the bartender girls wear skimpy tennis outfits and dance and serve drinks at the bar a la Coyote Ugly. The guys who work there favour the more manly fireman outfits. They are funny.
-have a drink at Wonder bar/cafe where all the boys know and love Cathy.
-take a romantic ride to monkey mountain with Cathy on Cathy. Great ride, great views.
For the weekend, we went to Hoi An. Land of fabulous tailored clothing and great eats. If you go there, you must eat at Tam Tam’s and the Mango Room. The food is soooooo awwwwwesome (thanks for teaching us the new way to say it my dear Aussie boys). The tailoring there is so great that of course I had to get some clothes made. The ladies at the place we went to were so nice. They were having noodle soup for lunch when we arrived and via Cathy, they discovered that I thought it looked delicious and offered me a bowl. It was yummy. They even let Cathy sleep there when she was tired the next day after we checked out of our hotel. Of course, there were some ghettofabulous bits about Hoi An:
-a moving worm in our bowl of cold noodles from our hotel
-a blackout on our last day. Try walking in the dark with scooters, dogs, and God knows what else around you. Luckily, it came back while we were enjoying Indian food.
So I’ve been on a couple of same same, but different “tours”. The first happened when I went to Marble mountains, a lovely place near Danang. I hired a motorbike taxi to take me there. I got a very local Ghettofabulous man who wasn’t just the motorbike driver, he became my tour guide and professional photographer. Why he was so G-fab:
-he fit all of the typical Vietnamese man criteria: super brown, small, long pinky nail, and smokes lots. In fact, he smoked several times while driving. But overall, he was lovely.
-he took a piss at the Marble mountains.
-he became my tour guide. Thank goodness for him though as I decided to be adventurous and climbed some caves which were easy to climb up, but hard to climb down. He used his lighter to light the way and slapped my ass to say it was okay to climb up.
-he didn’t know where the Marble mountains were so we took the scenic route. He also took the scenic route back to Cathy’s work in which he decided to show me the waterpark and other attractions in Danang. It’s a good thing the Vietnamese are so hospitable and polite as having a driver not knowing where he’s going may be a bad thing in other countries.
-when I asked him to help me take pictures, he fixed my hair and shirt and got me to pose in all sorts of way. Who knew a motorbike driver could be a professional photographer too?
I just finished my 2nd “tour”. Cathy and I decided to hire a driver and car since I had my luggage to take with me to Hue since I’m flying out of here to Hanoi tomorrow. Great idea right? Why ride on the bus when you can ride in luxury for only 1 000 000 VND (about $72 Canadian) for 3 people which includes rides to all the attractions you want in Hue? Well, let’s just say the car was very same same, but different – it’s so old that there’s no a/c (it was very rainy today, so no problem), no defroster, the passenger door has to be opened from the outside, the speedometer doesn’t work, and hmmm, what else didn’t work? The driver drove from Hoi An to pick us up in Danang. The Vietnamese don’t like to say no here so when asked if we were going to be picked up at a certain time, they said yes. Well, we didn’t get picked up for another 45 minutes. It was a great ride though as we drank Biere La Rue’s at 9:40am and it was very scenic. We also went through the longest tunnel I’ve ever been through. Let’s just say you definitely don’t want to be playing the game of not breathing while driving through the tunnel. Hue is a lovely town with remnants of the Nguyen dynasty, but when it’s super rainy, it’s hard to see it all.
I’m now on my own so I’m already missing Cathy. I hope she and cute Aussie boy PS make it back to Danang safe and sound. After I finish typing this up, I will head up to my room in the Orchid Hotel. It’s a very beautiful hotel. I got a family room as they ran out of single rooms, but for only $30 US dollars a night, I think it’s okay. I get to enjoy some lovely DVDs and wear a beautiful robe. Fab!
Hope these stories will get more of you thinking about visiting Cathy and seeing scenic Vietnam.
POST FROM MARISA KUNG AT END OF TRIP, DEC. 9/06
KHONG VIET, HOA
It’s the last day of my VN trip. As I am getting closer to leaving, I’m feeling a little sad. There is a part of me that feels like I am Vietnamese as everyone seems to think so here until I give them the blank look or say “Khong Viet, Hoa” = “I’m not Vietnamese, I’m Chinese”. I had no expectations when I arrived, but I am leaving with many memories and a new appreciation for the Vietnamese people and culture.
So let’s see what I’ve done in the past few days:
I arrived in Hanoi after another ghettofabulous motorbike ride. This time I went to a gorgeous tomb in Hue [of the Nguyen Dynasty — sorry, this is a Cathy insert but it’s my dynasty, c’mon!] (Khai Dinh). This one’s a little far, but it’s well worth it.
In Hanoi, I stayed at a hotel where only boys worked. They were so cute and I could see how they loved Cathy b/c they loved me even though my flirting skills are limited. I met up with Cathy’s friend EV on the night I arrived. Vietnam has quite a few nice lounges and EV took me to 2 that night. EV is a great guy, I’m glad I got him some Tabasco. He also took me to a very dingy “restaurant”, but I love G-fab things, so I couldn’t miss this one. We had some very good bun cuon. It was so good I had 2 plates. [He sang Take That w/MK –again CN insert]
The next day, I went to Halong Bay. My tour guide looked like a Chinese TVB actor (Lam Fung) and he couldn’t say my name, so I was Kung. After a little confusion of which boat I was supposed to be on (“Kung come come. Kung you here.”), I ended up on a large junk boat with 3 couples from all over the world (Oz, Holland, and USA/Thailand) and a very hip tour guide who wore a pink sweater. Although we didn’t have a very clear day, Halong Bay was still amazing. I even got to kayak through a hole to a cove where junk boats couldn’t go. It was so peaceful and beautiful.
I arrived back in Hanoi and discovered a few streets with more shoes than the one in Saigon and some clothing shops and went a little crazy. I ate at the best pho place in town (49 Bat Danh) where you line up with the locals, pay the boss lady, grab your own bowl, and try to find a seat. It was awwwesome. And it was less than a dollar.
Yesterday was a day of buying last minute gifts and seeing the jail. I was heading to lunch when I bumped into cool A. Since it’s super chaotic here with the motorbikes, cyclos, bikes, and cars, I didn’t think anything of super loud honking. That is until someone drove right into me and it turned out to be A. We went to a Vietnamese owned French restaurant and had some lovely pate, deli meats, and bread. I checked out a super busy street market at night where of course I bought more things.
This morning brought lots of Ho Chi Minh – I went to his mausoleaum, museum, and homes. Then I walked around Hoan Kiem Lake and now I’m here. I really like Hoan Kiem Lake. Lots of people walking about and enjoying themselves. I sat for a bit and met 2 lovely VN girls. Their English was limited, but we had a good chat. One got yelled at for having her motorbike near the lake. It was funny actually b/c the guard used his loudspeaker to yell from across the lake. I wish both those girls luck. They were very sweet.
So I’m going to grab some lunch. Perhaps more bun cuon. And then back to the hotel with the boys to pick up my stuff and off to the airport. The flights will be long, but I will survive as I can finally play some sudoku and read Something Borrowed. On this trip, I’ve probably been the most relaxed, but somehow, I still didn’t do much reading.
This is the last entry for me for this trip. Come to Vietnam and experience for yourself what a wonderful place this is.