Published: December 16th 2010August 28th 2010
Hello! Nice to see you again! It's been a while....
Wow, it's been a while since we last blogged and there's loads to catch up on. Life in Ho Chi Minh City goes on as normal. Perhaps that's part of the reason for the lack of blogs - it seems less like travelling when you live somewhere for a long time and you forget about writing about it. Whilst it probably seems like it's all exotic when you're at home in cold, snowy Britain (or where ever you are), it's generally just day to day life here. You know, get up, go to work, go home, eat tea, go to bed.,....go out with friends at the weekends - eat and drink too much, go to work a little sleepy on Monday morning.
However, some really cool things have happened so let's write about them. Back in August my (Kate's) parents came over for a holiday. It was my Mum's 60th birthday back in March and for a present she wanted to go on holiday with her kids. So they went on a Nile Cruise with my sister, brother and their partners at Easter. Disappointly we had to
miss it, it looked amazing, so they decided to come to Vietnam for a holiday in the summer. We took four weeks off work to spend time with them as well as to go back to the UK for two weeks to see other members of the family.
When Mum and Dad came to town
They started out in Ho Chi Minh City. Just like when they came to Bangkok "Visiting Bangkok as a Tourist again"
in 2008 it was cool to show them around our stomping ground. We toured the War Remnants museum and Independence Palace again, ate in some nice restaurants, took a trip out to the Cu Chi Tunnels again "Tunnels, Temples and the Vietnam War"
and spent some time chilling out by the pool in their hotel - the Grand.
One night we went to do something famous in Vietnam that we've never done. No, not eating dogmeat. And not drinking the beating heart of a snake. We went to see the water puppet show. This is a traditional form of entertainment from the days of rice paddy fields. Wooden puppets dance and display scences and stories from traditional
Vietnam in water. It's as surreal as it sounds. It's all in Vietnamese, to the sound of traditional Vietnamese instruments, so it's difficult to know what's going on, but it's pretty entertaining - in a very bizarre kind of way. I'd recommend it.
After 4 days in Ho Chi Minh City we got up rediculously early for a flight to Hue, in the Centre of Vietnam. We've never been to Hue before so it was interesting to visit. It's the old capital of Vietnam, where the old Kings used to live. It was officially the capital under 1945 when the last King, Bao Dai, abdicated. The old city is now in ruins after being the site of fierce fighting during the Vietnam war. However, a more modern city still survives around it.
We stayed in the very comfortable and very reasonably priced Vinahotel. So many products in Vietnam are called Vina-something. Vinataba (fags), vinamilk, vinacafe, vinasun taxis, vinafresh...the list goes on, to be joined with Vinahotel. It's a new hotel and was something daft like $20 a night which was a great compromise between our backpacking culture and my parent's like of nice
We checked in, dropped our bags off and set out to explore the Citital - the old city. We wandered around the ruins of old palace and royal buildings. It was very, very hot - even for me and Kris. By early afternoon we were knackered and went back to the hotel for a rest.
The following day we went on a boat trip on the Perfume river. It doesn't smell of perfume, disappointly. They have these boats painted to look like dragons that chug up and down. You can hire the whole thing to take you wherever you want to go. We sailed down to an impressive temple for an explore and then chugged back.
Time to relax
After 2 days in Hue we headed for Hoi An. Hue is nice but not really set up for tourists yet. Backpackers, yes, but not tourists who perhaps want a sit down and a nice drink whilst wandering around the old city. Hoi An, as we knew from our last visit It's New Year again? Let's go to Hoi An
is a perfect place for tourists. It's just so beautiful and relaxing
- in complete contrast to some of the more mental and hectic places. We travelled between Hue and Hoi An over the Hai Van pass, an increadible mountain pass with spectacular views either side. If you've seen the Top Gear Vietnam special you'll know what I mean. When Top Gear did it, they were lucky with the weather. Or they just waited until a fine day to do the trip. On the day we did it a tropical storm arrived. It rained and rained and rained and we saw practically nothing on the trip over. We hired a car and a driver to take us, who did stop at the top for photos, but since we were attacked by postcard sellers giving us the hard sell and it was too cloudy to see anything, we just got back in the car. Ah well.
We stayed in the Vinh Hung Riverside resort. It's just over the bridge from the main town, overlooking the river. The rooms surround the swimming pools, complete with sit up bar. There's a massive buffet breakfast and every afternoon there's a little market in the grounds where you can try all kinds of local cuisine
It was time for a well-earned rest after all the travelling, so we spent the next few days lying by the pool, swimming and wandering around the time. Kris and I got some clothes made as Hoi An is famous for and absolutely full of tailors shops. Mum and Dad experienced their first tropical storm - unfortunately while on a boat trip where they got completely soaked and their first (or so they say) bucket (an Asian tradition for backpackers - a bucket full of vodka and lemonade with four straws - it was free too!).
Then it was on for one night in Hanoi on the way back to England via Hong Kong
There are more photos below