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Published: January 28th 2018
Thursday 25th January 2018
A very early start today as we set off at 3am for the short taxi ride to Yangon airport and with no traffic around the journey takes less than five minutes. Today we head to Vietnam with Bangkok Airways. First leg Yangon to Bangkok and then a short stopover before our flight to Da Nang. We are returning to Vietnam a country we visited 2 years ago. Whilst we were there we fell in love with beautiful Hoi An, an old town with a french influence, great vibe and lovely beaches close by. We felt this was an ideal place to chill a while following our hectic time in Myanmar plus we will try and explore a little more of this beautiful area.
Yangon Airport was vitually deserted as we arrived - our flight is the first one out each day. Checked in no problem and then wandered around and found a coffee shop serving the most expensive coffee ever.....well John thought it was! However it did mean we got rid of all our Myanmar Kyats and now only have about 50p left......made up of 6 notes! Coffee was it has to be said very
good. Wandered down to the departure gate and boarded our twin propeller aircraft an ATR 72 which in the end was only half full. Uneventful flight to Bangkok during which they served a nice snack and more coffee. Landed at Bangkok’s main international airport and disembarked and then as we were in transit walked forever around all the endless shops and retail opportunities. Finally we located the Bangkok Airways lounge so we showed our boarding passes and in we went. Free tea, coffee and cold drinks plus popcorn, peanuts, sandwiches, curry puff, mushroom puff and some sticky rice offerings. A nice way to pass the time. Then a stroll down to the departure gate and exactly on time we took off for Da Nang but this time on an Airbus A319. A short 1hr 20min flight but lunch was served ......mixed salad, coconut chicken, steamed rice, with some melon for pud. Washed down with a beer, followed by teas or coffee. Before we knew it we were on the final approach to Da Nang. Arrivals was painless and unlike our last visit, U.K. nationals do not now require a visa so getting into Vietnam was much quicker. Luggage came off
early and we strolled out to be met by our hotel pick up man who helped carry our bags, loaded us up and we took the 40min Drive to Hoi An and our next 3 days at the Earth Villa. Welcomed with a cold drink and refreshing flannel whilst our passports and details were taken. Then up to room 4 overlooking a small pool. Room is lovely with a huge double bed, fridge, air con, open plan wet room with lovely shower and as a bonus nibbles, fruit and snacks etc available. Pleased so far. Unpacked and decided that we would remind ourselves what Hoi An was like, so down to reception given a map and strolled into town which takes about 20mins.....we are located halfway between town and the beach. Vietnam is the land of the moped and scooter and we had to remind ourselves that when crossing the road, cross with purpose and show no fear. The locals will drive around you. The walk to town was fine as there are lots of eating places plus shops etc to look at and the veritable spa, beauty parlours plus tailors shops all vying for trade. Took a slow wander
thro the old town which was busy with day trippers .....lots of Japanese. Changed money.....jeez we ended up coming away with over 4,000,000 vietnamese Dong - hard to get your head around the BIG numbers. Sarah had already spotted a retail opportunity so in she went and picked up a pair of light flowing trousers For 170,000 Dong a bargain apparently........John perused the shirts and t shirts but will save buying for another day. Think a visit to the same tailor as we used on our last trip is on the cards as well. Sussed out the cocktail bars, some offer happy hours with 2 for 1 cocktails. Mind you when they only cost £1.20 each does it matter. Continued wandering and found a convenient rest stop for a coke and people watching before then returning to our lodgings for a shower and change and find somewhere close by to go for something to eat. On the way back Sarah checked out a couple of the beauty/spa offerings, John may also decide to have a massage. He had one in Hanoi when we were last in Vietnam and it was very good at a great price. Decided on the Wooden
House for supper as it was a short 10 min walk away and got some good reviews on Tripadvisor. Just on 6:30pm we headed out again - eating a little earlier as it has been a long day.
Things look different in the dark and we managed to walk right by the Wooden House before retracing our steps and finding it! Tonight’s supper extravaganza was veggie pancake rolls, sweet and sour tofu for Sarah and Beef in mushrooms for John plus of course steamed rice. The owner also came around with his home made rice wine served in shot glasses which with a little trepidation we decided to join him in a toast....it aids digestion apparently. It was pretty good, so much so he offered us another glass which we accepted. At the end of the meal we had another beer and went and sat in the comfy seats at the front of the restaurant, an ideal people watching spot. It was now 8:15pm and the street was much quieter after the rush hour traffic. Paid our bill of £8 for the two of us and headed back to our bed for an early night. Friday 26th January
A great nights sleep and awake at just after 7am. Sarah made a couple of cups of tea enjoyed in bed whilst Hoi An awoke outside. Think we might be located right next door to some sort of army college or something vaguely military. Anyway we were serenaded this morning by a singing competition which seemed to fire up at about 8am. Whilst it was just a tad loud the singing was sort of westernised and not a bad listen. By 9am we wandered down to the breakfast room for a bite to eat and plan our day. Good selection of breakfast choices with both western and Asian available. Both of us could not resist the fried eggs plus a nice baguette, tea and coffee etc. Plan for today is a stroll into town and just go wherever we fancy. It’s such a pretty town and whilst it can be a bit busy during the day with day trippers there is always somewhere to sit down and chill awhile. Off we set but first we wandered just around the corner to our next abode which we move to in a couple of days, it’s called the Camellia Homestay
and we will be living in a large villa along with the family.....it is supposed to be very good and something we like to do. Found it ok and decided it’s just a short walk away with our goods and chattels when we do move across. Onwards into old Hoi An, this time we were on the lookout for the Phuoc Lavender Spa on the way in....it was supposed to be along the road to town....couldn’t find it, oh well will look again later. Once in town we firstly wandered around the local market and then into the old town itself. It is beautiful and we find no problem slowly walking along looking at the lovely buildings, checking out retail opportunities and also having a joke with the odd local who wants to sell you something, take you to their shop....it’s all very lighthearted and fun. The words where are you from.....and when you say England they nearly always reply oh lovely jubly! 😄 Walked down a pretty street just after the famous Japanese bridge and came across a shop full of monks chanting......wondered why. Time for a stop for a cold drink before continuing. Fresh lemon and pineapple juice
to cool us down. Weather is cloudy but very warm. Managed to also get on wifi and think we may have found location of the spa.....it’s moved. We googled for an answer to the chanting monks and found out the chanting was to give a blessing on the shop for good luck in the future. Strangely enough we saw a group of monks doing the same in the bar close to our accommodation ......bar was named Hair of The Dog! Onwards back to the centre of the old town. Serious bargaining must be done if you are going to do retail.....they will always start at almost twice the price they really expect to get. It’s a game and best thing is to play along, it’s not serious and just a bit of fun, they all do it.........in the end you can normally get things for 50-60% of the original price. Walk away and you will either be called back and you will get it at the price you want or they won’t go any lower so you know that’s roughly what you can expect to pay. Sarah purchased a couple of light cotton blouses and was eyeing up other items,
John also was checking out the prices of things in various shops. We now know what the price will be when we return to purchase in a day or two. Then it was to a tailor shop, one we had been to before when we were here two years ago. Sarah went in and ordered up three summer dresses....first fitting tomorrow and should be ready in a couple of days. After serious walking time for a nice sit down. We had heard about a workshop which employs handicapped and deaf people and went to have a look.....we also knew that there was a cafe called Reaching Out run by deaf people close by and were given directions to it. What a marvellous find it was. Everyone who works there is deaf and the minute you walk in you cannot fail to be impressed how quiet it is, in fact they encourage you to relax and talk in a whisper and enjoy the peace. You order by reading thro the choices and marking on a card what you would like. There is also a small box with words mounted in blocks Such as....bill, water.....thank you etc which you can hold up
so the waiter/waitress has there attention attracted. We ordered green tea, special house coffee, cold lemon and ginger juice plus some biscuits to nibble on. Look at the pictures to see how these were served....simply beautiful. We managed to sit right at the front looking out onto the street.....perfect spot. The service was so very friendly and when our order arrived they showed us how to serve the tea and coffee from the pot and cups and also provided extra flavourings if we wanted to try them out. It was a real joy to see these people at work. One waiter came across and took our photo for us. Also whilst we were sat looking onto the street there was a disabled guy on a tricycle selling the daily paper....a bit like the Big Issue.....an Australian chap came up and chatted with him for a while. He bought a paper and continued chatting to him. It transpired he had one paper left to sell and he would hit his quota for the day, the Aussie chap looked at us, we looked at him and bought the last one....the disabled guy was so very happy. It made our day as well.
The Aussie gave the thumbs up, said thanks and continued on his way. A humbling experience for sure. We then continued on another circuit of the old town, John splashed out on a hat....starting price 90,000 Dong.....eventually bought for 60,000......less than £2, nice bit of friendly bartering. Finally we decided to tear ourselves away from town and headed back to the Earth Villa....again looking for the elusive spa. This time we found it, down a thin road which wiggles its way past some houses, all pretty and lovely gardens growing flowers and strangely mulberry trees. Got to the spa and were welcomed in - had a look at the offerings and whilst we were looking were given tea and a lovely biscuit each....whilst relaxing in some reclining chairs. Discussed what we wanted and the girl noted all down on her order pad- she took time to explain all the options. She spoke good English and had a sense of humour....very sweet. Sarah is having, manicure and pedicure whilst John is having the deep body massage. Prices are so very reasonable with a 70min massage at £14. We return tomorrow at 2pm. Back to the Earth Villa for an hour or
so chilling before the long walk of 50mtrs to tonight’s meal venue called Circle. Time for a night off the Asian menu and we went for garlic toast, avocado salad and two classic Juicy Lucy burgers with fries.....they were stupendous. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of beer and wine and after we had let the mains settle shared great homemade coconut and chocolate ice cream. Lovely meal. As we left the restaurant it was spitting with warm rain so pleased we only had a short walk back. Flopped into bed, tv and film on. End of a great day. Saturday 27th January 2017
John was woken at around 5am to the sound of rain outside, it had been forecast and was a little heavier than when we left our restaurant last night.....but not heavy enough to keep us awake and it was just after 7am when we opened the curtains to look out to see a very damp pool area and grey sky. It was warm tho. Time for a cup of tea before heading off down to breakfast. Sarah chose baguette with cheese and jam whilst John went for the baguette and omelette selection with cups
These are to help when ordering or communicating with the young deaf Vietnamese who run this wonderful cafe.
of tea, all whilst looking out and watching the rain come down. Fortunately just as we were about to stroll to town the rain stopped but we grabbed some hotel brollies and set off. You will not have picked up on this in the U.K. but Vietnam have reached the final of the Asian U23 football tournament......they were not expected to do so well. Today is cup final day and with still 5hrs before kick off things were warming up. Many locals were sporting the red t shirts with the yellow star which is the flag of Vietnam . Many also wore bandaners and had the flag painted on their cheeks and arms, cars, trucks, mopeds and even bikes were adorned with flags plus of course even more honking of horns and blowing of trumpets. If they win this place will go mad! A wander around town before we returned to the tailor shop to check how Sarahs dresses were coming along. It was to be another fitting session but each dress was perfect. Whilst we were waiting John decided to order up a shirt and so time for him to be measured up. The lady who owns the shop
was not there yesterday but she came in this morning and she remembered us from two years ago, well we did give her some good trade. Nice to see her again. Time for a break now so we grabbed a seat at the closest cafe and had fresh pineapple juice and a mixed fruit lasse. All whilst people watching and also seeing the locals continuing to get warmed up in advance of the football. Time now to wander back to the Earth Villa calling in at shops along the way. John negotiated a deal on a new leather wallet....”real buffalo hide sir”. One bag shop we went in looked to have the very thing.....but not quiet the right colour. No problem I will go to other shop....please wait. Off the owner went on her moped returning soon after.....didn’t have the bag in the right colour but did bring back different designs in the colour required - sorry no sale. However whilst the lady was away Sarah had spotted another bag so was able to check it out so another retail opportunity presented itself! Whilst Sarah was bartering a deal the lady was telling us that she would be shutting up
shop at 3pm to watch the football.....we think many will do the same. Roads may even be empty. Eventually Sarah got the bag down to 600,000 Dong with a smaller bag added plus a leather credit card holder thrown in for “free”. Back at the Earth Villa we scrubbed off the rainy mud splashes from the road and then it was off for our afternoon spa session at 2pm. Arrived and greeted with smiley faces, cups of green tea and both of us had complimentary feet bathing in nice warm herbal water. Two girls started preparing Sarah’s nails whilst John was given a picture of the body and asked to mark on it the areas to concentrate on and also what pressure for the massage. Then whilst the girls set to work on Sarah, John headed upstairs for his massage. Massage lasted 70mins and was excellent. Back downstairs and the girls were about halfway thro Sarah’s manicure and pedicure plus the shellack nail colouring. In the meantime the Vietnam v Uzbekistan Asian U23 football final had started in China and the girls were on their phones and then fired up the laptop to get the game on. Uzbekistan were initially
Street seller and friend
This was the Aussie guy who chatted to this disabled Vietnamese man who was selling the equivalent of the big issue. The Aussie was talking to him for a while and bought his second to last paper....he had one paper left to sell and the Aussie looked at us and we bought the last one from him. He was so so happy to have sold his quota. Made us feel very humble to have made his day.
leading 1-0 but we knew when Vietnam equalised by the noise from all the surrounding buildings. Half time and it was 1 -1. The game was played on a pitch covered in snow which the Vietnamese had never seen before! Halftime lasted 45mins as an army of people were on the pitch shovelling off the snow so the game could continue. Sarah’s beauty treatment all done we headed back to the Earth Villa to relax for a couple of hours, watch the football......well everyone else was and decide where to head for a meal tonight.
Sadly Vietnam lost the football with a winning goal scored in the last minute of extra time....but that isn’t stopping them partying. The mopeds, bikes and cars are on the road all heading to Hoi An town, horns, whistles, loud music, flags and banners are flying. It started just after the game ended and has been going on for over 3hrs. For us it was food time and we took a short walk to the Red Dragon restaurant....tonight we are eating up market Vietnamese. Decided to go for the sharing menu and what a great choice it was. Starters were Tra Que Fresh rolls
which were stuffed with lemongrass tofu, pickled green papaya, mango with a black sesame seed and peanut sauce, plus smoked king fish wontons with lime, ginger and herbs and also slow roast belly pork with pickle and served on a mini baguette. Starter done mains arrived and it was duck two ways....confit of duck leg, smoked duck breast plus green mango salad, herbs and spices plus sticky rice and also seared fresh tuna with a black sesame seed crust served with a light salad and wasabi sauce. Finally desert of chocolate mousse and creme caramel. A really great meal and cost with drinks £25 which is expensive for Vietnam but it was well worth it to treat ourselves. Back to the Earth Villa and a bit of tv before tiredness took over. Tomorrow we check out and head to the Camellia Homestay for our next 5 days. We have received an email from the owner who said we can arrive anytime and they are very excited to welcome us. Looking forward to the stay.
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