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Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District 1 August 8th 2019

It’s the last day of our holiday today, so we thought we would get ourselves in the right frame of mind (it’s now that we could do with those early morning tai chi sessions - see ) and go out to do battle with Ho Chi Minh City’s eight million mopeds again. It was raining again first thing in the morning, but, again, it had stopped by the time we came to leave our hotel. Our guide book had recommended the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon is split into a number of numbered districts, which sounds a bit Hunger Games-ish. Our walk to the pagoda took us out of the apparent security of ‘District 1’ and into the wilds of the untamed ‘District 3’. It seemed pretty much the same to us, ... read more
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Ho Chi Minh City Footpaths
Running Bean

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District 1 August 7th 2019

Our hotel room is on the 20th floor with a view over the river, but that wasn’t high enough to dilute the constant sound of horns below all through the night. In the morning, it looked very overcast outside, but it wasn’t until we got to nearer the ground that we saw just how heavily it was raining. We still went out, armed with our raincoats, but the rain stopped almost immediately as we left the hotel. Our first stop was the Ben Thanh Market and to say that that was full-on would be putting in mildly. From the moment we walked in, “You want shoes?” “You want bags?” “You want scarves?” “You want watches?” “You want purses?” “You want t-shirts?” “I show you Gucci.” “I show you Nike.” “I show you Calvin Klein.” “Why you ... read more
Ben Thanh Market
Independence Palace
Main State Room

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City June 24th 2019

What a thrill to have the opportunity of revisiting Vietnam, after a long absence stretching back 20 years. My previous trip in 1999 has always held a special place in my heart, and it seems every second person you bump into in Australia nowadays has recently visited, or is planning to visit Vietnam. The buzz became so great I could no longer resist the charms of this wonderful country. The memories from all those years ago are becoming a distant memory, so it's great to be back in Vietnam amongst the friendly people, wonderful culture, and delicious food for a three week return visit. What's particularly surprising is the prices don't seem to have changed over the years. Travellers will struggle to find a cheaper destination, and there's plenty on offer to make the most of ... read more
Lovely park
City life
Lovely park

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District 1 June 4th 2019

Pete and I, it would appear, still have itchy feet so this time we chose to explore some Asian countries that we have never visited before, opting to do it our own way rather than an organised tour. (There were some days when we both thought it would have been better to be herded around by a tour guide and especially when we seemed to be spending too much time organising internal buses, flights, trains and accommodation but on the whole we think our way was better as we could stay as long as we wished and move on when we were ready.) Hong Kong was amazing with its neon lights everywhere and hundreds of people on the streets which made me feel very much like a sheep being moved along! We visited the major tourist ... read more
View from Victoria peak on Hong Kong Island.
Bronze Buddha,  Lantau Island.
Fishing village on bamboo stilts

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City May 19th 2019

Just outside of Saigon are tunnels used by the Vietnamese people to fight the French and then later the Americans and Allies during the Vietnam war. The tunnels were used extensively, and have been widened to allow for the passage of tourists (even local Vietnamese, with more nutrition and different lifestyles, need wider tunnels than those used in previous time periods). We saw several of the traps used and learned some more about guerrilla warfare. It's quite strange to look at war through the eyes of the other side.... read more
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Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District Two May 16th 2019

I have arrived! It only took a mini airport breakdown and a couple days to get here, but I have made it. The flight over was probably the best I have ever had, though my stop in China was held up as Customs agents inspected my visa from Bolivia - telling me it looked fake! Why would someone create a fake visa to get into Bolivia and then use it in China? It makes no sense, but they were very worried about me for awhile there. I met another traveler while there though who had his passport stolen in the Beijing airport and was in China for 3 days trying to get his paperwork sorted. Life is hard overseas without a passport - always (always) copy your passport and email it to yourself so you can ... read more
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Asia » Vietnam » Southeast April 16th 2019

Time for another holiday! The purpose of revisiting Vietnam was to see the parentals but as I had a few days to myself, I decided to hit up Da Lat, a beautiful French settlement 3 hours bus from Nha Trang. After a picturesque bus journey through the hills, I managed to get to my hostel in Da Lat; Mooka's Home Backpackers which was a bit of town but with the use of a scooter on hire it was fine to get around. As I only had two full days here, I wanted to make the most of my time here so based on an itinerary provided by my hostel, I manage to cover a fair bit for my short stay. Starting the day with a delicious breakfast of yoghurt, fruits and chia seeds, I hired out ... read more
Cable Car Adventures
Elephant Waterfall
Elephant Waterfall

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City March 25th 2019

It seems to have been all about the eating for me since the last post. Not so much for Lyn who has been working like a trojan. It's all about convincing the students to come to Paraparaumu you know and there is a heap of competition - I think she's doing OK. As many of you know the food here is awesome and you can find great food at small prices if you're prepared to look around the alleys and back streets. The Secret Garden was one of those. We'd never have found it if it wasn't for a couple of other teachers on the trip who had been there. Nine of us ended up there and it was superb. Beer and Vietnamese food goes SO well together! Prior to that we had all been (including ... read more
Saigon Fair panorama
Footpath
You wan massage

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District 1 March 22nd 2019

It has been an unusual experience to be so far away from NZ while all the grief, anguish and outpouring of goodwill for the victims and wider affected community of the mosque massacres has been going on. There has, as far as I can tell, been little or no coverage here in recent days on TV news stations and no Vietnamese we have spoken to have brought it up. The news feeds on line are keeping us engaged and aware and I can say that it is rather eye watering at times to read the international acclaim for our PM. Certainly, for this, the right person in the right place at the right time irrespective of what anyone thinks of her Government's performance in other areas. Here, Lyn's work goes on apace. More school visits, agent ... read more
Majestic rooftop
Majestic Rooftop view
Majestic  View 2

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District 1 March 21st 2019

Lyn was up and off to work by 8.00am. She had school visits to get to along with the rest of her group. There are about 36 Kiwis here on this education trip all doing the same thing; visiting schools, attending seminars and generally promoting New Zealand's education system. Lyn stands out by carrying a blow-up Kiwi with her and waving it around whenever she can when the occasion presents itself. I'm pretty sure the Vietnamese remember her. While she's out working I get to be a tourist and explore the city so it's not a bad life. This morning I walked to the Ben Thanh market, the big market that sells cut price stuff as long as you're prepared to haggle for it. I wasn't there to buy, just to wander through and experience the ... read more
Moon
Lights




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