A great ride.
Having a holiday with a group of girls is always fun.
We have been partners in crime when it comes to shopping. I’ve had more things made on this holiday, with the girls encouraging comments, than I would if hubbie was here.
Sorry you aren’t here Steve. I might have saved money!
Yesterday was all about shoes , glasses, dresses and the odd glass of wine.
We had things made with Trinh our lovely Homestay lady. Now we are at the resort style Ha An, we have found another tailor.
We found ‘Rin My Cloth Shop’ 15 Phan Boi Chau. It’s run by a smart ( slightly bossy) lady who is married to a slightly older Australian man. The shop is bright and well set out – definitely his influence…. and the fabrics are beautiful The Silk cotton is lovely. Let’s hope their tailoring is good.
We all draped and chatted and encouraged each other until suddenly I had 3 dresses on order. A red silk with a light pattern, a navy with red & yellow design copied like one of my Maiocchi dresses and a gorgeous dark navy silk with splashes of colour – this one is long and floaty.
The shoe shop Bi 99 is conveniently around the corner with a very sweet girl called Bi. She took my shoes to have copied and sent me away in thongs. They would be ready this afternoon. She was very pleased to have my friends arrive later and order a few more pairs. Mine have been copied 3 times in all different colour combinations.
I tried a few different glasses shops but settled one in the same street as the hotel. The girl Linh was super helpful and appeared to have training- she told she studied ( hopefully optometry) in Ho Chi Minh for 3 years. I selected some multi coloured frames and new sunnies in an deep purple. ! Pick up is this afternoon. How do they do that? So fast!
Going back today to try them out. Two pairs for AU$160. I thought that was quite good. Linh said she wanted me to wear them around today and if there were no problems to tell Trip Advisor. If there were any problems come back and tell her. “And I will fix” she said confidently!
Dinner last night was a chicken curry in clay pot. Wholesome and flavoursome. A winner.
We sat on the verandah of one of the many charming lantern lit restaurants. There are dozens of them offering wonderful Vietnamese food. The local Cau Lau is famous in Hoi An. The water used to make the noodles is said to be from a particular well in the city. Without this water the dish is not authentic. White rose is another local favourite. It’s delicious and I could hardly get enough of it.
The weather has been very good to us. Not too hot now and no storms as predicted. Lucky us.
We arrived back in Hoi An yesterday and headed straight to the Ha An our new hotel in the French Quarter near the Ancient town.
We enjoyed the pool then had a walk in the local area. It’s full of little shops with ladies calling to you to visit and buy!
I love walking the streets around here. It’s not as mad as the bigger Asian cities. There are no tuk Tuk tuks only cyclos , which are really for tourists – not for getting around. The buildings are in the old colonial style of the French who lived here developing homes and businesses. They are painted in aging ochre colours and house fashionable shops these days.
There are many cyclists and motorcycles but nobody speeds.
This morning I got up early and went walking. I love watching the local people. Especially the older ones. They maintain old ways and are quietly friendly.
The women in particular are out working hard. Cleaning away rubbish, selling fish and fruit at the markets, sweeping …..
The weather now is great. The real heat has gone. It’s warm not hot, rain is predicted but hasn’t come, a little cloud cover, lower humidity. It won’t last. Summer is coming.
After the walk it was back to the hotel for a great breakfast. The fruit is magnificent.
Off to another fabric market!
Staying at the Moonlight Hotel in Hue is quite a different experience to staying with Trinh. It was most obvious at the breakfast buffet where we were surrounded by tables of holiday makers mostly from England, Australia and USA.
I had a wonderful view of a young man who thought he would never be fed again and was in a hurry to eat as much as possible. His knife and fork became weapons.
Our guide Mr Cuu or number 9 ( lucky number) as he calls himself met us promptly at 8am and we could tell was going to be good.
I think being prompt, smiling, speaking clear English, knowing how to pace a tour, helping and more importantly knowing the history and being able to bring it alive with story.
We saw the young lovers celebrating their wedding.
We spent the afternoon exploring the city of Hue and had dinner and multiple drinks at the Gecko Bar across from our hotel. The bike riders from Ipswich were a novelty.
Today we left a sad faced Trinh for an 8.40 train ride to Hue.
The train was crowded , mostly with Vietnamese headed to Hanoi. They were sleeping or eating and quite a few wore the face mask to avoid germs. The trip should have taken about 3 hours but was closer to 4 – but with spectacular scenery we really didn’t mind the occasional hold ups.
Hue is the former capital of Vietnam and has many lovely old buildings – though they lost many during the war. It was also the site of the Tet offensive, one of the worst battles during the Vietnam war. Tomorrow we are going on a tour to the Imperial citadel, where much of the battle was fought. We’re also going on a dragon boat cruise and to visit a pagoda.
This evening we took a cyclo tour of the city. We only wanted half an hour but of course our drivers made it an hour with several stops along the way for photos. Naturally they also wanted more money.
It was a funny ride – along the river and through the main areas of the city. We ran through many reds lights, went down the street the wrong way and overtook buses and cars. Let’s not mention the roundabouts. We felt lucky to arrive at the end in one piece!
We then followed up with the worst meal of the trip so far. Very disappointed 😔. Tomorrow we’ll find a bettèr place!
Why does a whirring fan sound like rain ?
We planned a trip to the beach and when I woke I thought it was raining. But no, it was the fan spinning trying to handle the heat. It’s hot here and is getting hotter each day.
Trinh made us coffee and then a taxi arrived for the ten minute drive to An Bang Beach. I’d had a swim yesterday and convinced the girls an early morning dip would be refreshing .
It couldn’t have looked more different to yesterday afternoon when I had my swim. Yesterday people everywhere – on deck chairs , walking, eating, swimming , playing games. Today the beach was deserted. A lone fisherman was making his way back to the beach in his round coconut style boat and a lady was wiping down the deck chairs. A few others started to appear but we were the only ones who dived in.
We didn’t stay long as Trinh was preparing breakfast and we wanted to visit the local area before the heat of the day started.
Breakfast once again was wonderful and Trinh made herself very useful as usual and plaited Marilyn ‘s hair. Is there nothing this woman can’t do!
We planned on the markets. So off we went armed with umbrellas not for rain but for shade. We walked in the streets behind the homestay and found it so calm compared to the busy centre and of course the other big cities like Hanoi.
We found the local produce market and chatted to a few people and made one man happy when some of the girls bought a vegetable peeler and a few hand towels to mope our now very sweaty brows!
Cool iced coffee was called for and again we made the cafe owners very happy by choosing their cafe. It’s really quiet this time of year in Hoi An. After all the rain, the streets are now clean and everything looks rather fresh. I’m really liking this lovely small city. It’s got a lot of charm and is definitely cleaner than many other Asian cities.
They are gradually paving all the sidewalks. The team were out the gate at our home stay today and a Trinh was not too happy. She was keeping a very close eye on them.
Observing the locals going about their business is great fun. We’ve decided that it’s the women who do most of the work here. There were groups of men sitting around while the women swept and cooked and minded the children at the same time.
After more walking in the heat we came across this great sign. We stopped to read it ( note point 4) and the owner came over. He was friendly and spoke very good English and was quite the salesman. We had a few laughs and decided to go in and have cool beer – that’s how hot it was. All of us drinking beer!
We eventually got back to Trinh’s where she had another great lunch prepared. She says she likes to make it for us but doesn’t want any payment. Of course we’ll sort something out and give her some money because it’s so very good. Today we had ‘delicious banh xeo It’s a rice pancake stuffed with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts. Yum. Then we had skewers of pork which you pulled off and wrapped in rice paper and stuffed with greenery including lots of herbs before dipping it in a gooey peanut sauce. Then we had mixed vegetables with chilli and a pumpkin dish. And my favourite ‘white rose’ . All delicious and dessert – another smoothie. This one coconut.
Oh the food is so good.
We had to take to our beds to 1. Sleep off the lunch and 2. Get out of the heat.
After our siesta we went walking again in the local area. This time to a spa. The girls there looked positively thrilled we’d chosen their spa! We got the good friendly service that the locals love to give and for a few dollars we had a foot massage, a manicure and pedicure.
Last excitement of the day was definitely settling up our payment to Trinh. It averaged $35 a night for our rooms and breakfast and lunch. The bill for our clothes. $8 for pants and $8 for tops. $15 for dresses. $8 for a kimono. We paid separately for the fabric but it was so reasonable. Thank you Linda for bringing me to this lovely homestay. What fun.
Tomorrow an early start. A train to Hue.
Our hostess Trinh, the human dynamo is a former seamstress who still has strong links to fabric shops and tailors.
So we had yet another visit to select some fabrics. We no sooner select something then that afternoon the clothing is back!
I’ve brought a few things to have copied and so far all have been successful. I can hardly believe it. For the price of one Country Road dress I have assorted dresses, pants and tops.
As well as guiding us through fabric selection and designs Trinh cooks us breakfast and lunch. She really loves to care for us. Linda has stayed here many times and they have a great friendship. But reading the trip advisor reviews, everyone loves Trinh.
After our cycle this morning we had a great omelette for breakfast. We returned for lunch and today had calamari salad, rice with mussels, cooked prawns with lime pepper sauce , crisp white wine and a strawberry smoothie for dessert!
We needed a nap, it was soooo hot. Later, I took myself off to the beach. The Linda and Marilyn rested and went for a short walk and Di walked to the old town. It was a 10 minute taxi ride to the beach that cost me the equivalent of $4!
The beach was yet another experience. Lots of deck chairs and grass style umbrellas. Rustic cafes lined the foreshore, ladies with pointy Vietnamese hats wandered along trying to sell everything from cool drinks to suncream, sun hats, satay and donuts. The water was a good temperature , no waves and had people of all nationalities plunging in and jumping around. Not much swimming going on! I’m sure I looked a little strange as I swam along.
I returned home and we made our way into the old town to find another cool bar. Last nights bar was lovely. It was by the river so had lovely cool breezes. Tonight’s was upstairs on the island looking back to the old town. It’s so pretty with all the lanterns.
Needless to say we don’t eat much for dinner after such a great lunches. But I’m a little addicted to fresh spring rolls so tried them again. Also the eggplant here is great. And the salads. In fact all the food is great. Light and tasty.
So we finished the night walking through some of the smaller streets checking out the shops and lanterns, across the Japanese bridge and back to the house.
Trinh was waiting for us with yet another delivery of our clothes. We had a little fashion parade and Di and I had a laugh in our matching nighties!
And so to bed. Tomorrow a 7am trip the beach for an early swim.
Today we decided to beat the heat and go for a cycle through the quiet streets and Paddy field surrounding Hoi An.
Our home stay is half way between the old town and the beaches and it’s easy to get out of the traffic and cycle in calm.
Off we went…… come along with me.
Trinh pumped up tyres and we assembled in the courtyard. Marilyn looked gorgeous in her new orange silk pants and top.
We turned down a quiet road behind the Homestay and greeted the men and women sweeping and building. There’s a lot of building going on in this small city.
Said good morning to a few cows
Then another little trip to the fabric shop before our planned manicure pedicure sessions.
Oh what a time we’re having.
4am and the house was stirring with alarms going off and dragging us from our beds. By 4.30am we were in the bus with a few other sleepy travellers.
The trip to My Son took about an hour and it was peaceful to pass through little villages as the locals woke up and started their day. We saw men and woman riding bicycles and carrying produce to and from markets, women cooking and sweeping and going about their daily business.
Mỹ Sơn (Vietnamese pronunciation: [mǐˀ səːn]) is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa (Chiêm Thành in Vietnamese). The temples are dedicated to the worship of the god Shiva, known under various local names, the most important of which is Bhadreshvara.
It was beautiful and cool as we walked from the bus along the path to the temple site. Not the size or grandeur of Ankor Wat but impressive in its own way. Our guide, a sweet young Vietnamese man was quietly spoken and very hard to understand. It made listening difficult and as we moved through the temple site and the heat of the day arrived we started to tune out.
By 8.30 we were back in the bus and drove half way back to Hoi An before transferring to a boat for the remainder of the journey. It was cool and peaceful on the river
We stopped at a little island close to Hoi An and spent some time walking along the shady lanes visiting the various craftsmen working on their craft. No hard sell from them, thank goodness, but that made us want to buy a few simple gifts for home I bought a fan. Those of you who know me would remember I’m a ‘fan of a fan’
The boat stopped on the island at Hoi An and we stopped for a coffee at the cargo bar before heading back to our Thanh Lau Homestay.
Trinh was waiting with a beautiful lunch – today was a seafood noodle salad with extra prawns and mussels and of course a plate of delicious fruit. Washed down with a local crisp white wine we were more than ready for our afternoon nap.
This evening we are heading back to Hoi An to browse the shops and have a cool glass of ‘something delicious ‘ and listen to some music .
Hanging out in airports is the down side of travel. And the 5 hours spent in KL airport was no exception.
It did give us a chance to chat and laugh and prepare for our holiday.
We met up with Di who flew in from Sydney and was rested after her night in the airport hotel.
Our flight left on time and I had a little man next to me who was wildly excited to look past me and out the window…… for the whole trip. At one point I had to ask him to back away!
We were met on arrival at Danang and driven to Hoi An about half an hour away. The beach front was blocked with buildings. Resort after resort are being built along the water and is changing the landscape and the atmosphere of what was a little village.
Trinh, our hostess at the home stay was waiting to greet us and after allocating our rooms gave us a beautiful lunch. Spring rolls and a delicious noodle soup followed by fruit. She knows how to spoil her guests and at $19 US a night is a bargain.
The home stay house is a three story pink house typically of Vietnam. I’m on the 3rd floor up forty steps. It’s huge room, traditionally decorated.
Each of us has our own room and share a bathroom between two rooms. It’s the typical open shower style so common here and in Cambodia.
We needed a little after lunch sleep in the heat of the day before our 4pm meeting with Trinh to talk about clothes we might have made. In an earlier life Trinh, a human pint sized dynamo ran a fabric and tailor shop. Perfect!
We laugh and chatted and then headed off to a fabric shop. It was an Aladdin cave of fabrics. We sorted and encouraged each other as we selected some beautiful silk and cotton fabrics from the hundreds of designs on offer.
Hoi An is charming and known as the lantern city for good reason. There are hundreds of lanterns all over the town.
We found a lovely verandah and settled in with chilled white wine and fresh spring rolls to recover from the fabric overload.
Phew. What a first day. We were exhausted so headed back to the Thanh Luan Homestay for some well deserved sleep.
Tomorrow we have a 4.30am pick up to visit My Son, a site of ancient ruins from the Cham Empire.