Vietnam, Singapore · 13 Days · 36 Moments · December 2016

Blake and Alicia in Vietnam

21 December 2016

Tonight we had a dinner after hot showers at a place claiming to 'probably' be the best BBQ pork. It was a little local restaurant on the street and did not disappoint! There was a group of local men there drinking some home brew and they brought us over a shot each. We still have no idea what it was and it didn't taste very good. When we asked what they called it, it sounded like he said 'eppo' but we have no idea 😂
We then stopped for lunch outside the jungle pool and Blake had a quick dip in the water. We then started our trek back which turned out longer because our bus couldn't get in to us. We walked til it was dark and we were well and truely exhausted. Now for some local food for dinner.
Today we got picked up from our hotel and went to Oxalis headquarters where we got fitted for caving helmets and shoes (stylish shoes) and took a last toilet stop before driving to the dropoff point for our trek to Hang Tien Cave. Our bus almost got bogged but we managed to get through and started walking in the mud to the starting point. From there we trekked some intense and difficult terrain to the entrance of the cave. We walked, slipped and fell through mud, up and down steep inclines and climbed up and down rocky terrain. It was too difficult and dangerous to take photos during most of the trek but Blake managed to captured a couple at the start and once we got to the cave. It was an amazing entrance and we finished inside the cave at the River.

20 December 2016

Today, after a sleep in, we took a trip to Paradise Cave. It was a little bit of a steep walk on a ramp up into the cave but it was well worth it. It has some beautiful formations and was very amazing to see. We went back to our hotel after some dinner and some drinks to get an early rest before the big day treking the following day.

19 December 2016

The tour bus has dropped us off at the 'restaurant' where we had lunch today and the bus to Phong Nha Ke Bang is going to pick us up from here, we hope. Here is a photo of Blake looking really impressed. Only another hour until the bus arrives.
Stops on the tour today included Khe Sanh, a stop on the side of the road of an ethnic minority village, Rock Pile (which we couldn't see because of fog), Dakrong Bridge - Ho Chi Minh Trail, Hien Luong Bridge - Ben Hai River and Tunnels of Vinh Moc.
This morning we had a tour booked to Khe Sanh and the DMZ. The bus picked us up and we got on the road. After a couple of hours of driving we ended up with a flat tyre in the middle of no where. Everyone got of the bus while the driver attempted to change it. He eventually got it off and the spare out, only to discover the spare was also flat...The tour guide for the day (who had no seat on the bus, she had to bring her own stool to sit on) told us to follow her and we all started walking along the side of the road. There just happened to be what looked like a spare tyre place so we walked in there and sat down to wait. The man there jumped on his scooter back to the bus to pick up the spare wheel and returned to pump it up. An hour later we were back on the road.

18 December 2016

Tonight we went out for dinner and drinks and Blake had a quick dip in the rooftop pool of our hotel! It was a bit cold so he didn't last long.
This morning we had a car and driver booked to take us around to some of the main temples and a pagoda. We followed this with a nanna nap. It's exhausting work being on holidays. More photos to follow when Blake gets them off his camera.

17 December 2016

After exploring the Citadel we decided to tick off the rickshaw ride from the list of tourist things to do and headed to the markets. The markets were a bit manic to say the least so we didn't hang around there too long.
Today we explored the Imperial Citadel in Hue.

16 December 2016

So we finally made it onto the train after our taxi almost took us to the airport. We tried to pay half the fare because he took us the wrong way but it didn't go down so well. Not worth the hassle so we paid and jumped straight onto the train. After some bag rearranging by the train staff to what seems to be less conventional than we had done (with the other couple travelling behind us) we are off. We are however travelling backwards which is not Alicia's favourite but we are finally out of the weird and wacky Da Nang!
We arrived at Da Nang train station in time for the earlier train. After waiting a little while, we heard several announcements be made but the only part of the message we could decipher was 'we apologise for the inconvenience'. We took our tickets to some of the ladies working at the station who kept mentioning 6.40pm. Our train was meant to leave at 2.15pm. We soon discovered some fellow Aussies who explained that they were also originally on the 2.15pm trained and were moved to the 6.40pm train (we had originally had tickets for this one but we were trying to leave Hoi An earlier). Seeing as we now had tickets for both trains and the earlier one was no longer coming we decided to leave the station to kill some time elsewhere. We ended up on one cafe, moved on to another for some Banh Mi (pork and salad roll). After that we moved down the street to another bar for some beers. We'll head back to the station soon and hope the next train arrives!
Yesterday we ordered a leather handbag and leather toiletries bag to be tailor made. We were meant to pick them up this morning but due to the flooding becoming more sever we couldn't make our way into the old town. Our taxi to the train station for later today was also booked to leave from the old town. After some confusing conversations and Skype phone calls, our tailor made leather goods were delivered to our accommodation! The husband of the lady who seems to run the shop jumped on his scooter in the rain and delivered them himself. We checked out of our room and Chi at our accommodation organised a private car to take us to the train station. There was another confusing phone call to try and cancel the other taxi so we're not quite sure if they are still looking for us! We decided to buy a train ticket for an earlier train as we couldn't do any more exploring due to the floods.

15 December 2016

We spent more time exploring the old town in Hoi An today. Still very rainy and the floods are higher now. We tried our first Cao Lau and tried a mango cake from a man on the street. The power went out this morning so there were lots of things closed. The ponchos came out again today but we ended up giving in and buying some water proof jackets.

14 December 2016

Dinner was at our guides home with his wife. They had a large garden with lots of vegetables so everything in our dinner was from their garden (except for the meat, obviously). His wife showed us how to make Hoi An pancakes (Banh Xeo). She then made us rice paper rolls, Papaya salad with beef, a type of Vietnamese curry chicken and a little fried fish. Dessert was some fresh Passionfruit. We then got a taxi home because we weren't so keen on more bike riding in the rain.
We had booked a tour for this afternoon and thought with all the rain that maybe it would be cancelled but it was still on! We left our accommodation on the bicycles with our local guide and headed in to the rice fields. We were riding with the stylish ponchos but I'm not sure they really helped to keep us dry. We saw a cemetery, bamboo bridge used by locals, a hut made from dry bamboo, rode through small local villages and saw family churches. We went to a fishermans house who took us out on a bucket boat. He made some grasshoppers and other things out of the leaves of the water coconuts, then he made some more, and some more, and some more... after we left the fisherman we got back on the bikes in the rain and went to ride a water buffalo. We didn't get any photos here because it was too wet to get our phones out.
We ventured in to the old town in Hoi An this morning to have a look around. Our accommodation has bicycles we can take for free so we rode in. Once we started to get closer we realised the river was flooding so we jumped in a boat! The main strip wasn't flooded so we looked inside some of the historic buildings, drank a traditional herbal drink, and looked at leather bags to buy. After we found a bag, we jumped back on the bikes and headed back to our accommodation but it started pouring rain again so we got soaked on the ride back!

13 December 2016

We survived the check-in lineup at the airport in HCMC (only just) and have landed in Hoi An. We managed to jump in a taxi with 2 locals so got a cheaper taxi fare than normal. We've now checked in to our next airbnb accomm, Mr Tho Garden Villas. Chi greeted us with her cute daughter, Ruby. Very rainy here so the stylish ponchos might get some wear again.
Our favourite street spot for eating in Ho Chi Minh - Quán Thu Ngọc. We found this spot on our first day as recommended by our AirBnB host and it's incredible. Today we went for the DIY rice paper rolls with coal cooked pork. So tasty with the freshest salads to go inside. Rainy day here in Saigon but we pulled up a table with the locals and enjoyed. Such great food - $4 AUD all up
A very touching morning visiting the Vietnamese War Remnants Museum. Very moving installations showing the brutality and sheer size of the destruction caused by the Vietnam war. Lots of confronting images and many objects from the war on display. The facts and opinions are all one sided due to the communism in Vietnam (we were pre warned that it would be) but still the facts are very touching and to think this happened not so long ago puts a lot in perspective.

12 December 2016

Dinner tonight was at a restaurant recommended by both Lonely Planet and our airbnb host. It was raining so trusty uber got us there for $2. Yummy food and we tried their famous dessert which was delicious.
Exploring the Mekong Delta and its surroundings. Walking through local villages, drinking honey tea, paddle boating through the river and even found a snake that neither of us were game to get near!
After we visited the tunnels we headed off on a two hour (very bumpy) drive to the Mekong delta. At the start of this trip we stopped at a 'disability factory' where there were artworks being made. This was set up to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to work. Once we arrived at the Mekong Delta, we got on a boat from the mainland to one of the islands and tasted local honey tea and some other snacks, saw a scary python (and it's friend trying to jump out of the cage), a ride in a donkey and cart(?!), a performance by some local singers, and coconut candy being made (we also got to sample). While interesting to see, it was all very much for the tourist. We then jumped in small paddle boats, I'm sure they have a proper name, and travelled down a small river and headed back to the boat to the mainland.
Cu Chi Tunnels. Exploring the history of the tunnels used during the Vietnam war. Hot sweaty and cramped spaces ahead!

11 December 2016

Some drinks with a view of Saigon!
Ho Chi Minh City - Walking tour
Delicious lunch in Ho Chi Minh today. Cheap cheap.
Our airbnb host also owns a coffee shop (as well as being a photographer) so we went to check it out today. Coffee with condensed milk ☕️
Ho Chi Minh City - Breakfast with the locals We went for a walk in search of this place for breakfast, recommended to us by our airbnb host. It didn't disappoint.

10 December 2016

A couple of drinks from a rooftop bar near where we are staying. Cool view with horrible cocktails 😆
We have arrived in Ho Chi Minh City and checked into our airbnb accommodation. Cong, our host, is really lovely and recommended somewhere to eat. We walked to a lady's stall on the corner of an alley where they were serving 'make-your-own' rice paper rolls and another dish made up of noddles, pork, and spring rolls. Cong also ordered us a sugar cane juice to drink with it. So delicious!
Singapore airport has a butterfly garden at the terminal! Nice spot to relax and kill some time
Breakfast in Singapore We went to Yy Kafei Dian for kaya buns and coffee.

9 December 2016

Satay skewers at a quick stopover in Singapore
Plane trip over to Singapore. This is what a $169 international flight buys! No window, no entertainment package, but most definitely party lights!