Australia, Vietnam · 20 Days · 54 Moments · April 2017

The Robinsons adventure in Vietnam

24 April 2017

Not even home 12 hours and Shane already has the broth on to make Phó!

19 April 2017

This morning is our last time in Vietnam. After brekkie it was a quick shop and hunt for the Marou chocolate shop. Marou is Vietnamese single origin chocolate from different regoons in the South of Vietnam. We had iced chocolates and bought some chocolates to try and blocks to take home. Needless to say, the chocolates were delish!

18 April 2017

For our last night in Vietnam we decided to change it up a bit and went for an early dinner at an Indian Restaurant - Mumtaz. The food was nice enough. After that we went for a walk on the walking street and then to the night market. Setting up of the night market was one of the craziest things I had seen - people coming from all directions dragging all their stalls and equipment along behind scooters at a frantic pace! The night market was a bit of a let down and we didn't find anything we wanted. We bought more coffee from Trung Nguyen to take home and Blair was a very happy camper when we found this Pokemon Vietnam shirt in a shop!
This morning we went to the War Remnants Museum. It was definitely an eye opening experience with many, many pictures from the war including the effects of Agent Orange. A lot of the pictures of death, destruction and torture were incredibly difficult to look at.

17 April 2017

Tonight was our farewell dinner. Our time as a group has come to an end. To celebrate we had dinner at Lemongrass Restaurant, located near the banks of the Saigon river on the 14th floor.
We woke up at 7am to a cooked breakfast at our home stay. No one slept very well with the hard beds and many Mekong River noises. After breakfast we jumped in the bus for a 4 hour bus trip to the Cu Chi tunnels. The visit to the Cu Chi tunnels was very interesting and informative. We saw many of the various traps used by the southern Vietnamese soldiers and got to walk through 120m of tunnel. It was hard work and must have been hard work during the war to live in these conditions.
Our group were then taken to our home stay. The house location was perfect. We stayed in a house located right on the banks of the Mekong River. Our dining area was a beautiful little hut the overlooked the Mekong. We got to see the sun set and rise over the Mekong. We stayed in traditional beds with mosquito nets over each bed with no air conditioning!! We caught and cooked up some shrimp straight from the canals on the BBQ for an entree and the local kids showed Blair how to make a sword from the coconut leaves.

16 April 2017

After the coconut candy visit we jumped on some tuk tuk's. They transported us along some windy roads, giving us a free bum massage, to a place for lunch. Lunch was another feast including an impressive whole Elephant Ear Fish. After lunch we jumped in a set of canoes located in one of the many canals running through the area. The canoes transported us through the shallow canals back to the main boat which then transported us back along the Mekong River to our bus.
Today's touring has taken us to the Mekong Delta. An hour and a half bus ride took us to a boat on the river. The boat took us to a cottage industry area that makes coconut products. They showed us how they make a coconut candy out of coconut cream and sugar that tastes a bit like toffee. They were really yummy! They also produce local honey and we had some tropical fruits and what they called honey tea which tasted like honey and lemon with hot water.

15 April 2017

We then checked in quickly and then went for our usual cyclo tour through Ho Chi Minh in rush hour (5pm to 7pm). What an experience getting through some of the traffic!! During the tour the cycloists needed a break (smoke) so we stopped at a Buddhist temple. It was praying time, so there was heaps of music and people everywhere praying inside and out. After standing around for 5 minutes we were invited upstairs. We made our way to the second level and were greeted by a monk who showed us around the second level, but as he did we had to get down on our knees at each statue and pray to Buddha. There was at least 6 statues that we had to pray at on our way around. It was enough for us to leave to get back on the cyclos!!
After arriving in Ho Chi Minh via plane, we went straight to Ben Thanh Market. Before venturing in we ate at Phó 2000. It's call Phó 2000 after President Clinton ate there in 2000 (didn't sleep with all of the female staff though...). They did a great phó and apparently a good mango smoothie but we don't know after Cody spilt hers all over herself 30 seconds after getting it!!! We tackled the market which was too crowded and annoying in the 38° heat so we retreated after 15 minutes. After getting Blair his Barcelona kit we went and got a coffee from Trung Nguyen, the no. 1 coffee brand in Vietnam and it lived up to its name, so we brought 1kg of beans for $25 for the best brands in Vietnam
The beautiful view of Hoi An and Denang in the plane as we take off to Ho Chi Minh City
At the airport again for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

14 April 2017

We had group dinner at Green Mango which is where we did the cooking classes the other night. 2 for 1 drinks was well received with 2 cocktails for around $6. Our tour group surprised us with a beautiful cake for our 10th Wedding Anniversary!
Part of our bike ride was a ride in the basket boats. The people taking us in the boat picked the bamboo leaves in the river and made all sorts of bamboo jewellery. It was very clever!
Today was a busy day with some beach time and a picnic lunch of Bahn Mi and fruit. Then some of the group went for a bicycle tour of the countryside around Hoi An. This was a lot of fun. The kids got to ride on the back of our bikes. We visited the house of a couple who are 94 years old and walked out through their veggie gardens at the back of their house.

13 April 2017

This evening was more time in Hoi An old town - finalising Shane's suit, a little bit of shopping and another delicious dinner (yes Cody was falling asleep at the dinner table)
Rain has cleared - pool time!
Today we were supposed to go for a picnic on the beach but because of the rain we decided to postpone it until tomorrow. Instead we went and did a lantern making class which was good fun!
Rainy day today in Hoi An

12 April 2017

In the evening we went for a walk around the beautiful Hoi An old town. This town is also known as the lantern town. We stopped by a Japanese covered bridge that features on the 20000 dong note and was built in 1593. This is also a big shopping area which is famous for it's tailoring. Shane and many in our group had fittings for suits, dresses etc. Some of us in the group did a private cooking class with a chef from the Green Mango Restaurant. We made Rice paper rolls with dipping sauce, Squid and green mango salad, Beef Pho, fish cooked in banana leaf over coals in a clay pot and Mango Sticky Rice for dessert. It was all really yummy!
Nice hotel with two joining rooms for us.
We stopped at a look out in the mountains on the way. It is a common spot for Vietnamese wedding photos! Many bunkers are located at the top of this mountain with lots of evidence of gun battles taking place.
Quick toilet and coffee break at a beach resort along the way
View from our hotel at 5.30am

11 April 2017

After a short break in our hotel a few of our group went on a 2 hour cyclo tour of Hue. It was a great way to see so much of the city that you might not normally see on foot. We went through another market which is always an eye opener. Cody slept for about half the ride.
The first picture is of the monastery that we had a vegetarian lunch at. Again the food was delicious! Then we visited the Thien Mu Buddist Pagoda and onto a Dragon Boat for a cruise on the Perfume River.
Next stop was the Mausoleum of the 4th King of Vietnam - Tu Duc - who was also the longest serving
Next was a lookout over the Perfume River. The concrete buildings are war bunkers.
This morning our touristing took us out to the countryside of Hue. We went to a country market where again there were heaps of fresh fruit, veggies and raw meats. Even live chickens you could pick to have killed and prepared right there for you.

10 April 2017

Tonight we had the opportunity to have dinner prepared for us by a local family. When we arrived, lots of the neighborhood kids came running over to check us out but our kids were a bit shy. The local kids were playing a game similar to Marco Polo. Then dinner was served and it was a delicious banquet featuring Hue specialties. The family didn't speak english so we couldn't talk to them but we were incredibly grateful they welcomed us into their home and cooked yummy food for us. After dinner our kids got over their shyness and played soccer with the family's 5 year old and also played with the 3 year old affectionately nicknamed 'Spring Roll' by her family which our kids thought was hilarious.
After our long train journey, the heat and humidity hit us as soon as we got off the train. We checked into our hotel (pictured is our room and view from the room), showered, changed and then headed to the Royal Citadel which was the home of past Kings of Vietnam. Most of the buildings were destroyed in the war.

9 April 2017

After the bus ride we had a few hours to shower, change clothes, get some food to have for brekkie tomorrow and then it was time to hop on the overnight train! Our leader Thanh organised for our dinner to be delivered to the train which was awesome - made things so easy! Cody was feeling tired and unwell so fell asleep as soon as we got on the train. Our cabin was a 4 berth cabin which was First Class. We got to walk through the rest of the cabins to see people in 6 berth cabins and also normal seat-only tickets for the 14 hour journey.
On our way back from Ha Long Bay we stopped in at a business that was created for people with disabilities as a result of Agent Orange, to learn embroidery. The embroidery pieces can take months to create and they are really beautiful. We picked one to buy and the lady in the photo is who made it.
Didn't sleep particularly well on the boat (the kids did!) Carly was awake early again (have woken up around 4am-5.30am each day) and once Cody woke up we went up to the deck to wait for breakfast. After brekkie we made our way back to the Marina and back on the bus again for another 4 hour trip to Hanoi. All the kids wanted to sit with Shane on the bus!

8 April 2017

After the cave we went to the swimming beach in Ha Long Bay called TiTop Island. All 4 of us walked the 450ish steps up to the look out (first photo) then Shane and the kids had a swim. Carly got in as far as hee toes and the water was freezing! Not the tropical swim that we expected! Back to our boat and dinner was served then it was a relaxing evening of cocktails, getting to know our fellow travellers a bit better and the boys playing Uno.
Next we went to the biggest Limestone Cave in Ha Long Bay. There are actually locals that live amongst the islands in the bay in tiny floating houses. They row small boats full of food and drinks and try to sell them to people on the tourist boats (pictured). We eveb saw a lady with a very small child (maybe 2 or 3 years old) doing this
After the bus ride we boarded our Junk Boat for an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay. Lunch was served as soon as we arrived on the boat and then we had some time to enjoy the top deck. It was beautiful even though it was quite foggy.
This morning we set off for our 4 hour bus trip to Ha Long Bay. About half way we stopped for a toilet break at a pottery. The kids got to have a go at painting the clay and the pictures are of all the kilns they use.

7 April 2017

After our day of touristing we went to pick up our washing that we had dropped off in the morning and noticed there was a fresh food market across the road. Heaps of beautiful fresh fruit and veggies but also raw meat sitting out on the bench for who-knows-how-long and live fish swimming around. In the evening we went to watch the Water Puppet Show but didn't end up going out to dinner with the group as Blair had an upset tummy so it was takeaway in the hotel room for us while Blair slept.
Lunch was at KOTO Restaurant and then on to the Museum of Ethnology. This place was really cool featuring genuine houses from different cultural areas of Vietnam.
This morning we kicked off our tour with Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum & Museum, Presidential Palace and Temple of Literature. Apparently it was a public holiday yesterday so today the city was much busier today! People kept on grabbing the kids and pulling them into photos with them while we were out touristing! Also shoving their kids next to our kids to take photos.

6 April 2017

Tonight we met the other families on our tour and after the formalities, most of us had a Vietnamese banquet dinner together at Yin & Yang Restaurant. This part was DIY rice paper rolls.
So lunch was more rice, noodles, vegies, meat, spring rolls, Bahn Mi, fruit and water. Enough for all of us for about $14. Then we went to Beer Street and it was beer and card games. I loved the hour long cyclo tour of Hanoi - we got to sit back and really take in the city. The last photos are of us in amongst the same intersection I had taken a photo/video of earlier.
Not a footpath, it's a moped parking facility
After brekkie we went for a walk through the Old Quarter (where we had our first experiences of crossing the crazy roads) to Hoan Kiem Lake. Shane got kinda duped into having his shoes repaired and cleaned. The guy started pointing at Shane's shoe and as soon as Shane stopped moving the guy was literally pulling the shoe off his foot and stitching it up. Tried our first Vietnamese Coffee which is a slow drip coffee with sugar syrup. We tried it with just a little bit of sugar syrup but preferred it without. It was super strong coffee so we ended up adding some hot water. Will probably stick to Americano coffee from now on.
The kids have eaten their weight in noodles, rice, spring rolls, vegies and fresh fruit for breakfast!
Coffee Vietnamese style
Best hotel coffee ever, going back for cup number 4.
The view from our 7th floor room

5 April 2017

Survived the 8 hour flight, then after a few tantrums, made it on the 2nd flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. We are all tired and hopefully sleep well!
Ho Chi Minh City Airport waiting for our next flight
Cody's first overseas flight!
About to board!