Saturday, January 20, 2018

Emperor Cruise out of Nha Trang.....Day 12

This morning we were picked up at our hotel and taken down to the local dock, we the boarded a replica of a Chinese junk and set sail out of the bay towards the South China sea. The inside of the junk was elaborately decorated with arm chairs and sofas and a splendid dining room.

Our first stop was the Island of Hon Mun where we were transferred by speed boat to a hidden cove with a beach set up for our arrival. After a few hours of sunbathing, swimming and the odd Tiger beer we returned to the Junk for lunch, the menu included,

Bird nest soup
Mango salad
Fresh spring rolls
Grilled Tiger prawns
deep fried spring rolls with noodles
Sweet and sour chicken
Roast vegatables
Lemon sorbet

We then relaxed on the sundeck with the beautiful mountains surrounding us before setting sail to our next stop at Hon Mieu where we visited a local floating fishing village where they still use the old conical boats.
We then set sail for Nha Trang with the wind blowing through our hair.

In the evening we decided to have an Italian meal so we went to the recommended "Olivia" restaurant and we were not disappointed as we enjoyed a lovely meal. On the way home we stopped off and watched the Under 23 quarter final in the European football championship....and the bar went crazy as Vietnam won on penalties.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Nha Trang...Back to our Childhood....Day 11

After a light breakfast we hopped in a cab and Made our way over to the Vinpearl Island entertainment center. You reach the Island by way of a 3,200 metre cable car, the longest over open sea in the World.

The views from the cable cars are quite dramatic as cargo ships pass beneath you. Once we landed at Vinpearl, Mandy surprised me by asking if we could go on the first Rollercoaster that we saw, but boy did she scream the house down. 

To recover we strolled over to "Blooming hill" an absolutely beautiful area of manicured gardens with superb views across the bay to the City. Nearby we toured the huge glass cones with different eco systems inside, the flowers, plants and waterfalls were simply stunning.

We had a mid morning break at replica Japanese tea house that over looked the bay.  Duly refreshed we make our way to to the bird aviary, another wonderful attraction and you walk among hundreds of birds flying around you as duck out of the way including herons, peacocks, hugely colourful parrots and many more species.

I am getting tired here just recalling the day, so then we took a break at one of the restaurants overlooking the bay for a sandwich and a Tiger beer. We continued down to the complex's beach area for a paddle, sunbathe and to watch the water sport, especially the guys using the jet packs to hover over the water.

To finish off our visit we visited the aquarium and watched a hugely entertaining 4D film in their theater when a lot of special effects attacked you in your seat, Cue Mandy for another bout of screaming. So after six hours we decided to make our way back to the City, even though there was more we could have seen, Vinpearl is a hugely impressive complex and for all of the above we paid only 20 euros each.

Arriving back in Nha Trang Rob decided to have his hair clipped, only one problem, a Number two cut in Asia is different from a European cut of a number 2......she scalped me.....tho it will keep me cool.

In the evening we took a trip up to the Sky deck bar, the highest building in Nha Trang which has superb views over the City. We ended our day with a fine dinner at Lanterns restaurant.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Leaving Hoi an for Nha Trang....Day 10

We left Hoi An and took the  40 minute drive through the impressive City of Delang until we reached the airport. We then boarded the one hour flight on Vietnam airlines down to the City of Nha Trang. We were collected by a very talkative transfer driver who pointed out all the new huge five star hotels being built on the outskirts of the City.

We soon arrived at the Rosaka hotel, the base for our stay in Nha Trang, as always in Vietnam our check in was quick and easy. We dropped off our bags and headed for the beach side waterfront, we strolled along the beach as the sunset and stopped off at beach bar where we met two interesting guys from South Africa.

We walked back to the City centre and had a tasty meal at a local restaurant, the restaurant had a huge variety of fresh fish and seafood still alive in tanks outside close to the pavement.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An Bang beach... Day 9

On a warm and sultry day we hopped into cab and drove from Hoi An through the paddy fields to An Bang beach. The beach was quiet when we arrived and we enjoyed a long walk along the shoreline.

We then decided to stop off for a cooling drink at "The Deck" beachside bar, in fact it was such a relaxed atmosphere their that we stayed for lunch.

In the evening we walked into the old town and had another superb meal overlooking the old ancient town and river.

We then went into the "Dublin gate" Irish bar and listened to the most amazing musical Duo, the lady had great vocals and the guy on the guitar could make it sing.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Hoi An and the Riverside hotel was exceptional, but now it's time to Move On....

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Our first day in Hoi An....Day 8

After a week of conrdstantly travelling through Thailand and Vietnam we decided that it was time to have a day of gentle relaxation, so we cancelled our morning tour and took things easy. 

 Our first day in Hoi An started with a morning stroll into the old town and a stop for a refreshing glass of lemongrass tea, we then walked through the local market which was hive of activity. 

We continued our walk along the riverfront before having a lovely lunch of snapper fish served on banana leaf. 

 In the afternoon our hotel laid on a tasting event of local cuisine, cooked freshly by local people. We the boarded the hotel's local river boat for a sunset cruise, which also gave us views of a local boat building yard and local life along the river.

 In the evening we made our way over to the old town which was alive with colour and atmosphere, the river was awash with paper envelopes containing candles giving respect to the ancestors. The riverfront and the bridges were beautifully lit up and cast amazing ripple effects over the water.

 We enjoyed a lovely meal and a quiet drink with this unique atmosphere surrounding us, Hoi an will certainly live long in our memories, it is quite a magical town especially at night.

A day in Hue.....Day 7

 Our day started with a tour of the City of Hue, our first stop was the seven storey Thien My Pagoda, next we boarded a dragon boat for a cruise down the perfume river. We then visited the Impressive Imperial Citadel which houses the Royal temple and Forbidden City.

 Lunch was the served in a beautiful, traditional Vietnamese restaurant and again consisted of seven courses. The afternoon began with a visit to the burial site of Emperor Minh Mang and Khai Dinh tomb. 

 Our final stop was at an insense and conical hat workshop in a small local village. Rob had a go at rolling an insense stick, it was real poor result that brought howls of laughter. We bid goodbye to our guide Hao and our fellow travelers as we made the drive from Hue to Hoi An. 

 We checked into the Impressive Vinh Hung Riverside resort, set in a stunning location on the river and the ladies at reception produced a birthday cake and sang happy birthday to Mandy. We just had time to stroll through the night market and then had dinner at the "Reasonable" cafe.     

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cruising Ha Long Bay.......Day 6

We left Hanoi and headed East on a three hour bus trip to the port of Ha Long. We then joined the Royal palace cruise boat for our overnight tour of the World famous Ha Long bay. On boarding the boat we had a lovely surprise by being told that we had been upgraded to a Deluxe suite of which there were only two on board.

 Leaving port we cruised out into the bay and soon found ourselves surrounded by the famous, huge limestone rock formations that seemed to grow out of the sea. Our first stop was To Top island where a fairly steep climb brought you to a viewing point that showed dramatic views of Ha Long bay. Returning to the boat we went on the sundeck to watch a glorious sunset between the rocks. 

On the second day we cruised further into the Ha long bay sailing between the 1900 islands, we stopped off at “ Surprising cave” an impressive three chamber complex of caves and took an interesting tour with Tony. We returned aboard to watch a Vietnamese cookery lesson before heading back to the pier and catching our next flight to the City of Hue. 

A tour of the City of Hanoi....Day 5

Today we joined a City tour of Hanoi with our guide, Bay and our driver, Chung. The only other guests were three lovely, 20 year old Belgium girls. Our first stop was the hugely impressive Ho chi Minh presidential palace area including the mausoleum, coy carp lake and his private quarters. We then visited a museum that told the history of Vietnam and about all the different ethnic groups that still live in the country, thanks to Bay, he made it educational and his knowledge of his country new no bounds. 

Our third stop of the day was to a workshop that produces hand made tiles using lacquer and inlays of duck egg and mother of pearl, this was absolutely fascinating and the finished products were simply superb. While we were being shown around the workshop, the workshop guide said that Mandy and I had three beautiful daughters ( the Belgium girls), well we just all looked at each other and burst into fits of giggles. 

Bay and Chung then took us for the included lunch break at a local restaurant, we were just expecting a snack but ended up enjoying a 9 course lunch. Suitably replenished we set out and visited the temples of Ngoc son and One pillar, the former dating back to the eleventh century. All too soon it was time to say good by to our new Belgium and Vietnamese friends as we all boarded Cyclo's to be driven through the chaotic traffic of the old quarter back to our hotels after a hugely entertaining and informative day.

 In the evening we wandered through the streets of old Hanoi and stopped off at a bar for a tiger beer, as we sat outside a troupe of musicians and actor set up a impromptu stage and began performing a play using historical costumes and musical instruments. We then had a lovely dinner at the Hanoi food centre, a lovely little bistro overlooking the old quarter. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A flight to Hanoi- Vietnam...Day 4

I know that we would both like to thank all the people we met in Bangkok, they were kind, helpful and so courteous, simply said they were a credit to their country.

Leaving Bangkok we took  a  one hour thirty minute flight on a Thai airways flight  to Hanoi, Vietnam.The first thing we noticed on landing at Hanoi airport was the number of military personal on the ground, but they were friendly enough and extremely efficient.

Our young driver collected us at  arrivals and sped us into the City centre and our base for our visit, the Tirant hotel.

Now we have all seen cities that are busy with traffic, but Hanoi is on a totally different level, it's utterly crazy, no lane control, no rules of the road and summed up in one word, chaos, with thousands of scooters moving in every direction and even more blocking the pavements. but somehow it works.  It's mad, it's crazy but it's fun.

So we took our lives in our hands and crossed a busy roundabout to the Famous Legends restaurant that overlooks Joan Hoan kiem lake and  has a birdseye view of a major crossroad in the City.

We then moved onto the Garden house restaurant for a dinner of duck and pork washed down with a few bottles of tiger beer.

We then made our way along to a small bar  which has a terrace overlooking the Old Quarter and had an interesting decor and a balcony overlooking the busy streets of Hanoi.

We finished off our night with  a stroll along the beautifully lit lake with  a truly stunning Red bridge casting a lovely reflection on the water.