There's so much to see every which way you turn, life is happening everywhere, it's fantastic! We feel very much at home here and it is such a contrast to Bali.
We were in Hanoi for 5 days staying in a nice hotel in a different area from last year so it took a while to get our bearings. For the first couple of days every time we went out we managed to get lost, especially at night where everything looks so different. We walked miles and miles but it's all good, always so much to see.
Eating on the street is the best. You sit on little plastic chairs/stools at little plastic tables (bit like a children's tea party) and eat Pho (chicken or beef broth soup with lots of rice noodles and herbs, it's yummy). The other night we cooked our own seafood hotpot on the street - they provide the broth in a pot on a gas cooker and the raw seafood and veg and you do the rest. It's very tasty and very unique for us Westerners, but it's cheap and social for the Vietnamese so everyone does it.
We sat on the floor and ate, helping ourselves to everything (except the chicken feet!). It was so yummy. Giang, Vinh and Quyn were the only ones who could speak English but it didn't matter, her Mum and Dad could understand us through hand signals and head nodding. Uncles and friends popped in from time to time for a quick visit and a look at the Kiwi's!
Giang's parents lease a piece of communal land at the back of their place where they grow veges to sell to the market.
There are many lot holders doing the same and it's hard work, everything done by hand, including watering the huge plot with two watering cans strapped to a piece of timber across your back. Brent had a go at the watering, wading into the pond to fill the cans and then carrying the load to the plot to water the rows. They all thought it was wonderful, everyone was laughing and nodding their heads, he was a hit!
Unfortunately I didn't get a photo as I didn't know he was out there and hadn't taken my camera with me.
|Local grower filling the watering cans from the pond|
It is a lovely spot. Giang's Father was born there and they rebuilt the house around four years ago. It looks very grand on the outside but is very simple inside. As in Bali, they don't go in for nic naks or decoration like we do in the west. It's simple and serves it's purpose.
After lunch they took us by motorbike to a beautiful old Pagoda (temple), about 1/2hour ride away. It was fabulous. It's the oldest Pagoda in Vietnam and was built in the 16th century. It was amazing, beautiful old timber and huge carved and colourful Buddhas. A very special place.
We got home around 10pm, very tired but what an amazing day. We are very privileged to have had the opportunity to be invited into someone's home and it was a wonderful experience.
On Thursday 29th we flew to Hoi An to visit another dear young woman we befriended last year. She calls us her NZ Parents so we get called Mother and Father :). Dear Phuong (we call her Fo) is beautiful, both to look at and as a person and holds a special place in our hearts. She works at the Hotel we stayed at last year in Hoi An and we stayed there again this time.
|Phuong (Fo) and her Mum|
|Linh (middle) and her friends|
She took us to Tam Ky (about 80 minutes by car) to meet her Mother, Sister (10) and older Brother (29). Her Mother works every day buying and selling ducks (sort of like a dealer/agent for those that want to buy and sell).
Again, what a wonderful loving family. Her Mother took time out from her busy day and made us lunch and then her Sister Linh (Lin) and her two friends did a little concert for us. They were quite shy at first but soon came around. We are the first Westerners they have seen so wern't too sure of us to start with.
We then took them all out for dinner at a local restaurant and had a bit of this and a bit of that. It was wonderful. We stayed the night in a Hotel and then made our way back to Hoi An the next day.
Hoi An is the best! It's beautiful old buildings with lanterns hanging outside, river, bridges, boats, people, it's just stunning. It has so much old world charm and character it's a photographer's paradise!!! Yes, MORE photos! I didn't think I'd take too many this visit as we took thousands last year, but no, just can't help myself, there's always something wonderful to take a photo of.
|Beautiful lanterns at night|
Also, the shopping in Hoi An is fantastic! Lots of beautiful silk, scarves, clothes, leather and other souviners. You can get clothes and shoes made if you want. I can never make up my mind what I want so only got some travel trousers made this time and 3 pairs of summer sandles at $12ea - 2 of them leather so I was happy with that.
Our first 4 days in Vietnam were fine and very hot, a lot hotter than Bali but then a storm in the Philippines moved this way and it's been raining on and off ever since. It doesn't matter, it's actually quite refreshing, it's the first rain we've seen in 4 months! We just put on our coats and grab a brollie and off we go.
From Hoi An we were back to Hanoi for 2 full days and then back to Bali on Friday 7th. Me to do my Writer's Retreat and Brent to go to Bunaken Island for Diving, then meeting up again to travel back to Tulamben on 16th and back to teaching in Tianyar on 17th for another month. Time is going to go really fast now!
We love Vietnam and wish we could have stayed longer...we now have two more special families to visit so looks like Bali/Vietnam will be seeing much more of us in the future...