Renee's birthday continues in Hoi An

Trip Start Mar 21, 2010
Trip End Mar 16, 2011

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Monday, April 5, 2010

5 APRIL 2010 - We arrive in Hoi An about 5pm today after a 3 hr sleeper bus ride.

We were met by our hotel staff and to my surprise our transfer to our hotel was on the back of their scooter. Picture this, a scooter with this tiny Vietnamese man and my backpack in front of the driver, me on the back with my day pack on my back, thinking oh my god. You would think Mary would be used to a scooter but I am not the one on the back I am the driver at home on my scooter and here they are CRAZY. Troy got on another scooter with his huge backpack and off we go. I thought to myself, Oh well when in Rome.  It was funny, I thought how the hell is this guy going to steer this scooter with my backpack in front of him, it took up so much space? Well it was easy just ride it. When I hopped on the back I thought Oh my god, there is absolutely nothing of this tiny Vietnamese driver, he was so incredibly skinny and as I went to put my hands on his back there was nothing to hold on to, he was all skin and bone so I held onto his shirt.  The driver says to me while we are zipping down the street, where are you from? I thought don't worry about it just drive. Troy and I were having fun on the back of the scooter after all. As we were going to our hotel I noticed some tourists checking us out and laughing. We pulled up at the lights (yes sometimes they stop) and he chats to the guy next to us in this truck, he clips him over the head and I thought he has started an argument here, my driver kills himself laughing and we take off.  I started laughing having absolutely no idea what went on.  

We got to our hotel, a "handsome" bright green hotel.  Its really quite "handsome", hope you all know what I mean when I say "handsome" if you know me well enough.  We get to our room and we had pretty little flowers on our bed "handsome" but the best thing here it has a pool and its so hot here we got in it as soon as we dumped our stuff in our room. No hot water but who cares. For $23 $US per night we were not complaining, actually our accommodation has been pretty good so far, basic but decent except for Cat Ba, the shower was salty water but all an experience we say.

The pool was heaven, so nice to be able to cool down.  We went for a walk down the street, Hoi An is absolutely gorgeous, I think its our favourite town, well it is definitely for Mary. The streets are lit up at night with rows and rows of multi-coloured lanterns as well as millions of tailor shops, gorgeous cafes and restaurants and its not as busy as other spots, stacks of tourists but not absolutely hectic. It was so pretty it felt like we were in a fairytale book, seriously its so cute. 

We went out for dinner to celebrate Renee's birthday.  We ate dinner at Ngoc Tuyet Restaurant where we wanted to try some of the Hoi An's local cuisine called, "white rose" which is a steamed prawn dumplings and "cao lau" which is doughy flat noodles mixed with croutons, bean sprouts and greens topped with pork slices and served in a savoury broth. Both were really yummy.  Troy had a duck dish which he says was the best he has ever eaten. I had the biggest plate of stirred fried noodles and vegetables which was nice.  Its known that the food here is really good and we both agree we think the food here has been the best so far. At dinner Mary bursts into tears, its really hard and we wish things were so different in our lives.  We miss Renee so much.

We walked around the gorgeous town, the photos will not show how truly gorgeous this town really is.  You have to see it for yourself. 

Happy Birthday princess, we love you and miss you so much.  Goodnight.

6 APRIL 2010 - We had a buffet breakfast at our hotel - the Green Field Hotel, what a change you actually got a bigger choice than just soup or bread roll with jam or peanut butter or cheese. I haven't got used to the condensed milk in my tea, its way too sweet.  Troy has it black so he is lucky.  Fresh milk is really hard to get here, you occasionally can get it but you have to ask and very rarely have we got it. 

We walked into the old town which is the most gorgeous part of town. Its both pretty during the day and night. Hoi An is beautiful but very touristy.  There is wall to wall tailor shops and also wall to walls shops selling gorgeous multi coloured lanterns, handbags, shoes and all sorts of souvenirs. Its a girls paradise here for shoes, they custom make them for you. Every shop has the same stuff all after you dong or US dollar. There are so many gorgeous art shops with great paintings but we cannot fit them in our backpacks so I just take photos of them. Most of my photos of people have been taken without them noticing but some little old ladies who don't speak a word of English are quick to notice that you are snapping at them and yell out $1 for photo. Its all about money here in Vietnam. 

We just walked around town admiring the millions of shops and came across the Japanese Bridge which is gorgeous.  It took several years to build so you will find at one end a statue of a dog and a statue of a monkey each representing what year it started and was finished.

You could seriously spend a lot of money here, there are signs pinned out of the shops written by tourists all saying the same thing, how good this shop is, good service, good price and so on. It's funny to be asked where your from and before you say anything they will say "gidday mate".  We came across a shop that sells gorgeous made jewellery and souvenirs all made by children with disabilities.  We went thru the back where we saw these gorgeous kids sewing away some by machine and doing embroidery by hand - amazing how they have the patience sewing tiny beads on a cloth.  I was asked by the young girl if I would take a photo of this young guy who was sorting out threads to make a mat of some sort.  I was told he likes having his photo taken, he was a young down syndrome guy and he was gorgeous.  I showed him my thumbs up when I was watching him do his work, he had a big smile.  I was told that depending on his mood depended on what colour thread he picked.  He was so happy to see the photo of himself on my camera when I showed him.  The photo of him will be in this blog, he was gorgeous and he didn't expect any money.  

We came across a decent jewellery store and finally someone was nice enough to acknowledge me and help me (they just totally ignore you in Hanoi so I gave up).  I ordered a vietnamese hat charm for my bracelet and will pick it up tomorrow.  We also booked in for a cooking class tomorrow.  We also walked around the back streets and saw some gorgeous little houses where some places had heaps of sewing machines and all were busy zipping away creating garments. There also were lots of baskets drying out home made croutons and noodles.  

We had a delicious lunch at this lovely looking cafe called "White Marble" and we ordered fresh rolls which weren't cooked and had fresh mint, prawn, noodles and carrot. They were beautiful and Mary was impressed as I don't usually like them.  We had yummy fish cakes and chicken skewers with delicious peanut sauce.  All so cheap.  I said to Troy lets enjoying eating out in Asia because we won't be doing this in Europe every night.  

It was such a hot day so we walked back to our hotel and dived into the pool, heaven! 

Tonight we had dinner at a restaurant called "Streets", a restaurant that employees street kids and other disadvantaged youth.  Its a training centre that trains kids in professional cooking and restaurant service.  This enables the kids to have a successful career in hospitality.  Troy and I were very impressed with this restaurant.  We had "money bags" which are steamed dumplings with seafood,  also we had calamari rings which would of thought would be ordinary but they both were beautiful.  Mary had a toasted chicken, eggplant and cheese sandwich which was beautiful and Troy had pancake with prawns and pork and for dessert I had icecream which was so tasty and fruity (nice surprise to the crap I have had) and Troy had a delicious bread and butter pudding with coconut and orange sauce.  All this was just beautiful, very tasty and delicious.  Once again it was very cheap.  We heard an American couple tell some diners about their program so we assumed they were the owners.  

The food in Hoi An is the best in the country.  Eating here is what I thought would be like eating throughout Vietnam but it hasn't been, Hoi An is really the best place to eat.  The quality of the food is so much better than anywhere else.   

7 April 2010 - We went to "Morning Glory" restaurant for our Vietnamese cooking class. It cost US$25 each.  We made some delicious dishes.  We made fresh rolls with pork, prawn and vegetables with dipping sauces.  Then we made chicken skewers marinated in lots of fresh herbs and oils, also crispy pancake with pork, prawn, bean sprouts and vegetables. Our chicken skewers was accompanied with a mango and vegetable salad (mango was not ripe as we are used to) so we had used several different condiments to make a sweet sauce.  We also had cao lo soup which they made for us and also had creme caramel for dessert.  All courses were delicious.   Highly recommended.  

After lunch we went to pick up my gold charm and then walked around the town.  We crossed the bridge this time and saw more of the less touristy part of town where the locals live.  On our way home we went to the travel agent and booked our flights to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).  We have decided to ditch the sleeper bus tickets and fly so we are skipping Nha Trang.  We have also booked an extra night here so we can go to My Son in the morning. We had dinner tonight at a nearby restaurant where Mary had the weirdest looking deep fried wontons covered in pineapple and some sort of tomato based sauce but tasted good. Also we had "deep fried calamari" which tasted like chocolate when I dipped it in the sweet and sour sauce, yes weird all right, so not sure if it was the sauce or the calamari. Troy must of thought I am going totally nut so when I said that but when he tried them he said "Yeah its chocolate".  

8 APRIL 2010 - We went on a tour to "My Son", pronounced Mee Son.  My Son is the most important remains of the ancient Cham empire and a Unesco World Heritage site. A very very hot day, we were soaked in sweat. We walked around the ruins and then had lunch on a boat and the scenery wasn't very exciting.  We walked around Hoi An for a while and stopped to have a 20 cent beer and a mango shake (both just over $1). This place has beautiful souvenirs to buy but we aren't buying anything but its tempting, no clothes made, no shoes made to measure, I just take photos of the things I like, that is cheap. Back to our hotel and dived into the pool.  We now want a pool everywhere we go, will see!    

One thing Mary doesn't like about Vietnam,  "Squat toilets suck". I haven't falled flat on my arse yet but am waiting for it.
Tomorrow 9 April 2010 we fly from Da Nang to Saigon on a Jetstar flight. It was cheap so we decided to ditch those sleeper bus tickets, Mary is happy, Troy couldn't care either way!  No more overnight sleeper buses for us we hope. 

Thank you to those who sent us messages for Renee's birthday.  Your messages mean a lot to us as it is a very difficult day for us celebrating Renee's birthday without her. Also Thank You to all who have sent us comments on our photos, they make us laugh and nice to see you are all loving our blog. Its so time consuming but its fun too. Mary is enjoying taking all these photos and trying her best to make the photos interesting and creative.  I could do this for living. Love to you all, we are having a great time.  M & T xxxx 

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Georgette on

Amazing photos!

robyn dench on

Your blogs make me hungry, happy belated birthday to Renee. Sorry I am a bit behind. love Rob

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