Monthly Archives: May 2015

Nha Trang

Week 47 – A City with Two names and a Beach – Saigon and Nha Trang

‘People cry, not because they’re weak.  It’s because they’ve been strong for too long.’

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach its destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page).]

Nha Trang Dragon Bridge

Nha Trang Dragon Bridge – shoots out fire and water

What a week!  Fire and water shooting dragon bridge, a beach with the locals, and a city steeped in the last centuries’ wars.

On our drive to the train that would take us to Nha Trang, I was keen to make one quick stop to see the new bridge which breathes fire and water – it’s so cool.  They have the show on Saturday and Sunday evenings for about 20 minutes in Da Nang  (Be sure to check out my video blog for May to see the action!)

An Overnight train later, we arrived in NhaTrang – a beach resort area.  We wanted to not be in the ‘downtown’, so we went to the second bay in the area where there are mostly locals and Russian tourists.  It was great to be out a bit from the main tourist area to just relax and catch up on travel fatigue.

Nha Trang Beach

Nha Trang Beach

Nha Trang Beach

The Rocks – Nha Trang Beach

It’s a beautiful beach with locals only coming out in the evening.  There is lots to do here – mud baths, islands and temples, but we decided the beach was enough for us.

Then, a day travel to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon.  This is mostly a modern city with a few older buildings still intact, like the main post office,

Post Office

Post Office

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

and temples.

Oldest Temple

Oldest Temple in Saigon

A lot of the older buildings have either been lost in the Wars or modern development – seems they make more money tearing them down rather than preserving them – it’s the same the world over.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City at night


Alter to 1963 monk

This is the city where the monk in 1963 set himself on fire and the last helicopter left for America with a que of people which was much longer than what they could carry – 2 very famous black and white photos from this time can be found on Google (or through the links above.)


This is the building where the helicopter landed.

One experience we had here was at a restaurant called ‘Noir’.  It’s where you eat in the dark while being served by blind waiters/waitresses.  A really great experience and not one I can show any pictures of – sadly.

Ao Dai

Ao Dai – traditional dress, which I had made for me and worn to ‘Noir’ Restaurant

This marks the end of our time in Vietnam, as we head to Cambodia.  I’ve learned so much about that notorious Vietnam War and seen a country and people of great strength, friendliness and a quick smile.  I’m so glad we came and hope we’ll be back soon!

What country/city has surprised you the most in your travels?

XO Tour

XO Tour through Saigon on moped




10th month – April Video Blog on You Tube

Below is my video blog on our travels round the world on you tube from April:

A visit to Tombstone and Gammon Gulch in Arizona

The real Wild West in USA

A Kiwi living in Brighton

After New Mexico we spent a week in Arizona. We camped at a lovely RV campground at St David’s not far from Benson. From here we visited Tombstone and Gammon Gulch. I always wanted to visit Tombstone so another childhood dream came true. We really liked the campground we stayed at near St David’s.

Great campsite beside a small lake Great campsite beside a small lake


Tombstone was great fun. The highlight was seeing where Wyatt Earp and his brothers with Doc Holliday had the West’s most famous gunfight. To see the orignal site of the OK Coral gunfight you have to pay $10. This includes a live reenactment of the gunfight with actors, exhibits about the time period, a historama and entry to the Epitaph museum. The show is around 25 minutes with the actors playing some scenes to give background to the fight. I enjoyed the show and watching the Historama. The Historama…

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Week 46 – Walking in the past – UNESCO World Heritage site – Hoi An

‘Live like there is no tomorrow’

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach its destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page).]

Most of this week has seen us in a city called Hoi An – a world UNESCO Heritage site for its old town.


Some of the fabrics I chose from.

Also, its well-known for its tailors, so I got some, much-needed, clothing made, as its hard to buy clothing, of any quality, that would fit a Western sized person.  So my first few days focused a lot on getting the clothing made, priced and fitted.  I was lucky to have met some New Zealand women on my cruise in Halong Bay who recommended the tailor I used and, so far, the clothes are great and very comfy (Photos of outfits at bottom of blog.)

The Old Town of Hoi An is beautiful.  Twice a day they shut it down to all mopeds – cars are not allowed at any time – and it becomes very peaceful and old worldly.

Reaching Out Tea House

View from Reaching Out Tea House – run by people with no hearing or speech disabilities

Old House Quang Thang

Old House Quang Thang

The buildings are 300 years old with some gorgeous architecture.  You buy a 10 day pass into the old town which includes 5 sights of a possible 22.  I was lucky and saw 7 of the sights.  They have old houses where people’s families live intergenerational for hundreds of years and you can walk around and take photos – like an open house.  I got to 2 of these homes – Old House Dec An and Old House Quan Thang – both beautiful.

Old House Duc An

Old House Duc An

Burial Urn

Burial Urn at the Museum of Sa Huynh Culture

I went to one museum – Museum of Sa Huynh Culture and visited the Japanese bridge with a temple.

Japanese Bridge

Japanese Bridge

I went to 2 Assembly Halls which are very similar to clan houses in Malaysia – a cross between a temple and a shrine to the ancestors of a given family.

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My favourite of the sights to visit was the Traditional Art Performance which was a 20 minute show with singing, live players and dance.


Dancers and Musicians

There are a lot of tourist shops, but I didn’t feel overly hassled and a polite ‘no thank-you’ was enough.

There are some stellar places to eat and drink, such as: Reaching Out Tea House, Samurai Kitchen, Miss Ly’s Restaurant and Hoi An Roastery.

I have a real passion for tea, what is something you seek out when you are traveling, as a must experience, when you can do it?



Photos of outfits made:

Week 45 – Moving Southwards – Hanoi, Hue & Hoi An, Vietnam

‘The World is for me today; nothing is personal.’

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach its destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page).]

John and I, I believe, are slow travelers – that’s our favourite way to go.  So, often, I feel like we don’t do much in a week and I fear I’ll have little to write about.  So when I sat down and wrote the list, once again, I’m amazed at how much we have done.  Yes, we would do more in shorter time and filling our days, but that’s just not us.

Lotus Water Puppets

Lotus Water Puppets
Hanoi, Vietnam

So, this week, we left Hanoi, with our India visa acquired, but before leaving we watched another and, in my opinion, better water puppet show.

Then we had a few days in Hue – much quieter than Hanoi.  We took an overnight train which was an experience in itself,

Overnight sleeper train

Overnight sleeper train

as Vietnam is Communist, they have no first class on the trains, so we shared a berth with 2 other Vietnamese men.

Once in Hue, we did an all day tour of the highlights of the area.  This included visiting 2 amazing tombs – Minh Mang & Khai Dinh tombs, a very old Pagoda where the 1963 monk’s car was – who set himself on fire, then we went to a day market and saw how incense is made.  A full, hot day. (Photos of this day of touring can be found at the end of the blog.)

The next day, we had a King and Queen banquet meal and took it a bit easier, as we were off again the next day to Hoi An.

King and Queen Banquet

King and Queen Banquet meal

Our drive to Hoi An included a tour through the countryside so we saw old army bunkers, Red Beach – where the Americans first landed and the beautiful Marble Mountains. (Photos for this tour can be found at the bottom of the blog.)

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here over 2 weeks.  It’s the shoulder season as they head into the low season of summer.  Everyday is very warm with high humidity, at least the hotels rooms are well air-conditioned, so we sleep very comfortably each night.

Vietnam is a great place to be!


Photos of our tour in Hue:

Tomb of Minh Mang

Tomb of Khai Dinh

Perfum River/Incense making/Dragon Boat/Day Market:

Hue Imperial City

Imperial Museum:

Thien Mu Pagoda:

Photos from Day tour to Hoi An:

Drive through Da Nang – including Marble Mountains, Buners, Red Beach, etc.

Week 44 – Feast for the Senses – Hanoi, Vietnam

‘Just because something isn’t happening for you right now doesn’t mean that it will never happen.’

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach its destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page).]


Flags of Hanoi, Vietnam

This week in Hanoi, Vietnam has been a real treat.  We are right in the heart of the old quarter near Hoan Kiem Lake – there’s a great fable about this lake (check out the link.)  Each morning they do all sorts of calisthenics around this lake and surrounding streets.

During the day time it’s a city of never-ending noise from Roosters crowing to horns honking – I love it.  It has such energy and seems to be always moving – even if crossing the street can feel like mayhem on wheels.  There seems to be a gentle understanding of fluidity – horns honk, but there’s no real aggression expressed – not like a New York cabbie!  Just a gentle warning and then move on – swim around you.  I like it, as there seems to be a good awareness.  You can’t become complacent and assume you know what will happen, but need to be flexible to step aside or stop as needs be.  It looks and sounds worse than it is.  It’s better than in Western driving when you are always second guessing who will ‘run that traffic light’ – here they just do and you just go around it.


Crazy Streets of Hanoi


Celebrations for the Labour Day and Re-Unification of Vietnam

This has been a week of holidays – they’ve had Labour Day and Re-Unification Day, so it’s been a lot of flags


Communist flags of Vietnam

and fireworks.



We’ve managed to see some of the main tourist sites – Temple of Literature (1,000 years old),

Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature

the ‘Maison Centrale’ or ‘Hanoi Hilton’ or Hanoi Prison (interesting political history of Vietnam),

Hanoi Prison

Hanoi Prison

Water Puppets,

Water Puppets

Water Puppets

Night Market,

Night Market

Night Market




Ho Chi Minh Museum

Ho Chi Minh Museum

Ho Chi Minh Museum

and one-pillar pagoda,

One Legged Pagoda

One Legged Pagoda

Ethnology Museum (great place for cultural history of Vietnam)

Village Hut

Village Hut – this is a matriarchal home, with 2 entrances the one with the breasts is for ladies and guests. It’s polite to grab the breasts when you enter.

and an example of an old house in the old quarter.

Old House

Old House

Part of this we did on our own and part was with Hanoikids – a free tour guide run by local students to help them improve their conversational English.  Really great opportunity to meet and talk with a local and see places you wouldn’t normally see.


John with our Hanoikid guide – Lê Phương Vũ

This is the first place we’ve been where theft, haggling and dodging cons is just a part of the tourist life.  We’ve had people who try to fix our ‘broken’ shoes to taxis with quickly rising fares.  So far, we’ve managed to dodge, but none of it takes away from the wonderous world that is Hanoi!  Such a great place to be introduced to.  What are some of your nightmare experiences with travel?


Communist freedom fighters statue