Category Archives: Vietnam

Let’s Go To Asia – Travel Video

27th September 2015

So as the astute among you may have noticed, we are already finished with our trip. We are in lovely Australia. I still have a few posts about our trip to come, but I recently finished editing this little video together and couldn’t wait to share it.

So here is just a few of the best parts of our trip:

Saigon / Ho Chi Minh – A Blur of a Visit

25th May 2015

poster When we arrived in Saigon we were welcomed by running into the beautiful Kaleena (from Kaleena’s Kaleidoscope and if you haven’t read it yet you should instantly follow this link and read all of her fantastic tales). Running into someone in a huge city should have been a huge surprise but the secret of Saigon is that it is mainly contained in about 3 streets. These three streets are located in the area called district one and are the main travellers hub.

We also met up with another friend from Korea who has recently moved to Saigon. She showed us the sights but mainly the gin…oh the gin!

IMG_1897 IMG_1910 We did see the war museum , or as Lee thinks it should be renamed ‘A photographic history of hating America’. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t’ truth on the walls of the museum. It just means that its a very one sided and extremely gruesome history told from the winners perspective. Please don’t get me wrong though, it is a horrifying history and needs to be told but it is worrying when rooms are called things such as ‘The real truths’ or when tanks are labeled ‘Americans death machine’ while Vietnamese tanks are labeled ‘Vietnamese liberation vessel’. It would have been fantastic to see a un-biased account of event which would still show the horrors the Vietnamese people and the Americans both experienced. But I don’t have a degree in History so definitely don’t have the right to an opinion on this place. It is still an interesting place to see either way.

place plane2 rain We also indulged in our favourite past time and headed to the cinema. It was great. Quiet, cheap and with fantastic salted popcorn. The Vietnamese had a great sense of humour and laughed at everything which made it a great experience.

We also managed to see the 1920’s style post office as well as the Notre Dame cathedral. but we mostly spent our time eating and taking in the city. We sat on many tiny plastic chairs and guided our way across the terrifyingly busy roads.

seoul window building karaoke shirts shrek I think it’s definitely a city to live in rather than visit…UNLESS you know some people to enjoy the city with. There is so much to do here but it’s more relaxed things that require insider knowledge.

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Mui Ne – The Perfect Rest For Two Weary Travellers

23rd May 2015

IMG_1815 Mui Ne was a place we added last minute to our itinerary . I was interested in the fairy stream and the sand dunes. Weirdly the one thing we didn’t do while we were there was see the sand dunes…yes I know that’s crazy but the reason for this decision was mainly this place…. IMG_1822 tania tania2

We stayed in a simple hostel right down the end of town by the fairy stream. On our first day we decided to chill out and explore. The heat was crazy so we walked across the road and saw a beautiful pool and hotel that we could pay to sit at for the day. One day became two, two days became three and before we knew it we never wanted to move again.

fairystream fairystream2 fairystream3 fairystream4 fairystream5 sanddunes We headed to the fairy stream which didn’t impress Lee. Mainly because I forgot to tell Lee that he had to wade knee deep in mud and sludge. I liked it but mainly because it was free and next to our hotel. I wouldn’t have paid for it. There was a teenager asked for money to go to the stream. Please ignore this guy. He isn’t legit and needs to go back to school. Money is keeping him at the stream. The lady in our hotel was very upset about the child beggars and explained how they drop out the second they realise they can make money begging. DON’T SUPPORT IT!

Preaching over. Anyway where was I…oh yes, us being lazy buggers.

We had been traveling for almost two months and we just needed a rest. It was a great rest too. Unfortunately I am not sure Mui Ne is for everyone. It’s mainly aimed at Russian Tourists and you need to take taxis to get up and down the long road. The beach wasn’t clean at all, we even saw some chemical waste. There are also quite a few scams being run all over the place such as kids threatening people after pushing them down on sleds at the dunes and police waiting for foreigners so they can fine them. But if you go to restaurants reviewed on Trip Advisor and get good tours you should have a good time. We just needed a pool and some margaritas and Mui Ne definitely provided. beach flowers tania3 flowers2 palmtrees pool sunset

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Hoi An – Lanterns, Dreamy Nights and Yellow Walls

20th May 2015

hoian Oh Hoi An!

I’ve taken a while to write this post mainly because I don’t know what more to say about this place apart from. I LOVE IT!

bike2 birdcage japanese bridge Lee and I arrived with high expectations. Every person we know told us we would just love it . We are the type of people that like to go into a movie not hearing it’s great so that we can be pleasantly surprised , and we are the same with countries so we were ready to be under whelmed but some how this magic place was all we had heard and more.

My friend Kaleena wrote a post here that explains it much more eloquently than I ever could.

but here are some things to do when in Hoi An:

.Drink 9p fresh beer – it’s basically water but so so cheap you just have to give it a go.

beer .Try rose dumplings – a specialty in Hoi An and they are really tasty.

bike .Ride a bike to the beaches – this was my first attempt at riding a bike. Lee was a great teacher but it was terrifying.

.See the lanterns – just stunning. Such a magical feeling seeing the town lit up.

lanterns1 lanterns2 .Put a wishing candle on the river – You can by them on the street for a dollar and they all look so beautiful. We both agreed to wish to come back.

.Eat at Bahn Mi Queen – THE BEST Bahn Mi in Vietnam/ the world. We also tried the really famous one that Anthony Bourndain recommends but the 88 year old Bahn Mi Queen just hit the spot like no other  and it was so cheap. We ate far far too many .

bahnmi . Get something tailored – Lee got a stunning suit, I got a dress and a playsuit. My recommendation would be to get a pinterest board set up of all the lovely things you want. Show them and make sure you have a few days to have a few fittings squeezed in.

.Take a cooking class – We went to the Thuan Tinh Island class which was recommended to us and we adored it. It was great. They took us out to a special island, gave us all we could drink passion fruit juice and just loved it all. Now we can hopefully take Vietnam home with us.

cook1 cook2 cook3 cook4 cook5 cook6 cook7 .Eat Cake – We went to Cargo a restaurant for desserts and ate our weight in chocolate cake. Worth the extra pounds. All travel pants are elasticated anyway.

There are so many other things to try and do in this city but these are just a few of the things we loved. I want to take every one of my friends there to rent bikes and drink wine outside in the sunshine. Lee and I can’t wait to go back. cook9 market night oldquarter1 yellow yellow2 yellow3

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Hue – Come for the Citadel, Stay for the Food.

19th May 2015

citadel hue5 Hue – A city of history and pancakes

Hue is known for many things, being the old capital of Vietnam, having a UNESCO awarded Citadel, the perfume river and many more things but I was there for one reason and one reason alone. Food!

Hue is known around Vietnam as the food capital of the country. It is said that when Hue was the capital of Vietnam the emperor would bring all the best chefs to the city. Each chef was in charge of a different dish. There were typically 53 dishes per meal. Obviously this was long ago but all of these recipes and skills seemed to have hung around the city because everything we ate was divine.

hue pancake One dish in particular blew our socks off and had us returning again and again. Bau Khoai is a fried rice pancake filled with shrimp, pork and beansprouts. It’s served with what I could only work out to be really ripe avocado and the traditional pile of herbs that seems to a company all Vietnamese dishes. The best part though is the sauce…oh the sauce. A perfect tongue pleasing combination of satay and thin hoisin. I could drink gallons of it. You combine all of this in a bowl and consume. I’m drooling just typing this.

The restaurant is famous on trip adviser and in the Lonely Planet but we think we went in the fake next door rather than the real one. The real one is called Lac Thien. I can only image how good the real one is since this one blew us away.

When we weren’t filling our faces we were absorbing the history. The very expensive history. Getting into the citadel was much more than we’d read online and in the guide books, but it was worth it to see inside. We had read it would be 2 pound (or 55,000 dong) but instead it was close to double that at 120,000 dong. The sad thing about it is that so many wars and natural disasters have ruined the original buildings so pretty much everything you’re seeing is a restoration. It’s still great to see but such a shame that the real history is gone. We loved stumbling on an area when the restoring hadn’t begun and you could see fragments of the real citadel under the grass.

citadel hue3 hue girl 2 hue girl 3 hue girl original hue citedel It was a beautiful city but did suffer from a quick rise in tourism. We didn’t even dare walk by the lake since we were hassled as if we were on the beaches of Boracay. The people would be quite aggressive and rude. Which is a shame. I wish the government would step in and help change this because the city will be ruined beyond repair soon and not worth a visit. I think we would have bought more and definitely taken tuk tuks and boat rides if we hadn’t been chanced down the street at every turn.

citadel hue dragon boats hue fish fight garden hue hue sunset Hue is a good city, but it definitely could be a GREAT city if tourism was nurtured instead of attacked by putting high prices on things and hounding people. I realise that sounds like I didn’t enjoy my time here. I did but it’s sad to be able to see how fantastic this place could be. Saying all that, it’s worth coming for a few days for the food and a glimpse at the beautiful architecture. citadel hue2 citadel hue4 citadel hue signature

A Great Alternative to Halong Bay – Catba Island

17th May 2015

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A trip to Vietnam isn’t complete without a trip to one of the natural wonders of the world… Halong Bay.

We researched Halong bay until my internet told me I had an addiction. The problem seemed to be:

  1. It was really expensive
  2. It was full of tourists

It seemed that even if you paid a hell of a lot you’d still end up on a shit tour unable to see anything through the throngs of tourists. So we tracked down an alternative. We decided to go to Catba .

Catba is an island the other side of Halong bay. Its bay is called Lan Ha bay but is still officially Halong bay. It’s just the other quieter side.

17 20 It was two thirds of the price and seemed just as beautiful. We jumped at the chance to visit.

We dragged out two visiting Irish friends with us and landed in Catba to discover it was the quiet season. The VERY quiet season. This wasn’t a bad thing since it meant really cheap accommodation and whole bars to ourselves.

We spent our first night catching up over gin and juice, trying the mysterious laughing gas (which is just an odd few seconds) and laughing…a lot.

16 catba I really liked the sleepy town of Catba but like all of Vietnam it closes early here with all street lights going off at 10 and bars closing about 12 (although you can track down places that go till the wee hours).

The next day we hit the high seas and went on our boat trip. We did our trip through Asia outdoors and I’d recommend it to anyone. So cheap (at just 25 dollars) and really well organised.

We sailed past the floating fishing communities and saw the bay emerge around us. It was spectacular.

10 11 (2) We then had the opportunity to ride the seas ourselves and hoped in Kayaks. Seeing the mountains from so low down only added to their spender. Photos really don’t to this place justice.

After a delicious lunch and more kayaking we were ready to say goodbye to the bay feeling like we’d all earned the right to draw a big line through a bucket list item. I’d definitely recommend the Catba route.

3 6 19 That night we chatted lots more over beers. We reminisced about Korea, congratulated Ciaran on his fantastic travellers beard and exchanged travel stories (both the good and the disgusting). We weren’t sad to head back to Hanoi when it came to it but I loved every minute of our excursion to the bay.

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You’ve got a little something on your face Ciaran

hazel2 If you are interested in this trip then I definitely think you should grab a Hazel and Ciaran for the journey. If that’s not an option then just the bay will do.

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Discovering Hanoi – (or more importantly discovering Bahn Mi)

12th May 2015

hanoi streets I could not for the life of me remember the name of Vietnam’s capital before we got there. I constantly called it Hoi An (it had consumed my brain because I was so excited to go there) that was until I realised that Hanoi sounds like a posh person saying ‘how annoying’.. honest it does.. Give it a go. Lee found this funny…the first two times. After that he ironically found it very annoying.

This was the extent of lee and my conversations about this place. That was until we got a message from our best friends.

Our two Irish friends (and one of our favourite couples) had been traveling across Asia together for 4 months and had one last stop before flying home. It just so happened it was the exact same time as we would be there. Hanoi was instantly my new favourite place.

We were both so distracted with the excitement of seeing these two that we didn’t think about the fact we were entering a new country. So it took us a little by surprise when we were in our taxi and flying past rice paddies, tea fields and people in pointy hats.

train tracks hanoi pond opera house We loved Hanoi. It is vibrant, busy and down to earth. The French influence is apparent everywhere. When the French left Vietnam in 1954 they left behind their architecture and most importantly their bread.

bread The old quarter of Hanoi looks like Paris was squashed up and abandoned in Asia. Thin buildings with balconies and shutters surround you from all sides and every inch of space is used. I don’t think I saw one area of the street that wasn’t occupied by a tiny plastic chair.

hanoi bars fresh beer wires hanoi It was cheap, delicious and full of life.

On top of the place looking and being fantastic, the Vietnamese people that fill it are great too. We had some of the nicest hotel staff I’ve ever met and everyone was so willing to help you. (The hotel was called Icon 36 and we would highly recommend it).

We spent our few days in Hanoi catching up over 9p beers or as the locals call it ‘fresh beer’ with a stupid amount of fried spring rolls.

I tried my first phò which was instantly a new favourite. We also had Bun Cha which consists of fried pork spring rolls, noodles, a delicious broth and chunks of beef. All with bitter melon and a ton of herbs. My taste buds that hadn’t experienced a fresh herb for two years in Korea were happy.

bun cha We didn’t spend long in Hanoi, we could have stayed for weeks, but we squeezed in some sightseeing and a trip to the water puppets which was originally started in North Vietnam. The water puppets is a hard one to explain. Imagine puppeteers stood waist high in water behind a curtain and you watch these wooded creatures tell you Vietnamese tales. It was fantastically bizarre but very worth the few pound to watch it. Water puppets originated when workers would entertain people on the rice paddies with the puppets 1000 years ago but now has evolved into a great tradition and something I’d recommend. Weirdly and wonderfully Vietnamese. Like most things here. Lee and I spent the whole time quizzically looking each other trying to gage if the other person had a clue what was going one which inevitable ended in a fit of giggles.

water puppets2 water puppets The other thing about Hanoi…it’s so cheap!!! After Japan and the Philippines we were happy campers to be paying less than 50p for a Bahn mi sandwich. If you don’t know what Bahn mi is then instantly throw your computer away. Go into the nearest Vietnamese restaurant and experience one/as many as you can force in your face. Imagine a chunk of perfectly soft and crusty French bread. Fill it will pate, mushroom paste, bean sprouts, lettuce, carrot, BBQ pork, lemongrass chicken, cheese and a fried egg. Top it all off with a sweet and sour chili sauce and you have a classic Bahn mi. I honestly think it is the discovery of the trip so far. Our wallets and we were very happy to be in Hanoi. We can’t wait to see what the rest if the beautiful country has to offer. bahn mi

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10 Steps To Surviving Vietnam

1st May 2015

image Vietnam is a popular destination for the backpacker, the flash packer and the ‘heavily over’ packer .

I had no idea what to expect from this country before I arrived.  Vietnam was more like Hogwarts to me since I had read a lot about it and dreamed I’d get a letter inviting me there someday.

Now we are here, and it’s all I hoped it would be and more. So I thought I’d offer you a few handy tips on how to survive Vietnam.

Step 1: Run to the nearest market/shop/ man in the road and buy the backpackers uniform. This being the baggy elephant print pants. I now proudly own 3 pairs and I’m considering moving into them permanently. They are more spacious than previous London apartments I’ve lived in. Beads, tank tops with beer logos and sun hats are optional. image

Step 2: Eat everything in sight. Before coming to Vietnam it’s good to train your belly. Train as if you are going to an all-you-can eat hotdog contest. Train so that you can get the maximum deliciousness into your face. Phò, Bun Cha, Bahn Mi, egg coffee…all of it! Your trip to Vietnam should be made up of 7 meals a day.

IMG_1662 Step 3: Find a plastic chair, sit in it and beer will come. Fresh beer,Lauru and Saigon…these are mostly the words you will be shouting through the crowds of heads on children’s plastic garden furniture. All will cost you less than 50p, not all will be delicious. (Cheapest beer we found was 9p or 3,000 dong in Hoi an)

IMG_1701 Step 4: Wear a pointy hat. When we got off the plane I stood pointing at the runway. Lee thought I was insane until he realised my joy was induced by the fact every person outdoors was wearing a pointy hat. They wear them all over Asia but for me this was the iconic image of the country. I some how… and believe me I’ve given myself a stern talking to.. Have not bought one yet. I have only just stopped being star struck every time I see someone in one.

Step 5: Phò. I realise this was maybe just my lack of all worldly knowledge coming from a small town in Wales where sheep out number people, but it’s pronounced Fu as in “Fu-dge this soup is good ” and not Foe- as in “Foe fudge sake get me some more soup”

IMG_1761 Step 6: See the water puppets in Hanoi. It’s weird, it’s cheap. Do you need more reasons? I have no idea what was happening for 99% of the show. It’s quintessentially Vietnamese. And if you’ve seen Team America it will tickle you all the more. Their comic timing was great.

Step 7: Learn some Vietnamese. It seems in Vietnamese ‘where are you from?’ translates as ‘buy my shit’ the subtleties of language are stunning. Seriously though. Everyone wants to ‘chat’ but selling is the goal.

Step 8:No meal is a meal without spring rolls. In fact even a coffee isn’t complete without a side order of these.Step 9: Bahn Mi Queen in Hoi An is still the best and cheapest sandwich I’ve ever had.

Step 9: Sorry Vietnam,  money being called ‘dongs’ will always be funny.

Step 10: See as much as you can, stay as long as you can.

I hope these will help guide you on your trip or encourage you to book your next holiday here. I’m not being sponsored by the country to say these things but if Vietnam would like to thank me for this article then they can compensate me via rice pancakes and satay sauce. Thank you

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Tokyo Arcade

2015 Travel Plans

19th February 2015

So I think I owe you all an apology. For the last few weeks i’ve become a little bit obsessed with my up coming plans to the point that I have kept mentioning it without giving any details.

So I thought that I’d share with you some of the things we’re hoping to achieve over the next year.

First, there are to-do lists…EVERYWHERE. My flat looks like a bombs dropped because there are about ten jobs going on at once but I’m hoping that it will all fall into place really soon and we will be ready to roll.

First I suppose it’s important to share with you what our plans actually are so here is our 2015 travel plans:

Tokyo Arcade Japan

Japan is somewhere magical to me. It’s a place mentioned in movies not a place that exists. When we went to Tokyo last year I was in my element and I fell in love with the place. Last night I was chatting to a friend who’s going to Tokyo soon and I couldn’t stop gushing about how much fun they were going to have. This time around we aren’t going to the bright lights of Tokyo, instead we are heading to Kyoto and Osaka. Kyoto has been high on my list for a long time and I feel guilty that one of the places i’m most looking forward to going over the next few months is our first stop but I just can’t wait to be surrounded by the history and beauty of this place….and the sushi!

 

El Nido Palawan Island, Phillippines Been here, truly magnificent and glorious!  http://www.lifebeyondthehorizon.com/philippinesparadise/The Philippines

Lee and I had never considered a trip to the Philippines but after seeing all of our friends fantastic pictures we quickly added it to the itinerary so we will be stopping in on Bohol, Boracay and El Nido. Here’s to sandy beaches and drinks with the locals.

 

Guilin, China. Globe Travel in Bristol, CT is standing by to make your vacation dreams come true!  Reach us at 860-584-0517 or by email at info@globetvl.com!

China

We went to China a few months ago but we can’t wait to go back. We wanted to see some impressive landscapes and the countryside of China is definitely the place to do this. We are heading to Guangzhou and Guilin …all the G’s. I’m not going to lie, I’m in it for the dumplings.

 

Hong Kong, China | 21 Most Colorful And Vibrant Places In The WorldHong Kong

I know listing Hong Kong as a separate country is debatable but I have a very good friend from Hong Kong who thinks of it as a different place and the British Visa application was different for Hong Kong compared to China so I think it’s fair to list them side by side. We are looking forward to climbing Victoria Peak and meeting up with my friend who happens to be visiting at the same time as us. Woohoo

Hoi An, Vietnam - Visit http://asiaexpatguides.com to make the most of your experience in Vietnam!

Vietnam

Vietnam is another place that’s been high on the list for a long time. We are starting in Hanoi  then going to Hue, Hoi an, Mui  Ne and Ho Chi Minh. We are looking forward to cooking classes, pho, and 12p beer… as well as all the culture/people/sights of course. We are going to the home of PHO!

Angkor Wat Cambodia / Watched the sunset here while drinking a horrid local wine and eating a crispy fried frog. A beautiful place & a wonderful adventure.

Cambodia

Next stop is a bus trip across the boarder into Phnom Penh. We don’t have long there before we are off to Sihanoukville. Before you all rush to tell us its not great we are only there for the night before we head to Koh Rong Samloem. A small island with about 5 hours of electricity a day. I’ll be celebrating my birthday here and I can’t wait. Sunsets and cocktails..woohoo. Lastly it wouldn’t be a trip to Cambodia without a sunrise trip to Angkor Wat in Seim Reap.

skyline2 Thailand

We are having a ‘do over’ in Bangkok since last time we had such a disaster (which you can read about here). People always think because of this we didn’t like Bangkok but I loved the place. I can’t wait to go back and see the place properly this time. Then it’s up north to the bloggers paradise that is Chiang Mai. Unfortunately , It’s rainy season when we go to this part of Asia . Our original plan didn’t have Thailand on it at all , instead we wanted to see Laos and Myanmar but the rain means we have to skip them this time, as well as the beaches of Thailand but I’m really excited to see Chang Mai after hearing so many great things. See you soon Pad Thai. You will be in our bellies.

Singapore's Supertrees at the "Gardens by the Bay". I see I'll have to go back to Singapore to see these by night.Singapore

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for this country. Is it for the history? slightly. Is it for the culture? marginally. Is it because one of my best friends is moving there a week before we arrive? HELL YES! This is a selfish stop for Lee and I to see one of our favourite humans…and maybe go to Sesame Street in Universal Studios, which for a Muppet fanatic is the holy grail.

Rice terraces close to Ubud. Bali, Indonesia To book go to www.notjusttravel.com/anglia

Indonesia

When we came to Asia this was high on my list of places to see. We are spending a lot of time here and seeing Yogyakarta, Ubud, Nusa Lembongan, Gili Air and Kuta Lombok. We can’t wait. Yoga, monkeys and beaches. We also may be dragging one of Lee’s best friends to meet us for a weekend so I can’t help but jump around a little bit when I think about journeying to this magic country.

The dolphins coming to shore at Monkey Mia, Western AustraliaAustralia

Lastly, but definitely not least is our new home for the year, Australia. This isn’t a country I ever wanted to live in , that was until Lee sold me on it because he is in love with the place. I am now fully on board and can’t wait to experience every inch of the place. We are starting in Perth but who knows where the year will take us.

Extra stops in 2015

Obviously we don’t know what will happen with the rest of the year but there are definitely some places we’d love to pop into:

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia

When we are in Singapore we are very tempted to just run over the border and have some food there to say we did it. We are a little bit addicted to adding countries to our list but we will definitely be back to spend some proper time there soon.

Wow, just wow! Bridestowe Lavender Farm, Tasmania - by Tim Clark

Tasmania

I realise this is still Australia but I really want to pop over to this lavender filled paradise.

Fiji IslandsFiji, Tonga and Samoa

It would be rude to not visit these places while we are in Australia surely….let alone the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu…ect

New ZealandNew Zealand

Once again this country is so close to us when we are in Australia that we would love to go and see the place but maybe we will do it at the end of year in Oz.

Here’s to an exciting year ahead.

 

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