Monday, October 13, 2008

Saigon - Photographs Part 2

I can't remember which day it was, but Andrew and I decided to take a walk down to the Saigon River. It was definitely not the picturesque beauty we had both visualised. Instead, it was like chocolate milk infested with an abundance of debris and rubbish. And as you can see from the photograph below, they were definitely keen on the old billboard.

Your typical street side stall

Just some random photograph that I took as we were walking through the streets

In Vietnam, street sweepers are quite literally that. People that use a broom to sweep the streets.

As I mentioned when I first posted about Saigon we didn't do a whole lot. One thing that we did venture out to do was bowl! Apart from the fact it seemed that our lane was jinxed with ongoing technical issues it was a lot of fun.

Me getting my backside whooped! I did make a bit of a comeback at the end though.

Saigon - Photographs Part 1

By the time we got to Saigon it is fair to say we were exhausted. We'd been really busy the entire time and we were very much in need of a rest. Our bus from Nha Trang arrived at about 6am. What struck us was that everything was still closed! While in other towns in Vietnam the city would have been thriving at that time, we were lucky to find one cafe for us to sit down and eat at (well one we could afford anyway). Initially we began looking for a place to stay, but it soon became apparent that that wasn't going to happen until a bit later on!

After a feed we set off trying to find somewhere. It was not going well! I can't remember how many places we tried, but so many of them were out of our price range, full or just down right grotty! We finally found a place, paying slightly more than we would have liked, but will a nice view across Saigon.

View from our 7th floor room

Down on the street

The traffic in Saigon (to me) was no where near as bad as in other parts of Vietnam. Perhaps it was the wide streets which gave the impression of far less vehicles.

There isn't a lot of fast food places in Vietnam. In fact there is not a single McDonalds in the whole country! In Saigon, however, there was Lotteria (which is pretty much McDonalds). Can you spot what is strange in this photograph? How about the fact that there are bikes parked inside the restaurant! It was quite common for bikes to be taken into shops/ banks, but food outlets?! LOL

And check out how teeny tiny the food there was.

Us walking through the park

A very beautiful sunflower that lived on the side of the road

At night, looking down from our window.

We sat down on the street one night on little plastic chairs watching the world go by.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nha Trang - Photographs Part 2

I don't know if you can see so well in this photograph, but shortly after we had got into a taxi on our return from Vinpearl it began to rain. And then it rained and rained some more. By the time we got back to our hotel it was pouring. We stood underneath a canopy outside a clothing shop waiting for a break so we could make the dash down the alley to our front door. After 10 minutes and no sign of clearing we made a run for it, finding ourselves ankle deep in water. We didn't stay in our room for long as we were starving, so headed next door for Pho. From the balcony above we took this photo. By the time we'd finshed dinner, the rain had stopped too and the water quickly subsided.

On a whim one afternoon we hired a couple of bicycles and set off around the city. First stop was the bank. And then onto Long Thanh Gallery, Long Son Pagoda and the Giant Buddha. Now one may be thinking, push bikes..... easy!!! Well you couldn't be more wrong. My heart was in my throat the entire time as we ducked and weaved our way through the traffic. It seemed like every round about we went through had about six exits, and as you probably know Vietnam isn't know for it's road rules. I felt like a little fish lost amongst a sea of much larger ones.

Our first stop after the bank was Long Thanh Gallery. We didn't take any pictures when we where there... well, cause we couldn't. But you can check out some of his work here.

Next we headed for the Long Son Pagoda and the Giant Buddha. When we arrived we were immediately spoken to by an "official of the pagoda" that told us we had to buy postcards in lieu of an admission fee. I knew it was a ploy to get money from us as I had read about it in the Lonely Planet. I was really firm and just explained that I knew that it was free to go inside and that I would not be giving any money to her for postcards. It was really tricky cause there were so many of them and they'd organised themselves into some official looking uniform so they looked important. We were actually concerned that they were going to vandalise our bikes while we were up there so we told a guy that we would give him some cash if he made sure they were there when we got back.

View from the top overlooking the city of Nha Trang.

The Giant Buddha

Surrounding the base of the Buddha were around half a dozen kids burning playing cards.

A bit shaky, but I like the effect.

The day we left we headed back to the beach. We didn't do as much swimming this day because someone had allowed what looked like a rubbish bin enter the water. Basically you were swimming amongst food scraps, packaging and various other items of rubbish.

My gorgeous Andy looking slightly *cough* sunburned.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I was wearing a t-shirt I got from Cambodia...

... though again, not technically overseas. Today I went to do some baking with my good friend Shellie!

We had talked about making these Red Velvet Cupcakes for the past, what was it.... 6 months. And today we finally got our backsides into gear and made them. Check out the results.

If you want the recipe you'll have to check out Shellie's blog. Andy gave them a very enthusiastic two thumbs up! Will definitely be making these again.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nha Trang - Photographs Part 1

From a distance the beach at Nha Trang looked much like the beach in Hoi An. The beach was littered with palm umbrellas and deck chairs. Unfortunately, unlike Hoi An you had to pay for the priveledge of laying underneath one. Having said that it was only $2 per chair and well worth the money.

You might remember from our Nha Trang post that we mentioned the very noticable Hon Tre Island (more commonly referred to as Vinpearl). You can see here in this photograph the enormous Hollywood-esque sign high up on the hill. The cable car was a 3km ride from mainland to island. I didn't particularly enjoy the 9 minute trip. In fact, I was petrified the entire journey.

Not the best of photographs (the light was fading) but these were a few of the rides we went on a the deserted water park on Vinpearl.

Looking from Vinpearl back towards the mainland.

We weren't really sure what this place was as it was closed when we got there, but one can only imagine. Not the sort of thing you find at Dreamworld!

These dodgem cars were awesome. Everyone really got into it and was ramming into each other as hard as they could.

A lot of the stuff at the theme park seemed to be out of order, but there were a few games we go to have a play with. Horse racing was one of them!

I hadn't been on a Merry-Go-Round in ages! Andy chose the tiger while I chose a giraffe!

I really didn't expect a lot from our trip to Vinpearl, but we both really enjoyed it! Well, except for the cable car ride.

Hoi An - Photographs Part 3 (My Son)

My Son (pronounced Mee Sun) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site about 30km from Hoi An. On our last morning there we went on a 5am tour to visit these temples. We were told they were Angkor on a much smaller scale - and after visiting Angkor I totally agree. Some of the temples were in good condition, and some were quite literally a pile of rubble. One of the temples was even housed under what looked like an enormous carport to protect it from further weathering. Sadly, much of the destruction was caused by the US bombing of the area in 1969 during the Vietnam War. A major restoration project in underway. The Group that you can see in these photographs was still in very good condition.