Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hue - Photographs Part 3

On pretty much every tour you do across Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand you are taken to places with the primary purpose of getting you to spend money. On our tour with Mr Trung, our visit to this Incense and Hat Making Village was just that. Having said that it was a bit of fun getting to have a go at making this incense. I seemed to make the whole thing much more difficult than it needed to be.

These hats are amazing. This isn't just any old conical hat. This conical hat is handmade with a story weaved within its lining. If it wasn't for the fact that we were only a week into our trip I would have bought one. You can see the detail in the photograph below, they put a layer of newspaper with images cut into it between the layers of reeds. If you hold the hat up to the light you can see the images, and thus the story.

This is the Royal Arena. Back in the 1800's this was used as a venue to watch duels between elephants and tigers. Since the elephant symbolised the power of the royal dynasty and the tiger represented cruelty, tigers were expected to die in the battle, so their claws were filed before each fight. Andy can be seen standing in front of one of the gates for the elephants.

Our second last stop for the day was the Thien Mu Pagoda. This was built in 1601 and overlooks the magnificent Perfume River. Apparently it was from here that a monk traveled to Saigon and publically burnt himself to protest against the anti-Buddhist government at the time.

By the time we got to the Citadel we were exhausted and this place is enormous! The perimeter of the grounds is 10km.

There were so many fish within this moat. In the one pictured above there were men sitting fishing.

The end of a wonderful day! It was amazing getting to see so much of Hue and I couldn't think of better way to do it than on the back of a motorbike with Mr Trung (and Andy's driver whose name we can't remember!).

Hue - Photographs Part 2

You can see at the back there are some monks dressed in grey. They're the trainee monks. You can also see the tuft of hair which he will have until he is a fully fledged monk.

Everything is so colourful in Vietnam. This dragon has been created by smashing many coloured plates and used to mosaic.

On our way out of the Pagoda these children accosted us and demanded to take a picture of us with my camera. I was certain that they were going to run off with it, but luckily they didn't!

This is the Tu Duc Tomb. This guy had over 100 wives and concubines. He began planning this tomb long before his death in 1883. Inside the surrounding wall of around 12 hectares wide, nearly 50 constructions were built on terraces of various levels.

It was at the top of this hill (Vong Canh Hill) that Mr Trung told us his story about the Vietnam War. From here you could see a great distance along the Perfume River. Just magnificent! As I mentioned in our Hue post, it was also home to a number of American and French bunkers during war.

Hue - Photographs

We've been back for a while now (more than 2 weeks!) and we still haven't gotten around to uploading pictures of our journey. So while we're lounging around at home (cause AndyC is under the weather) I shall choose some photographs to show off.

First up, Hue. Now you've already had a sneak peak at a few Hue photos, more specifically the lovely lady at the rice museum. Hue really did surprise me. I honestly didn't expect to enjoy myself there as I'm not really a history buff, in fact anything historical is pretty much guaranteed to put me to sleep. But our tour with Mr Trung showed us just how beautiful it really was.

The lovely Hue riverbank.

I'm not sure how clearly you see it, but there is a guy swimming in the water ripping up the reeds from deep down. The lady would then scoop it all up and pile it into the boat. By the time we left the mound was almost as high as she was!

This is Andy and his driver. While helmets are now compulsory in Vietnam, they're not necessarily very protective. Andy's barely fits on his head!

Cruising to our next destination

This is Mr Trung and I. I think I look a bit like you in this picture, Mum. I think it's the facial expression

This is one of I think 4 Japanese Covered Bridges in Vietnam. We were lucky enough to see two on our trip (the other one we saw was in Hoi An).

This photograph is of the Rice Museum. From the outside it doesn't look like a whole lot, in fact we were going to give it a miss altogether! Don't judge a book by its cover!

This is heading into the Tu Hieu Pagoda

At 10am each day the monks come together to pray

As there are so many photographs I'm going to make it into a couple of posts... stay tuned for part 2.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We found this the other night when looking for a place for dinner...

Do not say Foe

Do not Say foo

And especially don’t

Say the word which describes “number two”.

Start with a fff
To be followed by an urgh.

Once it becomes un-phố -gettable

you’ll get with the slur.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Don't underestimate the small and the frail...

If you can think back to our post about Hue where we mentioned the most amazing lady that showed us all the equipment at the rice museum, here are some photos of her...

This is a machine they used to drain the rice paddies - a bailing machine.

This contraption (not that you can see much of it) was used to de-husk the rice before milling.

Here she is showing us how to grind the rice down...

Cooling yourself off after a hard day at work.

Here you can see how tiny she was!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

From this moment on...

taking a wizz will now be known to me as a banana break. =P Just to remind me of my trip OS.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


So it seems that we haven't updated this thing in a while... Part of it is we're lazy and the other part is (well for me) I'm too cheap to have to pay the premium price for doing so... So we will finish it off... on the plane home which is sadly not to far away.

We're both feeling pretty glum about the prospect of returning to the 'real world'. It's so nice and cheery here in backpacker land. *sigh*

BTW, we're in Koh Phangan at the moment and it's awesome and were really peeved that we're missing Full Moon Party this weekend. =( Something to keep in mind for next time.

PS - We're typing this on a 24-inch wide screen - the swishest internet cafe we've seen so far - but also the most expensive!

PPS - We went on a scooter today!! I was shit scared but secretly I enjoyed it.... and of course Andy had a ball. He's desperate for one when we get home.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


There is some movie quote from Apocalypse Now that Andrew knows
involving Saigon, but my goldfish brain can't for the life of me
remember what it is! Anyway, I quite liked Saigon. Definitely the most
westernized of all the Vietnam cities, but in parts still had that
same Vietnam feel. Way more cars than we'd seen in our time here, but
still a heap of bikes zipping around too.

Our trip to Saigon wasn't quite the debarcle I may have lead you to
believe, but it still wasn't as smooth as one would have liked. This
time we bought tickets from Sinh Cafe, one of the most well known
travel operators around. When we rocked up for our bus at 8 the man
told us that we'd been moved to another bus and that someone would
take us there later. Not again!!!!! My heart sank into my stomach as I
couldn't believe that we'd been shafted once more. His explanation was
that a group of 5 people (booked after us) were given our seats so
they could sit together in the back row of 5. Understandably upset, we
then had to wait for two more people that had also been shafted. The
whole time the man from Sinh Cafe was ensuring us it was another Sinh
Cafe bus going from elsewhere and we would have exactly the same
seats. If we were at home, maybe we would have been more inclined to
believe him, but after being screwed around last time we were rather
skeptical. With only minutes to spare they finally whisked us and the
two other totally confused passengers to the other bus. We arrived not
at a bus station as we were told, but another bus company, Hahn Cafe
(who we thought we were travelling with last time). We hesitantly
climb on the bus as the person who drove us had already pissed off
back to his own office. While seats weren't allocated we were lucky to
find the ones we wanted still free. And I guess the bus was of the
same standard as their own. Still, these tour companies here are not
to be taken on face value. Check everything and then check it again.

We arrived in Saigon at 6 the next morning feeling slightly rested. We
then had the arduous task of finding somewhere to stay. One thing that
was obvious straight away was that things didn't open as early here.
While in Nha Trang when we arrived at the same time we were never met
with a closed door. Here, it seemed a lot of guesthouses and
restaurants were still fast asleep. We gave up on finding acommodation
instead locating somewhere for breakfast that met our prerequisites
(I.e. Cheap).

Most things were open by then and we went back to the task at hand. It
wasn't proving as easy as previous destinations. Some were full, some
too expensive, some too expensive for what they were. Finally we found
one (well actually it found us - we were shown to it by a full
guesthouse), Phoenix 74. Our room was way up on the top floor (lucky
it had a lift) with a view of some of Saigon.

We didn't do a whole lot here to be honest. We visited the former
Presidential Palace, now called the Reunification Palace whose front
gate was flattened by a communist tank the day Saigon surrendered in
1975. Definitely wasn't your typical palace with its 70's style
interiors, but the architecture was pretty cool. Underneath was this
maze like system of tunnels where the control room was.

We did a bit of shopping. Ate some fast food a la Vietnam style. Went
bowling!!! I lost big time. I swear my ball had some kind of edge
hugging magnet on it. We visited the Saigon river. And we thought the
Yarra was gross LOL. This chocolate milk like river was infested with
an abundance of debris and rubbish. Definitely not the picturesque
beauty I had visualused.

And while we didn't do much, I still enjoyed it and wouldn't mind
going back to visit again.

Sent from my iPhone


So we haven't updated this in a while. We have a few things in the works, but our enthusiasm seems to have departed us! LOL

A little overview of what we've been up to. From Nha Trang we headed to Saigon and from there we took a two day river cruise down the Mekong Delta across the border into Cambodia. We spent a few days in Phnom Penn and then headed for Siem Reap and the wonderous temples of Ankor. We've since made it to Bangkok and are avoiding anything political. Will update soon!