Thursday, January 7, 2010

Before the trip at O'Hare....
After the trip...are we the worse for wear? Aren't vacations supposed to refresh and renew you?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Catching on late to Judy's blog thing

I leave today and Joan is here another 10 days or so. I finally caught on that Judy set this up as a travel blog; better late than never!

Friday, December 25, 2009

More All Inclusive

Various tombs and mausoleums were all situated in the lovely countryside. It was a scorching hot day and we were thankful for the shelter in our van. We happened to run into a family from Winnetka at several of the tombs - and they were biking!!! (They were also on the same flight out of Hanoi as we were over a week later...small world.)

Lots of carvings. Some places looked like they were all set up to play chess!

All Inclusive Day Tour on Christmas

Christmas Day we were all picked up at our respective hotels (yes, siblings, separate hotels! - but just the first night) and whisked off to the riverfront - the Perfume River - for a ride on the fancy dragon boats.
The tour then went on to include pagodas, some of the emperors' tombs and the Citadel. This first shot is of Thien Mu Pagoda that is situated on a lovely hill that overlooks a very elaborate cemetery.

Lots of cool bonsai...

and some very young monks.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve in Hue

So here we all are - across the table from each other - on Christmas Eve. Reunited again in Hue after Joan and John had a few days in Hanoi and Judy and Jerry had a few days in Hoi An. Where else but "Little Italy" for a little holiday cheer! We each got to select a "gift" off the Christmas tree and there was plenty of good "spirits" to go around.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day Trip to My Son

Here's a shot from the car of a rice paddy. When the water buffaloes weren't being used in the paddies they were grazing right alongside the narrow roads. We hired a driver to take us to My Son, a sacred ruin that was once the religious and intellectual centre of the Champa people. They were rediscovered by the French and then later bombed by the Americans.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Hoi An

So, it's hard to remember that even though it was in the 80's here, it was still Christmastime. Our buffet table at the Lotus Hotel exhibited some creative pumpkin carving and snowmen made from roots and onions with a little hot chili pepper for a nose.

The lovely pool at our hotel where we swam a few times.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hoi An with Jerry and Judy

Breakfast at our hotel in Hoi An - the Lotus Hotel. Dragon fruit seemed the most exotic, but the mangoes were the best.

In town there was a ceramic museum with this lovely piece in it.

Very picturesque little shop. These hanging lanterns were being made in various shops and temples throughout town. We saw one man riding his bike in the rain making deliveries of the frames for the lanterns to various locations for others to add the silk and tassels.

This character of course wanted to take us for an hour-long boat ride. She/he(?) had a very wide toothy-toothless grin, but when we asked for a picture, gave this very tight-lipped pose. We made a small donation which brought the grin back.

Very picturesque old village.

Jerry and the Japanese Covered Bridge first constructed in the 1590's by the Japanese to connect them with the Chinese quarters across the stream.

Jerry had the Hai Cafe Fish Rolls. We took the evening cooking class at this same restaurant a few days later.
Seamstresses doing embroidery.

Women sitting on the curb selling their greens.
Mr. Men at La Vie en Rose cafe. They had their Christmas tree, Lucky Laughing Buddha and home shrine all in one convenient area.

Xinh showing us around Randy's Book Exchange while he's on holiday in the States and practiced her English on us. She also flattered us by saying how young we look for our age (trying to make a sale? It worked.) Randy's Siamese cat was starving for attention and found Judy's lap to be cozy.
We rode bikes to the beach one day and this is the first hawker who reached us. Very sweet young lady whose English was quite good. She has higher aspirations for herself than selling wares.

Upon Ximena's recommendation we sought out this restaurant and it was absolutely delicious!
Many of these old trees (not Jerry) line the streets. This one had grown around a street sign that had long ago broken off.
Lovely little pond in the corner of the grounds at our hotel.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Judy's Better Half and Sidekick Commentary

Yeah, well, er something tells me that with 0 comments/interest shown so far from the outside viewing world that it's high time YT made a few pertinent remarks, ahem, to wit: Wow, I mean WOW is HCMC/Saigon one crazy quilt chaos stew of a burg!!! The heat, the humidty, the million jillion motorbikes everywhere, but hey don't get me wrong some things were very interesting (wait, let me think) oh, yeah our hotel the Lan Lan 1 was wonderful, more marble than Wayside (that's an "in joke" for AHers) and the breakfasts were super terrific. A variety of Vietnamese hot dishes plus the usual yogurts, jams jellies, hard boiled eggs, etc etc. Needless to say I went back for seconds fourths fifths and forty fifths and ate everything on my plate several times over, my philosophy being that when on the road one simply must eat as big a breakfast as you/one can so you don't have to spend anything on lunch and need not have any dinner at all. I honed this eating on the road philosophy during my '96 bike tour in the west of Ireland. So to sum it up so far we're enjoying the initial leg of the trip, are glad to be out of HCMC and look forward to getting into the Hoi An scene tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Temple Restaurant

So a friend of Joan's recommended that we eat at Temple Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. Here's Joan having escargot - the stuffing is wrapped in lemongrass which makes it easy to pull out and gobble up!

Here's more of the yummy food we had at that meal!

Desserts were chocolate mousse with whiskey (note to self - great way to hide whiskey), chocolate crepe, and flan.

Last but not least, upon leaving the restaurant which was on the second floor, here was this little boy who was very happy to pose in front of the row of nativities out front. And, all the children here say "hello" to us and give us the peace sign.

Jane, we are trying to remember to take pictures of the food for you. Anyways, here is our dessert at lunchtime. The fruits, pineapple of course in front, and rambutan in back - tastes very similar to lychee. Our guide showed us many of the various tropical fruits growing on trees in the delta region.

After we got back on our private boat in the river, our guide cracked open a couple of coconuts for us to sample on our trip back to our private car. So, here's Uncle Jerry looking like he's on Safari. It reminded me of the safari boat trip in Disneyworld - sans the crocodiles and rhinos spraying us with water.

All for now, gotta go pack and check out of this hotel. On to Hoi An this afternoon.

Judy and Jerry took a day excursion to (have to get back to you - Vien Thanh maybe?) in the Mekong Delta. We found out from a travel agent that it was too far to travel to Can Tho as originally planned, so we hired a driver and a tour guide and made the 3 hour drive there and back. One of the stops we made was to this place where they made coconut candies, wood carvings from coconut wood, rice papers and crackers. This woman had a bowl on her right with rice flour and water, she'd scoop it onto this cloth (think cheesecloth) and spread it smooth. She covered it with the lid and it steamed the paper until it was done and then hung it on the bamboo wicker over the bowl of rice flour. We walked through the family compound there and saw them making puffed rice. I actually got a video of it but am not sure about how to upload that. We had samples of their products they were making and had to buy the "rice krispie treats" made from sugar cane, the puffed rice, and ginger - yum!