Good Morning Vietnam

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Latimer: What else could I call a blog post about Vietnam? It’s a phrase I overused so very much while in Vietnam. I said it basically every morning, and if I forgot, I’d say it mid-way through the day.

This post is a continuation of my trip around South East Asia, as it’s getting to the end of summer now; I find myself reminiscing more and more about my adventures in the past. They were so good; they make me consider what the next adventure will be!

But well, back to my South East Asian adventures! I had made it through Thailand and Laos, with lots of fond memories and exciting adventures, onward to Vietnam, a place that I was expecting to love, though I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting to love about it…

I was right about the loving part; it’s a gorgeous, bustling fun place, full of amazing places to see and history to learn about, all inter-spaced with yummy food, cool art and random livestock on bikes (the motorbike is everything in Vietnam!)

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Beer corner, Hanoi where local people sell beer and we all watch the crazy traffic go by, as we sit on the street and drink. Yup. I randomly met up with some of my China-travel buddies here too, so the world is a very small place guys!

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Bun Cha, Vietnamese delicacy, Hanoi

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Crash site of Senator John McCain’s plane, shot down by the Viet Con during the Vietnam war (it is still there in Hanoi where it fell)

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They are super happy about having shot down this plane, so it’s very well sign posted – I think it’s because Senator John McCain is a Senator now

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This is the Hilton Prison, Hanoi. Hilton was a nickname placed on the prison, by the prisoners, who were American POWs

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Motorbikes on the streets of Hanoi

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More yummy Vietnamese food!

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Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh) propaganda artwork for sale in Hanoi

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Artwork, Hanoi

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Chinese monument in Hanoi – there is a heavy Chinese influence in Vietnam, as the country was part of/occupied by the Chinese during it’s history (Vietnam feels like it has more Chinese influence than, Laos, Thailand or Cambodia)

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Halong Bay

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Sunset, kite-flying off the back of our boat in Halong Bay

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Yes, that is a cow on the back of a motorbike… yeah

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Food wraps and kawaii fingers, Hue

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Vietnamese dragon and my Chinese Travelling Buddha, in the Vietnamese ‘forbidden city’, Hue

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Just on the road in Vietnam, amazing

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Blurry Buddha and me in an old American war bunker, on the road

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The Mighty Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City (kinda)

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Fresh coconuts on the Mekong Delta

Travelling Buddha gets around, here he's at the Chu-Chi Tunnels

Travelling Buddha gets around, here he’s at the Cu-Chi Tunnels

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Tofu, noodles and veggies, yum!

I saw a lot of amazing places, but my favourite had to be the laid-back beautiful Hoi An, I could have spent a long time there, it was a small, but very lovely town?

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Beautiful wedding couple. As in Chinese tradition, red is the colour for the bride in Vietnam, not white

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Laid back streets of Hoi An

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Hoi An streets

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A bridge across the river, Hoi An

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Lanterns, beautiful Vietnamese lanterns

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Sunsets on its way over Hoi An!

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A cool eatery Hoi Ah, though it looks very Spanish or something!

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Super fresh noodles and yummy avocado smoothie (delicious!), Hoi An

Lanterns and more lovely Lanterns, Hoi An

Lanterns and more lovely Lanterns, Hoi An

Hoi An has a lovely river running through it. I went on a boat ride during the sunset and cast some lanterns out on the water, sending my wishes with it!

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It’s where people get clothes made lots of the time, but it has some cool art shops also, and also, the best tea shop I have ever been in in my whole life. It’s called Reaching Out Teahouse and it’s run by deaf and mute staff, so everything is done by indicating via the menu and also these little notes where you can ask for a re-fill of water etc. It is a Fairtrade shop and it works with people with disabilities in the community to find employment and live an independent life, so it’s well worth supporting. They also sell these amazing crafts in the shop – and all the tea cups and cutlery (metal and ceramic) are made by the Reaching Out artisans.

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Used to communicate with staff

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Iced coffee, with coffee ice… haha

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Crafts from the shop

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Traditional seating

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The tea tasting menu (3 types) – soooo good, plus you get three interesting treats with it! Like, eg., a sweet potato swirl, or green tea biscuit

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A platter of very interesting treats!

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The famous Vietnamese coffee (iced) – three type tasting menu here! It was so good!

It was really serene and it was nice to sit in this traditional style teahouse and look out of the open shutters at the front at the people passing by in the street. Some Chinese tourists randomly stopped in front of the windows and took photos with us Westerns in the background, which was… well, hilarious and random, but I had noticed this happened a lot in China also, so I was kind of used to it, in a very weird way!

Vietnam was a brilliant place, I would definitely go back. Maybe one day I will, but from there it was onward to the place I had wanted to visit the most, Cambodia (and the stunning Angkor Wat… what)!

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Get Animated!

Latimer: We went to an event in the Science Gallery on Friday night (the Science Gallery is located in Trinity college). It was held by the PEGBAR Irish animators network. I was late… and word to the wise, DO NOT try and run on wet cobblestones (of which there are many in Trinity) – it doesn’t end well!

Ridley: While she was slipping and sliding her way to the event, I was already there waiting for her, with a name badge on and surrounded by very friendly strangers. Picture, crowds milling around with glasses of wine at the reception, everyone grinning, laughing and waving towards people who they hadn’t seen in ages, it was like one big reunion. I think the animation world, in Ireland anyway, is a small one. And then there was me, not even a proper hobbyist animator never mind a professional, trying to look like I belonged. I was doing the ‘Im texting lots of people and looking up important things on my phone, not desperate for anyone to talk to me, nope nope‘…in the corner! I was going for busy but still approachable look! It worked in the end, I randomly made a new friend who was also waiting around near me. It turned out he was a freelance animator, so I got to pepper him with questions and see some of his cool artwork. It was really great to get an insight into the job by someone ‘in the biz’ and to hear what he thought of it.

Beware the cobblestones! Beware!

Latimer: I arrived for the talk, which started with a colourist from Marvel comics, Jordie Bellaire (she worked for DC and others, very lucky :)).

Marvelous Marvel 🙂

She was talking about the importance of colours and mood, and this can also be seen in movies. She was so enthusiastic and animated about her work; even when she wasn’t ‘working’, her mind was fixed on colours. She would watch movies and list out the colours in the scenes. It’s always really cool to see someone so inspired by what they do 🙂

Ridley: Really inspiring! She seemed like a really cool person too. Her talk opened my eyes to seeing films and images in a different way! Who knew the use of colour could have so much impact on a scene and on the feelings of the audience, really interesting!

Latimer: Then there was a talk from Nora Twomey, she is a director from the Irish animation studio, Cartoon Saloon. (Ridley: One of my favourite Irish studios! I love their work! I was dying to hear what she had to say!) She was showing some of the short films she had worked on and talking about getting them funded and the compromises you have to make with scenes and moments you have to leave out.

It made me think of when you’re writing and there are times you want to say more and show another scene, but in the end, the story is better off without it (no matter how in love with the moment you were!). It’s hard to cut them out, but it makes a tighter story in the end. (Ridley: Very true!)

There was this one film she showed; it really stuck with me, it was really atmospheric and drew me in. (Ridley: Creepy too…in a delightful way…is that possible, to be delightfully creepy? haha) 

The studio also did some work for TG4 (that’s TG Ceathair, an all-Irish-speaking TV channel we have here in Ireland). The cartoon studio were asked to do some short animations to Irish songs, the series called Anam an Amhráin (Soul of the Song).

This song is about a young 9 year old girl who is in love with a shoemaker, wants to marry him and runs away from home to be with him! In the actual animation, they felt this was a bit too much, so instead they made her dream of the shoe maker when she slips on the hill! (Ridley: It’s an absolutely gorgeous song. This is Irish at it’s best and most beautiful.)

I got caught up with these and wanted to know what other songs had been animated… this is what I found…

This one is about a woman to wants to be Paddy’s wife and wishes his actual wife ill… her struggles are desperate but pretty funny! (Ridley: Haha, this is good, she even wishes a broken foot and hand on the wife!!)

This next one is about the Irish pirate queen Gráinne Mhaol, or Grace O’Malley… ‘Óró Sé do Bheatha ‘Bhaile’ is an interesting song, it started out originally about Bonnie Prince Charlie and was a Jacobite rebel song.. then later in the 1900s it became a rebel song about Grace O’Malley coming to Ireland with her warriors to free the land from English rule. In the video it seems mostly about Grace’s life.

All and all, pretty interesting, particularly because the event made me look for these videos :)! 

Ridley: It was a great night, I loved seeing all the Irish language work that’s being done! Not to mention, we went for yummy Korean food afterwards, it was so tasty *happy sigh*.