Good Morning Vietnam

20140516_171403

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!)

20140509_191640

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!

20140509_210124

Bun Cha, Vietnamese delicacy, Hanoi

20140510_112137

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)

20140510_112212

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

20140510_114938

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

20140510_123656

Motorbikes on the streets of Hanoi

20140510_131124

More yummy Vietnamese food!

20140510_140247

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

20140510_141326

Artwork, Hanoi

20140510_143519

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)

20140511_134735

Halong Bay

20140511_183538

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

20140512_132110

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

20140513_195828

Food wraps and kawaii fingers, Hue

20140514_093543

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

20140514_113442

Just on the road in Vietnam, amazing

20140514_131508

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

20140519_125035

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

20140519_141844

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

20140514_203209

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?

20140516_164640

20140514_163718

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

20140514_163909

Laid back streets of Hoi An

20140515_175018

Hoi An streets

20140515_174422

A bridge across the river, Hoi An

20140515_175147

Lanterns, beautiful Vietnamese lanterns

20140515_175113

Sunsets on its way over Hoi An!

20140515_175214

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

20140519_192337

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!

20140515_175200 20140515_180107 20140515_181753 20140515_180647

20140515_180100

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.

20140515_170547

Used to communicate with staff

20140516_155430

Iced coffee, with coffee ice… haha

20140515_171157

Crafts from the shop

20140515_171236

Traditional seating

20140515_172438

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

20140516_154611

A platter of very interesting treats!

20140515_171253 20140515_170220 20140515_170828 20140515_171107 20140516_155038

20140516_154432

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)!

20140520_102156

Advertisements

A Chinese St Patrick’s Day

giphy (1)

Latimer: I know Saint Patrick’s day is long over, but this year was the first I’d spent ‘off world’ and it was a little out of the ordinary!

I didn’t really expect to see any Paddy’s Day stuff in China and just as well because I didn’t. I had to explain Paddy’s Day to my Chinese guide. In primary school we all learned about Patrick from An Bhreatain Bheag (Wales, that’s what we were told anyway), and how he was kidnapped by the Irish slaver Niall of the Nine Hostages and taken to Ireland.

I got a bit of a way into this story and paused.

‘Well, Saint Patrick’s day itself is more about celebrating your Irishness’; the guide looked confused, so I carried on, feeling the weight of the whole of Ireland bearing down on me. ‘It’s for the people that went away’, I smiled, ‘you know like in China when people leave and then they want to feel connected to home?’

He nodded. I’m not sure I explained it well enough in the end!

It’s just an Irish holiday to celebrating your culture and where you come from, or just having fun (or craic – Irish for fun)!

I spent the day in a monastery! I had fun letting everyone back home know I was in a monastery on Paddy’s Day!

20140317_152842 20140317_153338 20140317_153646

20140317_151524

During the day I climbed the Giant Stone Buddha at Leshan, looking for any ‘signs’ of Paddy’s Day –  haha, which I didn’t find!

20140317_120125

20140317_121246

20140317_123114

There were no signs – no green, no shamrocks, nothing… BUT! When we got to the monastery to check-in we were introduced to our local guide.

Aside here: in China, people take Western names (like Tom, John, Seamus, Charles) so it’s easier for Western’s to say their names (their parents don’t actually call them John etc). These names are usually given to the Chinese people by their English teachers.

The local guide introduced himself; “Hello, my name is Patrick!” And I just started laughing. Brilliant.

patrick

 So that was my Paddy’s Day in China – a simple name had me smiling all day!

20140317_182958

My Bailey’s Irish Cream drink 🙂