A Travellerspoint blog

Familiar Faces

Day 20 - Hanoi

There has been a side story going on since we've been here that we haven't blogged about yet.  A few days before we left we found out that Tylers cousin and wife (Travis and Karen) were going to be touring around southeast asia at the same time as us.  Our schedules didn't appear to match at all except for one day in Hoi'an (pay attention to the spelling).  Over the last few weeks Tyler and Travis have been emailing each other about hotels and what time our flights land at.  A few days ago, we realized (when I saw we, I mean me) that Tyler was talking about Hoi'an while Travis was talking about Hanoi (spelled similarly, but an hour plane ride from each other). Could you imagine if we hadnt figured it out? it would have been very funny.  Anyways, Travis switched a few things around and we were able to meet up in Hanoi today.  It was very nice to see familiar faces and share and compare all of our experiences so far.  In the morning we met up with 2 Vietnamese students who volunteer to take tourists around the city (for free) so that they can practice their English skills.  They were cute and wanted to learn some slang.  I tried to teach them to say "I'm chillin", Tyler taught them "you gotta do what you gotta do" and "yo, what's up."  Hanoi has very narrow streets again filled with motorbikes and no stoplights.  To walk across the street you haw to just start and not look back  hoping the scooters maneuver around you..very scary.  Anyways, they took the four of us to the Ho Chi Minh masoleum where you can walk past the body of the former president (died in the 60's). The lineup was way to long so we just toured around the complex a bit.  They had a temple where people go to pray for a son (not a daughter).  I didn't really agree with this but we went up to the temple anyways (mum and Helen don't get any ideas).  A Vietnamese woman stopped me at one point because she wanted to take a
picture of me with her daughter..kinda wierd but I did it.  I think it's safe to say that I haven't really tanned very much since the white skin is still a marvel to be seen.  We then made our way to the temple of literature which was the first university in Vietnam but now it is place students go to pray to do well in exams (why did I not come here years ago..too late now).  It was scorching outside, Vietnam is by far hotter than Cambodia or Thailand.  We saw a famous "Water puppet show" in the afternoon.  I can't lie, it was wierd and I was basically in a puppet coma, half way between sleep and awake.  I would wake up every few seconds to see puppets dancing in a pool of water on stage.  Tyler, Karen and Travis actually stayed awake and wondered what kind of drugs people were doing when they invented this. It was so hot that we just spent the rest of the afternoon in their hotel room basking in the A/C.  We said our goodbyes and tonight Tyler and I boarded an overnight train to go on a trekking trip in the northern mountains called Sapa. We'll let u know how that went tomorrow.  Night night!

Posted by tanyatyler 20:24 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Right out of a magazine...

Day 19 Hoi'an

So I had planned a lot before the trip, with exciting activities everyday.  Welllll it finally caught up with us today.  We were supposed to go to a Vietnamese cooking class early this morning but we just couldn't do it, we were just too tired.  Instead we slept in and enjoyed a nice breakfast.  We didn't have too much planned for this afternoon but we went to the tailors to get Tylers suits and shoes fitted  and spent some time in the pool. We walked around the city and bought souvenirs..we were on fire! I hope our family is pumped to see what they're all getting!  We then went back to the tailors to pick up the suits and boy do they look great on Tyler!  He's right out of a magazine, we're very happy with the results (a grey, black and navy blue one along with 3 dress shirts).  We've been travelling fairly lite until now, but we have accumulated a lot of stuff here  and we are trying to squeeze and stuff things everywhere we can. Hopefully airlines don't hassle us. We boarded a flight to Hanoi tonight, the capital city of Vietnam and we'll let you know how that goes.

Posted by tanyatyler 20:08 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Made in Vietnam

Day 18 Hoi'an

Today was our first day in the city of Hoi'an, which is an official heritage site.  It's the cutest little city that lies on the river and has very old, pretty buildings..kind of reminds me of Venice actually.  We woke up this morning at 4am to join a sunrise photography group (can't believe I actually woke up).  A French photographer took us down the river to a fishing village and and talked about ways to get good pictures (shutter speed, composition, stuff like that).  Tyler is the photo guy, I just like the pretty pictures in the end so I left all the hard work to him and I just went along for the ride.  The fishing village had no tourists so it was cool to see what real life in Vietnam is like.  The fishermen who has been fishing all night had just arrived so it was fish mayhem, fish heads were everywhere...it was very pretty though..kind of surreal. As you can imagine, it smelled like fish and smelled even worse at the fish sauce factory.  We were done by 9:30, and made it back to the hotel by breakfast.  We rented bikes and headed out again.  First to drop off laundry because we are basically out of clean clothes (we did laundry when we were in the Thai islands) and then we went suit shopping.  Hoi'an is known for tailors who will make a suit from scratch in 1 day for really cheap.  Tailors line the streets so its hard to choose but we found a place recommended by trip advisor. Suit making is quite the process.  First we had to choose the colours and material, then the style with questions like how many buttons here, how many pockets there, and then Tyler got measured up. We also ordered a few dress shirts and we have to return tomorrow for a fitting and then again in a few hours to pick up the final product.  They also make dresses..it would be perfect for bridesmaids dresses actually.  I ordered two casual dresses for work, hopefully they turn out, kinda worried about the colours and styles I chose. We then biked to the beach, the water was turquoise and lots of waves. We haggled on the beach with a lady for some souvenirs for some lucky family members and Tyler told her she was a "tough cookie" for her bargaining skills.  Today must have been the hottest day so far, I'm melting.  After the beach, we had to go back to the tailors for my first fitting..they literally had made a dress in hours.  I felt really gross though as we had just come from the beach, all wet and sweating...I'm not sure I like my dresses...tear.  There are also shoe makers everywhere so Tyler ordered a pair of shoes to match one of his suits.  We went back to the hotel and had a much deserved nap.  We went out for the evening and had a delicious dinner and strolled around the streets which were lit with colorful lanterns.  We've had a great trip so far but we're going to be ready to come home soon..we're getting tired and we're not sure how much more rice and noodles we can eat.

We'd also like to give a shout out to all of our readers... especially our subscribers Luke and Lee! Looking forward to seeing everyone

Posted by tanyatyler 21:57 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

History 101

Day..not sure..Ho Chi Minh city

We spent the morning on scooters again seeing the sites of Saigon.  We feel pretty ignorant because we really don't know much about the Vietnam war..but in our defense we weren't born and we don't learn about it in Canadian history.  For those like us, a brief summary is that the war was between northern Vietnam and southern Vietnam.  The US joined the south because the north was communist and they wanted to stop the spread of communism.   The north defeated the south and the US (in the 70's) , ending when they took over Saigon, and changed the name to Ho Chi Minh city.  Vietnam is a communist country but there isn't too much evidence of it on the surface, but its there, for example the government won't allow Facebook.  We saw the various sites and buildings related to the war and other things such as the opera house, a Chinese pagoda and a cathedral.  It is a pretty modern city though, there are high end stores like  Chanel, and Marc Jacobs.  The guides were these young Vietnamese girls wearing traditional dresses (everyone else wears normal clothes, I think it part of their marketing). The girls were funny and tried to teach Tyler Vietnamese phrases like "what the hell", they told me they thought he was handsome.  They have trouble with his name here too.  Yesterday, a guide kept calling him "talent", and talked about how he must be very skilled, we just went with it.  We had pho bo for lunch (beef noodle soup) which is a popular dish.  Suprisigly we spent the rest of the afternoon in clothing markets and actually bought a few things.  They have a lot of knockoff clothes and stuff like that.  You should have seen me bargain, I was on fire..Tyler said I was a bully..I was not.  Again we skipped dinner hoping to get KFC in the airport but we got burned again.  Only smelly food.  We hopped on a plane and arrived in Hoi'an.  It's going to be an early morning, got to get to bed!

Posted by tanyatyler 08:33 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Cambodia what?

Extra

I forgot to make a list of interesting facts we learned about Cambodia, so here it is 

-Police officers, and teachers make about $50 per month, and as a result there is lots of corruption
-hotel workers can make from $15 to $150 per month
-the currency is riel, but they prefer to be paid with US currency
-only 10% of the population has to pay income tax because the rest don't make enough 
-when you get a bill at a restaurant, the server stands to the side of the table and waits while you pay up (this is in Thailand as well)
-they get used cars shipped from the States, lots of 1996 toyota camrys around
-it only recently became law that scooter drivers had to wear helmets, passengers don't have too
- most people don't own a fridge and so they have to go to the market twice a day...every day

Posted by tanyatyler 06:11 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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