Tag Archives: Hanoi

Hanoi & the Hanoi Kids

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Well we have arrived at Hanoi our final destination in Vietnam before we fly back to Bangkok, our stay in Hanoi has had some high’s and low’s mainly high’s thankfully. We stayed at the hotel Meracus which is located in the old quarter near the Hoan Kiem lake a perfect location for exploring the city. Hanoi I’m my opinion is very different from Saigon, it has much more of a communist feel about the place, like the public address announcements each morning, the very difficult access to social media sites on the web and the use of such words as the imperialist invasion referring to the Vietnam war and rightly so in my opinion, but nonetheless Hanoi is a great city to visit.

One of the many things on our list of ToDo’s whilst here in Hanoi was to get tickets to the water puppet show which was recommended to me by a friend, so without further a do we strolled along to the theatre to purchase our tickets, the entire show is performed in a large pool of water which is the stage and the elaborately decorated puppets all appearing from behind screens and from beneath the water, the show tells the story of the marriage between Lac Long Quan the king of the dragons (a sacred animal in oriental culture) and Au Co, a fairy, the story tells the origins of the Vietnamese people, a truly magnificent performance, culminating in a spectacular colourful ending a great eve was had by all.

Water Puppets

Water Puppets

Whilst we were in Hanoi I celebrated my 56 birthday, and it was on my birthday that we had arranged a free tour of the city with the Hanoi Kids, now the Hanoi Kids is an organisation of some 200 hundred volunteers consisting of university students who are learning English and by taking English-speaking tourists on tours of the city this enables them to hone their english speaking skills. I discovered the Hanoi Kids organisation on my research into our trip, and what a truly memorable tour of the city we had, our tour guide Son who is 21 and studying to be a teacher gave us a fantastic tour of the cities sights, we visited the infamous Hoa Lo prison or known to the American prisonors of war as the Hanoi Hilton, the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Ho Chi Minh’s house and grounds, he took us to a very busy and vibrant restaurant Quan An Ngon that many of  the locals frequent for lunch where we ate some delicious local food. After visiting the Ho Chi Minh complex in the afternoon Son suggested we have a cup of coffee, now the coffee shop was situated down a very small ally, which incidentally we would never have found ourselves, then Son told us we were not having any old coffee but an egg coffee, yes I know what you are thinking that sounds really disgusting let me explain, the coffee shop has been in the same family for a couple of generations, and the current proprietors father invented egg coffee as there was a great demand for cappuccino but he could not get the raw ingredients he needed to make it so he invented the egg coffee, now when it come to food or drink for that matter I will try most things, but I must admit I was a bit dubious about said egg coffee, but honestly I can safely say it was the best coffee I have ever tasted, in fact we were all so impressed we had another. So a big big thank you to Hanoi kids especially our tour guide Son (pronounced Sun) a day that will live with me forever.

Outside Cafe Giang with Son our tour guide

Outside Cafe Giang with Son our tour guide

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Quan An Ngon our lunch time restaurant

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Well its soon time to leave Indochina and Vietnam behind us and for me it will be a sad parting, as the country is truly an amazing place, so much culture, so much history and just amazing people, and I for one will now instead of thinking of the terrible war that went on there every time the county’s name is mentioned I will just think of it as probably the most amazing country that I have ever visited in all my years of travelling. I will definitely be back.

Vietnam 2013

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Well its holiday planning time again,and this trip is a big one, you see its my dear wife’s let say milestone birthday next year and also we have been together for forty years so we decided that we would do something special. Now from previous posts you can see we love travelling and have always been ones to do lets say not your average holiday, we have always booked our holidays independently and not with tour or holiday company, now for many people having the comfort of leaving it all to a travel agent is the way they like it but personally the planning of the holiday is just as enjoyable as the holiday itself.

We have travelled a great deal but mainly to the USA and throughout Europe and we have only been on the eastern side of the world  a couple of times both these times to India with a stop overnight in Qatar but our experience of the east has left us wanting more. Now the idea of going to Vietnam was conceived after watching an episode of Top Gear where they travelled to Vietnam and travelled from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in the south, travelling north along the coast and ending up in a place called Halong Bay a Unesco world Heritage site which I instantly fell in love with as it looks a truly magnificent place.

Another reason for booking independently is that you can change your plans along the way the more information about the country you are visiting to you gain, so here is the itinerary so far

  • Fly to Bangkok with Emirates airlines, where we have three nights at the hotel Boonsiri Palace.
  • We then have the option of either taxi, coach or train to the border town of aranyaprathet
  • Cross the border into Cambodia then travel onwards to Siem Reap by coach or taxi (no trains in Cambodia)
  • We have three nights at the Hotel La Tradition d’Angkor it’s from here will be visiting the temples of Angkor
  • Then our next leg is an onward journey by river speed boat , (looking forward to this part) to Phnom Penh for two nights where we are staying at the Aqua Boutique Guesthouse.
  • Next it’s onto Ho Chi Minh City formerly Saigon. We are staying here for four nights and are staying at the Nhat Ha 3 Hotel it’s from here will be visiting the various sights that Saigon has to offer, the Mekong Delta, Cu Chi Tunnels (not all the 200km of them I might add) and the Killing Fields etc, although the killing fields will be a rather sobering and distressing place to visit I feel its a must if you are in Saigon
  • Next it’s an overnight sleeper train to Nha Trang where its time to chill for a couple of days. We staying at the Fairy Bay Hotel in a luxury sea view suite, I might add all for £60 per night bargain
  • Then its on the train again to Hoi An a Unesco World Heritage site for three nights at the Vinh Hung Hotel & Spa
  • Next it’s off to Hue  (pronounced hway) where we are staying in the Orchid Hotel for two nights
  • Then it’s an overnight sleeper train to Hanoi where we are staying for three nights at the Ha Noi Eternity Hotel with a day visiting Halong Bay

Finally here are some of the websites that I have used to put this trip together just click on the highlighted links

You can find more of the sites that I have used by checking out my Pearl Trees account, just click here Bob Rouse@ Pearl Trees . Keep a check on this from time to time for more additions and useful information for anyone planning a trip to Vietnam.

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