Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas in Vietnam

Christmas is coming. It is celebrated by all not only the large Catholic community. Pictures tell the tale
Many shops and hotels have a tree

Santa is a musical guy
Children's Christmas outfits
Another tree
Only window shopping
Decorations at the Sheraton
Outside the Sheraton
Helen and Gail with a Christmas tree of balls
More window shopping. Sorry but no room in the bags!
Presents under the tree
A tree made from corks. No not all ours!
Recovering from looking at the Christmas displays

Gail at night



While Helen and Tony climbed the Cu Chi tunnels and explored the maize of waterways that comprise the Mekong delta we have seen a few local sights and undertaken an intensive investigation of markets.
Outside the Opera House
The Rex Hotel where we enjoyed "The Follies" Drinks but without the briefing to journalists. This was as close as some of the journalists got to the war and they reported from this rooftop after the afternoon briefing and drinks.

Gail at the Post Office. Note the picture of "Uncle Ho" on back wall. There were hundreds of pre school children on excursions to post a letter to Santa Clause. Wonderful!
Drinks at the Rex Hotel.
Robert interacting with the local fingernail girls!

The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral. Lots of French influence remains!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Lunch on a Dragon Boat

As we travelled by boat to the tombs and pagodas we had lunch cooked for us. It was a wonderful experience. Not the best food that we have had in Hue but one of our memorable meals!
We had a boat driver and his wife. Neither had any more English than we had Vietnamese.
We negotiated the menu with lots of actions and sounds. Oink, oink means pork but it was done will full theatre , lots of noise and descriptive faces. You will see from the photos that it must have taken a little while to work out the food.
Once the menu was selected we had a short stop as our chef took off up the bank to a market to buy supplies. In no time the stove was on and she showed us the raw dishes ready to be cooked. A stop at  the Hon Chee Temple and when we came back aboard the table had been produced and set for lunch
An enjoyable meal and an even more enjoyable experience. Worth a hat!

The food ready for cooking

The ships kitchen

Gail ready to eat. We only ate about half!

Hue Travelling on the Perfume River

Gail at the Pagoda
We spent the day visiting some of the pagodas, Temples and Royal Tombs by boat. The Perfume River slowly meanders along past all these old settlements so it was a great way to avoid the traffic and noise
This was the old Royal city and home to the Kings even after the French arrived. The visits were very interesting and the travel itself was a special part of the day.I will put details of our lunch in a separate blog to keep the photos together.Tyhe layout changes as we are using photos from our three cameras!
Robert at the Minh Mang Tomb
Rob again at the Minh Mang Tomb
At the Minh Mang Tomb. This was a most interesting place to visit and considered to be the most majestic. The Emporer had many wives and concubines. He planned the tomb that was built after his death. It is set out in a formal Chinese style.

The Thien Mu Pagoda or the Heavenly Lady Temple

The Tu Doc Tomb. Wonderful scenery and very extensive with gardens, lakes and pavilions.
The only way we could get to the tomb from the boat was by bike
Three Imperial guards


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hue Citadel

We spent the full afternoon walking around the Citadel of Hue
Hue was the old Capital of South Vietnam and is located on the Perfume River.The river sounds better than it looks!
The Citadel sprawls over 6 km and comprises three courts. This was the base for the last Kings of Vietnam and extended till the end of WWII.
At the heart of the Imperial city was the forbidden Purple City. Only members of the Royal family and concubines and some very senior mandarins could enter. Three of us strolled the entire area visiting the various palaces and official buildings.

Wonderful gardens in various stages of restoration

Gail on dragon steps. They didn't go to anywhere!

The rain held off but we were prepared

Lots of water features and more reflections

View over the rooftops

On the way home we looked at the war remnants. This is a Mig 21 Jet fighter

Tony and Robert with a dragon. No not real gold

Robert with two girls reenacting the HCM trail. Note the camouflage

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hanoi by Day.

Lots to see but never enough time! We did consider going down to the Perfumed Pagoda but ended up revisiting the popular landmarks of Hanoi.
The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum was our first stop and we joined the crowd to file past. Many friendly faces in the crowd especially a group with young children from China. Missed out on photos of this as guards would not let us take them as we were close to the viewing
Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum.

Roses grow in the North. I am sure that Uncle Ho would like them!

At the Temple of literature. Joining the locals celebrate their graduation. This was Vietnam's first university
Tran Quoc Pagoda on West Lake
Tran Quoc Pagoda
The dry goods section of main markets  Any guess as to what is in front centre basket?
This one is easy
The Dong Xuen Markets. They are huge!

At the Temple of Literature


Hanoi at night

Hanoi is a bustling city that is packed with every form of transport but at night it assumes a special face. We have been staying near Hoan Kiem Lake and the night reflections have been great. We also enjoyed some special meals
The Ngoc Son temple. Locals call it the Lake of Returned Sword from when the magical sword was returned and following victory against the Chinese the Golden turtle returned to the lake.

The Hanoi water puppets. We enjoyed them as much as our last visit. I don't think it has changed!

We save money by drinking cocktails! Gail does not mind making these sacrifices. Robert is drinking Hanoi beer! It is cheaper than the water and much better for you.