I can't believe it has been over a month since my last post - I'm the slackest blogger!!
Well let me bring you up to speed ....
Early May - too long ago - I can't remember what I was doing or why I was so busy.
13 May - left my family in Brisbane and went travelling to Vietnam with some friends ..... had a VERY good time.
Vietnam was my first trip to Asia - and it was lots of fun. Arriving in Hanoi was quite a culture shock from any other city I have visited. It took a few hours to get my senses together, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed the city - crossing the road has never been such a challenge (except maybe in Naples)! I even ventured onto the back of a scooter for a ride through the city - which was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done!
Early each morning I would go for a walk, this gave me such a different perspective of the city and those who live in it. It gave me a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people just going about their daily life, trying to provide for themselves and their families. Whilst walking through the food markets was quite confronting, with fresh meat on open display, fish flapping around on mats and chickens straight out of the pot - oh and frogs being skinned, it challenged me not to judge them by our standards, but to actually wonder whether their way is better? As I wondered around my local supermarket today I couldn't help think that the food in Vietnam seemed much fresher and interesting. Something to ponder ......
After two days of Hanoi madness, it was off to Ha Long Bay,which is a 3.5 hour drive from Hanoi. I had been dreading the drive, but it was lots of fun, just watching how different the road rules are, getting glimpses of farms and learning about the tragic history of Vietnam from our wonderful guide Thai.
Ha Long Bay - is breathtaking! We spent an afternoon, overnight and morning cruising around the Bay on Baya Cruises, which was fantastic. We were on Baya 3 where Armand and his staff did an amazing job looking after us. I could waffle on for hours about this magical place, it was the definite highlight of the trip for me.
After sadly saying goodbye to our new friends on Baya 3, it was back into the bus for the drive back to Hanoi airport for our flight down to Denang, where we then drove the 45 minutes down to Hoi An for a few more days of shopping (have I mentioned that there was way too much shopping on this holiday?).
Hoi An is an old French trading port filled with tailors and shoe makers - all vying for your dollar. I found this very overwhelming and just couldn't make decisions about anything - other than the mango daiquiri (or two) at lunch time! We stayed at Life Resort, which is possibly one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed at - it was beautiful. We spent four days helping the Hoi An economy having jewellery, clothes and shoes made, eating great food, buying cutsey souvineers and exploring the city.
I celebrated my birthday on 19 May while in Hoi An. I had a great day, although it was strange not having my family with me. We spent the afternoon at the Red Bridge Cooking School, which was lots of fun. Not sure I will ever be a great Vietnamese cook, but I now know how to do a few basics like Hoi An pancakes and Vietnamese Eggplant in Clay Pot - yum! (opps, can't say "yum" before 10.00 pm!).
Did I mention that it was revoltingly hot while we were in Hoi An? I will NEVER live in the tropics - that humidity is awful, I think I would have to take up permanent residence in the pool and drink mango daiquiris all the time!
On Saturday 21 May it was time to stuff our suitcases closed and say goodbye to the beautiful people of Vietnam. I was ready to come home, I was missing my girls. This trip had been full of firsts for me - first trip overseas without Mr D, longest I've ever been away from the girls, first time in Asia, first time I've ever seen anyone skinning a frog! I made new friends, had fun with old friends and got a tiny taste of what Vietnam has to offer ...... a fantastic holiday!
PS - I am the WORST photographer in the world, sorry!