Monthly Archives: November 2012

Nha Trang

Yeah. Survived another 13 hrs bus ride. Benefit was a scheduled 30 mins break. Drawback the bus company sold every place in that bus. Even the space on the ground. Overloaded. Anyway. We arrived and we did what we haven´t done in this vacation before. No advance booking just waiting for the guys who offer their rooms. 10 $ per night for AC room with hot shower and 2 beds was good enough. Breakfast was needed so we just crossed the street and had a good soup and a coffee for 3 $. Great.

Idea for Nha Trang was to reward ourself and do soe wellness. We booked our ticket for the natural mud spa and started. Thap Ba Hot Spa Nice experience. Sitting in a wooden bath tube with hot mineral mud and a bath afterwards in 39 degree hot water and a massage at the end. We stayed there 3 hours and had a good time.
Nha Trang is full of Russians. A direct flight connection from Moscow to here makes the city a russian enclave. Wherever you look always cyrillic signs. And they are unable or willing to talk in another language than russian. Ok we´ll stay just for one night….

Nha Trang is called the “Nice of South East Asia” coz of its 7 km long beach with palmtrees and really close to the city.

Hoi An – lazy days

Spent whole day at the beach. Got sun-burned. Had fantastic food again at Old Garden. Fish wrapped in banana leafs. Cao lau as well. Yammi. Tonight our last long bus ride starts at 6 pm to Nah Trang. Until that time — beach again.

Hoi An – ancient city by night

When the day was over and the moon came out we started our walk into the ancient city. It was really nice to see, the small lanes were illuminated by candles and lanterns. No vehicles except bicycles were allowed. No horns, no noise. But a lot of pedestrians :)

Hoi An by night

On mostly each corner local artists and performers demonstrated and showed either local folk songs or art. We watched for a while a demonstration of VoViNam which is the traditional vietnamese martial art.

Vovinam DemonstrationViet Vo Dao group

Others were playing a traditional kind of chinese chess in public and small kids tried to sell candles wrapped in rice paper for a better karma. Well I wasn´t willing to pay 100.000 Dong for my karma. We went back to the Old Garden restaurant which is in a small lane but you may find the menu at the beginning of these lane. It´s close to the coffee shop at the junction Tran Hung Dao and Ngyuen Hue street. We ordered a lot of tasty dishes and beverages as well and paid just 6 € for all of it. Amazing. I highly recommend this restaurant coz of it´s coffee and food.

Old Garden food

Topic for today is rent a bike, go to the beach , pickup shoes and clothes and reconfirm our next bus to Na Trang. Again 12 hrs ride *sigh* but we´re traveller, aren´t we ? :)

Hue – Hoi An

Just a 3 hrs ride by bus :) Arrived 1 pm which gave us the whole day. Hotel is nice and clean. Mostly traveller guests. Hoi An is cultural world heritage because of its old ancient houses and meeting halls. And well known for more than 400 tailors. And shoemakers as well. So we started business first. Cultural things must wait :) We entered a shoemaker shop and I was asking if they are just selling shoes or.. answer ” we do shoes whatever you want..” Good to hear. I showed the guys a picture of my favourite business shoes and she said ” no problem. which leather would you like ? ankle hight ? shape of the top ? ” yeah. My feet were measured and the result was … less than 100 bucks. Which seems really good for a pair of handmade shoes. Mandys eyes became wider and she said “I would like to have a pair high heels…” To make the long story short we´ll go today for the first fitting :)
Next stop was at tailor. No clothes for me even the lady tried to force me slightly. Coz my tailor is in Bangkok. Mandy was measured again and I helped her out to find some nice fabrics.
Later on we met the norwegian girl again and had a beer together at “before and now” bar. Time for next appointment, pedicure at 8 pm. Very professional and I went to bed at 9:30 pm. What a day.

Today after having a breakfast went to the central market. Crowed but interesting. Like these two women selling betel nut ….

they sell betel nutswomen at Hoi An market

We bought our ticket to visit selected ancient places like houses, assembly halls and family chapels. We were not alone :) Most places more than 300 yrs old and they are still in use or look like.Traditional buildings are very long (like 50 mtrs) with living, working and sleeping places. Here is a courtyard in one of these houses. Used for ventilation.

ancient Courtyard

And we discovered the best coffee in Vietnam ever. Brewed with this small metal filter. Strong , tasty (with a touch of chocolate) and very yammi. And cheap. 15.000 dong which is 60 € cents. For Sono – a place to be for you.

Real Coffee

First fitting for shoes and suits, everything looks very nice. Pick up tomorrow (and carry all items through the rest of the journey…)
Tonight is the night before full moon and no electric light will illuminate the ancient city of Hoi An , only candles and lanterns made of silk. Sounds great and we´ll go later on to watch this.

stay tuned and will keep you updated…..


Hue is the city of the former emperors of Vietnam. They ruled the land until the french invasion and Uncle Ho got the key to Vietnam here in 1945. Lot of history. We started easily with a nice breakfast (included) and rented a motorbike from a local young man we met last night. 5 $ per day is the usual rate here. Traffic is not that terrible as it´s in Hanoi but I took all of my concentration to drive the small bike. But it worked and even Mandy said that she doesn´t fear the ride.

Call a driver

First stop was the Citadel. Built by vietnamese Emperors based on some old chinese buildings. Entrence fee for foreigners 5 $. Not soo much to see it took 30 mins to visit the ruins. Maybe for persons who are interested in historical and/or architectural things. At least nice to see. Next place should be a tomb of one of the emperors. We just had a silly city map, worthless. So we started on the bike southwest direction as mentioned in the travel guide and met two others guys (with a good map) so we just followed them.
Parking for the bike should be 10.000 Dong. Too much so we paid 5.000. You have to bargain whatever you want. The tomb was nice to see got some ideas :)
We drove back to Hue to have a quick lunch and decided to visit a location which is recommended by our travel book for authentic cheap food. Owned by an old deaf-dumb man. And really it was great food. We rolled spring rolls by ourself and had shrimp pancakes. Really yammi. And paid less than 5 €.

Awesome food

We gave the rental bike back and went straight to bed for a nap. Just one hour because we´re on vacation. But not enough time afterwards to get the last sunlight on the pool. Doesn´t matter we´ll spend the whole day tomorrow here…

Pool at Century Hotel

Found even in our tourist area nice local food for a reasonable price. A big market on the banks of the parfume river took place and it was fascinating to see how what people do for leisure. Lots of food and stalls with items. One more cocktail than in the famous DMZ bar DMZ bar at Hue. The plan was to leave after a cocktail and coffee but we met the guys again (from the ride) and had a nice chat with Michelle and Nigel (both Canadians) until 11pm and had some more beers for sure. What a pretty nice day.

Hai Phong – Hue

Hai Phong is the 3rd largest city in Vietnam and the big harbour connects Vietnam and China. Central bus station as usual, found coffee and some snacks. We thought it would be like in Thailand where busses stop during the ride for a break having a snack etc. We booked a sleeper bus and as soon a one of those busses arrived we had a first look. Not too bad. But the seats , even with a length of around 1.80 m, are not flexible and very strait. The next nightmare comes up as we noted that there´ll be no break during the ride. Estimated time : 12:00 hrs. *sigh* Bus driver stopped and I bought just 3 small old baguettes and a bottle of water. We tried to get some sleep and it worked for a couple of hours. At 7 am we had a break and got a vietnamese breakfast, means a Pho Ga and a cold coffee. It took 5 (!!!) hrs more to get to Hue which means in total 17 hrs on the bus.

17 hrs ...Bus to Hue

But we rewarded ourself with a 4 star hotel in Hue, pool and gym included :) Great view to old city and tomorrow we´ll rent a motorbike to see ancient places. Hotel is Century Riverside Hue clean and not expensive.

Keep you updated…

Halong bay cruise

We started from Cat Ba pier with a small boat with two guys on it, a captain and a ship-boy. Both of them friendly but without english language skills. Anyway communication can be done be a smile and finger signs. Benefits: just both of us and no other crowd around, especially no french guys :) We cruised relaxed through Lan Ha bay and after 1.5 hrs we got a call for lunch. Fantastic delicious food prepared on the ship.

cooked on the boat

I had a nap after that and when I opened my eyes we were into the Ha LOng bay. Amazing landscape. Must be more than 2.000 rocks. A labyrinth of stone. We stood on the deck and watched the beauty of this region. UN world heritage since a couple of years.

Inside Halong bay

Later on we had a stop for swimming but it wasn´t that sunny any more so I was not brave enough but Mandy dived into the sea and swam just around the boat. Really great my dear…. And as a team building event we did kayaking. Even it was our first kayak cruise we did very well. Crossed a lot of limestone caves and tunnels and came back to the boat after one hour. Unfortunately a lot of waste in some of the small bays.
The sky was a little bit cloudy so no chance for a nice sunset to view. We stopped to anchor in a bay and while the crew prepared our bed we had a beer and were talking, just smooth and relaxed.

Trip was organized by Tuan Sailing Cat BaIf you come to Cat Ba and need a reliable person to organize a tour for you asked to Tuan.

So bus to Hai Phong is waiting…..

Cat Ba – hanging around

While waiting for the cruise (starts within next 30 mins…) we spent the day in Cat Ba town and its surrounding. I got up at 6:15 and practiced some exercises (taekwondo patterns) and watched people doing Tai Chi Chuan. May be I´ll ask at the next time if I can jump in the crowd. We had a small breakfast and rented a motorbike just for cruising around. One more coffee in a local shop outside the main tourist area, great and really strong and half the price. Back in town we bought another small backpack for Mandy and went straight to the beaches which are closed to our hotel. Hopefully the picture gives you a (and us as well) foretaste what we´ll expect at our cruise.

Mandy infront of the Cat Co beach

Hanoi – Cat Ba

Met two young german ladies on their way home to Germany from Australia. They have never been before in South East Asia so we had some beer together and we shared some of our experiences. Whole day was lazy (as it should be…) and we arranged some hotels for the next days and tried to book a flight back from HCM city to Hanoi. While walking through old quarter of Hanoi we found a small gallery and bought really nice handmade pictures as a gift for friends, parents and for us as well. Let me try a Hanoi summary. Busy, billions of moto cycles, not that big and we found no other city in that region we know to compare with. Neither Pnom Penh nor Bangkok. Most people are friendly and nice but everybody tries to get a piece from the big cake. A woman on the street sells bananas. I asked how much to pay for 5 small bananas (in Thailand may be 40 baht which is around 1 Euro) She said 150.000 Dong which is around 6 Euros and when I looked at her she begun to bargain and said 140.000 Dong. We turned around and walked away….
We got all our stuff from the Advisor Hotel means bus tickets and the route for the next days.
I can really recommend this small hotel in the old quarter of Hanoi. Friendly and very service oriented and always trying to find a perfect solution for costumers.
6:30 am pickup for the bus to Hai Phong we arrived after 2.5 hrs and than took a speed boat for another 40 mins. Than bus again and finally in Cat Ba town around noon.
Hotel is nice with a big window directly to the sea. And even the agency guy is very friendly. He told us that he´s advised by Lonely Planet and even the german Loose travel book. We were tired so we had a nap for 2 hrs and walked around after talking abut the trip. Well it´s a nice idea to have boat for just both of us (I mentioned that before…) and let´s see what needs to be discovered during our cruise tomorrow. Weather seems good even it´s off season here so we expect getting sun burned :)

Sun goes down at Ha Long Bay

delicious seafood platter Dinner at Cat Ba

stay tuned will keep you updated….. we agreed that we turn into luxury travellers more and more :) which is definitely ok we become older and no need to sleep in a dorm or stay in a hotel room for 6 bucks.