Thursday, February 4, 2010

The end of our race to Saigon

Jan. 26th –> Jan. 30th (by Jason)

The train ride itself was fairly uneventful…Matt and Swiss fell asleep, Cyndi and I enjoyed a bottle of Lychee Wine from Southern Vietnam and we met a young Swiss girl who helped herself to a seat on Matt’s bad and blabbered at us for over an hour. Now, people of Switzerland, listen up…she’s not your best ambassador (let’s just say she voted to ban the Minarets there, among other slightly racist comments she made.) I always thought we had issues in America, but I’m slowly learning that Europe has it’s own set of deeply disturbing issues with xenophobia and lacks of freedom for all. But I digress, we all slept fairly well and woke up to cloudy skies about 2 hours north of Hue.

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Our hotel that I’d previously arranged sent a car to pick us up at the train station and we were quickly driven to the Binh Duong III Hotel where we checked in. We inquired about a private car to Hoi An the next morning but we couldn’t get any sort of guarantee that it would be any faster than just taking the tourist bus (which is $12 for all 4 of us vs. $58 for a private car) so we went with the more economical option. We had lunch at our favorite place just around the corner, where we’d eaten many times with Carl on our prior stop in Hue. After which it was time to head over the bridge and begin our tour of the Citadel. A little over 4 hours of walking around and here are some of my favorite pictures:

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Notice the support in that last picture holding the tree limb?? Classy! :) So after our walk we picked up a few beverages from the supermarket to enjoy on our balcony and relax before dinner. Did I mention that they gave us really nice rooms, next to each other and each with a balcony?! It was pretty good :) [And for only $15 a steal]

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We headed to dinner at a little place that had Chili’s in the name (maybe Three Chili’s Restaurant?) The food was pretty good but the order delivery was very poor, Swiss’s fish coming out well after everyone had already finished everything else. We were then ordered back to our rooms to finish writing out blog posts of Hanoi as by Cyndi :)

Need suit, need shirt??

We woke up and grabbed a quick breakfast downstairs and then waited for our bus. And waited some more…we were eventually informed that it was over an hour late. We finally left a little after 9am (original departure of 7.30am) And arrived successfully in Hoi An, our next stop. We checked into Vinh Hung 3 Hotel and set out on some errands. We immediately found a shop where Matt got fitted for some dress shirts and Cyndi treated herself to a custom fitted dress.

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Afterwards we had a very nice lunch at Thanh Phuong Restaurant across the river from the Old Quarter, with a 2nd floor balcony table looking down on the river and city.DSC_0626 IMG_3384 DSC_0632

Guess who was happy to have their picture taken!?

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And the delicious food we had there:

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Afterwards we grabbed a few pictures (including one of the incredibly uncomfortable bicycle below!) and then got some custom robes made, some gifts for Matt and Cyndi’s families.

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We headed back to the hotel for a quick break (and so I could upload more pictures for Cyndi and Matt’s family to enjoy since our hotel had wicked fast wifi) and then headed over to the Red Bridge Evening Cooking School @ Hai Cafe in the Hoi An Old Quarter. As it was a shortened evening course it was more of a demonstration with hands on activities than a full on cooking school but still a lot of fun and we ate some great food! We shared the course with a couple from Redmond, WA and three friends visiting from Korea, it was a fun course and a great meal afterwards! The final meal was: Hoi An Beef Salad, Spring Rolls Hoi An Style, Wontons Hoi An Style, White Rose and Grilled Ocean Fish in Banana Leaves.

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Some final pick ups and back home to Saigon!

Well, Thursday morning we were up and done with breakfast around 9.30am, time for the fitting of Matt’s shirts, Cyndi’s dress and to pick up the other gifts they had made. Their clothes looked great, fit well and I’d say it was a great success (especially in such a short amount of time!) We also did a little walking around the Old Quarter of Hoi An

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Something you’d like to tell me Matt?!?

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We took a car to the airport in Danang (about 30 km away) and caught a 16.15 flight down to Saigon. The airport in Danang is less than exciting.

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We arrived on-time in Saigon @ 6pm, collected our luggage and grabbed a cab to our hotel, the same place we’d stayed last time we were in town, Giang & Son Guest House. It was nice to arrive and know where to stay rather than hunting for a place for a while. We got settled into our rooms then headed to our favorite back alley seafood place for good food and to show Cyndi and Matt how to fill a crate with beers, Saigon style :)

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Matt and Cyndi were off the next morning to tour the Cu Chi tunnels so it was bedtime after dinner!

Final errands before China and a farewell to Vietnam!

Cyndi and Matt were up and off for their tour while we arranged to run many errands with Thanhha, our friend who works at Giang Son GH. She agreed to help us pick some stuff up if we went with her to give her advice with clothes shopping (Swiss was thrilled! :) While I’ll spare you most of the details, we spent the day at a clothing mall, a bookstore, a supermarket, stopping for lunch, getting a haircut and exchanging our other guidebooks for a China guidebook. It was a fairly productive day. Cyndi and Matt enjoyed their tour and museum stop and we met them back at the hotel a little after 4pm.

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We decided that it was Harry’s t-shirt night (a shirt from college) and we hit the streets of Saigon as a tourist nightmare :)

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First stop of the night was the Rex Hotel for a few drinks and a great rooftop view of Saigon. Thanks again for the drinks Matt!!

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Afterwards it was over to Quan an Ngon for yet another delicious meal (just ask Matt about the beef he had!)

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A quick stop at ABC Bakery after dinner for something sweet and to say hi to our old friend Julie, a final street beer in Saigon and then it was off to bed!

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Cyndi and Matt dropped by at about 3.45am to say goodbye as they caught a cab for their 6am departure on their journey home to Washington DC! We decided to sleep in a little longer and not join them in an early trip to the airport since our flight didn’t leave until 10am. Thanks Cyndi and Matt for joining us and making our trip that much more fun!!

We had a quick breakfast downstairs and then said our goodbyes to our good friend Thanhha. It was time to leave Vietnam and after 4 months in Southeast Asia we were off to explore Hong Kong and the mysteries of China!

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1 comments:

Alvin said...

I know a couple people that would find that bike very comfortable!

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