This is one of the many personal gardens that the Vietnamese tend at their homes. Instead of laws the yards are gardens for food. This one is particularly beautiful as it is next to rice fields. I love to see this kind of thing. This is near Hoi An.
Here is Rita on the street in Hoi An . She just happens to be wearing a shirt that matches the bougainvillea. These plants are common in the tropical areas of the world and particularly beautiful in Vietnam and one of my favorites on earth.
As a major tourist town there are just a few things to do. Sight see as the whole city is a UN Heritage site so that the whole of the old town is drop dead beautiful . They even have the old town painted in old fashioned paint so the walls all have a special textural color quality on the stucco. You can have custom tailored clothes made as there are scores of tailors that will make any item of clothing you can think of . Each shop has fashion mags and books showing the stryles of each kind of clothing you would want. Of course Rita has had a few things made for herself. And then there is eating as all of these tourists have to eat and drink and we are no exception.One spot we like is the Cafe 96. That is actually the addresss as many businesses go by their address instead of a formal name. The 96 is right on the river so the view is great and we have managed to get a doorway (no windows just an open front) table where we enjoyed a nice lunch. I had a sandwich on a baguette, Rita had a avocado and shrimp salad, and an order of fresh spring rolls and we were set. Lets not forget the drinks . A glass of wine and a beer rounded out the bill of fare for lunch.
There are many boats that are actually woven bamboo baskets that are waterproofed using pine pitch. These are neat kinds of boats and this is a video of the smallest used and they are used in the ocean. Fascinating. Here is a video of two of these baskets being launched.
Well we arrived in Hoi An via sleeping bus. The experience was ok but the bathroom was out of order so that put a damper on the trip but we made it in good shape. Hoi An is a UN Heritage City and has a wonderful feel about it. Here are some pictures of Hoi An people and architecture.
In case her face does not give it all away Rita is a happy camper, so to speak, at this point. Me too. Pastry- Breakfast of Champions, Slackers too.
We have the transportation situation fairly well in hand. We hoof it a bit , especially for breakfast at the Cargo Club for pastries. I rented a bicycle for exercise and exploring and we have a motorcycle for zipping around to the beach and such. China beach is just a short drive and we have been a few times already but the wind has a considerable bite though nothing that Minnesotans would recognize as cold,but it is to us.
There are several things that I admire about the Vietnamese since we have begun our visits. They are an industrious people and I like to think we in the US are as well but here they must make everything count. To that end they build special large baskets and cover the outside with pine pitch and then call them boats. These boats range from rounds about 8 ft across that are propelled with a paddle and believe it or not they take them out in the ocean fishing. The biggest we have seen are in the 20 ft plus size and have small diesel engines and of course are also taken into the ocean
Well we have spent a few days in Na Trang , Vietnam. A seaside city of 300 K or so. After the French, Russians and Italians leave that should drop 100k or so. European visitors are the norm here. We have not run into many US tourists in Cambodia or Vietnam.
This is a picture we took from the balcony of our room of the cabanas that are lit at night. The city has done a great job on their waterfront. Paved walkways and large park areas with sculptures and topiary. This was a great visit.
We have a room overlooking the beach however there is main road between us and the beach. This is ok as we get to see all the scooters in Vietnam go by. Crossing the road is relatively simple. Just start walking and they don’t hit you, just don’t think that the buses will do the same. Part of the adventure of travel.
We escaped Cambodia with an border adventure and trouble with our “travel agent” who didn’t have things in order-that could be a long story. But we had our visas and got into Vietnam and after a mini van , old unairconditioned and slow, then an official over the road A/C comfort bus we made it to Siagon/Ho Chi Minh City.
We are now in Da Lat a gem of a city at 5000 ft or so in the central highland. The climate here is perfect for vegatables and flowers and the markets are the best we have seen, and we always tour the markets where ever we are.
Having some troubles with connections and such so no photos but that will be up dated soon.
Well we were staying up on the mountain at The Vanna Bungalows . Really a lovely place. Affordable and with the amenities to make things comfortable. But they are building and yesterday the hammer drill and skill saw (with a dull blade) started and we moved . Here are a few pictures of the Kim Ly Guest house. We have eaten crabs every day for a week and Rita shows no sign of slowing. Me, well thats another story.
- Our crab restaurants are , I think I mentioned this, right next to the water and at high tide one nightI was splashed by incoming waves. That is the fortunes of crab eating.
- Our lunch crabs are kept in these keeper pots/cages and the ladies go out and get them as needed. They are not all blue as you can see
Our lunch close up. Grandson alexi loves crabs so this close up is for him. I think its neat too. Hey Alexi,Luca, Sam, Max and of course OLI from Cambodia. This is actually Kep, Cambodia that is famous for its crab market and of course Grand Rita just had to come so we could get our fill of crabs and we did. Last night she didn’t even eat dinner as we had a big lunch. Off to Vietnam this morning, March 1.
Our guesthouse is near the “Crab Market” and so we walk though there are tuk tuks available to haul you around for not much money a dollar or two. Our guesthouse is on a hill and when we arrived , with all our luggage , a helper rode along and when the tuk tuk , these are powered by 125 cc motorcycles at most or about 10 times smaller that a Harley, started up the hill the helper jumped out and started to push. So that’s why the helper!!
- Crabs are kept in these “keeper” cages until needed shortly before being cooked. These cages are next to the tables of the Crab Market Restaurants. Dinner will run 10-20 US$ or 40,000-80,000 reils and both work.
- Crab Keeper Cages Next to Restaurants
This is the scene at the crab market when we arrive for our lunch. There is a lot of activity around the market including cooking and selling live and cooked crabs. Some of the women carry small scales that hook onto the handles of the bags the hold the crabs to check the weight. We would love to have the family here to enjoy the crabs with us. Well its off to dinner as the sun is beginning to get lower in the sky.
Our guest house is expanding like crazy, adding rooms to get to 21 from current 17. There are 15 people working on a couple op projects that we see from our porch. This picture is of the carpenter actually millwright shop that is on the property. The Carpenters make all the doors and window frames/windows for all I know but don’t see any in the works . I see beds being finished near the new rooms and think those are also made on site. The wood is beautiful an probably in the mahogany family though much harder than most varieties. They get by with the minimum/crudest of tools and do nice work considering.
Well we have been on the road , going and doing. Neglecting this blog. You have to write the post and get er done. We flew into Phenom Phen as Rita was a bit concerned with the small skirmish on the border of Thailand and Cambodia . Artillery shells were exchanged as well as small arms and believe that rocket propelled grenades (RPG’s ) were also involved. At any rate we beat a retreat from Bangkok to explore a new capital city and country , at least for us.
First night after checking in to our hotel. Just across the street from the Tonie Sap River that makes the St. Croix look very small indeed.There is the Bassac River just down the street and we can see where these two rivers meet the mighty Mekong River. We are talking Mississippi River size flow of water. Massive. So Rita and I went out to grab a bite.
First we had a draft beer $.80 US(dollars are the norm and you will get change in both US and Cambodian realles -4000/1US makes for interesting counting) then walked down the street and soon found a small restarant serving grilled seafood and beef. We ordered shrimp and squid. Well we were seated at a long table that would seat 8 and as is the custom more dinners were seated with us . A local , as it turned out, family. Mom, Dad and two daughters we guested at 8 and 14. Wrong. Rita asked the older daughter her age , to see if we could communicate with our new companions. She was 19 and a freshman at University. Younger daughter also spoke a bit of English but was shy. However Maria and Rita hit it off and Maria translated for her Mom and Dad as they did not speak word one of English. A hansom family. Dad wore a perfectly ironed ivy league style long sleeve shirt. Turns out he’s a civil engineer.We got along famously despite the language barrier and we were invited to join them on a Sunday outing (tomorrow). We of course accepted. We paid our bill $10 and they also had a $10 bill for the four of them. We were offered a ride to our hotel and we said no no its only a short distance.
The Dad said how about a short drive around part of the city. Ok we said. They were driving a new Lexus SUV and we all piled in. He has been working on Diamond island development for five years and there was perhaps ten more years to go. Casino’s, condo’s , shops, apartments – the whole deal . Condo’s to a million USD and about 5000 square feet for the top of the line units. Apartments will be starting at 30,000USD, tiny of course about 1000 square feet. Despite the poverty, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the region, there is a lot of money being spent and being made here.
Can’t wait for family outing tomorrow.
Pictures to follow
Well we have been in Siam Reap for a few days and been busy doing not much.
First back to Phnom Phen and our new family. The youngsters told us that out of respect they could not use our first name so they made us honorary Grand Parents. Here are our new “grandchildren” they are great kids.
We are off to the carving village today as we are sending back a cubic meter of carved faces and other handicrafts from a carving villagr. We miss the carved monk faces that we have sold so we are bringing back a few of the big ones and some other thing depending on what we have room for. We’ll see.
There are repeats in this slide show as I am working out the kinks in my Picassa 3 program. My kinks actually. So just watch half for now.
I took what is turning out to be my late afternoon bike ride to see the progress of the elephant float for Saturday’s parade. There doesn’t seem to be much progress since yesterday. But from what I can understand from the workers they are not worried . I showed the supervisor , I think he was the supervisor as he was not working , my calendar on my cell phone and pointed to Saturday and he indicated that it would be ready. I don’t know how but I don’t know how the plants/flowers will be applied. Maybe they are on some kind of lattice fabric that will be draped over the frame work. Again, I just don’t know but am dieing to find out. Stay tuned