Tag Archives: Vietnam

Living Things from South East Asia

27 Dec

The Vietnamese Coast and The Sand Dunes of Mui Ne

20 Nov

Phong Nha Farmstay, Vietnam

13 Nov

Lunch with a Vietnamese Family

11 Nov

During the few days we spent in Hue, Vietnam, we met a local Vietnamese man called Binh and his young son on the Trang Tien Bridge. After going for drinks with him at one of the riverside cafes, we were invited to his home just outside of Hue, for lunch the following day with his wife and 2 sons.

Naturally, we hesitated to accept the offer as Vietnam has made a bit of a name for itself in the scamming department over the years. However, my gut instinct said we should go; he appeared honest, kind and had smiling eyes. We were foreigners in his home town and it seemed that he simply wanted to welcome us.

The next day we told the receptionist in our hotel our plans and coincidentally, she recognized Binh when he arrived with his wife, Huong to pick us up on their mopeds which put me at ease.

After about 15 minutes of driving, we arrived at the small village where Binh and Huong’s home was. The house next door was in the process of being built and Binh explained that it’s common in Vietnam for people to build their own houses.

Once inside, we gave the couple some fresh flowers we’d bought for them and asked Houng if she needed any help preparing the food. She happily delegated tasks to us all and we sat in a circle in the middle of the kitchen floor spooning homemade shrimp paste onto thin sheets of rice paper, which were then rolled up and cooked.

The food looked and smelt incredible once it was finished. Houng had prepared a delicious feast of fresh fish, fried prawns, white noodles and shrimp rolls with chill, all arranged in different bowls on the large table in the living room. We could then spoon various ingredients onto rice paper making small food parcels which could be eaten with our hands.

After dinner we drank beer and Binh told us that Houng was a make-up artist. He said, “She shapes eyebrows and does colour for lips.” He was referring to the permanent make-up tattoos people sometimes have done to make it look like they’re always wearing make-up.

Several minutes later, Houng reappeared with her eyebrow tool kit and began plucking, trimming and even shaving away at my eyebrows- apparently they were uneven. Luckily, in the end she did a pretty good job and didn’t even want money for it.

The afternoon continued to pleasantly unfold; we had more beer, chatted in English to the older son and played cards. Then, just as we were about to leave, we heard a man shouting in Vietnamese outside the house.

I had no idea what he was saying, but as the voice became louder, the younger son burst into tears, and the cries of the boy soon became as loud as the drunken, outraged rambling of the man. Binh and Huong seemed unfazed by the situation as if it had happened many times before.

When we wandered outside, we saw the man pacing around the unfinished building site of a house next door, bare foot, wearing only shorts. He was still yelling aggressively at us in Vietnamese.

On the journey back to Hue, Binh explained that the man had thought we were American and had been yelling, “You friends with the American people. They make many people die.” When Binh had told him we weren’t American, he’d got even angrier, yelling that he hated all foreigners. Binh then shook his head, smiled and said, “The war was 30 years ago, but every country has its crazy people, not just Vietnam. ”

Once back in Hue, Binh told us to forget about the man, which will be hard now as I’ve written about him in this post, but I hope that one day he’ll find peace, finish building his house if that was his house, and give his neighbours a rest from all the yelling.

As we said goodbye to Binh and Huong, we thanked them for a lovely afternoon and I left feeling happy to have met them and pleased that the cynics in us hadn’t said no from the start. And keeping my promise to Huong, I will no longer neglect my eyebrows anymore whilst travelling.

 

The Colours of Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

25 Oct

360 View of Cat Ba Island (Video)

24 Oct

How to get to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi (Info)

23 Oct

Post with two parts here. 1st info for other travellers, 2nd return to our normal programming

1. Getting to Cat Ba Island from Hanoi

I searched for ages for this information but there seems to be very little on it. So here’s how to do it WITHOUT booking a hideously expensive tour.

Some quick Info:

  • You can go direct from Hanoi’s Loung Yen to Cat Ba Town with one ticket
  • It costs around 190,000 Dong ($10 USD) at time of writing.
  • Ticket price includes coaches and boat.

Details:

In Hanoi go to Loung Yen bus station. Ignore anyone asking if you want to go to Halong Bay, just say Cat Ba. In the ticket office (which is pretty modern and well kept) there should be a bus company named Hoang Long, this is the company.

The price of the ticket includes:

  1. Coach- Hanoi –> Hai Phong
  2. Minibus- Hai Phong –> Ferry Port
  3. Boat- Hai Phong Port –> Cai Vieng (Cat Ba Island)
  4. Minibus- Cai Vieng –> Cat Ba Town

It seems complicated but its really well organised and you don’t normally wait in any of the change over places for very long.

Unfortunatley I forgot to take a picture of the depature from Hanoi, so I don’t have all the exact times. But here’s some info from what I remember and from what I wrote down from Cat Ba (24hour clock):

Hanoi -> Cat Ba

  • First bus 07:15
  • Last bus 13:20

Cat Ba -> Hanoi

  • 07:15
  • 9:15
  • 13:15
  • 15:15