Day 2

Wonderful breakfast with our first Pho. Julie had beef, I had seafood. Mine was a delicious lemongrass base with two pieces of fish and two shrimp. We added all the condiments, like dried shrimp, green onions, salted peanuts, pickled eggplant, seaweed. We tried a few other things, some good, some not.

Pho

Back to the post office and taxi to the airport. Destination Da Nang. Booked a hotel for one night in Hoi An. We originally planned on three days but glad we didn’t because of the weather. We arrived at the airport. My email is not sending mail so we didn’t have tickets or boarding passes. Got in lin anyway, fighting the pushy people. At the front they wanted the boarding passes. We just smiled and waited, they found our tickets and we checked our backpacks and made our way to the gate, stopping off for a Tiger beer.

Uneventful flight and taxi from the hotel to the beachfront loft. It looked great on the website but now it was ugly and gray. We had the welcome drink of pineapple juice and got into the room. Looked like rain for the next week so we booked a flight out the next day to Holong Bay. Plans change quickly!

Cute Flight attendant attire, Megan
Fun at the airport

We called for a taxi and went to the ancient section. It was dark and wet and flooded in areas, but we pressed on and looked at the dress shops. So many tailors. Yup we got measured for dresses to be delivered the next morning. Walked around a bit and found the restaurant that the tailor, named Pink, sent us to. We needed to have some “white roses” which were wantons and some spring rolls. All was great but then it began to rain. A lot. By the time we left the streets were flooded.

White roses
Before the flash flood

We asked for the restaurant to call a taxi. It was difficult and we were told to go up to the corner and to the right. We wondered if we were at the right spot and what we would do if no one came. But our knight arrived and drove us back to our hotel. We had bought a bottle of wine. It was balmy and rainy and then about 8 Australian golfers showed up and we had fun discussing the world. Off to bed, exhausted again

So much to do

We enjoyed our new hotel, third one booked for the night. We had so much more to do that we had to make a list

The plan was First stop, War Remnant Museum, the Glow Sky Bar, the Night Market and district 4 for the food stalls and lastly the pool. And in the morning, a coffee place and back to the post office to mail postcards. Well it sort of worked out like that.

I have to add the pictures at the end because we are in a taxi now.

The War Remnant Museum was pretty disturbing.

Defiant by Alvin Townley is the book I am reading about the POWs that survived the Hanoi Hilton. So the book and the Museum differed greatly in opinion. As an American and hearing from a POW firsthand of his expert at the infamous prison, it was hard to read what the museum was projecting. I am sure there is truth and secrets on both sides. Most disturbing were the photos of deformities caused by the chemical warfare.

So on to the sky Bar. We sort of knew the location but the internet was vague about its opening times, it’s name and the actual location. We stopped into a hotel and asked. A nice lady pointed it out to us. Just past the night market so we walked through that first. It was busy and overwhelming. We bought foldable backpacks. One one I have been using for 22 years is falling apart. I haven’t parted with it yet, but the new one is good. My old one was from a travel/surf friend from Coronado, Cheryl Woodhouse. She is traveling right now, I think in France on a barge.

We found the Sky Bar, now called the Glow Bar. It was 5:45 and didn’t open until 6 said the skinny, high heeled girl. Well the views did not disappoint. It was a great view, 360 degrees and a lightening show added to the ambiance. No need to stay for the light show and or disco so we decided to hit an Irish Pub that was nearby. Maybe we could watch the Green Bay Packers play. No such luck. Walked back and forth and then gave up. We realized the best way to get a taxi was to go into a hotel and ask them to get one.

We have the taxi driver the address and it seemed that he gave up and dropped us off a some random restaurant. Again no English but we learned a few words. We ordered a beer, some fish and oysters. It was ok. Loved the salt infused with lemon and chili. They called us a taxi and home for a quick swim. Cool pool with a warm side and a cool side. We passed out. What a long first day.

Random restaurant
Portable AC
The yummy salt

More Day One

After a few beers in the sampler, they got warm so fast, we decided that the Jade Pagoda was close enough to walk to. We were wrong, but again an interesting walk. We crossed streets like natives, saw where they sold everything for home construction like all the bathroom fixtures, then all the light fixtures. We are all those stores next to each other. Just like so many other countries

Our GPS barely worked but we kept on the route. It was fun stopping by where all the fish were sold, the pet kind, not the sushi ones.

And flower shops

We kept in to the Jade Pagoda. But couldn’t find it. We almost gave up until I asked a random man where it was, by showing it to him on a map. He pointed behind him and sure enough, in the middle of the block there was the Jade Pagoda.

New boyfriend!
Beautiful gardens

It was very interesting, so many people praying, but with so many statures, how do you know who or what to pray to.

We both have the same attention span for museums and churches because after awhile, they all blend together!

Time to hail a cab again. We tried to ask the driver if he could wait and take us to our new hotel. He just said No. we realized he just didn’t understand. We packed our things, agreed that the room was a great place to drop our bags, freshen up but not a place to stay over night. The neighborhood was a little sketchy.

New hotel, wow, bell boys who took our backpacks! And afternoon tea! Our room was ready in a few min.

A room with no windows, good enough!

Back to Day One in HCMC

So yesterday we left the hotel early with the plan to walk to the ancient Giac Lam Pagoda. It is believed to be built in 1744. I read that many of the Vietnamese Buddhist temples have aspects of Taoism and Confucianism, not that I understand much more than the fundamentals of religions.

The big white statue was the Quran The Am Bo Tat. Goddess of mercy

Our walk was estimated to be a mile and a half. I don’t believe we got lost but it seemed a lot longer than than, but we both agreed that the walk was the best part of the day. We walked by many people getting ready for the day. It was about 7am on Sunday. We walked down busy streets full of motor scooters, zipping everywhere. It was organized chaos. We both heard that the way to cross a street was to heard straight across, looking straight ahead and keep the same pace. As soon as we trusted this method, we were like locals! It worked. The cars slowed, the scooters went around us like a school of fish.

We enjoyed walking by and into a few produce markets. The vegetable and fruit looks so fresh and vibrant.

We finally arrived at the pagoda. We looked around a bit, lots of statues and what looked like graves, nothing in English. We heard some chanting from the main building and noticed some people in the back of the main structure. So we looked for a way to see closer, and then a man motioned us inside. We started to remove our shoes as is custom, but he again motioned that we didn’t have to. We walked around looking at all the alters, and statues. So many Buddha’s. The man again motioned us to come closer so we did. It was enchanting to listen to the prayers. Many tables were set with bowls and silverware.

We walked out and then looked for a taxi. Nothing so we walked a bit and decided to get a bite to eat. Very few menus have English so we just pointed at pictures on the wall.

Sizzling hot

It started to rain. Again we waited for a taxi. It took awhile so by the time we hailed one we forgot where we were going! I told him Emerald Pagoda, showed the taxi driver where, then realized it was the Jade Pagoda, he still didn’t get it so we said, Norte Dame Cathedral, which he understood and it was on our list! It seemed like he took us the long way!! We have learned to be flexible and we are trying to understand that why would they understand us. We don’t speak their language so we should we expect them to understand ours!

We got the the Cathedral and it was completely under construction, just like the original. No pictures! No entry, but across the street was the famous post office. Looked like a shrine to the Green Bay Packers, beautiful building in green and yellow.

Next on our list was the craft beer scene. Not sure if we found it, but we found a beer place for a few samples.

We are loving all of the plants everywhere. It is so lush, and humid.

Day 1 Ho Chi Minh City

We deplaned making our way to Passport control. Julie went first. I had some concerns about whether what we had was correct. We discussed crying in demand if we needed to. The guy looking at her passport was asking for something else, but he couldn’t figure out the English. He called someone else to help and we gave him the second visa. It seemed to be what he wanted. The two hour expedited visa arrived on day 6. I had already applied for a different one for her. I only had one visa so it was easy. No checked bags so we were in!!

First taxi driver wanted three times what we wanted to pay so we got an iced coffee. Next guy had a meter. He started driving strangely at first but now I think he was trying to figure out how to ask us for toll money. We didn’t have anything that small so he paid it. We knew it was going to take 30+ minutes to get to the hotel. Driving was crazy, even on a Sunday early morning. We finally got to the hotel. We knew that it could be a “by the hour” place but had decided to at least have a place to drop our bags. The Hanz Friday hotel had a sign but no door that we could see. We walked down the street a bit and found a better place. It seemed expensive for the location, but we paid it. The room was ok, but we both decided that we wanted to stay elsewhere. After we booked flights for the next day we booked another hotel.

Why can’t toilet seats fit?
The hotel lobby
Front of the hotel

In Flight

The flight from Dallas to Tokyo was to be 13.5 hours. I have flown many long flights but this one seemed to take so long. I have no idea why. It was daylight almost the whole way, we were chasing the sunset. During the flight we started planning the trip. Both of us have been so busy that we haven’t had the time to do much planning. We asked friends about their highlights in Vietnam, we checked out blogs too.

The views of Texas, Colorado, Idaho were beautiful and the clouds were ever changing. We had some wine, watched movies, read and talked. We laughed together at the dinner combo, weird chicken, smoked salmon with potato salad, julienned root vegetables and inedible fish jello in soba noodles, that was so bad that I had to scrape it out of my mouth with my chop sticks. The ice cream led to a discussion of Gilles, frozen custard, yes David, it’s the best ever!!! David is Julie’s bionic husband.

The bathrooms on the plane has interesting settings…. A bidet with shower and bath options and drying, while seated on the throne. I remember the same type of toilet in Seoul, Korea. I was afraid to try it, especially since it had mood lights in the toilet too. So I was brave and tried the toilet features. Interesting to say the least.

The flight arrived on time at about 6 pm in Hanada airport near Tokyo. The plan was that we would take the train from the airport to the city center, Shibuya, or Times Square of NYC. We filled out the forms and deplaned. When we arrived near customs, they asked for the downloaded items for MySOS and cocoa, we showed them our vaccination card and they pointed us to the right. Most likely, due to Covid we couldn’t leave the airport. So we had until 1:25 AM to occupy our time. And it was about 2AM our time. We were in the International terminal on a Saturday night. There were very few people around. We found a sort of food court and had some drinks. There we did some more planning and we felt very overwhelmed with all that we wanted to do. A plan was shaping but by 8 pm, neither of us could stay awake. We found some seats, suitable for sleeping on and slept for a couple hours. More planning and sleeping until 1AM and then we boarded the next 5.5 hour flight. We will land at 5:30AM to start our first day in Vietnam! And btw, the toilets had all the bidet feature plus music while you used the toilets.

In Flight

The flight from Dallas to Tokyo was to be 13.5 hours. I have flown many long flights but this one seemed to take so long. I have no idea why. It was daylight almost the whole way, we were chasing the sunset. During the flight we started planning the trip. Both of us have been so busy that we haven’t had the time to do much planning. We asked friends about their highlights in Vietnam, we checked out blogs too.

The views of Texas, Colorado, Idaho were beautiful and the clouds were ever changing. We had some wine, watched movies, read and talked. We laughed together at the dinner combo, weird chicken, smoked salmon with potato salad, julienned root vegetables and inedible fish jello in soba noodles, that was so bad that I had to scrape it out of my mouth with my chop sticks. The ice cream led to a discussion of Gilles, frozen custard, yes David, it’s the best ever!!! David is Julie’s bionic husband.

The bathrooms on the plane has interesting settings…. A bidet with shower and bath options and drying, while seated on the throne. I remember the same type of toilet in Seoul, Korea. I was afraid to try it, especially since it had mood lights in the toilet too. So I was brave and tried the toilet features. Interesting to say the least.

The flight arrived on time at about 6 pm in Hanada airport near Tokyo. The plan was that we would take the train from the airport to the city center, Shibuya, or Times Square of NYC. We filled out the forms and deplaned. When we arrived near customs, they asked for the downloaded items for MySOS and cocoa, we showed them our vaccination card and they pointed us to the right. Most likely, due to Covid we couldn’t leave the airport. So we had until 1:25 AM to occupy our time. And it was about 2AM our time. We were in the International terminal on a Saturday night. There were very few people around. We found a sort of food court and had some drinks. There we did some more planning and we felt very overwhelmed with all that we wanted to do. A plan was shaping but by 8 pm, neither of us could stay awake. We found some seats, suitable for sleeping on and slept for a couple hours. Maybe planning and sleeping until 1AM and then we boarded the next 5.5 hour flight. We will land at 5:30AM to start our first day in Vietnam! And btw, the toilets had all the bidet feature plus music while you used the toilets.