Day 6 – Hoi An

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Did we go shopping? Yes, we did go shopping! While being a Unesco-World Heritage place with beautiful buildings in an ancient town, Hoi An is also the shopping capital… Tailors, made-to-measure shoes… you name it. Strange thing is, as a customer you get that amazing feeling that they really want to “win” you…

 

Day 5 – Da Lat with Ang

Zen Cafe recommended hiring a guide  – which turned out to be the right thing… Today we got everything from waterfalls to Zen monks, from the King’s summer house to a Salvador Dali type of “Crazy House”. And we had a long chat to Axel, the German who owns both the Zen Cafe and the Zen Lakeside Appartments – an amazing Swiss Cottage style place by a lake a few miles away from Da Lat. That certainly helped us to get an “everyday perspective” on life in Vietnam.

A day full of crossroads… culturally as well as literary… Let the pictures speak for themselves.img_1135 img_1148 img_1170 img_1175 img_1177 img_1185 img_1221 img_1230 img_1264img_1254 img_1266

Day 4 – Mui Ne to Da Lat

The hotel organized a driver for us to take us to Da Lat. The short clip below very much shows a true representation of the roads… As much as the cities and tourist resorts are very much “globalized” you can still see – what seems to be – fairly basic rural structures in the countryside. A lot of life, roadside cafes and small shops along the main roads.

The “Zen Cafe” that we found as our home in Da Lat is run by a German – it’s got three rooms so the place is 33% full now. We had dinner in a beautifully weird restaurant full of modern art and had some excellent cappuccino in a student-type cafe. They even have a giant cucumber here – which turned out to be an artichoke..

 

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Day 3-Ho-Chi-Minh-City to Mui Ne

It’s actually quite amazing what you read on tripadvisor and such – most of it is really helpful and realistic – other comments just seem to have experienced very different things from what we experienced using similar services or hotels…

The sleeper bus company that you see below (and that we travelled on from Saigon to Mui Ne) had the most frightful reviews… We, actually, found it very good – on time, clean and safe. So we spent 4 pleasant hours in our sleeper seats and were dropped of right in front of our “beach resort” Hiep Hoa. Once again, VERY pleasant people, very helpful, welcoming and understanding in every way – even when we decided not to stay two, but only one night. The reason for that very simply laid in the fact that Mui Ne is a beachside town ( a line from a Smith’s song springs to mind…) like so many other beachside towns… Long beaches, cheap drinks and – in our case – bad wheather.

So: let’s hit the road.

 

 

 

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Ho-Chi-Minh-City – Day 2

Those of you we talked to before our journey might remember: there’s a bit of an autobiografic aspect to this trip… As a child I had a Vietnamese friend who lived in our block of flats. After having lost his leg (I think he was 14 when I got to know him) in the war, he was flown out by a German support Organisation and then adopted by a German Couple who lived upstairs from us.

Obviously, visiting the “War Remnants Museum” put a few things into context. I very much remember how vividly he hated the Americans – quite puzzling for me as an 11-year-old. Looking at the images and stories to be found in the museum no big surprise, really.

Apart from that, excellent food, amazing encounters, too much noise.img_1040img_1057

Saigon – Day 1

Rather than the usual list of sights and things we’ve eaten I thought I’ll try and find one picture to try and sum up the day… This – slightly blurry – picture was taken in a Cuban (!) bar in downtown Saigon – really friendly people, great drinks and a Vietnamese business woman sitting by the bar enjoying a cigar that – the landlord claims – was rolled on the premises with real Cuban tobacco. Not only did this bar remind me of a holiday with my friend Keith in Tuscany many years back (when his highlight after many churches was a bar where we ate chips and watched football…) but it also shows the fact that a) you can feel at home wherever you are and b) we have arrived in Saigon but maybe not yet in Vietnam…

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