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Friday, November 23, 2012

My Water Puppets

 I have been hunting around for a few quality pieces to take home with us when we leave and when I came across these I fell instantly in love. Apparently they are about 25 years old and even though I found them in Saigon they were originally used in Hanoi where the beautiful art of Vietnamese water puppetry originated.  They were surprisingly inexpensive at about $25 each and I can almost picture them already as a feature piece at our home in Australia.  I especially love the fact that the shop I found them in is a big old dusty one and I really had to scavenge around to find them.  It felt like a real discovery.  I know that when I look at them in years to come they will instantly transport me back here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Vung Tau Weekend Getaway

There are not too many "WOW" weekend getaways out of Saigon that do not require a trip to the airport.  Vung Tau is probably the closest beach to HCMC and the quickest last minute getaway from HCMC.  Vung Tau, Vungers, Vung it what you will, but it kind of polarises people.  Most people hate it.  Some love it...but most hate it.  I can even quantify that by saying I know people that live there and even THEY are not too fond of it.  So, which are we?  Well, it really depends on what you are expecting.  Keep your expectations low and you will never be disappointed right?  Sometimes you just need to get away and the only requirement is a nice pool.  If that is the case then Vung Tau can fit the bill.  We stayed at the Imperial Hotel on the back beach and it was lovely as always.  But I am getting ahead of myself a bit.  Lets take a step back.
To get to Vung Tau it is about a 2.5hr road trip or you can hop on one of the old Russian built Hydrofoils.  We have done this trip before on the hydrofoils and I just want to make something VERY clear.  Personally, I will NEVER....EVER go on one of those again.  In a nutshell, my personal opinion is that they are a disaster waiting to happen.  On the way home there was actually WATER coming in from God knows where and soaking the floor.  The kids were looking at me in fear and I had to play it cool but my heart was racing and scanning the exits.  Seriously folks, please think twice before taking the hydrofoil. They are old and from what I can see falling apart and being nursed through each trip.  Hire a car and driver for $70, whack on a DVD and take your chances on the road.  Believe it or not...I think it is safer.   Mum, pop a valium...I know I took you and dad on it when you were here but it was no where near as bad back then.  Don't worry...we won't do it again.

OK.  So now that my very dramatic opinion/rant is over....we made it (somehow) and the Imperial were there waiting to pick us up. 

Half an hour later we were by the pool watching the sun go down.  Nice.

Surfboards optional...daddys are not.

After a nice Italian dinner at Davids (the woodfired pizza were great) and an early night, we got up next morning bright and early to climb one of the few tourist attractions around...the Jesus Statue.  
Nearly one thousand steps saw me thinking I was going to melt into a puddle.

Perhaps these are the names of the people who didn't make it?

And there is the big fella.  Great view from the top with mercifully cold drinks for sale as well as more kinds of rosary beads than you could poke a crucifix at.

Apparently Scarlett and Jesus are both very popular with tourists.

Whilst my legs had given up the ghost, Nick and Quiddy took it a step further (pun intended) and climbed up the inside to the top of the big man himself.

We spent the rest of the afternoon having a few cold beers at Tommys Bar followed by a relax by the pool.  Things turned a little nasty when my poor little fella came running back from the beach scratching like something out of a cartoon.  We took his rash vest off to find his torso absolutely covered in red bites.  The staff were great bringing over fresh lime to rub on the bites, telling us it was jelly fish.  It looked more like sea lice to me but what would I know.  I had some antihistamine back in the room as well as some "Stingoes".  Within an hour they had all but disappeared.  Back to Tommys for dinner and some life music from Yang.  We spent the sunday morning by the pool also and took the 2.30pm ferry home (2 hours....2 HOURS....of pretending not to be terrified for the kids.  I swear if I had known about the water on the way over I would have WALKED back to Saigon!).  So anyway, that was our little getaway.  Not sure if I will head back to Vungers again before we leave specifically for holiday purposes.  We are definite starters for the ANZAC day AFL footy match there next April though.  Don't worry mum....I'm NOT getting the ferry!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Luke Nguyen - The new host of Masterchef Vietnam!

I was lucky enough recently to bump into Vietnamese/Australian chef Luke Nguyen at Xu Bar.  Luke is quite well known in Australia due to his cooking series Luke Nguyen's Vietnam and also his award winning Sydney restaurant Red Lantern. He also happens to be a lovely guy! He was actually born in Thailand after his parents fled Vietnam in 1978 as boat people. In his spare time he runs 13 day culinary tours through Vietnam for adventurous cooks.  I'm tipping his spare time will be reduced significantly as he has just been named as the Co-Host of Vietnams very first "Masterchef".  It begins filming in December and I'm sure "Vua Dau Bep", as it will be known here, will be a ratings winner and Luke will become a household name.  Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke.  Good luck mate!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dropping Out in Phu Quoc

Apologies everyone!  Yes, I'm still around and living the dream in Saigon.  Life has just been CRAZY!  We have had an amazing array of visitors from all over the world in the last month and it has kept us on our toes.  That combined with a lightning visit back to Aus has found me neglecting my blog.  I promise I am back now and will be posting much more regularly.  Until then here are a few snaps from a quick get away to the amazing Phu Quoc where we stayed at Cassia Cottage and got away from it all.  Enjoy!
View from our villa

Our villa..

We could not get her out of the water

Never let a bit of rain get in the way of a great holiday!

While we were away the kids mastered the art of chess.  They are now obsessed!




Sao Beach....paradise!

and of course Phu Quoc pepper!

Night Market.