Adventures as Miss Saigon

Hoi An, Hue and the inbetween

Posted on: March 11, 2011

My second cousin from England arrived in HCMC on Thursday the 17th. I met her at the airport on my lunch break from work, and got her back to my apartment so she could rest…all went fairly smoothly with meeting her at the busy HCMC airport! On the Friday night, we, along with Wendy, flew to Hoi An for the weekend. After a delayed flight to Hoi An (yay Jetstar), we quickly settled into our hotel (as the town seemed to be closed for the night when we arrived at 11pm).

After a quiet breakfast overlooking the river the next morning, we set out to explore Hoi An. I was not surprised to discover how quickly I fell in love with the old buildings, restaurants, shopping, and general “feel” of this town. Located in central Vietnam, Hoi An was designated a Unesco World Heritage area in 1999 and is a busy tourist area today, specializing in custom made clothing and shoes in less than 24 hours. We wandered around the streets, into little shops, and visited some of the Old Town sights, including the modern-day icon of Hoi An (the Japansese Covered Bridge), the Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation, Tan Ky House, the Museum of Trading Ceramics, the Hoi An Museum of History and Culture, and the Quan Cong Temple. We ate dinner in a fabulous little restaurant that initially turned us away as we didn’t have a reservation (this has never happened to me in Vietnam!), but then they called us right back as they found a table for us.

hoi an river

hoi an river

famous covered bridge...hoi an's trademark symbol, also found on the 20,000 dong bill

street in hoi an

cyclos on the street

embroidery art

street in hoi an

street in hoi an

street in hoi an

lots and lots of lanterns

lantern shops in hoi an

Sunday morning, we arranged a car to take us to Marble Mountain, which is located on the China Beach coastal road. On the mountain are various caves and pagodas, and it made for an interesting climb. After arriving back to Hoi An, we enjoyed a quiet and relaxing lunch before my cousin caught her bus to Hue, and I went to my afternoon cooking class.

elevator being built at marble mountain..."for the americans" haha

it's like buddha on a mountain

My cooking class was a definite highlight! When I signed up for it on Saturday afternoon, I got to pick my menu items and was excited to learn to make fresh veggie spring rolls with sweet and sour fish sauce, pho bo (Vietnamese beef noodle soup), Hoi An chicken fried rice (a Hoi An specialty) and Vietnamese style banana pancakes. Sadly, I wasn’t feeling well for most of Sunday, so I didn’t get to fully enjoy the fabulous food that we made. My cooking teacher, Vina, was adorable and hilarious (openly making fun of the obnoxious older woman that joined my cooking lesson). If anyone wants the recipes, let me know!

fresh veggie spring rolls and fish sauce

pho bo

hoi an chicken fried rice

hoi an cooking class

Our flight home that night was, surprise surprise, delayed again (yay Jetstar). We were supposed to arrive home at a decent time, but instead didn’t make it to our apartments until close to 3am. The following week at work was rough, trying to deal with the lack of sleep! Check out Wendy’s blog for her amazing pictures of Hoi An…every picture is postcard worthy!

The next weekend was spent in HCMC. Friday night, I went rock climbing with Laura at my friend’s rock climbing gym, and then Laura and I went out for drinks at the Tavern and Banana Bar. Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool with an under-the-weather-Wendy, followed by dinner with Laura and Kathryn. My cousin arrived back in HCMC on Sunday night, and we enjoyed a few more meals together and a fabulous pedi before she had to fly home on Tuesday afternoon.

rock climbing at push

mr t and i at banana bar

ms laura and i at banana bar

pretty pedi

This past weekend, Laura, Wendy and I had an early Saturday morning flight to Hue. This time, Jetstar was not delayed! We found a cheap hotel ($12usd for the three of us to share a room for the night) and set out to wander around. We ended up on a boat trip to visit the Royal Tombs, Thien Mu Pagoda, and the Citadel and Imperial Enclosure. Hue was given Unesco World Heritage status in 1993, and was the captial of the Nguyen emperors. Our first stop on the boat tour was the Tomb of Tu Duc, constructed between 1864 and 1867. Interesting facts about Tu Duc… 1) he had 104 wives and countless concubines, but no offspring, 2) Tu Duc was tiny…the larger of two thrones on display at the Tomb was for the empress, and statues throughout the Tomb were made shorter than the emperor, 3) the emperor is not actually buried in the Tomb…the site where his remains were buried (along with great treasure) is not known…to keep it a secret from grave robbers, all of the 200 servants who buried the king were beheaded.

boat tours in hue

look mom! swan rides!!!

boat driver bailing water out of the boat!

vietnamese scarecrows...rain ponchos and conical hats crack me up!

more scarecrows

water buffalo

making incense

incense en route to royal tombs

at the royal tombs with the little statues...photo cred laura and her fancy camera

emperor's throne

at the royal tombs...photo cred laura and her fancy camera

The Citadel and Imperial Enclosure left a little to be desired in my mind. There wasn’t any tourist-y information to give you any background on what you were looking at and the significance of it…in fact, looking at Lonely Planet’s description, I’m not even sure if we were in the Imperial Enclosure or not!

citadel

From there, we hopped on motorbike taxis and went for a great vegetarian dinner, followed by drinks at a bar on the way back to our hotel. An early night and a bit of a sleep in set the stage for a very relaxing Sunday, hanging out on street corner bars/cafes chatting with the girls before catching our flight back to HCMC.

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