A Travellerspoint blog

back home again!


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It is already way after midnight when we leave Hong Kong behind us and I must admit that I was really tired after such a long day.

As we boarded the plane a few minutes ago, we noticed we had the last seats in the plane and although this could be a good sign, as soon as we tried to recline the seats, our first problem appeared.

I was the lucky one cuz mine could recline a bit, but Tania’s seat on the other hand couldn’t recline at all. When we turned to a stewardess about the problem, she told us straight she knew there was a problem but because the plane was full, we couldn’t be placed somewhere else … just our luck I guess!?

Much in need for some sleep, I closed my eyes and hoped that this flight would be over soon, but of course, when you wish for something … you’ll never get it!

I kept most of the time tossing and turning, finding a suitable place to sleep, but it just wasn’t working and to top everything off, I was freezing cold as well. I asked for an extra blanket and for the first time ever, I even used an extra pair of socks. It was just soooo freezing cold!

At a given point I just stopped trying to sleep and instead I returned to watching a movie and I must admit that “Hansel & Gretel : the witch hunters” wasn’t such a bad movie choice after all and it kept me awake the whole time.

Halfway the flight or maybe a little bit over it, Tania awoke as well, telling me that her left foot was hurting. Strange to say the least, but as soon as we turned on the light, we noticed that both her feet were really swollen. This is not a good thing, not good at all!!!!!

I guess the reason was because we were cramped in our position and the only reasonable thing I could think of was the fact that her feet must be placed higher, so we placed her left leg up onto my lap so that her other leg had more space. It wasn’t really comfortable, but if it does the trick, we were happy campers!

About a few hours later when the stewardesses came around to serve breakfast, we noticed somewhat of an improvement. Her feet were still swollen, but not as bad as a few hours ago.

I wasn’t really up to having something to eat, but I did manage to eat a bit of yogurt and fresh fruit and I was more than glad to get rid of the plate with food in front of me. I guess me and airplane food just don’t go together, always have been and always will be!

Because we only have about 2 hours left, I turn myself to a bit of entertainment again and this time I choose a television show with Sir Richard Attenborough in the leading roll. It is fun to watch his show and to learn a bit more about his 10 most favorite animals.

As soon as the show finishes, the captain announces that we are going to land in a couple of minutes, talking about timing!

Like always, everything goes smoothly and in no-time we have our bags. Tania was a bit nervous of going through customs because of the fake items she bought a while ago, but it seems that they only have eye for the Asian people coming into the country, so we can pass the area with ease!

Before we catch our shuttle back to the Marriott hotel, we first have one last cup of coffee at Starbucks and I must say that it feels like holiday again and although this time it is sadly enough finished, we can still look back at an awesome adventure so to speak, so in the end I am one happy camper.

Once back at the hotel, we immediately notice Tania’s car and as soon as we get the keys back, we are ready for the drive back home.

Unfortunately Tania’s feet are still swollen, but somehow we managed to get back to her parent’s house in Schelle. Because Tania is still a bit worried when it concerns her feet, she calls her doctor the minute after we said hi to her mother and it turns out she is in luck and can come over immediately.
For once we have an odd goodbye, but just like Tania, I am a bit concerned that more is going on than meets the eye, so in a way I am glad she is on her way to get a professional opinion on what is going on!

Together with Tania’s mum I have a nice conversation about our trip and just about everything in general and in the meantime Tania’s dad even arrives from his cycling trip, just minutes before my own parents arrive.

After half an hour we say goodbye to each other while Tania is still in the waiting room. Sadly enough we can't wait for her return cuz the three of us need to go back home. I have to admit, it is with mixed feelings this time since we are all concerned when it comes to Tania’s health.

The drive back home is a sad one and I wonder how she is doing, but a few hours later I get a call that things aren’t life threatening … I must admit, it is the best news I heard all day!

It is not the perfect way to end the day, but hearing such a thing makes it a good one nevertheless!

Posted by Ils1976 02:57 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

goodbye rainy Hong Kong, till we meet again

Once again our alarm clock went off at about 7.30 AM, but just like yesterday the both of us where not in a hurry to get out of bed. Who could blame us … one look outside the window said enough really! It was raining cats and dogs, so we wisely decided to snooze a little bit longer, but after more than an hour of just lying there, we felt the moment was right to go and discover another part of this amazing city.

Not that the rain gods were a big help cuz after we had yet again a more than delicious breakfast and managed to check out without a problem, we went outside and guess what … it was raining!!! No surprise really, but I was already thankful that it was only a light drizzle.

Instead of walking all the way towards Central Pier like yesterday, today we wisely took the subway and within minutes we arrived at our destination.

As we are walking towards the exit, there is a monotone voice warning us for the slip hazard and just as I was thinking what the heck is she talking about, reality hit us in the face! It looked like a real flood outside and although we brought umbrellas with us, they are just plain useless.

Luckily we had a few ponchos as well and although we looked a bit stupid in them, they turned out to be our best bet of the day.

In a hurry we walk or should I say run towards the Central Pier to take shelter from the heavy rain. It seems that our coach is waiting for us and to our surprise we even notice a few familiar faces. It looks like those Norwegian guys we met yesterday are also in the mood for another bus trip, as well as the two English speaking ladies we met earlier.

So it looks like we are all going to take the green line towards Stanley market and Aberdeen!

We first cross a few sights we saw yesterday already but as soon as we leave the city centre behind us, we can go and explore new horizons. Southwards it is!

First stop of the day is Ocean Park and although it looks alluring, it is still raining outside, so the smart thing to do is just give this one a miss … it makes for a good choice to come back some day.

Next up is Stanley market and since the weather has changed for the better, we all get out and have a look at what this place has to offer. It is but a short walk to the small centre of this town and although some streets look a bit abandoned, we easily find the market and like all the markets we have seen before, here you have a nice selection of touristy things only this time without the hassle of bargaining over prices.

Tania is a bit tempted to buy a small trolley but she is a bit reluctant when it comes to carrying the thing around a whole day so … it seems that it will be for some other day.

As we are walking towards the end of the covered market, we discover the small bay of Stanley, but sadly enough the rain clouds are also back, so the best thing for us to do at this moment is to move on.

We walk for a while on the boulevard of the place crossing a few small restaurants at the waterfront and at the end of it, we even notice a very modern shopping mall.

It is still a bit early for lunch, but a cup of coffee is something entirely different. As we are walking inside a Mc Café, we also notice something sweet and since we both have fond memories of those Australian lamingtons, we both go for one. Sadly enough the taste is not the same like half a year ago, but hey … at least we can say we gave it a try!

Getting out of the shopping mall is a bit more difficult, but after a bit of searching we do find a way out as well and in a slow pace we walk back towards the bus stop. Funny enough we even see those Norwegian guys again as well as the two ladies and with the six of us, we drive towards Aberdeen.

We all have a voucher for a Sampan ride and as soon as we all get out, we only have to wait for a few minutes before our boat arrives.

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Our boat’s lady doesn’t speak one word of English, but with a few hand gestures we all understand one other and as soon as we leave for a trip around the harbour we get to know each other a bit better as well. It seems that one of the English speaking ladies is from Australia and met her friend many decades ago and still they travel from time to time together. It is so nice to see that me and Tania aren’t a dying breed! :)

As we are boating around the many local fishing boats, we have quite a good look at the skyscrapers, but sadly enough also of the many dark clouds hovering above us. It looks like we aren’t going to keep this one dry and just as I was thinking that, the rain came pouring down.

The rain gods really have it in for us because it is even getting worse and we all have to hide inside close to the boat’s lady. My gosh, I have never seen so much rain … it looks more like a flood than anything else but luckily we can wait inside the boat till our bus arrives and then it is on our way again to the centre of the city!

Driving along the coastline is supposed to be fun, but not when it is raining and certainly not when you have a driver who thinks he is the next Michael Schumacher.

On the other hand you have to hand it to him, he makes sure we are back in no time and a wonder even occurs when the rain is almost gone. This is a good a sign as ever to take the ferry across, not my favourite transportation but hey ... it brings us to Kowloon, so I am not really complaining.

Once back on solid ground we are disappointed again with the weather … rain comes pouring down again and we hide out at one of the local shopping malls. It is already way in the afternoon now and as we both are getting hungry, we resort to a place called “Spaghetti House” which serves all kinds of Italian dishes which aren’t that bad at all.

We both want to go and look up the Avenue of Stars again. Last night we visited it by dark, but I hope to get a nice picture of the infamous Bruce Lee statue by day, but once again, the minute we walk out of the door, it starts to rain … for crying out loud, when is it finally going to end????

Luckily I have my umbrella with me because I don’t want to put on another poncho, but after walking a few minutes, there is no way out … my umbrella is lost because of the wind and it is time for my next poncho … it’s quite funny cuz I already lost track of time on how many I used today! I am sure it is going to be some sort of a record!

As good as it gets we walked down the entire boulevard in the rain hoping to catch the next bus and tour at the Golden Arches. Once again we have to wait quite a long time, it seems to take forever, but praise the Lord, about an hour later, it finally arrives.

Our last tour is going to be the Kowloon tour, but it seems that just like yesterday we are stuck in traffic. It takes forever to get somewhere and at a given point we just gave up and got out of the bus and walked back towards the ferry for our ride back to Hong Kong Island.

Back on the main island, we are now in the final stage of our holiday. We only have a few hours left and because we want to do a bit of shopping or should  I say window shopping in my case, we walk back towards the Wan Chai area.

As we are walking, we realise that time is just too short to walk all the way back, so instead we take the subway towards Wan Chai.

Thinking this is a smart move, we go above ground again only to be utterly disappointed when it turns out we went out at a wrong area. Instead of the shops we wanted, the only thing we notice are bathroom stores and stores for household equipment. Not exactly the thing we need at the moment.
Since we don’t have much time again to wander through the many districts of Hong Kong, the only thing left for us to do, is go back towards our hotel but not before we have one last visit to the Golden Arches.

Because we don’t have time for an elaborate meal this is just what we need and while Tania goes for a chicken wrap, I myself go for the infamous Ceasar Salade. Both still a bit hungry, we go for the ice cream as well which we finish along the way towards the hotel.

When we arrive back at the hotel we have about half an hour left which is just fine to change our clothes and by the time we got all our things sorted, it is time to leave rainy Hong Kong behind us … in a way I am glad, but on the other hand I am a bit sad as well … this can only be seen as a good sign and I am sure that one day I will be back. After all, there are still many districts that need to be explored.

Our transfer bus is quite on time and to my surprise we are the first ones on the bus. I only hope that we don’t have to wait too long for the other passengers and a few minutes later, my worst nightmare turns out to be reality. It seems we have to wait for one more person, but he takes his time, that’s for sure. After a few minutes of waiting, the driver leaves us both alone and goes in search for the missing person … my god, I hope he arrives soon cuz otherwise we are going to miss our flight!

Almost half an hour later, he shows up … the both of us give the guy a dirty look and then we can finally go on the move again towards the airport where we arrive about yet another half an hour later.

Check-in goes rather smoothly and before we even know it we are through customs and have still a bit of time on our hands. If we only knew, we could easily have eaten here. Oh well, nothing we can do about it now, instead we go for one last drink.

We both opt for the mango frappe, but boy it is really freezing … a few brain freezes later, we have one last stroll towards the gate, ready to fly home!

Posted by Ils1976 02:45 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

raindrops keep falling on our heads


View Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a north to south journey - 2013 on Ils1976's travel map.

Although we didn’t had a wake-up call anymore, we still set one of our own. I know this sounds a little bit strange, but we only have 2 days here in Hong Kong and seeing we both wanted to make the most out of these few days, this was the only smart thing to do.

Our alarm clock went off at about 7.30 AM but as soon as we opened the curtains to have a look outside, we noticed the terrible weather … my gosh, I hope this is going to change cuz I’m not looking forward to spending an entire day in this rainy weather.

To us it looked like an ideal moment to snooze a little bit longer, but eventually we had to get out of bed if we wanted to see something of the city, so we slowly got dressed and looked up the right floor to have breakfast, only to be surprised a few minutes later.

The breakfast area was huge with lots of yummy things and it goes without saying that we made kind of a brunch out of it. We just couldn’t get enough of all the choices which were in front of us and who could blame us, the atmosphere inside was a whole lot better than the one outside!

I guess it must have been about an hour later when we noticed a little bit of an improvement in the weather and we took our changes to explore the city of Hong Kong.

Since we were located in the outskirts of the city centre, we needed to walk quite a while till we reached the Central Pier, our goal for today. From here we could take the hop on / hop off bus, but it was not exactly an easy task getting there.

We had to adapt to just about everything, going from reading an incredibly bad tourist map, figuring out how to cross abnormal big overpasses, highways or just simply put bad roads with no footpaths to even defying the worst weather we had come across ever since we landed here in Asia.

But if I have to be honest, I have to admit that not all things were so bad. During our walk from hell we also saw some locals practising tai chi in Victoria Park, had a nice coffee break in a local Délifrance, discovered the beautiful buildings of the Tamar Government headquarters to even witness a strange habit of lying on the street in plain sight of everyone. To me this is amazing enough and worth coming to this place!

Upon our arrival at the Central Pier, we immediately noticed the tour buses and I guess the representatives also noticed the both of us cuz one of them came to us, hoping to sell a few tickets, which in the end he did. After all, how could we refuse, he offered us a great deal and since it was still raining cats and dogs, the decision was quickly made.

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Big bus tours offers three day tours and 1 night tour and since it looked like the weather wasn’t going to change, this was going to be our means of seeing something in the next day and a half.

It seemed we were even in luck since the next bus for the “Tour of Hong Kong Island” was going to leave in about half an hour and with all the raindrops that kept on falling on our heads, we quickly went inside to look for a good enough place to do some sightseeing!

Leaving from Central Pier, our first sightseeing of the day was the “Golden Bauhinia Square”, which is situated outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The square is named after its centrepiece, a giant statue of a golden Bauhinia Blakeana, Hong Kong’s national flower and it was at this exact spot that the handover ceremony between China and the UK took place. The sculpture was a gift from the Chinese government to Hong Kong to commemorate the return of the territory to the motherland after more than 150 years.

Next up is Causeway Bay and this is said to be the best area to be in when you are interested in shopping. Although it is still raining and shopping would seem to be the ideal thing to do, we aren’t really in the mood, even if they have the biggest department store there is.

Hong Kong has a lot of skyscrapers and as we pass a few of them, we also drive alongside the Wan Chai Computer Centre only to end up at the next hop off point, the “Peak Tram”. At this point you can take a tram all the way up to “the peak”, situated about 396 meters above sea level and moreover the highest point on the entire island.

Since it stopped raining, Tania wanted to give this one a go and in a way she was right cuz you’ll never know when you have a dry moment, so after waiting for a few minutes for our tram to arrive, we first had to defy an obnoxious Asian family before we could get seated and enjoy the ride and more specifically the views!

Taking pictures on the way up was a hard thing to do, but as soon as we arrived at our destination, we went on the lookout for a better spot. This seemed to be the Sky Terrace, which sadly enough didn’t come free, but once you passed that obstacle, you’ll get rewarded with more than enough stunning views.

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Although the views were more than amazing, we just couldn’t stay here all day and as soon as we left the viewing platform, we grabbed a bite to eat and went on our way down again.

Sadly enough the weather changed on us as well and as we are waiting for a bus which obviously isn’t in a real hurry to come, we start to get wet again and while my head is filled with all the swearwords I can think of, I am but a tad glad to see that stupid Big Bus logo after waiting for more than an hour in the rain!

Not only me and Tania hurry inside the bus, we have at least 50 followers and instead of going all the way up to the upper deck like most of them, the both of us wisely stay behind the driver.

We are so glad to be on the move again, but as the rain comes pouring down, we unfortunately have to skip the famous escalators and instead we get out at the Man Mo temple, which happens to be the oldest one on the island.

According to our schedule we have about half an hour to visit this Taoist temple dedicated to the God of Literature and the God of War. Strange combo if you ask me, but although the temple looks very dark, I immediately liked the many incense coils hanging on the ceiling.

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Once we’ve got back on the bus, we drove all the way back to our starting point at the Central Pier but as soon as we left the bus, it seemed like someone up there was not in a good mood because within seconds a torrential rain came down on us. It surely made us doubt if there was ever going to be a chance to watch the infamous “Symphony of Lights” but as we stepped on the night tour bus towards Kowloon, the weather changed for the better.

Heavy rains were gone, but instead we had to deal with severe traffic jams and as soon as we reached Nathan Road, the both of us decided to hop off.

It was either being on the night tour bus for the whole evening or watch the sound & light show and to us the latter was more important, so with half an hour to spare we decided to warm up a bit at the local Starbucks.

It felt so good sitting inside with a cup of hot delicious fluid in front of me and the best thing about is that when we stepped outside again the rain was gone!

The rain gods somehow agreed with us (for the first time that is!!!) and while we walked along the Avenue of Stars, we had a magnificent view on the skyline of Hong Kong. It goes without saying that we took as many pictures as possible and in the meantime also tried to look for a good enough spot to watch the sound & light show.

At exactly 8 PM the show begins and although the rain is gone, there are still many clouds which unfortunately ruin the effects of the lasers. The light is still present but if I have to be honest, I have to say that I expected more of it. Nevertheless, it was entertaining!

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Now that we were here in Kowloon, we still wanted to see the night market on Temple Street, but in order to get there, we had a fairly long walk ahead of us, not that something like that ever stops us from visiting a certain place! :)

As soon as we reached Nathan Road, we knew we were in the vicinity of Jordan Road which eventually would lead us to the night market but first we tried to look for a bite to eat. All that walking made us hungry and as soon as we walked in one of the side streets of Nathan Road, we saw a small dark eatery by the name of Ned Kelly’s Last Stand.

Having so much fun memories of Oz as well as the food, we wanted to give this joint a try and once inside, we were even in luck to find a free table. Since it was still happy hour, I ordered a cider which tasted more than yummy. We had to wait quite a while for our food to arrive, but once it did, I must say that it was a major disappointment. Luckily there was a live jazz band who played some awesome music, otherwise the evening would have surely be an entire waste of time.

Once outside again, we walked further down the street towards the night market only to arrive at the spot about a few minutes later and although it was very busy and a lot of people were up and about, I kind of missed the Asian atmosphere that usually surrounds such a place. 

We have a quick look around and even end up buying a few USB sticks, but that is about it.

It is almost midnight when we walk back towards the nearest subway and to our surprise we even arrive faster at our hotel than expected, which isn’t exactly an entirely bad thing because after a bit of reorganising and a splash around the bath tub it is almost 2 AM and time for me to close my eyes since I was completely exhausted after such a long day!

Posted by Ils1976 02:27 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

farewell to the land of spring rolls


View Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a north to south journey - 2013 on Ils1976's travel map.

It’s 5.30 AM when our alarm clock goes off and although it is pretty early and I have difficulties with keeping my eyes open, I am glad we still have one full day here in this beautiful country.

Today is our last day here in Vietnam! I can’t believe how time has flown and I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to see so many beautiful and interesting things and the good thing about it, is that we still keep on exploring cuz today we are going to visit a floating market.

We all needed to be downstairs at the lobby at 6 AM and I am surprised to notice that we all made it in time, except for Richard and Lorein. It seems that our youngsters have difficulties with the alarm clock as well, but who can blame them, after all it is pretty early.

After trying to call them a couple of times, we get a positive answer that they are on their way to meet us, so a little after 6 we are on our way towards the boat.

It is not a far walk to the boat and once we’ve arrived there, we still needed to wait for a few minutes. It seems that either we are early or our captain is late. Whatever is the case, I don’t mind it at all because it gives me the chance to wake up properly.

As soon as our large boat is docked, we all jump aboard and leave again to have a pleasant outing on the river.

The views on the way towards the market are amazing, but sadly enough the weather isn’t. Dark clouds are everywhere and it looks like it could start raining any minute. Most of our group are hiding inside the boat, but me and Tania together with a few others dare the weather gods and sit outside at the back of the boat.

I guess in a way this was kind of a mistake because after just being a few minutes on the water, the wife of the captain comes over with a big plate full of trinkets. To me it all looks a bit like junk but hey, that’s just my personal opinion!

She is trying her utmost to sell as much as possible but none of us are really interested. That doesn’t mean she is a quitter though and in a way I have to admire her perseverance. After watching her using an outdated hair clip in more ways than one, she still takes no for an answer and tries to sell her jewellery, plastic bracelets or whatever more she brought along with.

After minutes of saying NO to her, she finally gets the picture and goes back inside, probably to try her chances with the rest of our group.

The good thing about the whole ordeal is the fact that we’ve got closer to the market than we first expected and just after mere minutes, the first boats appeared.

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Unlike the small rowing boats we once saw a decade ago in Thailand, here you mostly see large vessels completely stacked with food or other valuables. It is thriving business as usual here in Vietnam and it really is a sight for the eye!

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I have to admit that I have been a bit reluctant towards all the early wake-up calls we had the last couple of weeks, but when you are out here in the middle of the hustle and bustle of daily life, it sure is all worth it!

From time to time a few of the smaller motor boats try their chances with us tourists as well and hope to sell their goodies, though most of the time it is just snacks and drinks they offer.

After boating a while, even Tania gives it a go and buys an ice coffee and I was a bit surprised to see that the friendly woman conjured one in just over a minute. It seems that even here the main keyword is “time is money”!

But at least they offer it with a smile, that means a lot of course!

As we wave goodbye to the friendly woman in the back, another one has taken her chances in front of the boat and tries to sell a couple of pineapples, which I have to admit tasted very yummy.

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It seems we have been quite a while on the water because after we’ve finished our piece of pineapple, our captain boats away from the market only to drop us off again a few meters further down the river at another market, on land this time!

We get a few minutes to have a look around this one as well and it is fun to try and look for things we haven’t seen before and just like on the water it is thriving business here as well.

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Our bus is waiting on the parking lot behind the market and once we are all inside, it only takes us a few minutes to arrive back at our hotel. We still have a good few hours to enjoy breakfast and pack our stuff but since I already did this last night, I enjoyed a quick shower instead.

At 10 AM it was time to leave the city of Can Tho behind us and start our last road trip of this journey all the way back towards the airport of HCMC.
Once we’ve crossed the huge bridge, we drove for about half an hour when Albert all of a sudden told us there was a possibility to go and visit a communist cemetery. It seemed we weren’t far away from a large one and while I got all my hopes up of visiting one, I got majorly disappointed upon our arrival.

It seemed that the cemetery was closed and since climbing over the fences wasn’t an option, we had to skip the whole idea. Bummer!!!

Back on the road again, we drove for a couple more hours when all of a sudden we needed to park on the side of the road. Our driver and busboy hurried outside to have a look at the back of the bus and while this is happening, our tour rep Albert mentions to all of us that there is a problem with our bus.

It seems that we don’t need to worry much because our Vietnamese guys are going to solve it. If they can fix it, we are out of here in a jiffy, if not … well, lets just say that I am glad we stopped near a truckers rest stop with lots of hammocks and a possibility to have a drink and go to the toilet even if it is a men’s one!

One thing I learned about being in this country, is always to be positive but I have to admit it is really difficult sometimes!!

While most of the group is trying out the hammocks, I walk towards the bus to have a look around and when I see Long lying on the ground underneath the bus, I know there must be something wrong with the clutch. Although it seems to take a while, I am surprised to see how quick he manages to solve the problem and I guess within less than half an hour we are back on the road again.

Unfortunately the problem is bigger than expected and it seems that our hero’s of the day can only bring us as far as to our lunch appointment, which is only half an hour away. This sucks so much because they wanted to be there till the end. What a way to end our journey together. It is a real pity!

But at least we can say goodbye to them in a proper way as we wave them “adieu” after having once again a nice lunch and it seems that the weather is the same like our feelings. Dark clouds are hanging all over the place and it is raining cats and dogs!

Our new driver is a quite one and I must even admit that I forgot his name, but what I do now is that he wants to be in HCMC in a hurry cuz his driving style isn’t something you get used to. My got, I think my lunch is coming out the wrong way!!!

I guess we are driving for about an hour now and I am more than glad to notice the suburbs of the city again.

Before our race driver is going to drop us off at the airport, we first are going back to a small lacquerware factory. It seems that our tour rep insists on us getting a closer look at the place and this time around there are indeed even workers on the premises.

Their work is without a doubt that of a real artist but unfortunately some of the “artwork” is a little bit too bright for me.

While our group is still inside, Tania and I decide to wait a while on the bench outside and within minutes even a few others followed our idea.

As soon as we are all outside again, we say goodbye to Onno and Marieke, who are the first ones to leave our group. Instead of going back with us to the airport, they have a private taxi awaiting, which brings them back to Mui Ne.

It is a sad goodbye and not even half an hour later we have a few other ones. This time it’s Chiang and Albert’s turn, who stay behind as well as Rinneke and Ruud, who are flying towards Cambodia. This seems such an awesome destination as well, but unfortunately it will have to wait till another time.

Thanks to our race pilot of a driver, we are quite on time and after a bit of walking around the place, we finally arrive at the right desk to check-in.

Luckily this all went very smoothly and as soon as our luggage was gone, the both of us hurry to the first floor of the terminal, to have a bite to eat.

Besides fast food and Asian dishes, there are a few bakeries as well and I tried my luck with a tuna sandwich which was quite delicious. In a way it had to be cuz the prices here are sky high. You would hardly believe you were in the same country!

Since we need to get rid of our last Dongs, we treat ourselves to a nice dessert as well, so in a way I can only say … mission accomplished!

There is still some time to do some window shopping, but since most of the shops sell the same thing or should I say junk ???, we slowly walked to our designated gate!

Upon our arrival we noticed an empty space outside. Normally our plane should be there, but instead the only thing we see, is the sky getting darker and darker. It doesn’t really come as a surprise when they announce a 40 minute delay which in the end turns out to be a delay of an hour.

As soon as everyone was settled, we could leave for Hong Kong, which was mine as well as Tania’s final destination of the day!

During our 2 hours flight I watched a few episodes of Elementary and I must say that I was glad to hear our captain announcing that we were almost at HK airport. I was completely knackered and the only thing on my mind was to close my eyes.

After saying goodbye to the rest of the group, the two of us walked in sort of sleepwalking mode towards customs and as soon as we passed that, the only thing left for us to do, was to wait till our luggage arrived. It took a bit longer than expected, but once we’ve got them, we quickly looked for an ATM to get us some HK Dollars.

With a bit of “security” on our bodies, we walked in one straight line towards the  “Vigor” desk, the company which provides the shuttle busses from the airport to the hotels in the city centre.

Upon our arrival, we notice an old man sitting behind the desk and as soon as we hand over the voucher, he simply says that there are no more shuttle busses. It seems we just missed the last one with only a few minutes. WTF ?????  He’s joking right !!???

It seems that our Hong Kong resident is dead serious and instead he suggest us to take a train and subway to our hotel, but this isn’t really an option if you ask me. We are both quite exhausted after such a long day and instead we just took a taxi to bring us.

The ride towards the hotel isn’t that long and upon our arrival we are even in luck seeing check-in goes very smoothly. After a day of having a few setbacks, it is nice to have something positive for a change.

Our room is located on the 23rd floor which is quite high if you ask me, but I was a bit too tired to notice it actually. As soon as we entered our room, we both jumped into our beds as quickly as we could and it didn’t take me more than a few seconds to fall asleep!

Posted by Ils1976 02:14 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Mekong, a trip to the south of the south


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Here it is again …. that awful alarm clock sound. Sometimes I try to beat it by waking up just a bit earlier, but like most days, today I am a looser once again!

Our departure time of today is at 7.30 AM, which basically means that we have more than enough time to wake up properly and have a relaxing breakfast as well.

When everyone is ready, we are good to go for another stretch of road further southwards, this time towards the Mekong delta or the Nine Dragon river delta like the locals love to call it.

Like always, I fall asleep only to wake up again a few hours later when we have our first stop of the day at one of the local roadhouses. This one even has a small fruit market and as soon as we all return from the ladies / gents room, Albert awaits us with a small surprise.

He bought a durian on the market and just in the nick of time, I see that they are already cutting the fruit. It is said that it smells like hell and tastes like heaven, but when they open the thing, I don’t smell anything. Thinking that this is kind of weird, Albert explains to us, that the smell is coming later on when it is opened for a while. If we like, we can get a spoonful of it so that we can have a taste as well, but although it is kind of creamy, I don’t really know what it tastes like. It’s nothing like I have ever eaten before, that’s for sure, but I can’t say that it is good, but it isn’t bad either? It is just an inexplicable taste!

Still totally stunned, I watch Tania making all kinds of weird faces when she suddenly yells it is the same foul taste as the ice cream we had in Hoi An! My god, it’s the only in Vietnam taste … she single handed solved the riddle!

Tania is looking for something to get the taste out of her mouth and as soon as we look at all the strange things in front of us, we end up buying a few water apples, which unlike the durian tastes amazingly good.

From here it is once again a 2 hours drive towards the Mekong delta, where we are going to have another boat ride. It has been quite a while now since we last had one and I must say that I am really looking forward to it.

Upon our arrival, lots of boats are awaiting us and as soon as everyone is back together again, we can board our vessel for the next couple of hours or so.

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It is nice to be on the water again and this coming from me means a lot since I am not really a boat person. It is just amazing to see the daily life here in front of us. They all one way or another depend on this important stream.

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We are boating for about half an hour when we suddenly make a short stop at a local factory which produces all kinds of food products, going from rice paper to sweets, to even alcoholic beverages like rice wine and snake wine. The latter is just very plain if I might add and not really worthwhile to have a second glass. I just don’t understand why Asians think it is so good … they obviously never have been to Belgium and tried our delicious liquids!

Back on our boat again, it is further down the river for another hour or so only to stop again to have lunch near the river.

I am a bit surprised to see such a nice place here, hidden between a small green forest and besides a cute dog that looks a bit like a vampire, don’t ask me why, it does to me, they have a python as well. This animal is locked up in a cage and has been fed a duck just a couple of days ago. Maybe that’s the reason why it doesn’t move at all, which all things considered isn’t  such a bad thing!

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Like usual, we are having a six or seven course lunch, but this time around we have a speciality of the region, elephant fish! In front of our eyes, the waitress conjures a fresh spring roll with a bit of the fish inside. It tastes just so yummy that I even have seconds and thirds!

When everyone is ready again to leave, we jump into our ride again and off we go.

The first part of our trip we had seemingly good weather with a bit of sunshine once in a while but now it is overcast. Such a pity really but lucky enough it is still warm, that makes up for a lot.

About half an hour later we get the thing we least expected … rain! A few of us were seated in the back of the boat and we all hurried inside to hide from it. This shouldn’t be such a bad thing, but with bad weather comes wild water as well and this time around the only thing I wish for is to get out of this bloody vessel and on to saver places and most of all … land if it is possible!!!!

It looks like I am not the only person thinking this and as soon as our captain gets a chance, he boats back to the shores of the river and surprisingly enough our bus is waiting there for us as well. Talking about good timing!

Since it doesn’t look if there is going to be any change in the weather, we drive back towards our hotel for tonight which is situated in Can Tho. This place isn’t all to big but it is mainly known for its huge bridge which collapsed in 2007, resulting into the death of more than 50 people and hundreds injured, but nowadays has a very modern look.

As soon as we get the keys to our room, we hurry to it only to notice that we have some kind of suite, no way this is just an ordinary room. Even the bath room is quite amazing to say the least. It seems that our last night here in Vietnam is going to be one of luxury … what a nice ending of this trip!
Unlike the last couple of weeks, we seem to have to wait quite a long time for our luggage to come up, but as we open our door to have a look, we notice our bags in front it. It looks like they forget to let us know, that’s all! As soon as we dragged our bags inside, we had a quick shower and a change of clothes and then it is back into the city to have a look around.

Tonight we have our farewell dinner, but that’s still a couple of hours away, so we still have lots of time to explore the city just like the rest of our group who we come across more than once.

Firstly we have a look at the boulevard, which is also called the “boulevard of love” because of the more than many couples who come here when it’s dark, but if you ask me, there is not so much “love” to detect here in contrast to the intrusive vendors we meet all through the length of it.

As we walk further down the city, we encounter a covered market which has lots of souvenirs for sale and as we step out of it again, we meet up with a few members of our group who mention to us that there is a big outdoor market a little further down the road. According to them it’s really worth a visit, so the both of us walk a little further to have a look and see what all the fuzz is about.

The road is still wet because of the recent rain and while we try to dodge as many puddles as we possible can, we still get wet in the process, but that doesn’t matter, it’s still fun.

After a few minutes we notice the market and like always they have more than enough fruits, veggies, meats and seafood for sale. Most of the stuff they are selling we have seen before, except for the poor bullfrogs lying in a big bowl, that’s a newbie and they just look so cute. I can hardly imagine they become someones dish this evening, but that’s life I suppose.

It is still a bit early to go back to the hotel, so instead Tania wants to give the small donut shop a try. She’s still feeling a bit hungry and needs something sweet to stop the craving and as we enter the place, it looks more like a bakery than a regular donut shop.  They also sell lots of special teas and while Tania goes for a bubble tea with strawberry flavor, I myself stick to a normal cup of tea.

The sweets Tania had chosen weren’t all that bad either, but I was more than stuffed after a few and I still needed to leave some space for our dinner this evening, which was in just a few hours.

We slowly walked back, passing another market with lots of clothes, shoes and sunglasses. After a bit of searching, Tania found one pair to her liking, but sadly enough it was also time to go back to the hotel again because we had to make ourselves ready for dinner.

At 7 PM we all gathered at the lobby and as soon as everyone is down, we commence our evening walk towards the restaurant for our last communal dinner.

Before we have our dinner, Albert first calls upon our three Vietnamese friends to say thanks to them in a proper way and afterwards Hanneke does the same and thanks our tour rep Albert for all the things he has done these last few weeks. He is just an excellent guide and tour rep who is constantly in a good mood, helping everyone who needed his help and making sure we all got a wonderful trip which we will never ever forget.

It is strange to see this tall Dutch guy speechless for once and this because of a few simple words a tiny woman has to say. It is really shocking to see him blown away by words and almost in tears … gosh it almost makes us cry as well, we are just a bunch of softies!

After a few thank you words from Albert and a discount promise that if he ever is able to get something started in the Philippines, we can come over, we can commence to have dinner and for the last time we enjoy the best of what this country has to offer.

It is still a nice evening and after walking back towards the hotel, we all decide to have one last drink at the rooftop bar. As soon as we arrive, it seems to be an one drink only as the waiter gently brakes it to us he is closing the joint. To us this is very strange since it isn’t even 10 PM yet, but I guess the poor fellow is tired, so we give him a break!

Once back at our room, we still need to pack our luggage and this for the very last time here in this country. It feels so strange after doing the same thing for about 3 weeks now and in a way I feel sad that this trip is almost over, but it has been a nice one with lots of fun memories and that’s the most important thing!

Posted by Ils1976 01:57 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

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