Categorie archief: English

Xin chào (hello), Vietnam

February 5, 2018, we are waiting in Saigon for our sleep bus to take us to Da Lat. The bus leaves at 21HR and arrives in Da Lat at 6 AM.

We arrived in Saigon early in the morning on January 30th. The driver of the hotel was waiting for us and we were immediately taken in the “hustle and bustle” of the city. About 10 million people live in Saigon alone! Saigon was actually renamed to Ho Chi Minh City in 1976 after the reunification of North and South Vietnam, but the center retained its old name.

The motorcycle is everywhere in Saigon.

Crossing the street without traffic lights is a challenge for a pedestrian but after a couple ofdays we got used to it. You just have to decide when to go and continue walking, without stopping or turning back as this will only confuse the motorcyclists.They anticipate where you are going and drive around you. The only time I almost got hit by a motor cycle was when I did a step backwards. It is fun but also scary to see the constant flow of motorcycles, buses and trucks not to mention the constant noise of blowing horns. We have not seen any traffic aggression or any accident, although Vietnam has a high number of traffic deaths each year, in 2011 about 15000!

We visited the Jade Emperor Pagoda. There were a lot of worshippers because there was a full moon that night.
The Jade Emperor Pagoda is a Taoist temple built by the Chinese in 1909.
About 45% of the Vietnamese practice Vietnamese folk religion which is a combination of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

Most of the Vietnamese in Saigon live during the day out on the sidewalk. The 6 days we were here we did not see a drop of rain. We ate in all kind of restaurants from local to tourist and were never disappointed or did not get sick. Life for a tourist is extremely cheap. We calculated that 15 EUR was a sufficient daily food budget for the two of us.

The street view right in front of our hotel. Fruits and juices are very delicious.
We tried a lot of street food, most of it really good !
Life on the sidewalk.
About 7,5 million motorcycles are registered in Saigon alone.
It is incredible what and how much they manage to transport on their scooters in the chaotic traffic. We saw refridgerators, ladders, live pigs, and much more…
Ho Chi Minh statue in front of the Hotel de Ville in Saigon which was built between 1902 and 1908. It now houses the People’s Committee. Ho Chi Minh was president of Vietnam from 1945 to his death in 1969. He was a key figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
The Fine Arts museum is housed in a beautiful mansion built in 1929 by a wealthy Chinese.
The Vietnam war against the US is never far away. The war started in November 1955 till April 1975!
Fun to be the tourist 🙂
After the new tooth, a 2,5EUR haircut in the streets of Saigon.
In the Mekong Delta we observed the process of making rice paper, used for the delicious spring rolls, amongst plenty of other food stuff.
Ingredients of the food rice paper, called Bahn Trang, are rice flour, tapioca flour, salt and water.
Getting the paper ready to dry.
Drying rice paper outside in the sun.
Life on the Mekong River. We already visited the Mekong in 2014 more extensively so this was a quick re-visit.
A Cao Dai temple at Tay Ninh, 2 hours drive from Saigon. It was built in 1927
The Cao Dai religion is an indigenous religion and a mixture of Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. They have an estimated 2 million followers in Vietnam.
Practitioners wear white as a symbol of purity.
We went to the 12 AM mass which was impressive. Officials up front are grouped in 3 branches identified by the color of their robes. The Confucian in red, Buddhist in yellow and Taoist in Blue. The practitioners are in white.
The park near the temple was crowded with rhesus monkeys looking for a piece of fruit, here a coconut shell.
We did see the “supermoon”, although not as big as expected…You can already see a little bit of the light coming back on the right side.
Nightlife in Saigon. The Vietnamese love lots of colored lights.

As I write this we are at the pool of our Hoi An Hotel, February 17. We have only had one morning of rain in Vietnam during our motor cycling trip (5 days) from Da Lat to Hoi An. More to come in our next blog

On our way to Brisbane with Skippy

January 28th, 2018,State Library of Queensland, it is pouring water outside so good timing for another update on our last weeks of travel in Australia.

The library is really a great place to work on the blog. When I want to take a break there is a coffee house next door and several museums to visit for free. The library only closes on 4 holidays in the year.

Flashback: On January 6th we drove from Sydney to the Blue Mountains, another UNESCO World Heritage Park. They are called Blue Mountains because they are always surrounded by a blue haze which is caused by the many tiny eucalyptus oil droplets in the air. There are 90 kinds of eucalyptus in the park.

On our first stop in the Blue Mountains we decided to go to the Walls lookout, about a 1 hour walk. We really were amazed how beautiful this was and no one around :-).
The Three Sisters, at Echo Point are carved out of sandstone. We walked to the tiny platform on the leftmost sister, on her bossom if you want to call it like this.

The ancient aboriginal legend tells the tale of three sisters – ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and Gunnedoo’. These three enchanting girls lived in the heart of the Jamison Valley as part of the Katoomba tribe. Yet the girls were young and their hearts were captured by three brothers from a neighbouring tribe. However the law of the land forbid the girls from following their desires and marrying outside their own people. The brothers decided to capture the girls and carry them away to be wed, a major battle started as the two tribes clashed. An elderly witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe feared for the safety of the beautiful sisters and cast a spell to turn them to stone to keep them safe from harm. Yet during the raging battle the witchdoctor was killed and unable to reverse the spell.

On our walk to the High Tops in the Warrumbungles.
We hiked one of the best walks in NSW in the Warrumbungles, the Breadknife and High Tops walk. The scenery was incredible, and you can see me in the foreground. the walk featured 800 stairs, and was 20 km long.
Entering the Warrumbungles NP (aboriginal word for “crooked mountain”). The white dome is the Siding Spring Observatory.
View from our camping spot in the Warrumbungles, definitely one of the best campgrounds (See video Stefan in later post)!
My favourite Australian bird, the kookaburra. We woke up every morning with his incredible “laugh” and in the evening he alerted us when it was time to start dinner :-). In the YouTube video below you can hear his incredible laugh. The Kookaburra is a type of Kingfisher.

The Warrumbungles experienced a forest fire in 2013. Slowly but surely nature is recovering, but because all koalas died in the fire, they have not been spotted yet.
An Australian Eastern Water dragon bathing in the sun.
Grand Canyon walk in the Blue Mountains. We descended into a canyon, and at the end made the climb back up to the ridge top.

We enjoyed Canberra with the beautiful National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery, the Library, the Parliament and the War Memorial. I personally liked the special exhibition on David Hockney in the National Gallery.

The Aboriginal Memorial is an installation of 200 hollow log ceremonial coffins in the National Gallery. It was created by 43 artists for the Bicentenary of Australia which marked the 200 years of European settlement.
The Australia War Memorial opened in 1941. We went to the Last Post at closing and spent the next day a couple hours in the museum. You can easily spend the day there, it is huge.


A work of Alex Seton, “As of today”, 41 sculpted marble flags with halyard to commemorate the Australian soldiers who have lost their lives while serving in Afghanistan.
National Gallery: “Blue Poles” from Jackson Pollock, painted in 1952.
An installation from James Turrell “Within without” in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery.
The Parliament House of Australia.Construction began in 1981 and was finished in 1988. Although elections can be called early, every 3 years the full House of Representatives and half of the Senate is dissolved and is up for reelection.
The Coat of Arms of Australia on top of the parliament building. The kangaroo and emu were chosen as part of the emblem not only because they are endemic and well-known Australian animals but also because they can not move backward and thus represent a nation “moving forward”.
A short walk in Hill End, goldtown country. During the goldrush between 1850-1870 about 8000 people lived here. Today there are only 80 people left.
We did the lookout walk in Kanangra-Boyd National Park but a thick pack of clouds made it impossible to see a thing. Stefan is standing at the cliff edge.
A half hour later at the same spot, the sun was slowly chasing the clouds away.
Stefan and his team of followers :-).
A baby-kangaroo, called a “Joey”, peeping to see what the world is like. Baby kangaroos are born weighing less than a sugar cube. By the time it is about 8 months the mother is ready for it to leave the pouch.
Beautiful sandstone caves in the Pilliga Nature Reserve.
The seeping water dissolves the softer rock leaving a colorful and varied wall pattern.
The caves harbor  aboriginal rock drawings of emu tracks and hand patterns.
Point Danger in Coolangatta with Brisbane on the horizon and many surfers waiting for the perfect wave. The point was so named by Captain Cook because of the many surrounding reefs.
The point danger Lighthouse also marks the border between the states of New South Wales (S) and Queensland (N). There is a 1 hour time difference between the two and the border runs along a street lined with bars. Makes for a double new years eve celebration with minimal travel!
Lamington NP in the Green Mountains. I have not been able to find the name of this beautiful flower.
Wild birds such as these King Parrots and the Crimson Rosella know when and where there is some food to be had. O’Reilley Green Mountains NP.
This Regent Bowerbird (female) had an eye on our breakfast. She tried to get away with a slice of bread, but it was too heavy.
The yellow robin is small in stature, but lovely to look at.
On our walk in the park, we spotted a Wonga Pigeon, and saw a quickly dissapearing Lyrebird (no photo). As long as you are not too quick or loud, there is a good chance that they ignore the photographer.
We had blue skies when we visited Brisbane for the fireworks on Australia Day (january 26th)
Remembering the arrival of the first fleet of English settlers with a musical fireworks. The weather was warm and lots of people came to celebrate. Sitting next to my loved one (Stefan) at the banks of the Brisbane river with this beautiful display I again felt very fortunate! 🙂

Waiting for our flight to Vietnam we are looking forward to new adventures and a different culture😀.