Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam- February 2018

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I had booked a flight from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City on Jetstar.  My flight time only changed 4 times, and in the even it was only delayed 30 minutes in the end. I paid an extra $10 to get the first row seating. It was actually not too bad.  When I arrived I wish I had organized my transportation to my hotel. I am pretty sure I overpaid for taxi.

I went a city tour on the afternoon of my arrival. The first stop of the tour was the War Remnants Museum.  It was interesting.  It’s important to know that it’s a bit bias. It does present the truth but from one side.  It’s worth a trip but might be helpful to do a bit of research about the war as so to get a full understanding the magnitude.

My tour was the highlights. A temple, the post office, the museum, Independence Palace, Notre Dame, Ben Tranh Market and a flower market.

That evening I went out to enjoy the Tet Festivities.

The next day was Tet eve, so I arranged for trip to the Mekong Delta.  I did not think this about what it will entail. I do not like boats.  To visit the delta it requires getting in a boat and even a canoe.  My tour started out with a stop at My Tho to the Vinh Trang Temple.

Then we took a boat ride out to Unicorn Island.

We sampled so of the local fruits and honey products.

We walked thru what felt like a jungle to a private home, where they served us lunch. I politely declined because well elephant fish did not seem like a good idea.

And then it was time to head back to the boat. But it required a ride in canoe. It was experience. I don’t recommend wear white pants. As I fell trying to get in and ended up covered in mud. But the highlight, I got to see a water coconut up close and in person.
And if I had not gone, I would not have gotten the super cool cone hat. Meet Meykong Flo.

With the next day being Tet, I did what anyone would have done in my shoes, I booked a spa day. It was great! A little too great in fact. I was so relaxed that when I ordered my lunch, Banh Mi, I did not ask what was in the sauce that came with it.  It was quite good but apparently there was something fishy in it.  I realized this about 45 minutes later when  I was standing in line for immigration at the airport. I noticed my breathing was weird. It took me a few minutes before I connected the dots. And I started to wonder if it was all in my head. Psychosomatic or not, I have a full on meltdown.  I managed to get to the lounge and get some water. At this point I realized I was not ok. And I had left something at security.  I walked back and the agent was asking why I left it, I was practically crying saying I just don’t feel well.  He actually looked at me and said you need to go to medical. I knew that if I told the truth I was looking at 24 hours of observation.  So I took my chances, waited until he looked the other way and hightailed it my gate.  I managed to make it safely to Australia without any medical intervention. I was sick for 3 days.  I know I take chances with my allergy but after this little episode I realize I need to be more careful. I got very lucky this time.

Until next time.. Safe Travels

Da Nang, Vietnam-February 2018

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I had quite the little adventure getting to Vietnam. Southeast Asia is probably the birthplace of the low cost airlines.  The fares are ridiculously low and if you are lucky you will depart and arrive on time.  The model works well, but man, PACK YOUR PATIENCE. I had booked Cambodia Air to fly from Siem Reap to Da Nang, Vietnam.  I think the flight time changed about 3 times before day of departure. I lost count, if I am honest.  I thought I would have to check my bag so I arrived at the airport 2 hours ahead of time. The first clue something was wrong, my flight was not on the departure board.  The second clue, I was suspiciously in line with people that did not appear to be going to Vietnam. I was right they were going to China.  I started panicking that maybe something was off with my flight, so I did what any pampered traveler would do. I looked at the departure board for the next flight to Da Nang and bought a ticket. I paid about 10 times the price. Even then the flight was delayed! I learned a expensive lesson, book a flight that would potentially connect to the a international long haul. Better chances of it going on time or close to it. I arrived safely, so in the end it all worked out.

And it was so worth it!


I had originally planned on going only to Ho Chin Minh, I am SO happy I added Da Nang. Even though it was not ideal beach weather it was still quite nice. It also helped that there was a Hyatt. What can I can I am loyalist!  I mistakenly booked to be in Vietnam during Tet, or Lunar New Year. It’s like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all rolled into one. Basically the country shuts down.  I arrived a few days before, and it was fun to see all the preparations.

Lots of signs and yellow chrysanthemums. Their Vietnamese name is  Hoa Van Tho which means longevity and prosperity.  The best part, seeing them being driven around on motorbikes!

Hoi An is a fun town about 30 minutes from Da Nang. My favorite part of Vietnam, so far, has been the fact that the roads are paved! I headed over to Hoi An to check out the town. It was raining and over run with cruise ship passengers, but even then WOW. It was like a little village with fun architecture. A labyrinth of cafes, shops and markets.

It was nice to see a large selection of local made items. Especially the ceramics! So much to buy… too bad I was traveling with a carry on. And the market was quite fun, interesting how they sell meat and fish. At least thru the eyes of this germophobe American!

I spent most of time in Hoi An. After it stopped raining and the cruise ship departed, the streets were quite bare. I was happy that I went during the cooler time of year. But I would like to go back to enjoy the beach properly.

I loved the mix of relaxation with the hotel by the beach and the vibe of the Hoi An city.  I highly recommend visiting this area if a trip to Vietnam is on your radar.

Stay tuned next up another flight on a low cost carrier….

Siem Reap, Cambodia, February 2018

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Apparently, the third time is the charm. I finally made it to Siem Reap, after booking it 2 other times.  First impression, not what I expected.  Mainly I thought it was going to be extremely hot. The heat was bearable, but this could have been because it was “winter”.

The main reason for my trip was to visit Angkor Archaeological Park. The park was the capital cities for the Khmer empire from 9th to 14th century.  It’s the largest religious monument in the world.  It’s also quite large and spread out. So I hired a guide and driver. You could easily do it yourself, a guide is nice but not required.

And let’s be honest, it was also nice to have someone to talk photo’s of me.

And no trip to Southeast Asia is complete without some random monkeys running around. Including one guy getting a massage.

After getting my temple fill, I choose to walk around town.  I stayed at the Park Hyatt, which was a great location. Which I remember reading somewhere about the challenge of crossing the street. I figured it out, but man, I should have just hired a driver. I took a tour of local art center. Saw how they make hand make stuff. Of course you end of in a shop at the end of the tour. No comment about what I purchased…….

Siem Reap is being the process of being developed. They have a significant tourism traffic with people flocking to see Angkor Wat, one of the most know temples. You need a visa to entry and the Cambodia government got wise a few years ago. If you fly in, you are required to stay over night.  It’s evident that money is being put back into the local community.   The photos below, show how different one street could be from another.

It will be interesting to see what it looks like in 5-10 years time. There is so much more to Siem Reap then just visiting the temples. Hopefully if you are reading this, when planning your trip, maybe stay more then 24 hours and see what it has to offer.  Oh definitely avoid the monsoon season. February was idea. It was warm but quite bearable. And you are visiting a religious monument and need to be dressed appropriately.

I am glad I went and would go even go back, in the cooler months.

Next up, my adventure booking a low cost carrier in SE Asia…