Out of Bounds

22 March 2017 | Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as most Vietnamese refer)
29 January 2017
27 January 2017
27 January 2017
26 January 2017
26 January 2017
26 January 2017
25 January 2017
20 January 2017
19 January 2017 | Riverside Pottery Homestay
18 January 2017
17 January 2017 | The Old Town, Hoi An, Vietnam

Ho Chi Ming City (Saigon) and the Mekong Delta - February 22nd -26th / 2017

22 March 2017 | Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as most Vietnamese refer)
Our first Pho, HCMC

Anyone interested can do a search "the Mekong Delta 3 day/2 night tour" for our itinerary (they are all pretty much the same tour), so the following are a few photos capturing some moments we experienced.

Craving for warmer, drier weather we decided to book a flight to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) to tour The Mekong Delta.
Joined by a friend of Mark & Julie's, we became the "Family of 5".
Catching an early p/u private car to Danang with a flight leaving in the morning, we were booking into our homestay in Ho Chi Minh City before noon. On their recommendation, we found this great spot to eat our first bowl of Pho. The menu was extensive but we all managed to pick our favourite!

The Cozy Hotel found in the backpackers area of HCMC. Fortunately, the taxi driver showed us how to get to the hotel. We walked through very tiny alleyways to get there. They were a wonderful family.

Thanks to Carter for organizing and looking up what we would like to tour, first on the agenda was Saigon's War Remnants Museum, located in the former US Information Service Building.
Originally the museum was called The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government. Later, this was shortened to the Museum of American War Crimes and then War Crimes Museum. From the name you will understand why it was a tough place to tour. It heavily focuses on the crimes and atrocities of war and the emphasis is on the horrors perpetrated by the Americans.

Bias aside, the displays (from our very own journalists) are graphic and again demonstrated the brutality and horrors of war. It was an uncomfortable tour.

Our next stop was to tour the Independence Palace (Reunification Palace). Fortunately it was closing (we were all a little overwhelmed from the first 4 hours spent at the last museum). We looked through the gates trying to locate Tank 843, which was immortalized in footage taken by Australian Neil Davis of it crashing through the gates of the palace, which came to symbolize the end of the Vietnam War.

Woman working hard! Carrying her whole shop for the night's sales on her shoulders.

The next day we grabbed breakfast and went to the tourist office and waited. Eventually a guide came by and walked us to another spot, where we waited. Eventually a bus came to pick us up and we were hurdled onto the bus for the start of our first leg of our trip. .heading to My Tho - Ben Tre.

Vinh Trang Pagoda is the oldest & greatest pagoda (in the south) of Tien Giang Province. It was built in 1849 in My Phong village, My Tho City, in the shape of "Nation" letter of Chinese characters. The pagoda is surrounded by gardens of ornamental trees, ancient trees, and bonsai, creating a peaceful atmosphere.

The biggest Buddha we've ever seen!

The next stop was to take a small boat to visit a bee farm. Very interesting and then a coconut candy factory.

Then a Good lunch of Elephant Ear fish, dragon egg and cold rolls.

Then we had a quick Sampan ride back to our boat.
The Sampan ride was very crowded, down a muddy creek and not worthwhile except that it allowed us to return to the dock where our boat was waiting to take us back to our motorboat. I'm sure if you weren't on a tour, you could have had a more peaceful experience. In all our travels, there's still nothing like canoeing in the Massassauga Provincial Park back in Ontario. Back at the dock we were bussed to our hotel in Can Thou. We were pleasantly surprised to find it to be a beautiful hotel with soft western-style mattresses and fantastic showers!

That evening we were asked to find our way to a restaurant. We shared our hot pot with a Vietnamese women and another man from China who graciously showed us how to go about eating the whole affair.... no pun intended. After dinner we quickly walked through the night market. Same, same!

The very next day after a 6am breakfast we rush to wait and eventually board a small motorboat as our guide describes the way of life in the Mekong Delta.

Cần Thơ is famous for its floating markets, where people sell and buy things on the river.

I'll try to get a video up on FB. to show the ciaos.

Lunch stop for a sampling of bbq rat!



Fish Skewers (as if anyone wants to eat anything from the river)

Low tide

A very large spider!

Marg walking across one of the log bridges.

The gardens were beautiful
Rice noodle factory

To make the noodles, the first step is to soak the grains of rice in water. Water is added to make a loose batter, which is steamed into thin sheets.

Steve at the wheel.
In the past, stone hand grinders were used (and still are in some places).

Nothing is wasted, as rice husks provide the fuel for the fire.
A thick cloth is pulled tightly over a pot of boiling water, much like an embroidery hoop, and a paint roller serves as a handy way to oil the cloth.

The batter is then spread evenly over the surface of the cloth and then covered to steam.

The villagers have an ingenious way to remove the delicate "pancakes". Woven bamboo "bats" provide just the right texture to grip the sticky sheets.

They're then laid out on bamboo racks to dry in the sun.

Marg catching the noodles before they are packaged.
Once the sheets are almost dry, they're machine-cut into noodles.

Off by bus to the next stop, which we all enjoyed the most, and I don't even know where we were. A short hike into a park full of large eucalyptus imported from Australia. Through the bogs by motorboat and then onto a boat paddled by another guide to listen to the birds. The place was magical.

Photo of a large kingfisher.

Another hotel and another noodle "pho" for dinner.
Next day we boarded another wooden motor boat to gaze at another floating market and then down Hau River the river to visit a settlement of Cham people on Chau Doc (An Giang) referred to as the Cham Village. The major manufacturing activities of the Cham are fishing, weaving and trading fabrics, cultivating wet rice and some kinds of fruits, and making pottery. They live in stilt houses to avoid wild animals and being flooded in flood season. Muslim is the only religion of Cham people. Muslims rituals and teachings have put widespread effect on the Cham's lives and management of Cham villages. Each of the Cham must obey regulations and rituals written in Koran.

Next stop the floating Fish farm
Basa are native to the Mekong and Chao Phraya basins in Indochina. These fish are important food fish with an international market. You decide whether you want to serve them to your family.

Back on the bus to Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City

The guide on the bus made stops to visit the "Happy Room"

Saigon Opera House (Municipal Theatre)
Modeled on the Petit Palais in Paris, this striking example of French Colonial architecture is easy to reach and regularly hosts some of the city's best concerts.

Sometimes you just need a burger and fries.. a great balcony to get out of the rain and a great Hamburger from Chuck's Burgers

Another balcony to watch the traffic in the rain.

In the airport waiting for our flight back to Danang and Hoi An.

Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary and Vietnamese Silk, dummied down.

21 February 2017

The Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary in Quang Nan Province is the closest example similar to Cambodia's Angkor Wat and it is only a short ride (south-west) from Hoi An. We hired a car (driver) and an English-speaking guide (a teacher) for the day. It was well worth the day's excursion.

Our guide helped us identify and understand the Hindu symbolism and mythology shown in the architectural designs and motifs.

Known as the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom and is one of the most significant Cham sites in Vietnam.

Drawing spiritually from Hinduism, the Cham built temples to honour Hindu divinities with fired brick, stone pillars and sandstone bas-reliefs.

My Son was initially constructed in the late 4th century, built by King Bhadravarman for the god Shiva (the creator, destroyer and preserver). From then on the temples were continuously developed until the 13th century. Okay, I had to look that one up!

My dumbing it down interpretation of Silk ...

The silkworm creates silk. By building its cocoon, it secrets a long continuous fiber too surround itself in. I was told, that the final secreted fiber is created by the combination of twin filaments and sericin (which cements the two together). Each has a usable length of about 600 to 900 meters (2,000 to 3,000 feet).

The final fiber is freed by boiling the cocoon which softening the sericin (the glue). Next is the task of locating the filament end and unwinding, or reeling, the filaments from several cocoons at the same time, sometimes with a slight twist, forming a single strand. The guide told me that the end of the fiber is easy to find because it floats away from the cocoon.

Several silk strands, each too thin for most uses, are twisted together to make thicker, stronger yarn. This process called throwing, produces various yarns that become specialized according to the amount and direction of the twist imparted.

Silk containing sericin is called Raw Silk.

Spun silk is made from short lengths obtained from damaged cocoons or broken off during processing, twisted together to make yarn.
Silk is sometimes treated with a finishing substance, such as metallic salts, to increase weight, add density, and improve draping quality. This is called weighting.

Why buy silk? Because it's affordable in Vietnam..lol
Silk does not readily retain soil!... who knew!
It has good strength, resisting breakage!
Silk is lower in density than cotton, wool, and rayon and is moisture-absorbent, retaining as much as a third of its weight in moisture without feeling damp, and it has excellent dyeing properties. It is more heat-resistant than wool! Awesome!
The down side.. Silk loses strength over a long period of time without appropriate storage conditions and tends to decompose with extensive exposure to sunlight but is rarely attacked by mildew and is not harmed by mild alkaline solutions and common dry-cleaning solvents; and imparts a static charge, especially in low humidity. Dam!
I thought of using it on the boat!

Footnotes from Hoi An & Our Street Party

20 February 2017
We've been busy. Some days are spent just looking around the Old Town, some days we set off, with a plan. We continue to blunder our way through each day, and Yes, we have learned to cook, working within the limits of our Vietnamese style kitchen. The counters are very low and it's definitely hard on our backs preparing and cooking our food. Clean up is just as challenging. I always thought Steve was a big guy, but take a look at the next photo of our friend doing dishes.

Most of you have enjoyed our Asian Chicken Chili and it's such a great comfort food, we decided to put it on our dinner list. When Steve and I went to open the cans of kidney beans I so proudly found, we realized we had forgotten one important step. We didn't own a can opener! Steve decided to approach a neighbour across the street to ask to borrow one (as if anyone would know what a can opener was) and after a great "acting performance" conversation, which brought on a good laugh from his audience, the women screamed to her man to take care of the situation. He used a chisel and hammer to smash open the top for us.
It is such a different culture here and we have made many, many Vietnamese laugh at us, as we've blundered our way through the many adjustments we've encountered.

When the laundry isn't dry and your yard no longer has sunshine, you simply put it out to dry in the middle of the street!

Steve's email to his brother: Hey Dave, Send me your measurements and I will have suit made for you.
same same!!
cheap cheap!!
Response: Hey Steve, I called Don Cherry and he wants 6 of them

A Vietnamese version of a child's car seat!

too old for the car seat. Still no helmet. You wouldn't believe what we've seen. Drivers hanging onto their bike with one hand and the other holding a sleeping baby.. It's unbelievable!

Delivery service and no straps holding the cargo!

Just saying..

Hoi An is known for it's tailoring but our friends are not known for impulse buying. One day we decided to divide and concur our daily morning tasks. Steve and I volunteered to ride the bikes, shortening the distance to a couple of stores that carry dairy products, while our friends would walk a short distance to the nearby Hoi An market for veggies and fruit. Steve soon realized we had forgotten our house keys but didn't panic knowing that our friends would be home by the time we got back.
When we arrived home, our gate was still locked and after a quick ride through the market we soon realized our friends had simply vanished and our butter & yogurt were getting warmer by the minute. Everything would have been spoilt if it weren't for Tao and Mr Hi (our local go-to Mr Hi Restaurant just at the end of our street) who graciously put our yogurt and butter into their cooler.
"This was very strange", we thought. "Our friends wouldn't be shopping, they just don't like shopping!" The idea was ludicrous...right? "Perhaps Mark got hungry and they've gone for some Bánh mì".
Well, not so! When they finally returned, we found they had been corralled into buying some tailor-made clothing. "G'zzz", we joked. "We can't let you out of our sight for a moment!" Julie replied, "I know, right!" They explain on their blog in further detail.

We've noticed an increase in decorative lanterns strung about in Hoi An and after some research, we've discovered that the Hoi An Lantern festival is one of Southeast Asia's most popular events.

For centuries, the Vietnamese have considered the full moon a time to pay their respects to their ancestors, hold candlelit ceremonies at temples and generally make merry.

We have friends and are enjoying our stay here on Lưu Qúy Kỳ (street) Hội An, Quang Nam Province

Last week while sitting in our front yard watching our laundry dry (or having a beer), a man walked in. After a few moments of polite confusion and help from his beckoned daughter-in-law (who spoke English), we found that we were being invited to a street party and the family was out collecting money towards the event. After asking what would be an appropriate amount, we together contributed 400,000 VND. They seemed impressed. I asked if there was something we needed to bring or if we could help out in some way, but the daughter-in-law informed us that all the women would be cooking for the event and insisted that all we had to do, was show up. When and what time was not clear, but we were told not to worry, someone would come and get us when it was time.
One morning Julie and I went to shop for elephant pants. A neighbour caught our attention and pointed to an erected tent, and put up two fingers. "Oh, okay", we replied and off we went.
As we walked by the tent it was obvious that something was taking place today. The tent area was being decorated and tables set out for whatever they had planned. The finishing touches were being made to a boat the men had been working on.

Julie later phoned the guys to let them know that perhaps the street party was tonight and perhaps at 2pm or in 2 hours time or in a couple of days..lol BUT most likely not next week at 4'oclock as we first thought.

Elephant pants are found everywhere, but we were looking for a deal so we headed out of the Old Town district. As we shopped, we made the mistake of showing interest in a particular pattern and walked into a store! Before we knew it, we were being put into a taxi, along with the owner of the shop and going to her factory. After a short ride to unfamiliar territory, we stopped at a house and were asked to step inside a house. "My factory", the owner pointed. It was a larger room with about 5 people on the floor, surrounded by mounds of material and heaps of elephant pants! I looked at Julie and climbed in. What a hoot! After deciding on a few pairs and patterns, we were helped outside to our waiting taxi and drove back to the shop to pay for our purchases. The owner spoke very good English and when we asked her if she knew anything about street parties. She shared all kinds of information. Simply stated, each area has a designated time to hold street parties and the time for our area of town (Minh An), was throughout this week and would begin most likely this afternoon. We scurried home.

Walking by the tent it seemed the celebration was about to start. Tables were full of food, candles, incense, flowers and assorted pop, water and beer.
At 4pm were asked to join them. Julie and I were the only women looking in from our front row seats. After a half an hour we were invited to share in the launching of their boat.

Only those who had participated in the first bit, followed the boat procession. We walked to the backside of An Hoi to launch the boat. I got these photos by standing in ankle deep mud!

After the launch, I ran ahead so that I could wash my feet and sandals with our outside hose sin order to not be late for the next bit. We have no idea what was taking place, other than it seemed a Buddha celebration and blessing.

I managed to sit beside an older gentleman that showed deep interest. He got up to pay his homage and a neighbourhood child sat in his chair. When he turned to sit back down, they didn't get up so I offered him my chair, and from that moment on, he was my friend.

Like everyday, there was more burning. At the end of the blessing, the monk read the list of the people living on the street and set it alight and he tossed it under the tables. We had a moment of panic thinking the whole tablecloth would ignite and we'd have a major fire!
A few women entered the tent to pay homage and disappeared.

After the event was over, they started to dismantle all their decorative work and set it alight.

The food on the table, coated in soot and smelling like incense, was the food we were about to eat. It had been sitting there all afternoon! The tables were separated and placed down the street. We were placed at one table and some neighbours were asked to join us. A couple (who danced beautifully later that evening) helped us sort through the food. Honestly, I don't think the older woman across the street likes us and she was made to sit with us. More and more food arrived, beer was topped up at each opportunity, food was shoved into our bowls, and the music began as the night approached. I got up and walked over to the old man's table (there were about 12 all sitting together) and clinked glasses with my new "old man " friend. A big smile of acceptance ..phew!
Karaoke seems ramped here in Vietnam and everyone is invited to participate. If you can't sing, you're asked to dance.. You know me, bring it on! I got up and placed myself at the table of women. Julie was ushered over to join us and the men combined tables and the drinking began! Mark and Steve held up their end, while Julie and I were shared laughter and food with the women at our table, who were just sitting down to enjoy the food they had slaved over for the day's celebration.
The next day on the way to the market, my friend crossed the street to hug me and say Hi. I pretended I had a hangover and indicated that I was still full. She appreciated that.

The Boat Race -Feb 2nd, 2017 scheduled for @ 9am

14 February 2017
As part of the HỘI AN LUNAR NEW YEAR FESTIVAL 2017 (Year of the Rooster) we made sure we didn't miss the Boat Race, held on February 2nd, 2017.

Like many festivals in Hoi An, Long Chu is a religious ceremony that concentrates on warding off ghosts and evil from the villages, while bringing luck and peace for the people.

An important part of the rituals is the casting of magic spells on 'ghosts' that carry these ailments. These ghosts are then cast into the river, to be discarded later in the sea. After these rituals is the grand finale, a boat race!

Team Cửa Đại burning incense and throwing paper into the water to bless the event and for good luck .. unfortunately, more garbage into the water.

One benefit of living right here is that we can get up, have breakfast, walk around the corner and watch the next festival or event. This year, Feb 2nd Hoi An's fishermen took to their boats for the annual island boat race at 9am. It was another rainy day, but it seemed everyone turned out to watch the race. We heard, last year over 5000 people turned up to cheer on their team, and as you will notice from our photos, it certainly was packed again this year.

Teams descend from all areas of Quang Nam to take part in the event... and before this photo was taken, they had been practicing all morning and were pumped.

Leaving Mark & Julie on An Hoi, we walked over the bridge to Hoi An to watch the boat race. Here is a photo of the crowds on our little island.

We laughed as we witnessed a popular old tradition of throwing water at the boat handlers to bring them good luck. It looked as if they meant to sink them!

It was very exciting to watch the boats round the mark and hilarious to witness the boats clearly missing the mark. Did they have to go around again? Nope! Were they penalized for touching the mark? Nope! Evidently if you miss the mark, the first boat handler grabs the mark and brings the boat to a stop, then pulls the mark around the front and off they go. For most of the race, they approached the mark, and the lead boat handler whacked the mark (like a baseball swing) to the side forcing the mark to bend allowing them to clear the mark.

Sometimes they would all arrive at the mark and it was comical to watch them fight their way around one point of entry, coming at it from all directions trying to take the inside pushing off the rest. It worked for the most part, but as you will see, this boat just didn't get it right and tipped over. In the water the boat handlers, probably not able to swim, had to dodge the other boats as they paddled right over their capsized boat and continued to race.

This years winner and congratulations goes to Team Thanh Ha!

And Second place goes to Team Trung Chau!

Cam Nam Island

29 January 2017
After recovering from our second New Years Eve, we decided to walk across a bridge to the island called Cam Nam. It seems most tourists stop at the end of the Hoi An market and venture no further, which is a shame because Cam Nam is a delightful area of Hoi An and it's really nice to get away from the hectic pace of central Old Town. We decided to try and find the Thu Bon Homestay that my cousin Anne and Clive had stayed at while in Hoi An. Following Google map, we waked straight down the main road and to the left. When we found the homestay, I sheepishly ventured into the front living quarters even though no one was around. This was Tet and family time and I was not sure if they were sleeping off the effects of celebrating or if they were even open for business. As I turned around a neighbour pulled up on her bike to drop something off and ran inside the house to get the hosts. When I showed this lovely young lady (who was embarrassed because she wasn't out of her pj's) a photo of Anne, she remembered her last name and gave this huge welcoming smile. I explained that I was here to wish them "Chuc Mung Nam Moi" from my cousin Anne and Clive and that we had rented a home on An Hoi, and would come back for a visit another day, more suitable for guests. Here I am, standing on the lower step, in front of the homestay with the host on the upper step so that we can get in the same photo. Next time we'll have to find a map and rent a bike to enjoy this island again.

Looking out from the bridge towards the Old City of Hoi An

Sometime, it's just too early to have a beer.. and we pay the big bucks for bottled water and soft drinks.

More photos from our little An Hoi neighbourhood

29 January 2017
This photo we are looking from the end of our An Hoi island toward the Cam Nam bridge.
Usually we set out for the market each morning after breakfast and each day we tend to plan to do a few more errands from our list. After walking around Cam Nam Island for the most part of the day, Julie and I decided to go for a stroll around An Hoi.

Looking the other way.

Little did we know how important this photo of these wonderfully painted and stored boats would be in a few days time.. and this shrine.

"Chúc Mừng Năm Mới" (Happy New Year)!

28 January 2017
This is the year of the Rooster (2017) and the fireworks go off tonight.. January 27th. Tet this lunar year will be celebrated from 27th January to 1st February and we are right in the thick of things.

Last night we enjoyed the fireworks and all the festivities. We took the advise from my cousin Anne and Clive and sat on the balcony at Fusion Café to people watch.

As we approached midnight we wandered up the street to find a less crowded spot to take in the ongoing festivities on the stage that was erected in the Old Town of Hoi An.

As the countdown began we realized that our choice spot, alongside the Thu Bon River, was very close to the area where they had decided it best to deploy the fireworks but it was too late to move. We were so lucky we didn't have one land on us.


27 January 2017
This photo was taken at the Ba Le Market. We found quite a few items at this stall.

Steve's been quite ill since moving in on Friday, So for the first few days, Mark, Julie and I searched for items like cutlery, plates, large coffee mugs, dish soap, dish rags, scrubbers, hand towels, cleaning supplies and kitchen utensils. It seemed we walked forever! But we were very successful! We even found a frying pan and a hanging drying rack at the Ba Le Market. In total, we spent around $40US each.

A very crowded Tiger Market that is about a 10 minute walk north of the Old Town.

Here I am at the Vien Gau market buying some spices, pepper, peanuts and sesame seeds. We can hardly fit between the stalls ... add a few Vietnamese ladies pushing their way passed you and barging in front.. you might understand the chaos.

The Vien Gau market is nearby about a 10 minute walk the opposite way from town. Along side the vegetables are the stalls with noodles and open tables of pork, chicken and various animal parts all being chopped up. The catch of the day are along the sides of the market, on the floor. We are offered fish, eels and shrimp.

Even the Chickens are Dressed for Tet!

Street Food

27 January 2017
Photo of our first real "Street food".

Even though we had lots of food in our bags, having hunted through 2 markets one day, we found this lady cooking up a storm on the side of the street. Her tables seemed clean and the bunch of young adults told us the food was fantastic! So, we bought 8 skewers of bbq pork.

Mark wasn't prepared to sit of those tiny chairs (either were Julie and I), so we took our street food home and enjoyed the afternoon around our newly purchased outdoor furniture.


26 January 2017
We invited Quyen (sounds like Win) our host at our Homestay to visit us one day when he had some free time. He dropped by driving his motorbike. His mother Mùa Xuân (sound's like mue swan) needed a ride to Hoi An Market. We asked if one day he could take us around the market but Quyen knows nothing about buying food. He just eats! His mother said she would be happy to take us sometime after Tet.

'Tết Nguyên Đán'

26 January 2017
Tet In Vietnam is the most important festival in the Vietnamese calendar; a celebration focused on friends, family and preparing for the year ahead. Tet itself means Festival and now I know why we have also heard the term 'Tết Nguyên Đán', which is Sino-Vietnamese for 'Feast of the First Morning of the First Day'.

Here, school children are participating in a 3-legged race with 4 people (I have no clue as to how many legs were really in the race?). The sign in the photo means " Welcome Party to Spring Camp".

In preparation for Tet, all the hotels, homestay, homes and streets in Hoi An have been preparing for Tet. Each day we've noticed more and more flags hung overhead, and lanterns hung from every vacant space.

Hoi An and it's remote riverside pathways have become colourful!

We've watched the gradual construction of a large stage and the entrance over our bridge to and from An Hoi has been decorated so elaborately, it almost causes more havoc trying to navigate. There is certainly an increase of traffic and people on the streets.

Here are Julie and Mark enjoying the rehearsal.

Hoi Xuan: 'Spring Festival'

26 January 2017
Tet is also considered to be the first day of spring, so is also known as Hoi Xuan: 'Spring Festival'. Hoi An has become beautifully transformed. Everywhere there are yellow chrysanthemum's (they say they are daisy's); each stem decorated with red flowers.

I went for a walk the other day and met my neighbour whom insisted I sit with her. After about a 10 minute conversation (don't ask me if she understood) they insisted I enter their home to see inside. No photos, but it was full of large brass sculptures and antiques. I think we live in a very mixed neighbourhood. Her husband was attaching his leg which had be blown off in the war. He proudly said he fought With the American's. Once we came back outside, I asked if I could take a photo of her very large kumquat bush.
We were told by our agent Ha, that the bushes were not to be eaten because they chemical enhance the fruit.

This is a temple we passed on our way to the market. As you can see, it is beautifully decorated. You're going to get the idea we always go to the market.. Yes, we do!

Bánh Tét

25 January 2017
Special foods have been prepared and we've watched one family, that live across the street, cooking up a storm! They've been preparing hundreds of bánh tét, a Vietnamese savoury (but sometimes sweetened cake) made primarily from glutinous rice, which is rolled in a banana leaf into a thick, log or square. We learned from Quyen that the round Day cake symbolizes the sky and the square Chung cake symbolizes the Earth. We finally conjured up enough nerve to go and ask to buy one from her.

Our neighbours kitchen counter.. The Floor

Cleaning, Sweeping, Dusting and Hosing off, before Tet

24 January 2017
Entire contents of houses have been dragged to the street side to be hosed off and cleaned.
I wonder if this is a new business started because of Tet, or does this girl sell from her bike, like this, everyday?

Sights from around our neighbourhood

22 January 2017
Laundry Day. Everyday we venture to one or two markets and this was obviously a good day to do Laundry! It has been a little snotty weather wise and today there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

Dust Bin Collection is Monday, Wednesday and Friday for Organic and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for Non-organic. It cost us $1.10US/mo (25,000 vnd)
We just put our bag of garbage outside in a clay pot (provided by the owner after one night Mark hanging it from a neighbours tree) and it disappears.
Early one day on our walk to the market we found it!

The Green Taxi

The green coloured Taxi is metered and always a fair price. Taxis so far have been between 50,000 - 70,000 vnd ($2-$3.50 US). The taxi to our homestay from Danang Airport was $14US

Our home for the next few months.

21 January 2017
We decided to rent the 3 bedroom/4 bathroom home on the Island of An Hoi, which is right across from the Old Town of Hoi An. We now live at 8 Luu Quy Ki street (sound's like Loo We Key). It is simply furnished with a low cushioned sofa, a small kitchen table (which we have since discovered, is impossible to sit at because our long, big, western style legs simply won't fit underneath..lol) and 3 beds (no side tables) with hard Vietnamese style mattress's. We do not have a western style kitchen. We have a propane 2 burner cooktop which sits on the counter, a bunch of chop sticks, 3 small fruit-sized bowls, 6 small juice glasses, 2 plastic colanders, 1 small pot and 1 med/large pot. We do however have a working washing machine and AC! Now that's an improvement over living aboard L.P.
When we put in our offer to rent, we asked for out door furniture and when we arrived, there it was in all its glory, a wooden table and four chairs and large orange umbrella! We can sit in our front garden and watch all that is going on! It's wonderful! And we are happy with our choice of location.

Looking from the front bedroom
There have been a few things not working and Cuc has sent one relative or another to sort us out. Today when we were about to leave, we couldn't lock the front gate because the key wouldn't come out of the lock. Anyway, it is good the owner lives right next-door.
We joke.. It's almost like owning a boat, you never know what's not going to work next.

Where to get propane, how to pay utilities, when to put out garbage .. all normal but with a huge language barrier. I've picked up a little Vietnamese and I'm constantly asked; "How do you say..."
I know how to say Thank you = cảm ơn, Hello = xin chào, I'm sorry = xin lỗi... And that's about it. I'm not sure I'll learn any more.
Oh, the bathroom, just ask for WC!

So far everything has been great. The owner who lives next door has even warmed up to us. Her name is Cuc (sounds like Cup). She came through the gate one day and just dropped of a rug for the front doorway and 2 days ago we heard a bunch of commotion (it always sounds like they are yelling at us..lol). Cuc and her daughter Nhưng (sounds like Newm) appeared with a rice cooker.

Here's the link to the house listing: http://hoianhouse.com/listing/3-bedroom-house-rent-hoi-an-minh-an-hah257/

Pottery Village

20 January 2017
We decided to put an offer together for the biggest and more expensive house situated out of town. Waiting for a response from our agent Ha, was driving us crazy, so we decided to hop on the free bikes provided by our Homestay and go visit the nearby Pottery Village. It was a wonderful way to pass the time.

The big landmark is the Terracotta Village, which was situated in the center of the park. In true Vietnamese tourism fashion, it is extremely kitsch, with the front garden full of clay replicas of the architectural wonders of the world, everything from the Taj Mahal to the Colosseum in Rome. We have many more photos posted in our gallery.. but we don't want to spoil Thera and Barry's visit posting them all here. It is truly an attraction we will investigate again and it's near the fish market, but you have to go there early to buy the fresh catch of the day.. I mean really early. Like 3am!

On the way home we decided to take a chance at another roadside restaurant. It was definitely cleaner than our first roadside restaurant in the same area. To this day we have no idea what we ate there.

The Mi Quang served today was good (and we recognized the meat) but definitely not as good as the little spot Quyen took us too the other day.

A Vietnamese tradition.. the Annual Year End Party

19 January 2017 | Riverside Pottery Homestay
The next morning, we asked our host Quyen (which sounds like "Kwhin") if he would like to drive us back to view the houses of consideration and drive us around an area that we thought would be of interest to us. He jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, there was some kind of miscommunication. We managed to find the first house, but I think he was expecting to be able to look inside and go through the house. Quyen asked "What price asking?" and he told us "I think too much!". We drove through Ba La Market and asked to go to Cua Dai beach. We wanted to see how far a bicycle ride it would be to both. Sadly, Cua Dai Beach was a disappointment. It was washed away in 2014 and it looked unlikely to return any time soon. Then Quyen drove further north and pointed the direction towards An Bang Beach, which we will explore some other time but today we had to meet up with our real estate agent and we wanted to take Quyen out to lunch. We asked him to pick the restaurant. He asked what type of food? We (in unison) shouted Vietnamese food! We were taken to the BEST Mi Quang in Hoi An and it was a fabulous lunch. Five Mi Quang, 4 beers and one 7-up for 200,000 dong ($10)! We were stuffed! Mi Quang is fresh rice noodles, similar to fettuccine in size with pork, shrimp, and a broth sweetened by tomatoes. It's garnished with grilled rice crackers, lettuce, and herbs. We were stuffed! That's when we all realized our first bowl of soup was not at all good! God only knows what we had that day. After lunch he dropped us off at the agents office and we ended up putting in an offer for the first home. We caught a cab home and wondered what to do for dinner but during sundowners, Quyen asked if we would join him and his family, his extended family and his friends for tonight's Annual End Of Year Party. Our attendance would bring his family good luck in the New Year. 5 young Chinese students, all of whom spoke excellent English, joined us at our table. Between their helpful advice and Quyen's regular visits to our table, and some additional willing help from his family, we didn't embarrass ourselves too badly.
Lets just say, tonight's dinner and drinks solved!

House hunting today

18 January 2017
Jan 18
Today we enjoyed an early breakfast and were picked up by Ha to see 5 houses. It was a long day. After seeing the last house (on An Hi Island, which is across from the Old Town) we discussed our options and decided to consider three homes.
The first house we liked was close to Ba Le Market, had good airflow and a view from the balcony, and was newly built, but the negatives were that it was new, stark, and large. It was beautiful with Vietnam type uncomfortable wood furniture and beds but it also came with a higher price.
The 2nd house had a western well-equipped kitchen, comfortable sofa, near a shrimp pond and slightly closer for walking to beach. The negatives were its location. It seemed more remote, was gated to keep the dogs out, and faced a transfer station. The comfy sofa was very appealing!
The last house of consideration was right in the Old Town and surprisingly new, was a good price, all bedrooms had ensuite baths, and the owner seemed willing to please us with various requests (like outdoor chairs, table, and umbrella). However, although new, it wasn't like the first home and we had mixed feelings about the location. We like the location for enjoying the upcoming festivals but hated the location because of the same.
We fired off an email explaining our thoughts and walked home to our homestay. We all were confused and not sure what to do.

Good Morning Vietnam!

17 January 2017 | The Old Town, Hoi An, Vietnam
The first thing I asked myself after waking up was, “What Day is it?” Yup, I just checked. It’s Tuesday, Jan 17th.

We noticed a sign last night that stated breakfast was not served after 10am, but our host assured us they would serve us breakfast at any time, considering we had arrived so late! Why we were awake by 7:30am beats me!, but as I ventured downstairs I wondered if our friends Julie and Mark had arrived. Indeed they had. Mark had already finished his breakfast and Julie was soon to join us. I expressed the need for coffee and was served a teeny, tiny cup of java. It was really good but ever so small. Number one on the shopping list. Go in search of coffee and a good-sized coffee cup!

We all decided we needed a short morning nap to conjure up enough energy to go for an afternoon walk. We ended up walking to Hoi An’s Old Town (approximately 3.8KM). While there we bought our $6US Tourist tickets to enter (more on that later) and slowly poked around.

It started to rain, so we found a spot that had larger plastic chairs and enjoyed another beer waiting for the rain to subside. On our way home we stopped at one of the restaurants we had noticed along the street and tasted our first soup bowl of some type of meat (we think it was chicken) and noodles. A couple of days later we discover it wasn’t the best but for this day it became our lunch and dinner because after our hike home, we all crashed and went for an afternoon nap that continued through the night.
Vessel Name: Lion's Paw #315
Vessel Make/Model: Whitby 42 #315
Hailing Port: Registered in Edmonton.. why not eh!
Crew: Marg & Steve Colquhoun
About: Coming full circle around the Caribbean, we have sold Lion's Paw and are now Cruisers Living on Dirt.. but you can't take the sailor out of anyone.
Extra: This blog is meant for family and friends whom wish to share in our adventure. I plan to add a few comments along the way that may be of help for those wishing to embark on a similar voyage. Looking forward to meeting you out there!
Lion's Paw #315's Photos - Main
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