Freebirdie's Sailin' Blog

22 November 2011 | Seattle
01 August 2011 | Santa Maria di Leuca
03 July 2011 | Greece
15 June 2011 | Gulf of Corinth
05 June 2011 | Athens
28 May 2011 | Poros Greece
25 April 2011 | Symi Island
13 April 2011 | Naxos, Greece
20 February 2011 | Istanbul, Turkey
30 January 2011 | Ephesus
28 January 2011 | Marmaris
16 January 2011 | Selcuk, Turkey
31 December 2010 | Marmaris
24 October 2010 | Cappadocia, Turkey
16 September 2010 | Marmaris Turkey
26 August 2010 | Fethiye, Turkey
19 August 2010 | Marmaris
03 August 2010 | Larnaca Cyprus
01 August 2010 | Mediterranean Sea
30 July 2010 | Ashkelon Marina

SE Asia Watercolors

05 September 2009 | Vietnam
Please check out my latest watercolors of SE Asia... Thanks for looking!

Getting Around SE Asia

17 August 2009 | Vietnam
Dave and Judy
Blog Location: 16 27.498 N 107 35.061 E

We just grabbed a selection of photos from our travels around SE Asia. There are so many ways to get around. It's amazing how necessity is the mother of invention. These folks really know how to make the best of what they have... Check it out here

More Photos

Hanoi and HaLong Bay

02 August 2009 | Hanoi and HaLong Bay
Dave and Judy
Hanoi will be 1000 years old in 2010.

We checked into our 2 star hotel and headed for breakfast. We were forced to walk down the street because the sidewalks were used for motorcycle parking and the odd speeding motorcycle (both directions...)when the street gets too crowded... We dodged cars, motorcycles, cyclos, and bikes along with other A four block walk/dodge brings us to the KOTO (Know one Teach one) restaurant.
This is yet another endeavor supported by Intrepid Travel. This is a training restaurant for local street kids to learn to work in the food industry. The breakfast was exceptional. The service was tops. Dave even got a cappachino! This was an "off" day and most of the tour group hung in their room recovering from the all
night train ride. We on the other hand headed off to look for a new camera. Ours is getting ready to crash (Someone left it outside for 2 nights in 2 rainstorms, i won't mention any names, but the initials aren't DLH). We didn't find any deals so we bought a battery charger for our camera to replace the one that we left plugged in the wall in Bangkok. We are so camera inept!

On the way back we toured the Fine Arts Museum. They had a fine collection of some very old pottery and sculpture dating back to the ninth century. Most of the contemporary art was focused on war. Sadly, I guess that is the predominant factor in this countries history. We walked/dodged our way back to the hotel and hung out in our room for the evening.

The next morning we're on the bus for a 4 hour ride to catch a boat. We arrive at the dock in HaLong Bay in the late morning. We are heading out on a luxury tour ship. We all get private cabins with full amenities. The ship is brand new! We are the first customers. Slowly the anchor comes up and we zigzag our way out of the harbor. A delicious lunch is served on white table cloths. We lounge around like a bunch of beached whales for a while then head up to the bridge to check out the captain's bridge. Dave takes the wheel just to show them how things are done on Freebird... Soon the hook goes down and we head to shore in the launch. Trekking up the hill we find ourselves at the entrance to the Hang Dau Go Caves.

The more we explored the more we realized how big this cave is. That's why they named it Surprise Cave. After a few hours we headed back to the boat for some swimming. Dave finds the only jelly fish for miles and decides that maybe a beer on deck would be more beneficial. As the sun set we went up on the top deck and watched from lounge chairs. A late dinner was served.

Afterwards, some folks decided to try out the karaoke set up...We headed for that nice cozy cabin....ZZZZZZ

The next morning we had breakfast on the way back to the harbor where our trusty bus was waiting. The four hour trip back to Hanoi was broken up at a pottery studio where Judy scored some kewl stuff.

That evening we had our farewell dinner with our guide Thanh. He took us to a little place where we went up 3 flights of stairs and had a little dining room to ourselves. Good food! Thanks Thahn for a great tour!

We wandered the streets for the next few days on our own. We toured the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Uncle Ho is loved by all Vietnamese and you can go in and actually see him laying there resting in peace.

On our last evening we went to the"water puppet show" where we watched puppets bounce around in the water to the tune of live classical Vietnamese music. Very beautiful to see.

The next morning we caught a cab to the airport and the ride was over. We enjoyed 21 days of Bangkok, Cambodia and Vietnam. All in all it was one of our most memorable experiences. Thanks for coming along........

The Train

01 August 2009 | Danang to Hanoi
Dave and Judy
We walked a few blocks to the train station.Thanh organized our tickets and herded us into the waiting room. There were about 100 people in there with us......

It was extremely hot. No air conditioning. very little ventilation and not enough seats. That's ok, just ten minutes right? Wrong! the train was delayed one and a half hours. It felt like we were headed for a concentration camp. When they finally let us out we didn't care if the train came or not. We were just glad to be out of that place. Thanh got us first class tickets. We shared a sleeper cabin with Mark and Lainy from Melbourne/New York. Four bunks...two on top and two on the bottom. It was pretty grungy.. at first we didn't even want to touch the walls.
The windows were so dirty you couldn't see out of them. The air conditioning was
a plus. We decided to walk to the "dining car". The place looked like it had been
hit by a bomb. People (men smoking) were sitting at the tables playing cards yelling at each other. There were plastic
bottles and litter rolling around on the slimy floor. Of course we, the aliens were the center of attention. We engaged in a few conversations had a coffee and headed back to our now
not so dirty little cabin. The train rolled slowly through the night. We played 500 rummy until we were rummy and hit the hay. Boys on the top, girls on the bottom. Most of the group didn't sleep too well that night...

Dave slept like a rock. A knock on the door at 6 AM and we were headed down the isle into the sultry Hanoi morning. It was a three block walk to the hotel through the most amazing traffic I have ever seen. More later...sorry no pictures..dead camera battery..


30 July 2009 | Hue
Dave and Judy
Our bus takes us to Vietnam's North. We head through a 5 km tunnel and descend the dramatic Hai Van Pass and continue through the rural country side. We pass picturesque fishing villages and then on to Hue...


Hue is the former imperial capital of Vietnam. It's the cultural and religious center of the country. There is much to see and do here but first we head to lunch at a small local cafe. This restaurant is supported by Intrepid Travel. It's run by a hearing disabled man & his family. Some of the proceeds go to help within the hearing impaired community for their welfare and education. We had a great time watching Lac Thien open beer bottles with his special invention bottle opener. (We are now the proud owner of our very own that he gave to us!) Everybody that passes through autographs the walls and ceiling. There is hardly an inch that isn't covered with names of travelers from all over the world. It was such fun to stand on top of the refrigerator and create some art work of our own there.

Next stop: The Citadel. This is the former palace of the last ruling emperor of Vietnam. We wandered around the Ancient Royal City which covers 520 hectors and is completely surrounded by a moat. Please click here for more info and some nice pics.

The next day we are off on a motor cycle tour. Everybody gets a driver and 12 bikes zoom off around the city and countryside. We had a blast stopping at various sites including the Dong Ba Market where there were fortune tellers and! We boarded a "dragon boat" and headed down the Perfume River. A stop was made at the Thein Mu Pagoda. From here, in 1963, a monk drove their Austin car to Saigon and set himself on fire to protest the persecution of Buddhist. We both remember seeing that on TV when we were in high school. The Austin is still at the pagoda and is preserved as a reminder of those hard times.

The motor cycles were waiting to pick us up and we roared off to a monastery for lunch with Buddhist nuns. They put on a delicious vegetarian feast. This is another of the local business causes supported by Intrepid Travel. It is rewarding to travel and be able to contribute in a meaningful way straight to the working people. Good on ya Intrepid Travel.

Tonight we board a train for the 12 hour overnight ride to Hanoi.....
Vessel Name: Freebird
Vessel Make/Model: Grainger MC420 Catamaran
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Dave and Judy Howell
Dave started building Freebird in 1995 in a plastic shed on Camano Island, NW USA and launched her in April of 2001. He retired from the Fire Department in 1999 after 28 years of service. Judy Retired from dentistry in 1995 after 27 years. [...]
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