Friday, July 29, 2011

Angel's Juice

Angel, along with her sister, runs a modest eatery not far from our apartment. We sometimes drop in for a stir fry or Stray’s omelet. When she’s not cooking, Angel can often be seen sitting behind large plastic tubs, big enough to bath a small child in, and pots.

You would be forgiven for thinking this was something one might find on a forest floor, or possibly stuck to the bottom of a shoe, because sometimes, it would be.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tag, you're it for 'My 7 Links' - when bloggers get tagged.

Recently I became aware that Cooee had been nominated to do 'My 7 Links', by Megan's Bangkok Reality Smackdown. It's a project that was started by Tripbase, and along with Lani at Tell Thai Heart and three other bloggers, Cooee has been passed the baton.

I'm also surprised that Megan named our blog, because there are so, so many out there with much more worthy content. Cooee was started solely to keep family and friends up to date (even if they rarely comment) with our whereabouts and goings on. I really don't care if anyone reads it (lie, lie), but have definitely been enjoying writing it for its therapeutic benefits.

Oh yeah, part of the game requires nominating 5 blogs (not on the list to date although it doesn't look like they're staying on top of things) to keep the relay running, which you'll find at the end of this post.

And, as the Rules state, I'm not going to over think it, so here goes. Cooee's post that was the...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Same, same, but totally different - Thailand and Vietnam

Thailand and Vietnam have some things in common...they're both in Asia (obviously) and over time, have been home to some of the same ethnic tribes. And, each have given and taken from the Mon Khmer language in years gone by. But they are very different.

After having been in Thailand now for 9 months, I guess one tends to notice, well, odd, trivial or smaller differences when travelling to another country.

In Vietnam you might find....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ho-ax Chi Minh City

I suppose I shouldn’t just single out Ho Chi Minh, because wherever there are hoards of tourists in big cities, there are bound to be scams. And, to be honest, some of the practices back in Australia regarding foreign tourists leave a lot to be desired. But, this time, Ho Chi Minh took the cake.

It started at the airport. Generally taxi coupon services are there to save you from being taken advantage of. In fact Saigon Air Taxi’s motto is ‘Safety - Save’. Upon arriving we asked the price to be taken to a particular area. US$8 the young female attendant quoted. Without raving on too much, dealing in U.S. dollars in Vietnam is one of my pet peeves.
We’re not American, nor are we in America, “So, how much in Vietnamese Dong (VND)?”

“190,000” she says. Stray does a quick conversion and tells her it should be 160,000 VND and confirms it with two guys from the U.S., standing next to us.

“OK, 170,000 then.” she says, "You can go outside and check the other prices for yourself". After a bit of umming and arring, we agree, but we’re not happy because of the unprofessional behaviour. There shouldn't be any bargaining at this type of facility and whose exchange rate was she using anyway?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Da Lat (and what costs what).

About two weeks ago...

It’s a very short flight from Danang to Da Lat, only an hour and twenty minutes, and after a bit of shut eye, coffee for me and energy drink (relieved to find out Vitamin PP is another name for B3) for Stray, we’d landed.
Body of water on the way to Da Lat
Shortly prior to landing
Da Lat's Lien Khuong International Airport had only recently been built when we were here last year and it was reassuring to see that the control tower was now complete. Purchasing a taxi coupon (200,000 VND) from within the airport is the only way to go, as it turned out, we paid less than half the metred price for the 30 minute drive along a newish highway and up into the mountains...albeit a trifle teeth clenching. Driving in Vietnam is something to be experienced (or not), especially if the guy behind the wheel thinks his last name is Schumacher.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Vietnamese Wedding - Day 2

About two weeks ago...

The ladies are dressed in their embroidered and beaded Ao Dais by the time we reach Dung's house and some of the girls are putting the finishing touches to the bride's wedding costume. It doesn't take long before the groom's procession is delivered by mini van and they make their way inside the house to 'receive the bride'.
In day's gone by the groom's mother may not have partaken in this ceremony, just in case she scared the away 'bride to be'. The gifts being carried are traditionally representations of wealth, on the groom's side. Once the introductions are out of the way, we're invited to the tables in front of the ancestral alter. Again, we're given front row seats with the immediate family.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Vietnamese Wedding - Day 1

About two weeks ago...

The reason for our visit to Vietnam is upon us. Our friend, Dung's wedding.

Danang is the closest city that has an airport, major bus or train station, which is only around 40 minutes away from Hoi An by car. Along the way, the coastline and local houses are being devoured by gigantuos resorts, contrasted by the quonset huts, still standing from the war.
The venue for the first day of wedding celebrations is her parent's house, a short distance ouside of Hoi An. Hoi An is similar to Chiang Mai in some ways, but smaller. It has preserved many of it's temples and ancient buildings that now house shops and business.  The town lines the banks of the Thu Bon River and out to the shores of the South China Sea.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where in the world is Pho Chien Phong? Part II

Some hours later back at the hotel, our friend Thanh arrives and Stray expresses his desire to find Pho Chien Phong. Thanh was with us the first and only time we'd eaten it, but isn't sure where we can find it close by. He reassures us that what we're having for dinner is just as appetising.
And it is, but it's not PCP. We break up the evening of eating with a trip to the cinemas to watch Transformers III in 3D. Just the thing one does in Hanoi ;)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Where in the world is Pho Chien Phong?

About two weeks ago...

In March last year our friends took us to West Lake, Hanoi, to dine by the waterside. One of the dishes we enjoyed was Pho Chien Phong. Little square pillows of deep fried puffed up rice noodle, topped with meat and water spinach.

Since that time Stray, especially, has had a hankering is determined to try it again. We did try to find it all the way down the coast of Vietnam, but like many dishes, this appeared to be a particularly regional specialty. 

So, he asks the receptionist at our hotel where we might find PCP and she kindly writes down the name in Vietnamese and of an eatery that may have have it on their menu. We walk to the restaurant avoiding the banana mafia (ladies carrying baskets of bananas or fruit on each end of a pole. If you don't buy the fruit, you'll probably end up with that pole slung over your own shoulder for a photo opp. If you do take a happy snap, you maybe hounded and surrounded by her and members of her 'family', to pay an unexpected exorbitant fee) and seat ourselves.
Stray shows the waitress the piece of paper, but alas, she says they don't have it. However, she does charade that they make a similar dish which is just as good. We order a glass of Hanoi beer while we wait and contrary to popular negative reviews...I liked it! It was light and had a hint of jasmine tea, or something or other. Or, could that have been a remnant of dish washing detergent? Just kidding.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hanoi - 4th Impressions

About two weeks ago...

This was our fourth visit to Hanoi and it's just as kaleidoscopic and cacophonic, as we left it 18 months ago. During the drive from the airport into the city we noticed many more motorbike helmets (and not sitting in the scooter basket), than last time...the smog haze, sadly, looked just the same.
London to a brick she's wearing stocking socks.
Just as in Thailand, staying out of the sun's tanning rays while riding around town, is a major priority, especially for the fairer sex. It's not uncommon to see women completely covered from head to toe. When the sun shines, this is the land of wide brim hats, decorated with ribbons, flowers and bibs and bobs...
... face masks, gloves and stockings. This time, instead of long sleeved shirts and gloves, or just long sleeved gloves, some fashionistas were sporting hooded sweat shirts, with extensions that cover the top of the hands, or with mittens built into the end of the sleeve. The hood fits neatly under the motorbike helmet and the front is zippable up to the nose. Too warm for me in the Hanoi heat I'm afraid, but practical, inexpensive and popular.