Category Archives: Vietnam

Vietnam, Hoi An

In case anyone thinks I’ve given up blogging about my travels – I haven’t but as I’ve spent the last three weeks with friends and on my own (planning the rest of this year and even 2021 travels) in a place I have often blogged about – I thought I would save this visit up for one blog with things I haven’t necessarily mentioned before although I have posted a few interim things on Instagram which is much faster!

I always love having people to stay at my place in Vietnam when I am there and this year I had two lots of visitors. Firstly my cruise and SE tour buddies – Luisa and Chris (and aren’t we glad we did the Asia cruise at the very start of the year thereby avoiding cancelled destinations and even cancelled cruise) and secondly Jo and Fliss – both of whom, like me, are rather enjoying not working. Jo is a regular visitor here but the other were newbies so it was fun showing them around.

Luisa and Chris pose by the pink wall in the old town of Hoi An. We enjoyed seeing the local temples and the Calm Spa in the rice paddies – water buffalo not included – we just chanced upon him and his owner on our way there.
Jo, Fliss and I loving not having a schedule anything more complex than gin time, spa time, food time, shopping time!
En route to cooking school – a stop at the colourful market in Hoi An is one of my favourite places to take in the freshness and buzz
Taking a rid in a traditional fishing coracle boat before we got down to some serious rice pancake making

My apartment is a very short walk from Marble Mountain but as is often the case I rarely visit there. But this time we took the short elevator ride to what I thought was just one pagoda but turned out to be a large complex of pagodas and temples. Pretty cool actually and literally on the doorstep.

Temples, pagodas and buddhas at Marble Mountain

En route to Marble Mountain there are about 10 massive – and I mean massive shops – selling marble everything. Again another place I had never beven into – but this time I decided that “Marble Bunnings” or “Marble B and Q” for my Brit friends had to be seen. So glad I did – check out photos below – not sure who buys these – and some are ginormous – but I did get a kick out of seeing what was for sale!

To give you a feel for the sheer size of these places – which also include an indoor area for the more delicate works
But it’s not just buddhas and lions. Do people really buy status of Washington and Einstein in Hoi An? I guess they might.
I actually quite liked these and could imagine one on my balcony at home – wherever that is!
And these made me giggle the most – there are about 12 of them – it was hard to choose my favourite 4

And a visit to Hoi An has to include shopping – ladies I’m looking at you! Of course I had to join in – such a bargain – so had some clothes and some shoes made (plus some Birkie lookalikes). We also bought a lot of other stuff – I won’t bore you….

Finally the two things I never tire of when I visit this part of the world – the evening light in Hoi An and the view from my apartment.

Dusk in Hoi An
Rain or shine doesn’t matter – I love “my beach” in Danang.

I will be back next year but now heading south to another of my “homes”……..

Vietnam, Hoi An and Danang – my annual Chill Fest

I haven’t gone into hiding but have enjoyed two weeks chilling in central Vietnam – a place I have been coming back to for over 15 years.

On this visit my friend Jo – who has visited many times with her daughter Hannah – joined me for part of the visit. She proved to be an excellent food guide and a good shopper too!!

On the food front – it is just not possible to ever get bored with Vietnamese food which is fresh and healthy – mostly! Below is just from one of our favourite restaurants in Hoi An – Morning Glory. Ban xeo pancakes (a Hoi An speciality); chicken, bean sprout and mint salad; eggplant with garlic and chilli and caramelised pork belly. Divine. Go hungry!

This time we went to Danang for a day. It is very close by so worth a visit but has none of the charm of Hoi An (see below). It is a commercial centre so busy and bustle with a food and flower market and a riverside walk which allows you to take in a lot of colourfully lit bridges (not to mention dried sea horses!).

Glad we went but no particular hurry to get back – I am a Hoi An and local beach girl when over here.

So why do I love Hoi An so much? Although it is much busier than when I first visited it still retains its charm and I remain impressed by how much of the old town (which is conveniently pedestrianised) has been preserved in line with its UNESCO status. For history buffs there are many old house and shops now part of a “museum” you can wander in and out of to get a feel for how people lived here not that long ago.

Or you can just drink cocktails and people watch….

Or wander down by the river and check out the boats plying their trade…..

Or appreciate why this town is known as the City of Lanterns …..

Or head to a spa in the quiet rice paddies – only 10 minutes away but an oasis of calm (I recommend Calm Spa if you are visiting) – great value and venue…..

Or just hang out at the beach which is where I keep coming back to every year. Can you see why?

Finally thanks to Jo for visiting and making it even more fun (and for excellent gin and tonic making too)

Vietnam, Hoi An – the rickety bamboo bridge and the memorial to women

Following on from some ideas I got via the Wanderlustplusone blog I was now in search of a real bamboo bridge across the rice paddies. These are easier said than found and my helpful taxi driver took me to the middle of nowhere – into the centre of the rice paddies after which we walked for ten minutes and I found my bridge. True it was broken and so didn’t actually go anywhere but it is an impressive piece of design and it was stable enough for me to walk out to the point at which it disappeared. My taxi driver came too as he had never seen one of these either – at least that’s what I think he said!

Firstly a drive through the rice paddies – to some astonished looks from the workers and everyone else who was on a bike or scooter.

And then the bridge

Then we made our way to the memorial for the heroic Vietnamese mother. Although I’d seen some photographs of it I was not prepared for the size of the memorial – which has the faces of women carved into it like Mount Rushmore (well except for the fact it is women only – yay!) or the lovely grounds in which it stood. Unfortunately the sun was in the wrong spot so it is hard to see the grandeur clearly – for best pics go in the morning.

When you go inside – it is free – you see various exhibits about women in Vietnam – unfortunately nothing in English yet but I thought these reliefs spoke for themselves about the variety of lives mothers in Vietnam have lived

Vietnam, Hoi An – Mural Village

One of my favourite travel blogs is wanderlustplusone.wordpress.com. I was perusing her site when I came across a few places she and her son had recently visited near Hoi An and so I decided to find them for myself. She had a number of ideas and the first one I sought out was the mural village – which is south of Hoi An and is called Tam Kay – xa Tam Thanh. It is about 45 minutes south of Hoi An on the coast and in a joint venture with Korea (not sure why them except that there are a lot of Korean visitors to this part of Vietnam) they decided to turn this village into a Centre for all kinds of murals. It is still virtually unknown – I only saw about 4 other western faces – which makes it even more interesting and it took the taxi driver a while to find it – but luckily al the people in the villages along the way proved very helpful in guiding us there.

The first things they started paining was the underside of the traditional fishing boats

Then they brightened up the actual houses in the village

And finally onto the murals

I love initiatives like this one – makes everyone who sees it smile and I suspect it won’t be so unknown for long

Vietnam, Hoi An – Looking around a luxury hotel on the Beach

A few years ago I was lucky to be able to stay at the Nam Hai in Hoi An Vietnam. I went back to visit this week. The hotel is now owned by the Four Seasons and consists of villa only accommodation in 35 acres of understated but beautifully maintained grounds. It has its own Vietnamese cooking school and runs gravity defying yoga classes (think you hang from silk loops that fall from the ceiling?) – as you can see it is truly stunning (even on a cloudy day) and only 10 minutes from downtown Hoi An.

Nice to dream:)

Vietnam, Pho Soup (Susie style)

One of the best things about being at the Hyatt in Danang is breakfast. While they have all the usual British, American and European options it is the traditional Pho soup that I have every day. By the time I have added the Susie touch it is a meal that keeps me full for the rest of the day. So here is how the dish starts – very simply with noodles and chicken (sometimes beef) to which is added a fresh broth.

Then comes the fun part – adding all the things that make it unique every day – this is because there are different things each day so it never tastes exactly the same – but it always has a good sprinkling of fresh chilies, chilli powder and chilli sauce so good for detox too. And no I don’t always know what I am adding but if it looks and tastes good – that’s all I need to know.

Then I take the bowl back to my table, add the belly of port and a squish of lime juice and I’m ready to tuck in.

Total bliss:)