A Travellerspoint blog

Home at last

We left the hotel after a lovely evening talking with our new friends at 9:00 am and went to the Hanoi airport for a 12:35 flight to Taipei. Beth and I had a seven hour layover in Taipei. We walked around the airport and then sat at a restaurant before going to our gate. We finally left, departing a half hour late. It was a 10 1/2 hour flight to Seattle but the flight wasn't full so we could stretch out more. We were so glad to touch down in Seattle and get through customs easily. It was so good to be home in my own bed!

Posted by adventuregirl88 16:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Last day in Hanoi

Everybody was saying their goodbyes. Some people left early in the morning. Carol left at nine and then there were those of us staying over. We spent the morning walking around the city, looking at shops and braving the traffic. Just crossing the street was exciting. On the smaller streets there is no light so you have to wait for a break and watch for motorbikes. It gets a bit scary! It was fun just seeing life on the streets of Hanoi. We saw little preschool kids and a bride and groom posing for pictures by the lake. We saw people in front of their shops on little stools eating breakfast or just talking. Lots of open air shops of all kinds. Back at the hotel, we checked out just before 1pm and the eight of us all went to the JW Marriott for a splurge day. Thanks to Mary Lee and Scott we got a deal on upgrading to the executive lounge. After getting into our rooms we met in the lounge for something to eat and talk a bit. Beth and I shared a room and the room is gorgeous! And we have a view looking over what is probably a man made lake with Asian style bridges. We had to check out the indoor pool and spa which were amazing. This place is really first class! We met again in the lounge at 5:30 pm for drinks and appetizers, all included. The spread was wonderful and they cooked hamburger sliders to order. And good red wine! We ate and talked until 9:00 pm. Planning to meet for breakfast. Beth and I will be heading for the airport in the morning at 9:00 am for a long trip home. We are ready to get back to our real lives again.

Street life

Street life


Busy streets

Busy streets


Living it up in the executive lounge

Living it up in the executive lounge


Great get together with the group

Great get together with the group

Posted by adventuregirl88 16:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Last day of the tour

Carol and I went to the Starbucks next door to get coffee before going to breakfast. It was just after 7:00 am and the place was empty! I think this coffee is way too expensive for most Vietnamese. After breakfast we drove out of the city to a couple of small towns to see how most people live. People seemed happy to see us and waved as we went by. We walked around and saw people busy working and a school where the kids were practicing soccer kicks. In the first village the main industry was the conical straw hats made of Palm leaves. We saw them being made in many houses. In the second village, their main industry was bamboo bird cages and bamboo fans. There were stacks of bamboo everywhere. As we walked around, this little old lady came out and started talking to us excitedly. She was holding hands with each one of us. She was so sweet. The guide said she was saying she wanted us to take her to Hanoi. He also said she was in her nineties. We drove back to Hanoi and were taken to lunch in a place with American food. I know a few men in the group were dying for American food but I enjoyed the Vietnamese food more. That was my least favorite meal. After lunch we were dropped off at the prison that was affectionately known as the Hanoi Hilton where John McCain was held prisoner. His picture and flight suit are on display. Their version of the war was certainly interesting. Back to our hotel to rest up before our farewell dinner. Many people are leaving tomorrow but many of us are staying one more day to rest up before a very long flight home. Our farewell dinner was at a lovely restaurant and the dinner was delicious but we were having such a good time talking, I hardly noticed. We did have good Chilean wine with the meal. Steve said some nice things about our group being special and we all told him what a great time we had. Back at the hotel, we stood outside hugging and saying goodbye. As hard as it is to end the trip, we are all looking forward to going home. Those of us staying the extra day will meet up to switch hotels tomorrow.

Hat making

Hat making


Fan making

Fan making


Fans

Fans


Hat making

Hat making


Little old lady in village

Little old lady in village


Lunch place

Lunch place


Starbucks staff

Starbucks staff


Steven saying his goodbyes

Steven saying his goodbyes


Farewell dinner

Farewell dinner


Farewell dinner

Farewell dinner

Posted by adventuregirl88 16:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Day in Hanoi

Our first event was a rickshaw ride through the streets of Hanoi. One person per rickshaw. Boy, was that fun! Right in the middle of the crazy traffic! We rode around for about 45 minutes. We saw big boulevards and then in to narrow streets with people cooking on the sidewalk and people carrying goods to sell. There is a pretty lake near our hotel with lots of pretty gardens and lots of people walking. After we got off the rickshaws we went to a restaurant where the chef was going to give us a cooking class. First she gave us a tour of the market where she buys her ingredients. Such a busy place with a lot of crazy items. Turtles, eels, snails, squid, toads and things I couldn't identify. Back at the restaurant the menu was chicken salad, spring rolls, and a beef dish wrapped in banana leaves. Dessert was fried bananas with ice cream. It was really fun and we ate it all. Delicious! After lunch we went to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. We saw the house he lived and worked in, and saw all the cars he had. The grounds were huge. We returned to the hotel for a long break before we went on a walking trip around the lake. When we finished some of us went to a French restaurant and just got some soup and a glass of wine. The food was fabulous and the presentation superb! When we got back we all congregated at the Starbucks and then to bed.

Rickshaw ride

Rickshaw ride


Ho Chi Minh mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum


Lots of different kinds of rice in the market

Lots of different kinds of rice in the market


Our chef

Our chef


Turtles for sale

Turtles for sale


Cooking class

Cooking class


Cooking class

Cooking class


French restaurant

French restaurant

Posted by adventuregirl88 16:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Back to Hanoi

Our morning was in the bus back to Hanoi with a short stop to see farmers preparing and planting rice in the field and seeing a cemetery. Since we all complained about the Hanoi Super Hotel, Steven made some calls to the home office and they changed our hotel. The Lan Vien Hotel is not only nicer but has a Starbucks! I'm having a latte in the morning! In Hanoi we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant where they only cook fish. At your place you have a bowl and rice noodles, some cilantro, peanuts, onions, shredded, and a sauce. They bring a pan with fried fish and put it on a burner at you table. Then they dump greens over the fish and cook for a short time. Then you put the noodles in the bowl, onions, cilantro and peanuts with sauce and put the fish mixture over it. Delicious! After lunch we went to the Ethnology Museum and first walked around the outside where they had houses from different ethnic groups and then inside there was a lovely display of costumes, implement and more info on each different group. It was very well done. From there we went to our hotel and checked in. Not long before we got on the bus and drove to a theater where we saw a performance of the water puppets. It's an old art form and very interesting. Musicians on the side of the stage and the puppets in the water. You had to be there! After the performance, we broke up into two groups and went to have dinner with a local family. Our group house was a 45 minute drive and into an area that seemed pretty poor. The first floor of the house is where the park the car, the next level is living room and kitchen and bathroom. The third floor is the daughter's room and the parents bedroom. The fourth floor is the son's room and laundry. One more floor is rooftop deck. The lady who lived there didn't speak enough English and her husband was out of town so she had her brother come over with his two boys to talk to us in English. All the kids were so cute and excited that we were there except maybe the 15 year old boy. The little girl was 10 years old and really sharp. The meal was delicious and after dinner the little girl played her guitar and the 11 year old boy did magic tricks. The teenager said he had no talent so did nothing. We loved the kids and enjoyed the brother's conversation. It was a great evening To the hotel and bed!

At our home visit. Linh is 10years old.

At our home visit. Linh is 10years old.


Fish restaurant

Fish restaurant


Fish restaurant

Fish restaurant


Host family children performing

Host family children performing


Magic show

Magic show

Posted by adventuregirl88 16:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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