But with pictures this time ...
30.04.2013 - 30.06.2013 35 °C
Yet again I realise that it is too long since we have told you all what we've been up to. It's been a busy few weeks but (unbelievably) our first year is nearly at an end, the end of term is a mere four days away, our trip to Japan is only 7 days away ... so we should tell you about our latest adventures up country.
So, we headed down to the Mekong the other weekend so that Jill could see the wonders of the region, find some peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of the city, and generally just see a bit of greenery. The bs journey from Mien Tay bus station was as eventful s ever, with people squeezed in left, right and centre, and quite possibly other places as well. The street and bus hawkers were out in abundance, selling everything from fruit and bread to shirts, fans and other household implements and I was very, very excited to purchase (for 30p no less) a hugely impressive lighter / torch. It has a torch on one end and a lighter on the other! Jill thought I'd been fleeced and declared it a serious health hazard and has banished it to the nether reaches of the kitchen cupboard. But it will see the light of day very soon. You wait until the next power cut ... then she'll be saying what an excellent purchase it was. Or the house will go up in flames and there'll be no need for a torch anyway. A win win situation.
Down in Ben Tre we met up with the redoubtable Ken and Lieu at the Oasis Hotel again and spent a beautiful afternoon lazing in hammocks, having a dip in the pool, watching the Mekong and its boats flow gently by, and indulging in good food and lovely ice cream. Ben Tre is just such a peaceful and easy going place and the people are so open and friendly. You can't help but feel relaxed. On Sunday morning we hired a sampan with a wonderful lady who rowed us down the river and around the quiet tributaries that lead off it. We took the hotel cleaner, Tung, with us as he needed to practise his English and could translate with the boat lady and spent a scenic and tranquil three hours on the river. We just dangled our feet in the water, did a bit of rowing, and watched the world go by. It was stunning. At a riverside cafe the owners invited us to see their garden and house. From the river or road you cannot imagine that there are so many houses hidden away, but behind their cafe they had a lovely garden where they grow vegetables and flowers, and there are lots of little two room houses that are really simple, quaint and a world away from life in HCMC.
We finished off the day with hu tieu chay noodles and a gentle bus ride back home. A terrific weekend.
Last weekend we headed north to visit the centre of Vietnam's cao dai religion and check out their amazing temple. The caao dai religion is very new, having sprung up in 1926 after some guy had a series of visions, and is a mix of protestantism, buddhism, taoism, vegetarianism and probably a few other isms too. Charlie Chaplin and Victor Hugo were heavily into it apparently. They love a bit of colour (and the third eye) and the temple is a riot of blues, yellows, pinks. It's pretty spectacular. We watched one of the services and all the worshippers dress up rather colourfully too. All in all a good trip.
This weekend we've stayed in a hotel in the city. Oddly enough. However, the hotel is called the Alcove Library so it was a bit of a busman's holiday for me. It's not flash or anything (but the bed was really, really comfortable) but, sure enough, when you walk in the hotel there is a large library of books (which you can borrow) and you are given chocolates and a short story when you go to bed. It's also in a really local Virtnamese neighbourhood with a good Buddhist temple and a nice easy going feel to it. If I'm honest their lack of Dewey Decimal classification disappointed me a bit, but overall it was a great little place to stay.
So, that's our latest few wanders about the area. Next topic will be Japan so we'll be in touch in about three weeks or so. And we're also looking forward to Linda and Peter coming to see us. And Chris and Pat. Can't wait! Love you all. Massively.