Friday, August 22, 2014

Hanoi another day.

We had to be up breakfasted and ready to go by 8.30 am and we all were! Today we go to the mausoleum, it is set in a huge open area with all the roads blocked off so everyone has to walk in and around. The Mausoleum is set up quite high with lots of steps each one seems to be guarded by an armed policeman. Up we went and into an ice chamber, it really was like walking into a deep freeze, on and on we walked passing armed guards all the way until we came to the big chamber in the middle and there to our amazement was Ho Chi Minh lying in state in his open coffin! We were not to talk or stop but there were gasps and I did stop only to be moved right along by the guard. Who would have though we would be seeing a long dead body lying in all its majesty. Then I thought I am sure Ho Chi Minh was cremated but maybe I am wrong. Seems not as when we got outside in the hot sunshine our Guide Quang told us Uncle Ho's lifestory in infinite detail and finally said he had been cremated and the 'body' was a wax work dummy.
We were then taken along a lovely garden path beside a stream to the little house on stilts that Ho Chi Minh lived towards the last and in fact he died there in the simple little house like he had grown up in, it is still in exactly the same state as when he left it.
We also saw the empty Presidential Palace within the same complex, it is only used for visiting dignitaries now. A big impressive building.
We then were taken to an ancient Temple of literature, a sort of university of the old times where rich and special people were trained and enlightened.. There were lovely gardens all around it and a bride was having her photos taken there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The longest day slowly comes to andend.

The end of the longest first day.
The day was not as yet finished, after the bus dropped us off at the Sofitel Hotel we had over an hour before gong out to dinner. Erle and I decided we just had t have a quick swim in the huge pool as we were so very hot and sweaty and just worn out as it had been an extremely long day with fancy welcome dinner still to come. We all chose to go to the local Cooking School for dinner, where young chefs and waiters all learn their trades. The food was just lovely all beautifully decorated and served perfectly, we dined with Dorothy and Winnifred the 2 nice Kiwi ladies and very much

 enjoyed our evening out. The most unusual of the food served was Crispy Rice coated Chicken, it was lovely and the Coconut and prawn soup served in a coconut shell was also divine. We were supposed to be getting to know our fellow travellers but really all we got to know were each other!
After dinner we all walked back to our Hotel braving the busy streets full of traffic, and collapsed into our beds for a good nights sleep.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Good Morning Vietnam!

Good morning Vietnam  (in the words of the late great Robin Williams.
We have arrived in Hanoi and are quickly whisked off to our very nice Hotel where we have about half an hour to unpack, freshen up, have a bite to eat and get back down ready to go bike riding or any of the other 5 options for the afternoon. Not a lot of spare time to adjust to the heat and humidity, the very thought of heading off for an hours bike ride in the country had very little appeal but we were ready! However the very nice tour guide Quang took one look at us and suggested we didn't bike but instead went on a lovely visit to a Pottery factory. Good suggestion Quang, we were only mildly disappointed. 
While we waited for the bus to take us to the pottery place Erle and I dashed out along the street to have a look around, we discovered the Hanoi Opera House, a very impressive building across the road and all the masses of scooters on the road, even spotted a rickshaw!
The foot paths were littered with hundreds of scooters, apparently the footpath is the scooter park!

The Bus took us to the Pottery factory some distance away where we found a squirrel in a cage running madly all around his house, so fast I couldn't catch a good photo of him, then in we went to the factory where there was no air conditioning just a couple of fans moving the stifling heat around. The workers mainly sat on the ground or on tiny wee 6 inch high seats, wearing masks against the clay dust, all doing delicate hand work, there was hardly any machinery but the pottery was very well made.

 The people had to make hundreds of the same item over and over again. Teapots, cups, plates vases and religious icons etc There was a big market nearby selling all of these items.

A nice Guava selling lady  gave Erle a green guava to try, we took it home and peeled it to taste it but were not very keen on the flavour.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Off on our big tour, first stop Singapore

We are off on our tour, it started early on Monday morning taking Porsche our dear little Burmese cat to the cattery in Blenheim, then we came back to Picton caught the Ferry to Wellington and in time the flight to Auckland and then at midnight caught the plane to Singapore a full 10 hour flight which fortunately we did grab a little sleep. We were only in transit for a few hours then back on the plane to Hanoi in Vietnam. Took these photos in Singapore. the airport is so beautiful just full of flowers, mainly beautiful Orchids.

As we went through Auckland Airport we looked around to see if anyone else was carrying APT backpacks that we have all been given for going on this tour. We quickly spotted 2 ladies and made ourselves known to Dorothy and Winnifred and I could tell we would get on well they both had a nice
 in their eyes... fun people, we travelled together from then on.. And in Auckland we also found 2 men also in the team. Singapore was only a transit stop and soon we were on our way to Hanoi Vietnam.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our next big holiday.

Only one week to go before we leave on our cruises of Vietnam and Cambodia. Can't wait! 

One of the ships we will be cruising upon.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Avonside Drive in Christchurch.

This is part of the area we drove around in Christchurch, Avonside Drive, so many homes have just vanished leaving vast empty spaces. This just one of the many areas that have been ruined by the earthquake, some never to be built on again ever as the land is too unstable now.
Thanks to the Press Newspaper for the photo.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

New Brighton Christchurch

We drove around  the suburbs looking at the ruined homes of people who have already left the district , where there are just empty paddock in which whole communities lived and loved in homes that just don't exist any more or if they are still standing they have been vandalized and sit vacant and abandoned and/or flooded; a sorry sight.
 So on to a slightly run-down New Brighton and the lovely beach with its nice new Pier, rebuilt since the quake which brought it down. We did some shopping and talked to locals who wish the town could become the 'place to be' again that it was several years ago  when it was the only town in the district that was open for business on the weekends. Maybe it could too, now is the time for change.