Sunday, June 10, 2012

Easy Rider: Vietnam

We are 2 weeks into our trip! 

The Full Moon Festival in Hoi An on Sunday night was really neat. All of the local shops closed and the locals all made offerings outside of their businesses. The river was lined with thousands of candles. The girls and I went out in a boat and put candles on the river too, you make a wish as you float out your candle, mine was for you Mum.

That night we had a beautiful dinner at Miss Ly's and tried the local Hoi An dish, Cao Lau: absolutely fantastic! Cao Lau is made with water from a special well in Hoi An and is only served in this area. It is a combination of noodles, crunchy and normal pork and vegetables.

On Monday, our last day in Hoi An, we hired two guides to take us on their motorcycles to the My Son ruins and the Marble Mountain. The My Son ruins date back to the 9th and 10th century and were bombed by the Americans in 1968. Most of the ruins now are destroyed with grass growing over the brick remains. The Italian Government has been paying to restore this site to its previous state. The ruins that have been partially restored are at one storey high, they used to be much taller. Most of the detail and statues have been destroyed and we observed large teams of people working on different parts of the site. It was quite interesting the way these large brick structures were constructed without cement and how they lasted until quite recently. 

That night our friends Katie and Patrick turned up at our hotel. We ate at a local restaurant and had some cocktails at a bar with fantastic art work by Hoi An pop artist Tran Trung Linh.

Sonja and I flew from Denang to Buon Ma Thuot on Tuesday for our three day Easy Rider motorcycle tour around the Central Highlands. 

Our guides Phillip and Quy, above, ( 620055) picked us up from the airport and on our first day they took us to a local sugar factory, to see bears and to see some local waterfalls in the rainforest. 

That night we stayed back in Buon Ma Thuot, had dinner at a local restuarant and went to the markets. We loved the markets here, we were the only white people among crowds of thousands. In this city no one spoke English or hounded us in the markets and we bought lots of interesting items. We found it interesting when local Vietnamese people asked our guides whether we would be in photographs with them.

On Wednesday we went to a local rubber plantation, saw peanut plants, tea plants and pepper plants. We went to a local market, all local people seemed to not believe their eyes when they saw us, they wanted to touch us and ask us questions about our age, our families and whether we had children. 

We had a beautiful cup of coffee at a shop on the side of the road and had local food for lunch and we visited the King's old holiday residence. 

In the afternoon we went to a local village, met the M'Nong people, spoke with them and their children in their homes and rode elephants. Without our knowledgable guides none of this would have been possible. This night we stayed in a Hotel just outside of the village and enjoyed our guides company at dinner. They told us some funny jokes and stories and told us about their lives and how they started working for Easy Rider.

On Thursday we stopped at a few more villages and met families from the Vietnamese Ma culture.

Meeting different Vietnamese families was by far my favourite experience of our trip and only possible because we had our Easy Rider guides. 

Later on in the day a little girl showed us her parents silk worm business. 

We then visited a silk factory where the cocoons are transformed into silk. It is an amazing process. 

Our guides dropped us in Da Lat at the Green City Hotel. I can't emphasise enough how fantastic this motorcycle tour and our guides were, they took care of everything, were polite and lovely. They gave us the local Vietnamese experience with food, people and surroundings. We cannot thank them enough and it made the Central Highlands the highlight of our trip.

Da Lat is a French inspired city. It has a much colder climate and their architecture is all very European. The streets are lined with little coffee shops. The shopping and coffee in Da Lat is fantastic. We checked out the local markets, a huge indoor placed lined with anything you could possibly ever need. We met a lovely German backpacker and had lunch with him before we left. On Friday we flew out of Da Lat to Saigon. In Saigon we stayed at Hotel 199. This hotel had a beautiful rooftop restaurant where we enjoyed our dinner.

I am now in our resort at Phu Quoc Island and will blog again soon.

Kim xxxx

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