Warm and helpful people

Warm and helpful people

Today I remember the Thais, Vietnamese and Cambodians. Let me tell you the good things I’ve experienced with them: 1. Thais are very loving towards kids. Whenever we took the train, somebody would always offer their seat for my five-year old daughter. At restaurants and boutiques, they were always playful with my daughter. The hotel staff hardly expected tip, although of course we gave them some, as appreciation of their hospitality. 2. In Vietnam I appreciate the taxi drivers. I think they are the most honest taxi drivers in the world. They never tried to jack up the price, but always used the taxi meter. Our hotel staff was also very helpful, doing their best to assist us. 3. In Cambodia, I would always remember the hotel manager who helped us when my daughter fell ill, and offered us free juice drinks, although we already checked out several hours earlier. Then the whole staff bid us warmly goodbye. Thoughts of kind people make me feel...
Boating in Tam Coc

Boating in Tam Coc

We passed through rice fields and limestone karsts in Tam Coc, a town in Ninh Binh, in North Vietnam. The scenery was beautiful, peaceful. It was late afternoon when we took the boatride, so the temperature was mild. Only two passengers were allowed in each boat. The boatmen were women who used their feet to paddle. It was a nice experience. One thing I didn’t like though: some boatwomen could be aggressive in their selling technique. My relatives were almost forced to buy souvenirs when their boatwoman suddently stopped paddling and started showing and shoving souvenirs in their faces....
Five days in Hanoi

Five days in Hanoi

We spent over a week in Vietnam in December 2012, and stayed five days in Hanoi. Here are the places we’ve seen. 1. Temple of Literature: built in 1070 and hosts the first national university in Vietnam. Quite big, with several courtyards. 2. Chaca la vong restaurant at 14 Cha Ca Street: Chaca, or fried fish (with noodles), is the only thing in the menu, but it’s damn delicious! The queue to get a dinner seats is long – but worth it. 3. Hanoi Citadel: the central part of the citadel was the former residence of Vietnamese monarchs. A part of it is in Unesco´s World Heritage List. The city of Hanoi was once called Thang Long, so this citadel is also called Thang Long citadel. 4. Night market outside Dong Xuan market: lots of people here. I couldn’t focus on shopping because there were too many things and too much people pushing in all directions. 5. Old quarter: dates back to the 13th century. Checked out ao dai dresses and handmade products. I love buying handmade stuffs. Be careful, the streets here are chaotic with motorcyclists. 6. French quarter: my daughter got so tired touring she fell asleep on the steps of the Opera House in Hanoi. Her dad carried her, and their pose reminded me of the pieta. When she woke up, we checked out the VIetnamese coffee shop chain, Highlands coffee, which has a nice grassy setting. Later on, my whole family – sister, cousin, in-law – ate a lunch buffet at luxurious Hotel Metropole Hanoi. 7. Hoa Lo prison: torture prison used by French colonists, and later by North...
Cone on in Vietnam

Cone on in Vietnam

We stayed in Vietnam for over a week in December 2012. The first thing I bought was Non la, the palm-leaf conical hat. Non las are still widely used even in the streets of the big city Hanoi – mostly by hawkers. Out in the countryside, people working in the fields wear this to shield them from the sun. And of course, tourists. The traditional Ao Dai is also  still commonly used by ladies in formal gatherings. And then there’s also the traditional casual wear. But the trend in Vietnam when I was there were colorful scarves elegantly wrapped around ladies’ necks. If you see the store Made in Vietnam, you will notice that many styles of clothing here are sent to Europe. But in this store, they are much cheaper. There’s a night market in Hanoi, but I found it hard to inch my way in the crowd, especially with a four-year old kid in tow, so I didn’t buy clothes here. Buying a Kipling bag is cheaper here, too, because there’s a Kipling factory in Vietnam, from what I’ve heard. But be careful, there are lots of fake Kiplings around. What I bought in Vietnam, besides Non la, is a wooden handmade bracelet which I found in a museum, and a bag with floral embroidery. I bought cheap sweaters, which friends find very nice. Artwork for hanging on the wall and a couple of orange lanterns from Hoi An.  Traditional clothes for my daughter. And I got a silk scarf as a gift from my...
Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature

The Temple of Literature is a Confucian temple in Hanoi, in northern Vietnam. It is the country’s first university, from the 11th century. Its first students were princes, from what I heard. When we visited, there were many students – from others schools – taking graduation pictures, monks praying, musicians playing traditional music and ladies walking around in Ao Dai. It was worthwhile to see the place. There are several souvenir shops in one of the courtyards. We bought a CD from the...