Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I Had Accident

Xe om

I went out for lunch with my friend at the Singapore Fast Food shop. I took a xe om home and then the accident happened. I'm always scared going on the back of a xe om and usually choose old men for my trips because they mostly drive slowly and carefully.

Xe om accident

The old man was driving quite slowly but a guy cut us off really suddenly and of course, the man couldn't stop the motorbike. The result, as you can imagine, was me flying over the motorbike after the third motorbike hit us from behind. At that moment, I just didn't know what was happening to me because it happened so fast. The old driver was on the road with a bleeding head, the guy who pulled in front of us had cuts and bruises on his legs but was still sitting on his motorbike looking at us. The third motorbike was fine and disappeared quickly after the accident. I gave my driver 200,000Vnd for him to pay for a hospital visit and asked another xe om to take him to the hospital.

Traffic police

It was a mess because everyone said it wasn't their fault, but we all blamed the guy who turned in front because he didn't check before he turned. People were shouting at each other and I told them to call the police. Finally, two police men came and I had to tell them the full story with two other people. The police man started wandering around trying to find a stone to draw on the road and take some measurements. After five minutes, he had found something from the other side of the street and started drawing. They left afterwards with two motorbikes on the back of their truck and invited the two drivers to a meeting at the police station thenext morning. I hope everything went ok with the old man's head and his motorbike.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tay Thien Pagoda And Silver Waterfall Part I

Tay Thien pagoda

Khai and his friends invited me to join their day trip to Tay Thien Pagoda. As usual for our pagoda trips, we left very early in the morning and it took us fours hours to reach the beautiful pagoda which is located right on the top of a hill. Unfortunately, the bus broke down halfway up the hill, and we had to walk up to the top. The scenery was beautiful along the road and also from the pagoda.

Tay Thien pagoda

We chose a quiet day in the middle of the week but the pagoda was still really busy. Many people from other provinces and Hanoi came here to pray for a good year for their families. I saw many people taking xe oms(motorbike taxi) up the hill, even though they travelled from Hanoi by bus. You have to pay 10,000Vnd each for a return trip from the road where the buses stop up to the top and most motorbikes took two or three people at a time.

Tay Thien pagoda

We spent two hours walking around the pagoda and had lunch in a beautiful bungalow right on the side of pagoda. I was so impressed about how clean the pagoda was, as people put their waste in the rubbish baskets around, unlike some other places in Vietnam

To be continued

Saturday, May 26, 2007

My Goodfriend's Birthday

Cong's birthday

I have been living in Hanoi over 5 years and I have two really good Vietnamese friends, who I can trust and talk to. We meet several times a week for coffee or breakfast. Their names are Cong and Khai. Cong is now working at the Hilton Opera Hotel and Khai is currently working at the Sofitel Plaza Hotel. They are both good at their jobs and happy with them. Last month was Khai's birthday and we had a good time and last week it was Cong's turn.

Cong's birthday

We were all invited to our favorite Photo cafe where there is a nice, cool garden and upstairs section. Cong reserved the upstairs section for his party and we spent the evening drinking juice and eating cakes and fruit. His friends gave him gifts and flowers and we all had a good time.

Cong's birthday

Congratulations Cong! Another year coming with lots of luck for both work and life.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Van Anh Carving Shop


I was wandering around the old town of Hoi An and I noticed a young guy doing carving. I walked in and spoke to both him and the owner and bought a beautiful carved face which cost only 30,000Vnd. He told me that it took him half a day to make a small face. Most products at this place are crafted from bamboo or wood and are good for house decor.


They used to do wholesale sales only for fifteen years but just started their own business four years ago. This shop attracts both Vietnamese and western tourists. But most of their profits come from large orders for shops in big cities such as Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Van Anh Shop
40 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai
Hoi An

Wednesday, May 23, 2007



We spent four hours on the Sinh Café bus to Hue. We had the most careful driver who drove from 30kms to 40kms per hour meaning we could have been in Hue in an hour. Anyway, during the journey the bus stopped at Marble Mountain and Lang Co Beach before heading to Hue. Lang Co Beach is quite a nice beach, very clean with not many tourists around. Marble Mountain was a bit boring for me, maybe because I’ve been there before.


Over the years, I've heard so many people mention the Thanh Noi hotel, which is apparently one of the most quiet, old and beautiful hotels in town. This hotel is located in the citadel area, five minutes by motorbike from the centre of Hue which was just perfect for me as I need real quiet for relaxing. Anyway, we made the wrong choice as the hotel staff were terrible and the swimming pool was very cloudy. Some workmen started banging the wall at 7am and of course, the whole hotel was woken up. Oh my gosh, I couldn’t stand that at all. I told myself to calm down and get out of the hotel until the evening and just think about the beauty of Hue only.


Hue is a beautiful, charming and green city. There are so many old trees and old houses around, the food was great. I ate so much of it in just two nights. I love Bun Bo Hue, Banh Nam, Banh Bot Loc, Banh Hoi, Che and Huda Beer. I think I put on weight heaps during this holiday.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Architecture in Hue


I fell in love with Hue again recently. The feeling of history is so strong there with so many really old houses in the city and along the Huong River. There are now quite a few modern houses around but the good thing I saw was that people try to maintain the old houses and structures. There are some houses and historical temples in need of renovation and the government should invest money to help the community in Hue to do it.


We loved riding around the Hue streets taking photos of the streets, which are so green and nice. But I was also quite shocked by how many ugly houses built in the city center, even really big hotels which have appeared which has ruined the character of Hue a bit. Some of these houses and their color really do not suit this historical city. I saw green houses, pink houses in between the beautiful old houses or between old French villas. They look strange and really stand out. I wonder if the local planners worry about this?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hoi An’s Architecture

Hoi An

Hoi An is such an ancient beautiful city with so many old houses. There are lots of houses with hundred of year of history and I was so glad to see them still in good condition. In the past five years, Hoi An has changed so much. Besides the old houses, so many hotels and new houses have been built which is ruining the charming old city to some extent.

Hoi An - Lanterns

There are about 20 resorts and a range of hundreds of hotels in this small city, not to mention thousands of cloth shops and restaurants. I wonder why these modern resorts get approval by the government? They don't seem to fit the character of the place.

Hoi An

I hope the government stop allowing people to build modern houses, and tries to maintain the old houses for our next generation to enjoy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hoi An Beach

Hoi An Beach

Away from the ancient city of Hoi An - about 10 minutes by motorbike - is Cua Dai Beach. On the last day of our holiday I was woken by a flash of sunlight through the curtains. A relaxing day at the beach is always a good way to spend the last day, so we rode along the 4km road which has some great scenery.

Hoi An Beach seller

Hoi An beach is so quiet in the morning and I realized that there are much fewer sellers on the beach compared to last time I was here a few years ago. There are a few old ladies trying to earn some money from tourists. They keep coming back all the time until you buy something from them. They also charge a very high price which can be annoying. Also, the people who own the chairs on the beach are really aggressive, the food is over-priced and not good quality. Once I got over that, I relaxed.

Hoi An Beach

Hoi An beach has its good points: it's pretty clean and wide with white sand and the beer's cold.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Service In Hoi An

Hoi An fishing man

In general, the people in Hoi An are sweet and nice, but service is a big problem here judging by what I’ve seen after one week. I don’t expect everything to be perfect like in high class or five-star places, but in the average tourist restaurant the service is not great.

Hoi An walking man

I was so surprised to see staff in a very nice café serving with bare feet and staff arguing each other or talking loudly around the customers. The tone the waiters use to talk to customers is a bit strange, too. Even in my hotel, I went down stairs to reception to ask a question, but the receptionist kept talking to her friend on the speaker phone instead of holding the phone. I don’t think this kind of service is acceptable at all. I don’t think that I am difficult but when you work in hospitality for a long time, it’s difficult not to judge the service wherever you go.
However, eating on the street is different; the local street vendors are just so easy going and sometimes they even speak slowly to tourists because they know we might be confused. I imagined the service in Hoi An would be better than in Hanoi because of the number of tourists but it seems just about the same or even not as good in some cases.

Quang Thang Restaurant

I’ve noted some places that I’ve been to where my experience was not so good. Maybe they were having a bad day but these places were not up to standard in terms of food and service.

1. Café Dan
2. Dang Thang restaurant
3. Hai Scout café

BaLe Well Restaurant

On a different note, laptop computers are not worth taking to Hoi An if you wish to use a wireless connection, because there’s only two places but the connection signal is really weak. Unfortunately, the staff at these places didn’t tell me about the bad connection until after I’d already ordered. They tried to tell me that the connection depended on the value of the laptop? I didn’t know why the waiter told me that, but it ended up being a waste of time.

Nam Long restaurant - Hoi An

Beside these bad places, there are some good names which provide good services, good food, clean and friendly atmosphere that I would highly recommend such as:

1. Nam Long Restaurant
2. Vinh Hung 2 Hotel
3. Tam Tam café
4. BaLe Well Restaurant
5. Ngan Ha Cloth shop at 80 Nguyen Duy Hieu Street.
6. Sakura Restaurant
7. Xua va Nay - Before and Now Bar and Restaurant.

Sakura Restaurant

Hope this post can help you avoid bad places and enjoy yourself at nice and good places.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Old Lady's Cake

Banh Dau Xanh

Grilled green bean cake sounds a bit weird just because of the name. I don’t think I've ever heard of it before but an old lady in Hoi An is selling it right now and her cakes are pretty delicious. I asked her what the real name was because I didn’t believe what she told me. She told me that the grilled green bean cake included other ingredients like coconut, sugar, ginger and sweet potato. That sounds better, doesn't it? She opens from 3 to 5 in the afternoon.

Banh Dau Xanh

I went back to her stall again to buy a few more but she smiled and told me whispering, sorry love, please come back tomorrow. She was so sweet.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Chicken Pox

Chicken pox

I’ve got chicken pox before I went on holiday but I didn’t realize it. I thought I had a food allergy which I bought different medicines for and of course they didn’t have any effect at all. I felt really tired and ordered a at pizza home to eat but I couldn’t finish it, then I felt very hot inside but cold outside my body. I fell asleep after drinking some water. In the middle of the night, I got a really high fever and I couldn't move my body and just slept on the sofa. I felt better in the morning and went upstairs to sleep in the bed and relax for the whole day. I thought that I felt ill because of the pizza. I bought different medicine at the pharmacy in Hanoi but it didn’t really help. I went to Hoi An with my friend and the spots started appearing all around my body and face. I thought it was the effect of the food allergy. After I went back to the pharmacy in Hoi An, the girl told me to see the local doctor. I went there and he told me that I had chicken pox. Oh my god, it was scary!

Chicken Pox

The doctor's wife told me to stand away from her because she doesn’t want to catch my chicken pox but in a funny way. I did that. She gave me lots of pills for 5 days including a shampoo and some facial cream. It cost around 180,000vnd and it worked. Thank god! My face is almost getting back to normal but my holiday has finished. Shit happens!