Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Sun flowers

The weather in Hanoi seems to change like most young girls change their minds these days. But we actually need some more steady warm weather with lots more sun after a really damn cold winter. But after half a day of beautiful sunshine here and there, a dry cold comes back which is not very nice.


For those who love flowers, this is the second best time of the year as the cool weather helps to keep the flowers longer than usual. In summer, I often have to change the flowers at my house every week, sometimes twice. But at this time of the year they last over a week. I also need to remind you that flowers in Hanoi are very cheap. I usually spend about $2 for 2 vases of big roses and maybe a little bit more for other flowers. It's always nice to have some flowers in the house to come home to.


I love wandering around the night flower market near my house after midnight. I remember 8 years ago, my friends and I would go there for a look and drink some beer plus eat noodles.... Thankfully, every thing is still much the same. I remember the family who run the noodle and tea shop, particularly their great fried noodles. In those days, for 100 beautiful long stem roses it cost only $1. I wonder how much profit there could be? I talked to many of the traders and they all grow different flowers in their own gardens and according to what they say, they still can earn some daily income and save a bit which is good to hear.

To be continued...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Riding Around Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc

Last month I was in Phu Quoc for a couple of weeks, mostly relaxing on the beach. Yesterday we decided to hire a motorbike for a ride around the south of Phu Quoc. We stopped at Sao - Star Beach for a drink and we had lunch here as well. This is one of the best beaches in Phu Quoc and Vietnam with white sand, wild and really quiet. I came here last time two years ago and nothing has changed in this area which impressed me much.

Phu Quoc

The next day we drove to the south to check out the pepper farms. We get lost on a really dusty road and we didn't know where we were. But luckily enough there were some pepper farms on the side of the road covered with red dust. They looked really bad, very dry as if it hadn't rained for years. Finally, we walked into a house where pepper was sold and the farm did look greener compared to the others. We bought some white pepper and I got some information about how they deal with business and the weather for my article. These pepper people were very friendly and quite willing to talk about the whole pepper process. Their peppercorns weren't that expensive compared to the shops in town and I believe it's pure instead of being mixed up with some other cheaper pepper seeds.

Phu Quoc

Driving back to town was also a nightmare of dust. I got totally covered by red dust and I looked filthy by the time we returned to the hotel. Anyway, it was an interesting drive and a bit of a break from the beach.

Monday, March 08, 2010



During my trip to Australia in October-November, I visited a few different places but Melbourne was the place that I stayed in between and also spent the rest of my trip. Most people who have been there would know about the unpredictable weather. I don't really like the cold weather but the temperatures in Melbourne were not as damn cold as Hanoi because the humidity is quite low.


This trip I feel was very special as it was the second time and I was invited out for dinner a lot by my friend's relatives. I was a bit lazy after the trip and with the blogging. But, once again, I would like to thank them all in this post. I may have missed out someone and please forgive me.

Roasted chicken drums with garlic, lemon, Olives and tomatoes

I would like to show my special appreciation to Liz, Mark's mother who took care of me for most of the time when I was in Melbourne and also joined the beautiful trip to Tassie. Liz also arranged quite a few different parties to welcome, farewell and for other reasons. I really enjoyed her famous lasagne, one of the best dishes I've had.

Risotto with fresh asparagus and salmon

Sarah and Chris' family is the second to thank as I went to their house many times for dinner. Sarah is a great cook and she can use her talents to cook even the left overs into a beautiful meal. I was really impressed about her food and her food's presentation. I enjoyed your food and great company of your family especially Harvey, Eden and Rosie. They are gorgeous.


The third family is Catherine's, Liz's sister. Yes, I love your old house and the Greek meal which reminded me heaps about Greece and was a nice way to remember meeting Cathy and her family in Santorini in 2008. The grilled lamb, salad and dessert was delicious. Thanks alot for the great evening and funny stories about the Melbourne Cup and Nana. Just loved it !!!


Emma, Mark's cousin, and her friend Bec travelled around Vietnam at the end of 2008 and this was such a great chance to catch up again and remind each other about some funny stories about riding on the back of the motorbike and being a bit drunk at parties. Thanks Emma, Sam, Luke, Gerry, Damian and their friends that gave me a memorable dinner with beautiful food and wine. Sam is such a gentlemen and really loved his design of the house.


Megan, yes, how can I forget about you:). Thanks for the BBQ and great time with your friends. Lisa was very nice and hilarious plus the special discount I got from her work. I do appreciate it very much. Also I would like to thank John who allowed me to stay down there in Anglesea. I can't believe how quickly Angus and Myee have grown up. I was very impressed about your family's zoo. John freaked me out when he showed me the huge lizard. Very warm family atmosphere!!!!

Nana Lorna and Tu

Special memory for me was the lady with the saucy beige hair, that's Nana. I love her hair color and her old house. It was really nice seeing Nana again and spending time at Crown but hope we are luckier next time.

Tu - Melbourne

Thanks all once again for having me and giving me such a great time and looking forward to seeing you again very soon.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Disappointing Aspects of Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc

I spent two weeks in Phu Quoc and everything seemed perfect with great weather and beautiful food, especially the seafood. But as always, there were some issues that came up

Phu Quoc

I went out for lunch on one particular day, walking along the beach just up from the bungalows we stayed at to try to have some different food instead of going into town. Unfortunately, it was a mistake to choose the Lien Hiep Thanh Hotel and Restaurant right on the beach. I ordered grilled squid with salt and chilli, spring rolls and sour broth with tuna. It sounded great as these are specialist dishes from Phu Quoc and most places I've been they had been so nice and yummy. Well, they served us boiled squid instead of grilled and I told the waiter that it was not what we ordered in a polite way but he denied it, telling me this is their restaurant's grilling technique. I was a bit upset and I ended up taking it back to the kitchen myself and they promised to make a new dish for me. Ten minutes later, the same plate came back with the half bitten piece of squid. I couldn't say a word as they were so hopeless and they waiter tried to make a joke but it turned out all stupid. The sour broth with tuna which should be great as it's simple to make was tasteless, the tuna wasn't cooked enough and, if that wasn't enough, the spring rolls tasted like they were from the super market. Totally sucked down there at the Lien Thanh!!!! No tip and worst meal of my life.

Phu Quoc

On another point, I was expecting the food at the night market to be cheap but it didn't work that way. Most restaurants at the night market were more expensive than restaurants in town and in the hotel. A prawn cost $4, 4 pieces of squid cost $5, a pice of tuna cost $5. Hello!!! this is Phu Quoc, an island where you can catch fish anywhere.