A Travellerspoint blog

trip back home

back to australia

rain 37 °C

today was the flight back home. up for some breakfeast then time to pack. not as much weight in our bags as we thought. said goodbye to the lovely staff at elite hotel hanoi. sad to say goodbye they had been a great hotel to stay in while in hanoi. taxi arrived and swept us off to hotel. had a few near misses on the way to the airport. ahhh vietnam traffic. we had become very used to the close calls and near misses. when we first arrived in vietnam there was a bit of white knuckles going on now we were just sitting calmly fully having complete faith in our driver and those around us.
painless flight from hanoi to guangzhou. got hassled a bit by very cranky chinese security staff. then a bit of a wait then off to sydney. both had a bad nights sleep. kids screaming and the general crampness of being confined to a seat for 9 1/2 hours. arrived in sydney. thanks goodness. back on aussie soil and nice to be greeted by nice customs officers. transit in sydney for qantas flight to brisbane. reading sydney papers bag maroons for this weeks origin game. 6 years and counting nsw. flight to brisbane. back in queensland and that little bit closer to home. another wait. flight delayed for 40 minutes to hervey bay. finally get on flight and 40 minutes later land in glorious hervey bay. home!!
30 hours from leaving the elite hotel hanoi we are back in our home. feeling exhausted, happy and a bit overwhelmed.
great trip and there was nothing we could have changed. as i mentioned earlier if you get the chance to visit vietnam do it. it is an amazing country with amazing people and great places to visit. hopefully we get the chance to visit there again.
time to sign off un til our next adventure.
andrew and jenny

Posted by andrewjenny 02:28 Archived in Vietnam Tagged home flight back Comments (0)

final day in hanoi

last day

overcast 36 °C

our final day in hanoi. can't believe that we have reach the end of our trip. today we decided to have a relaxing day and thought we would take in a movie at the big multiplex cinema in hanoi. caught a taxi which was a 10 minute trip to the hotel. the cinema is located in a giant shopping complex. this is the most modern shopping centre we have seen in vietnam. 7 levels of shops, kids amusement centres and the huge cinema complex.

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we decided to see the avengers in 3d. all the movies are in english with vietnamese subtitles. found the cinemas in this giant complex and with help from a local worked our where to get tickets. got our popcorn and drinks and settled into the cinema. the cinema was awesome. big reclining seats with a huge amount of leg room. the 3d glasses were wrap around ones which are better than the ones we get back at home and the screen and sound system were huge. movie was great and the best 3d movie we have seen. very different experience to australia where people are very quiet in the cinema and get told to be quiet by others. here kids chat and wander around the cinema and the parents and staff don't seem to mind. didn't worry us to much either.
after movie we decided to get something to eat and we found what we thought was a sushi train. however, it was not what we thought. what happens is that you are given a pot filled with broth of your choice. in front of you the pot is placed in a holder which has a dial in front of you which you control to heat it up. the ingredients go past you and you grab a plate and put in what you want. excellent. after getting our head around it jen and i had a ball. it is a great way to eat. the pictures below may explain a little better.

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back to the hotel for a break then we headed out for some last minute shopping. before we went shopping we visited the city view bar which we had visited on the first day in hanoi. had a couple of ales there then headed out.

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brought ourselves a few dvd tv box sets for prices so cheap i feel i cannot devulge. hopefully when we get back home they will be ok, however, for the prices we paid i was willing to take the chance. then onto the knight bar for some goodbye cocktails. after several different types of cocktails of the day we said goodbye to our new friend the bartender, never got to know his name, and headed back to the elite hotel. have totally enjoyed our final few days in hanoi and it has been a great finish to an excellent trip.

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thank you to all the people who have viewed our blogs. the numbers have been in the high 200's for each blog so it is great to know that someone other than our aunty bea and my sister karen and bro kel have shown some interest in our little adventure. if you have an interest in vietnam and have the money and time you must visit, you will not regret it.
tomorrow we fly out and head back to australia. hopefully we will get the chance to visit this country again.
andrew and jenny.

Posted by andrewjenny 07:58 Archived in Vietnam Tagged day final Comments (0)

happy birthday ho

122 years old today

overcast 38 °C

today is ho chi minh's 122 birthday. well if he was alive he would be 122. today all around vietnam the country will celebrate the birthday of the greeat man. the streets are covered in flags and banners to celebrate. that means there are even more people in hanoi and we realised that when we hit the streets in a taxi to go to the army museum and flag tower. traffic was even more chaotic than normal.

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the flag tower is a landmark site for hanoi and also situated next door is the army museum. what they have in the army museum is a couple of buildings which have a history of the vietnam armed forces and outside a huge collection of planes, tanks, artillery and bombs. there is also a large display of lots of parts of planes which were shot down in hanoi during the vietnam war to make a large sculpture. very cool. the climb to the top of the flag tower is a very steep one. jen decided to sit it out so i made my way to the top. it was a great view of the city of hanoi.
i must admit when i got the top i had built up a massive sweat and after walking back down i was ready for a nice cool drink which jen and i had at the cafe located in the grounds.

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the humidity was really high today and thought we would walk back into town and head to the hotel to cool down and get ready for the water puppets show which we had booked through the hotel to see in the afternoon. when we got back to the hotel we were bathed in sweat. time for a shower and cool down.
headed off the the water puppets show which has theatre down near the lake. the theatre has about 6 shows a day and they run for 40 minutes. this has been a vietnamese tradition for hundreds of years. the locals would conduct shows in rice paddy fields as a from of entertainment. the puppets are attached to long poles and the person controlling them is in waist dep water behind a screen. there is a live band playing music on traditional vietnamese instruments. it was a lot of fun and if you are in hanoi go visit. the pictures i took didn't come out very well as he lighting was a little poor and a flash didn't work. the video i will check later.

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we decided to have a few beers after the show so we stopped at a bar near our hotel. decided we would head back to hotel and freshen up before heading out for a bit. both feeling a little pekish we decided to stop at a place i had my eye on since we had arrived in hanoi. they sell bbq baby pidgeon. the smell is awesome. so jen and i pulled up a table and ordered a plate each. out came 2 plates which we put together and we ate them. they are cooked with the heads and it was a little hard to eat the head at first, however, we took the plunge and they were great. another thing you should try if in hanoi.

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after freshening up we headed out. not wanting to go to far we chose the knight bar again. we like the bartender there and the bar has a good atmosphere. we settled in for a bit of a session. another great thing about the bars in hanoi is the amount of food which is around you and you don't have to go looking for it. across the street in the bar was a shop that sold fried cheese sticks. so after a few drinks we ordered some fried cheese sticks delivered to our table. awesome!! had a new type of mojito tonight the passionfruit kind. very tasty. after a few more drinks we made our way around the corner to the hotel. great night. only one more day to go and we head back home.
it is going to be sad to say goodbye to vietnam.
andrew and jenny

Posted by andrewjenny 07:33 Archived in Vietnam Tagged birthday Comments (2)

walk around hanoi

the real hanoi

overcast 34 °C

up this morning for a breakfeast of pho for me and fruit and toast for jen. today we will be doing the walking tour of hanoi as recommended by lonely planet. our hotel has taken the liberty of also marking out the lonely planet walking tour on their map of hanoi so it is much easier to walk around with a paper map than the lonely planet book.
the walk starts at the hoan kiem lake and makes it way through the old quarter of hanoi. all the streets are named after different products. you have streets that specialise in shoes, tombstones, bamboo, herbal medicines, lanterns, toys and many other amazing products. what you get to see is the real city and people getting around their day to day lives. i would find it hard to imagine living in this organised chaos, however, like all of us we adapt to our surroundings so anything is possible. we spent a few hours just wandering through these steets constantly amazed at what was around the corner. as we were coming to the end of the tour the rain came down. when it rains in vietnam it rains. so we had to make our way back to the hotel by running from dry spot to dry spot. i must admit i didn't mind getting wet as it cooled you down from the heat. finally made it back to the hotel and to the dry confines of our room.

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all over the city there are birds in cages singing. different sizes and types of birds hanging from the shopfronts and homes.

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who would want to be an electrician in hanoi? from what i see they just keep on layering cables on top of each other.

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after about half an hour the rain stopped and the sun came out. this seems to be normal weather for this time of the year. we decided to sit out the extreme humidity which had enveloped the city and watch a movie in our hotel room.
after a break we headed out for some dinner. went to the soul cafe which we had been to before. food was ok but the view was great and the drinks good as well. here is the view of the chaos below.

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after dinner and a few cocktails we headed back out to the streets. if we thought it was a bit crazy during the day then night friday night was five times worse. traffic everywhere!! on friday and saturday nights they have night markets so one of the main streets is closed of to traffic. therefore, all the other streets have to cope with more traffic. we picked up a few more bargains and enjoyed the atmosphere.

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we decided to head towards the hotel and find a bar near by for a few ales. found a bar called the knights bar around the corner from our hotel. for some reason the vietnamese owner had the bar painted in a knights of the round table theme. very strange, however, they had drinks and were playing some music. we pulled up a seat and did some more people watching. lots of young vietnamese and tourists out having a good time. after a few more we pull up stumps and headed home for the night. a good day was had by all.

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andrew and jenny

Posted by andrewjenny 08:46 Archived in Vietnam Tagged walk Comments (0)

hue to hanoi

change of location

overcast 35 °C

had a nice easy morning as we had a 1.50pm flight from hue to hanoi. just some breakfeast, repack our stuff and off to airport. said goodbye to orchid hotel staff who were lovely during our stay. great hotel.
flight from hue was quick and painless. 50 minute flight and a 35 minute car ride and we were back in the elite hotel in hanoi.

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the staff gave us a nice warm welcome and we settled into our new room. this time we are on the 4th floor. the one setback for this hotel is that there is no lift. our first time we were here we were on the 2nd floor the next time the 3rd now the 4th. it is a tight steep staircase and jen was feeling the pinch as we hit the 4th floor. however, we both made it unscathed if a little out of breath. we were both feeling a little hungry as we had not eaten since breakfeast. checked out tripadvisor for some guidance and as we wanted something different and we went for indian. the restaurant is the top rated one for hanoi, go figure, we checked the map and worked out where to go and headed off. we found it ok, however, it wasn't going to be open for another 45 minutes so we did what comes naturally and went for beers. found a nice little bar on the street and settled in for some beer and people watching.

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time to head for the food. the place we chose was called namaste. the menu was huge and very traditional indian. we picked butter chicken as it is our favourite and a couple of other dishes hoping they would be ok. all turned out excellent and i must admit it was one of if not the best indian meals we have had. awesome food!! just as we finished in walked a dutch couple we had met in hue and after chatting found out they were staying in the room next door to us in the elite hotel. what are the chances!! so after a brief chat we waddled out of the restaurant and made our way back to our hotel. the walk back and up the steep staircase helped us digest our food.
time for a good nights sleep as we hit the streets of hanoi tomorrow.

Posted by andrewjenny 06:34 Archived in Vietnam Tagged flight Comments (2)

final day in hue

rain

rain 34 °C

woke up this morning to the sound of pouring rain. first time we have had rain in vietnam and it was bucketing down. it was nice though to lay in bed and here the rain.

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we decided to wait it out before we did anything. looking around the streets from our hotel room it was the first time when there was nobody on the streets doing anything. seemed very strange. i can imagine during the rainy season it would be vert frustrating being on vacation here. the rain is very heavy and you would not be able to do much. glad we got our tour in yesterday. went down for some breakfeast and then back to our room as rain slowed down. after a while it had started to clear so we decided to go out the local markets for a look around. still had a few things wanted to buy.
got a taxi across the river to the dong ba market. the rain was still falling and we made our way inside this maze of market stalls. we could not believe the amount of stock this market has. located in a large building the stall holders have very small stalls packed with stock and packed up very high. very narrow walkways, just wide enough for two people, filled with anything and everything you could imagine. it was a tight squeeze as we made our way through with the constant, hello where you from? hello you buy from my store. we have gone from when we first got here saying, no thanks to either not responding or a glance and a shake of the head. brought a few things and i must say our negotiation skills have gotten a lot better. whatever they quote you halve it and if they don't come to the party walk away and they will always call you back. then you go a little lower.
by now the rain had stopped and we got a taxi back to our hotel area. had some lunch at the why not bar with the obligatory couple of beers. have been drinking huda beer in hue. very nice drop and only 75 cents a bottle. sat back and watched the world go by.

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it was time for afternoon siesta and we spotted a local with the same idea.

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in the evening we went out for dinner at ushi restaurant. had a great meal. i had a vietnamese fondue and jen had noodles and pork. both meals were tasty. we topped if of with banana, ice cream and chocolate pancake. mmmm...
down the road for a couple of cocktails and we were finished for the night. our last night in hue. like all the places we have been to in vietnam hue was great. the orchid hotel we have stayed in has been a great find. the hotel staff, like all the hotels, have bent over backwards to help you with anything you need. so if you are hue stay at the orchid hotel. tomorrow we head back to hanoi for 4 nights and 3 days. still a few things i want to see so i am keen to get there.

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goodbye hue hello hanoi.
andrew jenny

Posted by andrewjenny 07:04 Archived in Vietnam Tagged rain Comments (0)

tombs, temples, pagodas and heat

tour of hue

semi-overcast 37 °C

today we took a tour around hue to visit the tombs, temples and pagodas which the city is famous for. up until 1945 hue was the capital of vietnam, therefore, all the emporers who ruled during this period were buried around hue in elaborate celabrations of their life. the bus arrived on time and we headed off. our tour guides name translated in english was jerry and he was a character. he is a very animated young man full of unbridled enthusiam. as a side note today was maybe the most humid day we have had since being in vietnam so plenty of water was on the cards.
first stop was the minh mang tomb. this is located on a large property and is the largest in area of all the tombs. there were not a huge amount of buildings, however, lots of lakes and parklands. was a great start to the day.

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next stop was khai dinh tomb. he was the last of the emporers for vietnam. his tomb is very elaborate and was the best one we saw today. very gothic on the outside and inside was very over the top. it is located on a steep hill and we had to contend with lots of steps to get to the top but it was worth the effort. lots of gifts he had received from world leaders were on display and pictures of him everywhere. jen and i have a sneaky feeling we was gay. never met the guy but...

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time to move on and next on the agenda was a visit to a martial arts school where we would be treated to some students showing us their skills. this was awesome. they showed us some moves with weapons as well as fans, never thought a fan could be a deadly weapon, as well some excellent gymnastic skills. one young man then proceeded to smash 5 very thick tiles, we got to feel the tiles, balanced on concrete blocks with his forehead. there was a collective wince as his smashed through the tiles and scattered the concrete blocks everywhere. i videoed the whole thing. unreal!! then the finale. another young man had a large spear pressed up against his throat, we go to feel the spear as well, and proceeded to bend the spear with his throat. just as we all winced in pain one of his classmates placed a concrete block on his back and smashed it with a sledgehammer. what the!! triple awesome!! he then proceeded to show us the mark the spear had left on him. we all left very impressed.

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next we visited a incense and conical hat village. they showed us how they make incense and conical hats which all the locals wear. the conical hats in hue are special to the region.

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we next visited tu duc tomb. jerry told us he was a emporer for the people and while the grounds of his tomb were lovely his tomb was just a large concrete box. there is a nice lake surrounded by various statues and tributes to the great man. there is also the oldest theatre in vietnam which was great to see.

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time for some lunch at a restaurant in town. it was a large buffet full of some very yummy foods. sat down with a group of aussies and chatted about what we had all seen and done in vietnam. i must admit it has always been good to have a chat with aussies when in vietnam. we have met some nice people from all over the world but there is no place like home.
time to move on and next was the imperial city which we visited yesterday. i was keen to see a bit more and jen was feeling the temple pinch so she found a nice shady spot with a dutch lady and had a rest while i checked out some more of the imperial city. i must admit jen and i saw most of it the day before, however, i got to see a few more buildings and a very nice temple.

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final stop of the day was the thien mu pagoda. this is a seven storey pagoda and is located on the edge of the perfume. there is also a temple located there. beautiful location and very scenic overlooking the river.

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to finish the day we had a cruise down the river from the pagoda to the port which is just across the road from our hotel. it was a great way to finish an awesome day. we all cooled off as we cruised slowly down the river.

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back to the hotel for a nice cool shower and some air conditioning. we went out for dinner. i ordered pork and onion with stay sauce and jen ordered duck in orange sauce. my satay was very nice and was enjoying it a lot. jen was not very hungry so i ate the rest of her duck. i loooooved it!! very very good. so i polished of half of her dish then the rest of mine. washed down with a few drinks for the sum of $15 aud total i was well pleased with what i had eaten.
yet again another great day in vietnam.
andrew and jenny

Posted by andrewjenny 05:59 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

a cyclo ride around hue

cyclo ride

sunny 37 °C

first day in hue. had a good night sleep in orchid hotel and breakfeast was not to bad. have got a new found appreciation of the baguette. one thing about this hotel is that like to do animal sculptures with towels. here are the examples we have seen so far.
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this is the view from our balcony.
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we have booked a tour of hue city and the tombs and pagodas tomorrow so today we wanted to have a look around the city. we also thought this would be a good day to try our first cyclo ride. everywhere in vietnam we have seen cyclos and been hassled many times to get in one. today as it is a mild 37 degrees we thought it was time to take the plunge.
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after working out prices which can be a battle we set off. we decided to visit the imperial city, which we will visit tomorrow, and have a brief look around. it takes you a few minutes to get used to the cyclo as you are out in front and the driver is behind you sitting up high. traffic is coming straight at you and the rider as cool as you like weaves through the oncoming chaos. it is a wild ride. after getting through some hectic traffic we got into some quiet streets and we both sat back and enjoyed the ride. this is a very cool way to travel around.
we visited the imperial city and had a short look around. this is an amazing place and would be spectacular if most of it had not been destroyed during the war. that is another story all together. no need to dwell on the past. however, there are still some amazing buildings and the entrance is very impressive. we will do a more detailed tour of this place tomorrow.
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for next couple of hours we cruised around the city taking in the scenery. stopped at a local restaurant for some lunch and a beer. then back on cyclos for a bit more cruising. awesome. the day was getting very hot so we headed back to hotel and thanked our riders for their hard work.
afternoon was spent relaxing and watching a movie. the hotel has a huge range of dvd's which you can watch. in the evening we went to the dmz bar which has a huge menu, 12 pages, of vietnamese food as well as a lot of western food. jen and i felt like a change from some of the local cuisine so we went for a ham and pineapple pizza. it was delicious. great to taste something we were familiar with. washed down with a few drinks we had a slow walk back to the hotel. tomorrow will be a big day touring around the temples and pagodas. should be fun.
andrew and jenny

Posted by andrewjenny 05:42 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hue Comments (2)

hoi an to hue

moving on

sunny 34 °C

today we left hoi an and made our way to hue. our driver from the orchid hotel in hue arrived on time and we set off. as we have mentioned earlier we loved our time in hoi an and the ancient river house resort and we were given a great farewell by the staff.
our first stop was at the marble mountains near danang. this place is a bit of a tourist trap selling overpriced marble to tourists. the product they produce is of good quality, however, you have to bargain hard. which is what we did and i walked away with a marble happy buddha statue.
time to move on and we made our way through danang and up the hai van pass which is a 500 metre part of the mountain range which vehicles can pass over for a magnificent views of danang and the surrounding bay. it used to be the only way for vehicles to travel from danang to hue, however, in 2005 they built a tunnel which made travelling a lot easier. we stopped there for a view and a beer.
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next stop was lang co beach. where we stopped and had some lunch on the beachfront. i had some squid and jen had prawns. meal was ok, however, not as good as we had experienced previously.
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then the final run to hue. we arrived at the orchid hotel and had a warm greeting as has been the norm in vietnam. as the hotel was not full we were upgraded to a family size room. the hotel is located in the heart of hue and is surrounded by restaurants, hotels and bars. after getting settled in jen and i went out for a walk around to get familiar with the city. we headed to the riverfront and were hit by a lot of cyclo riders and people selling silk pictures. a little more pushy that what we had experienced in hoi an and even hanoi but we just give them a smile and a no thanks and move on. after getting our bearings we decided it was beer oclock and stopped at the why not bar and downed a few beers. as it was happy hour we thought we should take advantage of it. 6 beers later and $5 later we left feeling a lot better. decided we were getting a little pekish so we headed back to hotel to freshen up and on the way checked out a few restaurants. decided to go with the brothers restaurant after chatting to a nice guy called life long, yeah like the milk. came back and had a good feed. feeling a little tired after day we headed back to hotel.
tomorrow will start exploring the city.
andrew and jenny

Posted by andrewjenny 06:23 Archived in Vietnam Tagged drive Comments (0)

last day in hoi an

time to move on

sunny 35 °C

well today is our final day in hoi an. we have loved our time here and would come back in a heartbeat. day started with breakfeast by the river. then some lazying around before we caught the bus into town for a final goodbye.
as we made our way into town we went past the barber where i had got my shave and ear clean. the barber spotted us and called out to jen to come in and have an ear clean. she couldnt say no. he was very happy and kicked out the guy who was in the chair, with only his haircut half completed, so jen could take his seat. the guy in the seat did not seem to worried. jen sat back and got the full ear cleaning treatment. you will see now that we have photos to go with blogs. finally worked it out. if you want to look at previous blogs most of them have some pictures. back to jens ear cleaning. she got the full service along with an eye clean and back massage. i didn't get that the other day!! she loved it.
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went for a bit more of a wander and had a couple of drinks by the riverside. stopped at a restaurant and had some wontons and a hoi an pancake which was very nice. then back to the bus and back to hotel. as i said earlier we have loved our time here in hoi an and enjoyed the service at the ancient house river resort.
tomorrow a driver will be coming from the orchid hotel in hue to pick us up. we will be going on a slow drive to hue stopping at a few tourist locations. should be fun.
goodbye hoi an hello hue.
andrew and jenny

Posted by andrewjenny 03:28 Archived in Vietnam Tagged clean ear Comments (2)

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