Thursday, August 30, 2012


I know I've just finished posting about my time with Mom in Vietnam... and our travels...

...and the rest of this post is telling you about where I'm traveling next! ...But truly, I've been back at work for the past 4 weeks - truly!  :P

Vietnam's Independence Day is September 2nd... this is when Vietnam declared its independence from Japan and France in 1945. ...It's an important national holiday here... so we have Monday off from school!

While back in the States this summer, I booked myself a flight to Phu Quoc Island for this 3-day weekend. I'm really excited, as I've heard great things about Phu Quoc and it's been on my list of places to get to.

Phu Quoc is a small island off the southern coast of Cambodia (only 12k off the coast!)... but is a part of Vietnam. Click here to read the Wikitravel article on Phu Quoc.

This island is quickly becoming a very popular vacation destination... I'm glad I am here now to be able to visit instead of when it turns into a tourist-run island like Phuket in Thailand. Some of the most gorgeous beaches in Vietnam are on Phu Quoc Island... it is also mountainous and very forested.

I'm looking at this long weekend as a time to relax, read, explore a bit, and eat as much fabulously fresh seafood as I can! ...Phu Quoc is supposed to have the best seafood in Vietnam... and the best fish sauce in the world! ...I'm not loving the idea of the fish sauce... as I can't stand the smell! BUT... I also read that there are a few pepper farms on the island -- and THAT I plan to check out.  :)

The Google Maps below show where Phu Quoc (yellow) is in relation to Ho Chi Minh City (green).

back in HCMC with Mom!

After a few days in Hoi An, Mom and I went back to Ho Chi Minh City... we had a couple days before she was to fly back to the States!

As I post this, I realize that the photos I have to include are ALL food and drink  :)

...and I definitely did say to Mom on her second-to-last day: "I have more restaurants I want to take you to than we have meals left!"  :P

Below is a favorite of mine.
Mom wants to be able to make Vietnamese ca phe sua da (iced coffee) back home in the States... she bought some coffee at a couple great places in the city (Highlands Coffee and Trung Nguyen)...
Mom was given a ca phe sua da lesson by a super nice staff member of Highlands Coffee in the Manor! He wanted to make sure that Mom understood... and even wrote step-by-step directions for her.

Mom's ca phe sua da lesson:

Mom and I took a cruise on my scooter down to the expat area called Phu My Hung in District 7. A bunch of teachers at my school live in this area... I told Mom that there are wide open roads, lots of green, a nice lake... you can go running, the air is lighter... there are nice restaurants and shops (with doors on the front!)... etc. etc.

When we got to Phu My Hung, I think Mom was still pretty surprised at how nice it all is... she said that I did tell her there would be wide roads... but it still was way nicer than she expected! It feels so different from the center of Saigon (and definitely different from the neighborhood I live in!)...

We each had a drink at Boomerang... a bar restaurant owned by an Aussie.

Mom had a flat white...
(...A favorite of hers and Dad's since visiting Lenny in New Zealand years ago.)

And I had a fresh berry smoothie!

That night for dinner we stayed in my neighborhood and had pho at Pho Van! Love this place!
(My friend, Kat, and I have developed a weekly tradition of a pho date at "the place with the best pho in town!" Haha, it's a great little piece of my weeks that I look for to now!)

For the morning of Mom's last day in Vietnam we went to Jaspa's on Dong Khoi... they have really good coffee AND free refills on their coffee drinks! -- WIN!

Mom got one of her last fills of a ca pha sua da in Vietnam...

I stuck with my usual... latte!

I had an incredible summer break.

One that matched the amazing year that I had just had.

Part of me still cannot believe that I've lived in VIETNAM for one year... 

...And am still living in Vietnam for at least one more! 

As I type this... I'm sitting in Saigon, Vietnam... but sometimes it feels a crazy mixture of being surreal and being completely normal. My life right now IS Vietnam.

My summer was filled with wonderful family, friends, 'Home', and travels...

And my mom's visit to Vietnam was definitely an ultimate hi-light of all my summer hi-lights! It was so SO nice to have her in Vietnam with me... travel... and just spend time together. I'm not sure if her and my dad will be able to make it to this part of the world again while I'm here... but I'm already so thankful that my family has been able to visit me here, adventure with me, and see my life in SE Asia!

My's Spa with Mom in HCMC

During Mom's last day in Vietnam we went to (of course!) My's Spa to get a fresh manicure and pedicure before she headed home.

Ahhhh My's is so beautiful and peaceful.   :)

Da Nang's airport

The nearest airport to Hoi An is in Da Nang... it's a rather new airport and very nice... with a gorgeous backdrop of mountains!

We were there early for our flight...

'Before' shot...
(That's Mom in the white top.)

'After' shot...

around Hoi An...

A night on the town...

Making the colorful lanterns that Hoi An is know for by hand...

Mom by the field of morning glory...

A couple taking wedding photos by the river...

learn Vietnamese... cafe style

Want to learn some Vietnamese?

There was a cafe in Hoi An that had a blackboard with some common phrases on it.

I took the photo below so that I could refer back to the last saying... it's still currently my latest endeavor with my Vietnamese skills... chuc mot ngay tot lanh!

As I type this... I practiced my new phrase with my assistant, Winny. She DID understand what I was attempting to say... which is better than usual! ...But she said that I almost had it...

Come to find out... the way I was practicing and saying ngay is a 'bad word'... she taught me to only lift the back of my tongue, not the tip (they speak more with their throat and I'm not used to that)... apparently that was the piece I needed to hear! Because the way I just said it (with a funny face as I concentrated my way through it...) she said, "Exactly!" Whoop! Whoop!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

boat restaurant - Hoi An

There was a boat restaurant in Hoi An!

We didn't eat here... but I DID take some photos because it was very cute...

The small sign says, 
"Good food!!! Cheap beer. Relaxing Atmosphere! Live music. Hoi An's best."

more along the river in Hoi An

a day on the river in Hoi An

Mango Rooms is a cafe along the river in Hoi An (on one side... the other side of the restaurant opens up onto a street parallel...) and it has a great view for people-watching  :)

along the river in Hoi An

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hoi An's yellow

Taking a bicycle picture...

I believe this is a small field of morning glory (my favorite vegetable in Vietnam when cooked up with oil and garlic! Mmmmm)

Mom and I found this little nook when we decided 
to take random turns down tiny side alleys...  :)

Strolling down the river... probably on our way for a meal at Mango Rooms!

Cute cafe on one of the four historic streets of Hoi An... protected by plants and trees...

Hoi An's night market... and lanterns!

I just love, love the colorful lanterns that are made in Hoi An!

I definitely stocked up on some more while here with Mom  :)

As we walked up to the lantern stall of the woman I went to last time (when in Hoi An with my friend, Elizabeth)... the lady working at the stall remembered me! Right away she walked out to me and said, "My friend!"  (Maybe that just goes to show how many lanterns I bought last time...)   :P

Evening view across the river to one of the most photographed stretches of Hoi An along the river...

Putting floating candles into the river...
(I tell myself that they fish out these candles to reuse... instead of leaving in the water with the Styrofoam holder...)

Lanterns hang all over the town... so pretty at night!

ancient Japanese temple bridge - Hoi An

There is a beautiful ancient temple bridge in the center of Hoi An. It's nice that we could just walk by, see it, and keep going... since Mom must came from a month in Japan and probably saw her share of temples.  :P

Hoi An is also really beautiful at night!

The bridge is all lit up (the picture below was taken from across the river... and on the right-hand side you can see the big fishing contraption in the river too...)

And it's a nightly tradition to put floating candles into the water...