Tuesday, April 30, 2013

boat ride w/Mike on the river...

...More photos from the random boat that Mike and I ended up on in Ho Chi Minh City on. Definitely worth the $5.00!

Sunday afternoon at a temple along the river... the place to be!


We were told the boat ride would be an hour long... and the boy driving us made sure that it was. After a calm cruise through District 2 we were then driven out in the main part of the river where all the huge boats are anchored... we were teeny tiny next to these huge things...

Bitexco Tower from the boat ride at sunset

The random boat that Mike and I ended up on turned out to be fantastic. ...An hour on a little motorized boat for $5.00 each... and we timed it well too... as the sun was just setting behind the Bitexco Tower...

Mike came for a visit!

Mike is a friend-of-a-friend from Denver, who has been living in Bali for a few years... remember when I spent the day with him during my Bali trip last July?

He is thinking of moving to another city in SE Asia and came through Ho Chi Minh City along the way. I think he liked HCMC a lot... but was here about two months ago and now is still in Taiwan, loving it!

Mike and I were able to meet up a couple times during his stay in HCMC... and probably my favorite thing with him was a random boat ride that we ended up on. After a lovely Sunday afternoon snack at L'Usine, we drove over to the river... where the hydrofoils take off for Vung Tao. A guy asked if we wanted to go on a boat ride for one-hour... just 100,000d each (about $5.00)... and we said 'Sure'.

We found ourselves on a little motor boat with two other people (a couple from Spain)... but the original guy left and we found ourselves with this 12-year old driver... haha...

We were driven across the main stretch of the river and ended up in swampy water over in District 2. There were some house boats... and even some dogs-on-boats!...

Boat doggies...

Me with Mike...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mekong Merchant and Bananagrams

Michelle (a language arts teacher at the middle school where I work) and I have been meeting at the gym in the mornings on weekends... and last weekend we followed up our workout with a lovely breakfast at Mekong Merchant in District 2. This is one of my favorite cafes... for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, a snack, etc. etc. It's all good... and always a lovely atmosphere.

We had a great breakfast... bagel, fruit, juice, coffee... AND played a round of Bananagrams. 'Twas a great start to the weekend!

Playing Bananagrams in public at a cafe... nerdy? ...Yes -- it even says so on my board!  :P

And Ms. Sarah Parker, if you're reading this - I MISS YOU! Wish you, me, and Michelle could all play a round together. XOXO

craziest sale ever!

Elizabeth and I took a break in the mall in Phu My Hung, District 7 last weekend while waiting for passport photos to be developed. (We figured we'd stock up on passport-size photos while we're in SE Asia and they're so cheap to have done.)

I can't remember the last time I had been in a mall... probably last summer.

French Connection was having "the craziest sale ever!"... with items under 1,000,000 vietnamese dong.

Hahahaha. A million. (I guess that is a deal at French Connection... that's some items being under $50 USD.)

dollar-fifty delicious dinner

I'm still upset that my favorite pho place (Pho Van!) closed a while ago... there one day, gone the next... BUT I do enjoy a nice big bowl of pho from Pho Hung on Hai Ba Trung in District 3. Jen, Nick, and I often have weekly pho dinners here... but last week I took myself out with a book.

Big noodle bowl (no meat) and tra da (iced tea for a nickel)... the total for this lovely-and-delicious dinner... 30,000d... about $1.50 USD.

(The book I was reading, I Am Number Four, is the first in a series that many of the 7th and 8th grade boys in my school love. I finally got around to reading this intense alien book and enjoyed it!)

school mascat

The security guards at our school have adopted a cute kitten! Love this little guy... he's grown up at school and is super friendly. He's good about staying on campus but loves to explore... Choi (student) and I found him wanting to attend school one morning!...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Stooorm's a-brewin'!

View to the right. 

View to the left.

Whew! I went out onto my balcony this afternoon and realized that another rain storm seems to be coming this way.

Last night I was our for dinner with friends (for Vince's birthday... Happy birthday Vince!!) and as we left, I found that my ride home would be in the rain. It's been raining every few days lately... seems as if the dry season is over now.

Dwell-ing around the city

One of my favorite things to do on a weekend is go to a cafe in the city... get a latte or fresh juice... and read. That's just what I did on our long weekend last weekend... with my favorite magazine, Dwell.

@ L'Usine in Le Loi...

@ Paris Baguette on Hai Ba Trung

Dwell is a magazine based out of San Francisco, which focuses on modern/sustainable design and architecture... it is always well done and beautiful. I really enjoy sitting down and reading each issue. A future dream job for me? -- working at/with Dwell. Ahhh...

lovely dates in Paris

Last school year, Sarah and I went to the Jaspas on Dong Khoi basically every Saturday and Sunday morning. ...Jaspas has now re-done the upstairs and got rid of the comfy booths... bummer.

THIS year, Jen and I started going to the Paris Baguette on Hai Ba Trung near where we both live... and it has turned into a regular on the weekend. I love it. I miss Sarah so much... and I'm going to miss Jen so much after we both leave Vietnam this summer.

...About two months left to enjoy dates in Paris with Jen! (Next year, we can hopefully meet in the real Paris for a coffee date... since she and Nick will be back in England and I'll be in Italy.)  :D

Our favorite spot...
With our usuals... hot latte and plain muffin. Mmmmmmmmmm

A great view... a great place to read... and a great latte!

Paris Baguette's upstairs has quite a view of quite the crazy intersection...
(and crazy telecom wiring... ha!)

the box shop ...on Hai Ba Trung Street

I love the Box Shop in HCMC. I'm sure there's more than one (well, there is... there's another right next to this one on the corner)... but I love this box shop... THE Box Shop. The staff are awesome... they love when I visit... and they make custom-fit boxes for whatever I want to mail...

Shipping something?... Visit Thang Cong at 53F Nguyen Du Street... on the corner of Nguyen Du and Hai Ba Trung in District 1.

 THEN go straight across Nguyen Du... to mail it!
Or... down the street to the main post office... but you'll have to go to about 4 different counter stations before finally sending the package on its way.

Post office posing...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

VN SEAFOOD on the trip with Lenny

Traveling along the coast, Lenny and I ate plenty of fresh seafood during our roadtrip!  Most of the photos below are all from food at the awesome floating restaurant at the Lang Co Lagoon... the Nha Hang Noi Viet Long restaurant is pretty awesome. There are two docks that lead to the restaurant, set on floating docks in the middle of the lagoon. You choose your dinner from baskets and buckets set in small pools of water within the docks... and then they cook it for you. Scrumptious and fresh!

We had crab, prawns, and clams in lemongrass...

We ordered grilled fish with vegetables...
And, well, that's exactly what turned up!

The next morning we went back for coffees...
but ended up with green-lipped mussels  : )

Lenny's prawns for dinner in DaNang our last night.

VN FOOD on the trip with Lenny

Hoi An's traditional dish of Cau Lau @ Cafe 43...

Hoi An's traditional dish of Cau Lau @ Streets (vegetarian style)...

Hoi An's traditional White Rose Dumplings -- banh bao vac

Mmmm vegetarian Vietnamese curry @ Cafe 43

Banh beo (rice cake with chopped dried shrimp) on the left and
Cha lua (firm pork or shrimp sausage... like baloney) on the right
I was not happy with either of these...Lenny was a trooper with this lunch! 
We then went to another restaurant for a 'Stacia Lunch'  : P

Lenny and I found a cute cafe near our hotel (The Friendly Hotel... or Than Thien Hotel),
and we went each morning for yaourt and coffees.

We realized after some time that yaourt is French for yogurt. Ha. (Neither of us speak French.) We thought at first it was a misspelling that was all over Hue... so we fully enjoyed spouting out an excited 'Yaourt!' every now and then.

Anyway, the cafe made lovely yaourt drinks that they offered many flavors for. I enjoyed strawberry... Lenny loved the mint (like toothpaste) and ginger ones.

weekends in the city... randoms in HCMC

The photos below were each taken in Ho Chi Minh City on weekends... driving and putzing around  : )

Birds chilling on the Mary statue in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral:

Stocked up on flowers from the Ho Thi Ky market! Lookin' good.

Ho Chi Minh statue, the Peoples Committee Buidling, and a gorgeous day...

Kids in my neighborhood getting out of school mid-day on a Saturday...

Sunday napping, as he should.