Postcards from Abroad

Whether your dream is to stay in a colonial-era bungalow in the middle of a tea plantation, an Indian princely palace, or to cruise in luxury the Irrawaddy to Mandalay, we never tire of searching for your next great travel destination. This is the place to share with us your most recent adventures.

A postcard from Vietnam by Paul Booty

One Pillar PagodaGood afternoon Vietnam. Yes I know, rubbish title, but hopefully you will enjoy.

 2 weeks north to south and just wow. We landed in Hanoi in the early morning. We upgraded to premium economy and that is worth every penny, space and comfort, just do it. Hotel magnificent and we had breakfast before retiring to catch up sleep. We had a “Clarkson” moment looking at some of the food (still don’t know what it is) but there was traditional food there too, Vietnamese and European. Room stunning with a loo with automatic washer/drier! That was interesting.

Out into the street be warned there are roads with white lines, they are meaningless. Scooters everywhere on any side of the road and in any direction. You cannot imagine the sheer volume of traffic. How to cross the road, easy, pick a moment and go, do not deviate in speed or direction and by some miracle they all go round you. In a group do sticky rice (all together and stick together). Looking for a bar that’s not in a hotel, good luck, they are like square eggs!

 

The sights, temples, palaces, markets and history are stunning and yes have a guide. You must eat dinner on the pavement on plastic nursery school size chairs, cheap as chips but much better for you! Food is cheap and plentiful. Hanoi a great place and a semi modern city. Guide took us for lunch in a local café (Obama dined here) up the most narrow concrete steps to be served a mountain of set menu, delicious and cheap. Wonderful city.

 Vietnam

Next stop Halong bay for overnight and the limestone caves. Our boat was cancelled so we were upgraded to a better boat and given a suite, wow. Looked straight out of Bollywood but king size bed, 3 piece suite and a balcony with table chairs sun-loungers and a hot tub! Caves were awe inspiring , the food on the boat was brilliant, mojitos a plenty, and the cookery lesson a hoot! It’s a must do, simples.

Fly down to Hoi An smaller and more traditional. The hotel and beach were very welcome after the craziness of Hainoi. We loved it! Get your laundry done by leaving in the corner shop, 3kgs washed and pressed £3.50. The hotel ran a regular shuttle to the town centre, but the taxis were cheap as cheap anyway. In Hoi An we did the suit run, 3 suits, 3 shirts, 2 trousers on each suit done in 24 hours £440, absolute bargain. Fit fantastic, service was first class. Wonderful market and the river at night is wonderful to walk and see. Pay a couple of quid for entrance to multiple historic sights, play sticky rice again even in no car zones and eat more Vietnamese food. Probably the best food we had. Jade bangles and cuff links are a good buy here too.

Fly to Saigon. It’s huge, a small county of high rise everything. More sticky rice! We are expert now. Sky bar easy to find tricky to get in but wow what a view. All the sight seeing is well worth doing, again a guide is a must, very educational and humbling . A trip to the tunnels was a serious disappointment, great but they could do so much more to make it a real treat. Take the boat back to Saigon, much prettier and a different perspective. The market is packed, be warned, but if you want a fake anything it’s there. They are building an underground system at the moment so building everywhere but it should ease the traffic (scooter) issue. Not our cup of tea as a city. Hotel stunning but staff a bit up themselves compared to others.

Rest time now in Phan Thiet, beautiful hotel, very relaxing. Good place and taxi to town(a single street about 3 miles long) is pence. The south end has been taken over by Russians which spoils it but there are lots of eateries and bars. We enjoyed the slower pace and chilled atmosphere. No need for sticky rice, or are we just so good at it. We found a couple of great places to eat and drink at the further end of the Main Street.

All in all a great break, superbly organised by Eastravel (again). People are wonderful, food fabulous. You must use chopsticks throughout, and the Vietnamese way is easier than the Chinese. If you do a single cashew will be no problem by the end of the holiday. It’s cheap as chips and for the same price as 2 weeks in the Med is about the same price when you add in spending money, no contest. We would go back, but would give Saigon a miss as just too big for us. Interesting to see the different takes on the war north to south, but you come away ashamed of the Americans. A wonderful cultured experience that everyone should do. Then the benefits of premium economy home. So long Vietnam see you soon.

 

Shy Sa Pa is revealed by James and Cate Fraser
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