A Travellerspoint blog

Funny pics from around the place

This for those of you who read our Turkey blog is going to be a bit like the entry on Bellie's cots. We'll add to it along the way but already have a wee collection that's worth sharing. So check back now and then and see what we've found.

Matt was super impressed with these shoes a Korean lady was wearing in Singapore - they had springs. Maybe if we got him a pair it would bring him "up to height"
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You've seen this one already but our unlocked door from the shower - a sheer 8 floor drop. Matt was so worried about the kids sleep walking he put a chair in front of it
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They really know how to load up a motorbike (or push bike). This guy in Hanoi was transporting Pinata's
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This was in the lift advertising their Reflexology treatments - we had to put it in for you Rosie. Note the points for "Anus", "the diarrheoa" and best of all the "online sex"
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Anyone for a spot of "electric fishing" wired up to a 12 volt battery he puts the probe in the water sends the current through it and the fish float to the top stunned. Maybe even you'd catch some fish this way Steve Bell
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Hanging on to his precious load
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Most restaurants are also people's homes so when you use the toilet it is their family bathroom
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Maybe the ASB want to change their money boxes to these "pigs bums"
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Anyone for a ride on a Jetsky?
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Everyone seems to get into selling everything - many with these mini petrol bowsers
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A bit of bracing - Brockie Renovations never used anything this sophisticated
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Matt was considering going here for a haircut - he felt he'd know who to blame if they did a shit job.
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That familiar "spaghetti junction" of power lines. - check out the meters though. That meter reader should get a risk allowance
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A cigarette break during exercise?
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To market to market to buy a fresh pig
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Filling up the "moto" from a 1 1/4 liter plastic bottle at one of the many roadside petrol sellers
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Who needs a 7 seater?
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Hmmm - it was a clothing store -think something got lost in translation
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Anyone for some spray on leave in yoghurt or seaweed hair conditioner - that would surely attract the flies!
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Posted by Watson5 06:26 Comments (0)

Funny pics from around the place

This for those of you who read our Turkey blog is going to be a bit like the entry on Bellie's cots. We'll add to it along the way but already have a wee collection that's worth sharing. So check back now and then and see what we've found.

Matt was super impressed with these shoes a Korean lady was wearing in Singapore - they had springs. Maybe if we got him a pair it would bring him "up to height"
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You've seen this one already but our unlocked door from the shower - a sheer 8 floor drop. Matt was so worried about the kids sleep walking he put a chair in front of it
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They really know how to load up a motorbike (or push bike). This guy in Hanoi was transporting Pinata's
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This was in the lift advertising their Reflexology treatments - we had to put it in for you Rosie. Note the points for "Anus", "the diarrheoa" and best of all the "online sex"
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Anyone for a spot of "electric fishing" wired up to a 12 volt battery he puts the probe in the water sends the current through it and the fish float to the top stunned. Maybe even you'd catch some fish this way Steve Bell
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Hanging on to his precious load
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Most restaurants are also people's homes so when you use the toilet it is their family bathroom
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Maybe the ASB want to change their money boxes to these "pigs bums"
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Anyone for a ride on a Jetsky?
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Everyone seems to get into selling everything - many with these mini petrol bowsers
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A bit of bracing - Brockie Renovations never used anything this sophisticated
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Matt was considering going here for a haircut - he felt he'd know who to blame if they did a shit job.
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That familiar "spaghetti junction" of power lines. - check out the meters though. That meter reader should get a risk allowance
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A cigarette break during exercise?
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Posted by Watson5 06:26 Comments (5)

More time in Hoi An


As we were staying in Hoi An for 8 nights we were able to get about and see some more of the surrounds. At breakfast the other morning a young Scottish couple told us of a man who takes you to his fishing village. It sounded great so we tracked him down at the restaurant where he works and organised a trip. We were picked up and he took us to his village a predominantly fishing village with about 5 families who did pottery. He gave us a short tour with a little bit of history of the river and his village of 2000 people.

Our first activity was watching and then having a go at making pottery. With no electricity they have to spin the wheel by foot which meant a young lads job was to stand and sweep his foot across the wheel to spin it at a steady speed while a lady would mold the clay. After our lesson all the kids had a go. They all had fun especially being able to get messy with the clay. I had a go at spinning the wheel with my foot however the excitement of trying something new soon wore off. What a bloody boring job!

Bellie try's her hand at pottery
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Matt has a spin
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After the pottery it was time to try some fishing on the river bank. All the kids were given bamboo rods (without reels) with tiny hooks and worms for bait. Some lily pads from the river were moved aside and we sat down with some local kids to catch lunch. We didn't have much luck with only Toby catching a fish - not making his big sister very happy. Not really big enough to eat we moved on to Mr Trungs house (our guide) for our lunch. His wife has made us a yummy lunch of spring rolls, steamed fish with rice, noodles and pork. We all tucked in with the 2 dozen spring rolls the first to go. It was nice to have lunch with a local family and finished off a brilliant morning with Mr Trung. It was an unexpected trip but well worth it.

Holly chillaxing and just a little miffed that her brother had caught a fish
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The proud angler
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Lunch with Mr Trung and his wife
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Another unplanned bonus was being in Hoi An on the 14th day of the lunar month - the full moon party. We spent the evening in the old town on the riverfront where all lighting is turned off as well as bar/restaurant music. Instead local musicians sing and play on each street corner. With the lights off extra lanterns are bought out and small fires to light the front of shops. The highlight is the river where hundreds of small floating candles are released into the river. With only the moonlight above, watching them float away was really stunning. We have seen them do this during other nights but only a few at a time but tonight the river was littered with hundreds and hundreds of them flickering away down the river. Rach and I decided to put one each on the river for Bronny and Dad. It was a nice moment with all 5 of us sharing some big hugs.

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The next trip was to My Son ruins, around 40km from our accommodation. The owner of the homestay drove us there, waited and then brought us home. With the roads and the amount of traffic it was a 1 hour journey each way. Even though we arrived at 9.30am it was getting hot. Sweaty Rach hot. We spent one and a half hours having a look around which was pretty good for the kids. Toby was the funniest running about like a mad man. He was wearing his paleontologist outfit and loving it. Wanting to mainly go where he wasn't allowed to explore! The ruins were well worth a look but apart from one section they were hard to make out. This area once had been the center of the Chams holy land. The Americans had done their best to wipe the place off the map. Around the ruins are craters made from the many b52 bombs that were dropped here. I enjoyed the time here which I think was partly because of having been in the Cham museum in Danang. Fortunately the exhibits there had been taken from My Son before the American war by the French.

My Son Ruins
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We also managed to by a few souvenirs in Hoi An and rather than cart them around the rest of the trip we had them shipped home. The kids choose what they wanted and Rach finally manged to spend more than $5 on something. Whilst we were in the store Toby made a wee friend, the tiniest lizard you could find. It ran up his jandal and proceeded up his leg. Toby was laughing hysterically as the little fella just sat on his leg for ages. He hasn't stopped talking about it claiming it is his new best friend. Rach - I had a couple of dresses made and headed into town one afternoon to pick them up. I had to laugh that nearly every shop I walked into had all the lights off and I would have to wake the owner from his or her siesta. Up they would spring rubbing their eyes ready to sell. After talking to the girl on reception at our homestay it is not a wonder they need a midday sleep. Her work hours were 7am till 10pm 6 days a week - a total of 90 hours a week. I would hate to think what she was paid having been told an average salary is just $60 per week. The other thing that intrigued me was when she talked about a friend of hers who she considered wealthy. She seemed to measure wealth in terms of what food they could afford - "they could eat anything" she exclaimed. She too explained that Vietnamese don't eat much meat. Instead preferring veges and fish. " Meat will only make you fat" she said - how wise.

Matt and Tob with their new hats
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Toby's new buddy
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I am constantly amazed at how the kids have adjusted to life here. Walking along the streets is a constant cornucopia of sound, smells, photos and heckling to buy. Bellie is the funniest as is often targeted as the littlest they will hand her stuff in the hope we will buy it. She refuses to take it and cheerily states "I already have one" regardless of what it is. She also has this ability to just humm along some made up song as she wanders through the crowds and the rubbish and the smells - happy in her own special place.

The Jac Fruit are a sight to behold
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Enjoying some watermelon juice
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Our Last day in Hoi An we headed to the beach again. This time there were some big waves rolling in. Toby got bowled over early on and lost his confidence but Holly was loving it, surfing up the beach. The day was the hottest so far without a cloud in the sky.

That night we had our dinner at the homestay. They had moved all the tables and chairs outside and we sat down to a lovely Vietnamese meal. There was squid was delicious and the Dalat red wine was surprisingly ok. It did made me laugh with the description on the label as "strong wine". The dinner went on for 3 hours with all the staff and two other guests from Russia. The more the wine flowed the louder everyone became. The kids got to play with the owners daughter she was 6 but the same height as Bella! We had to call it a night at 8pm to get the kids in bed as the next morning we were catching the only flight to Dalat which left at 6am meaning a 4am transfer to the airport.

The big feast
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Bellie and her 6 year old friend
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Posted by Watson5 07:34 Comments (4)

Hoi An

Well eventually we had to leave the Pligrimage Village and head to Hoi An. Rach was really settling in to Hue and enjoying the relaxing time we were having. However the journey must continue so off we went. Hoi An being only 140km away and with no train linking the towns we hired a minivan and driver to take us there. This enabled us to stop off on the way and check out the sights. First stop was the Hi Van Pass - intially used as a boundary between the Vietnamese and the Champa kingdom it was also used by the French and the Americans. Rach suggestion it got its name because it was really high and we were in a van - this is however unsubstantiated! Toby enjoyed the walk at the top around the bullet scared forts, wanting to know where each "team" would be standing when they were fighting. We then made our way down the long and winding road (Yes Beatles reference) to the city of Danang. Here we got to visit the Cham museum. It holds the largest selection of Cham artefacts in the world dating from the 5th century to the 15th. The museum was well worth a visit even if we were there for only half and hour. I was particually impressed with the lady running the souvenir shop and the end of the museum. She was singing karaoke quiet loudly on her computer - I hadn't expected that!
The last stop on the way was to Marble mountain, we visited the Thuy Son mountain. The highlight was the Huyen Khong Cave which is spectacular and had an incredible airy feeling about it. Inside is an enourmous Buddha statute which is lit by small openingings in the roof letting in streams of sunlight. As we left Marble mountian there was a 40km drive to Hoi An past all the developement of China beach. Massive resorts and golf courses lining the beach.

The view from part way up the pass
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The forts at the summit of the Hi Van Pass
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The museum in Danang
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Huyen Khong Cave
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The Budda carved out of the wall of the cave
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A pagoda also on the mountain
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Our first few days in Hoi An have been lovely, the centre of town is and Unesco heritage site and is protected. All 800 buildings here still look as they did centeries ago. It is a nice place to wander with only bikes able to join you walking about. The absence of cars and particularly motorbikes is great. We have had some really nice meals here, for the first time in Vietnam we feel we have enjoyed some really nice, tasty Vietnamese food (Thanks G). One of the meals we had cost $40 and we ordered 3 entrees, 2 salads and 3 mains as well as 5 drinks. With the prices so cheap you don't mind ordering different dishes to see what they are like. The bars are good too, hard to beat a 4000 VD beer (that's 25c NZ!). At the same time Rach is into Mojiotos and Gin and tonics for about 40 000-50 000 VD($3) still cheap but that's 10 beers all the same.

Thu Bon river
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in the Old Town
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The "girls"
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Our local - checkout the motorbike parked inside (the other night there were three)

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The kids are nearly as big as the owners. The older woman does all the cooking on a 2 burner portable camp stove on the floor. Makes our camping meals look pretty pathetic! She also decided we had left to much food the other night and proceeded to stuff big spoonfuls of rice into each of the kids mouths much to there shock and amusement
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We have also made it to the beach, It is beautiful. The water is quite calm and the beach is dead flat, which makes it really kid friendly.
The accommodation we are in is also nice, we are half way between the beach and the old town - a $3 taxi ride either way. We are in a homestay with 4 other bungalows, each has 2 bedrooms, a lounge and a kitchen. There is a shared pool also. It's $80 a night and the kids are enjoying the space of having a "house". We are here for 8 nights and the family that own the property are making a real fuss of the kids. We have been invited to a family dinner with them later on in our stay, which will be nice.

Cua Dai beach
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The weather here is hot,hot hot. The clouds have disappeared and we are getting clear and sunny days now. Although we are still getting the thunder and lightning at nights without seeing a drop of rain. The temperature is around 35 during the day but is still very humid and at night its around 28. We have spent a couple of nights having tea in the old town and wandering the streets. The kids and I played a game the other night on a street corner it called Bit Mat Bap No. Its a folk game of trying to break claypots. They put a mask on you so you cant see then put a stick in your hand. Your task is to step forward 10 odd paces then swing wildly at a claypot hanging in the air. It was loads of fun but quite difficult. The kids got to take their masks off in the end and whack the pots but still couldn't break them. However they were given prizes. It cost $2 for all three of them to play.

Holly playing a game of Bit Mat Bap No
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Having dinner at the Cargo club on the river front
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The other night we did a boat trip on the Thu Bon river. We took at 1 hour trip at dusk with the captian letting all the kids have a go at steering along the way. Toby got the best deal with a good 15 minutes at the helm. That was until we went down a narrow passage in the dark and ran a ground! Anyway it was a fun trip and it was truly beautiful (thats for Mum) coming back into the town with all the lanterns lit up along the bridges shops and resturants along the river.

Captian Toby I Watson
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The many lanterns in Hoi An
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I have been out for a few runs when I get motivated enough. Its light at 5.15am so I've had a couple of early runs around the town trying to avoid the 2 million motorbikes that pass you and get out before the sun gets to hot. I've had an interesting response from the locals to me running. Lots of laughs and even a few stop on there bikes and have taken photos on there phones. I've also been given a high five by a driver of 1 motorbike while he was coming towards me, made me a bit nervous about how it might end up. I've even had a lady say "very handsome" to me as I said Xin Choa(hello) to her. Maybe her english wasn't great and she was actually calling me a doufess? Anyway the runs are well worth it, amazing scenery with rice fields, water buffalo, beaches all around me. Rach - I haven't been running as I think I'd die if I did, shall leave that madness for Matt. The other reason we wake so early is our neighbours rooster that starts crowing at 1am!!

Rach - Holly and I had a wee shopping trip this morning which was lovely I'm now having 2 dresses made one for $25 the other one is $40 and they'll be ready this afternoon which is difficult to get your head round . Still reluctant to try on clothes as all that extra exertion just ends in a sweaty lather. Holly brought her favourite thing a lucky golden cat that runs on a battery and waves - she has wanted one ever since seeing it in the Yum Yum cafe in Richmond. We stopped and had a cold drink overlooking the river and bought a few other little bits and pieces. A very relaxing and civilised 2 hours while Matt hung out with the other two back at the homestay. We met them later in town for lunch.

Posted by Watson5 00:57 Comments (5)

Hue

To get to Hue from Ninh Binh we travelled by train. Not a particularly cheap option at $280 but for this we were getting two cabins and the pleasure of being in them for 11 hours. We arrived at the station and glanced over to see a young couple sitting having coffee we exchanged greetings and commented on our envy of their jar of vegemite siting on their table - It is the only thing we forgot to pack and we are craving something savoury to put on some toast after all the super sweet jams. It turned out they were both from Wellingon so we had a bit of chat them went on our way in opposite directions. The thing that most intrigued them was how come the two of them had more luggage than the five of us!

Waiting at the station
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Anyway we boarded our train and it would be fair to say it was worse than expected. One of the staff was ushered out of my cabin which he had been using for a fag break. There was used tissues on the bed, spit on the floor and hair all over the sheets - have we sold it to you yet? Matt confesses he was warned not to book on that train as it was not a good standard and a better option was returning to Hanoi to catch the more western train down which didn't stop in Ninh Binh. This would have however added another 4 hours to our journey - so the attitude of "how bad can it really be" had been taken. Once the journey had started we had our first bit of excitement when the train hit something. There was an enormous crash and we stopped suddenly causing Bella to knock her head and cry. There was lots of commotion outside as locals ran over to the front of the train. However as we were in the last carriage we didn't get to see what it was - probably for the best. It seems an incident report was not required as we started our journey again within a few minutes.

Here it is - won't post the one of the toilet
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The trip itself actually went quite smoothly. We saw plenty of rice fields being harvested, water buffalo and corn. The kids were brillant and didn't fuss at all. They enjoyed the experince of being on a train for a while then played on the iPads and watched a movie. We all had a lunch of crackers and chips (the train fodder didn't look worth the risk) and drank plently of water. All except me who went through a self dehydration program so I didn't have to use the train toilets (they were gross). Much to my dismay I had to take Bella about 5 times though - an experience to behold as you try and keep yourself and a little person standing but not touching anything - yuck!! We finally arrived at 7.30pm after hopping on the train at 8.00am. It was a great relief to arrive at our accommodation, disinfect in the showers and tuck those tired little kids into bed.

Tob - "laxing" in the pool
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The surrounds very peaceful after the bussle of the city
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Lovely
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The accommodation in Hue which was recommended by Gary is a lovely retreat after a busy couple of weeks in big cities. The rooms are spacious, the gardens are lovely and we are making the most of the 40metre swimming pool. The crazy thing is it is only costing us $130 for two interconnecting rooms as they are offering a 50% discount at this time of the year (really makes us question the $90 we pay to put our tent up at the top 10 holiday park). In the first few days we've spent our afternoons just swimming and relaxing at the resort and caught up on a bit of school work. Each morning after breakfast we've headed in to town visiting the markets and one morning the Citadel. The Citadel was built in the early 1800's and covers a large area but only 20 of the 148 original buildings contained in it survived the French and American wars.

One of the buildings at the citadel
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We found our first big supermarket and stocked up on supplies water and beer. To buy water and beer at the resort is $6 each as opposed to 60 cents in the supermarket. The thing that struck me in the supermarket were the rows of milk powdered "Complan" like nutritional supplements that were all security tagged. They were expensive and obviously in such high demand that this was a priority with many especially for kids.

We have also had clothes made a silk top for me $15 a dress for Holly $20 and some trousers and a top for Matt $25 hard to believe the prices. Matt has been wanting to get Toby a Dinosaur hunting uniform made so off he went today to the tailors choosing the fabric, colour and style. I anxiously look forward to seeing the finished product tomorrow with Toby's name embroidered on the shirt with junior paleontologist under it. Later...... Well am pleased to say Tob's uniform is a big hit. Matt did well conveying the design he had all the ladies laughing at his request I have to say ordering XXL clothes was a bit depressing until I bought some togs for Bellie - she needed a size6!

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We had a trip to the beach via Khai Dinh and Tu Duc tombs and the enormous statue of warrior Quang Trung. The beach was lovely and deserted but had a strong current so was not particularly relaxing. We had a cheap seafood lunch that turned out to be really expensive when we inadvertently ended up ordering everything in 1kg quantities - yip my fault again. Anyway after a very much unfinished lunch of crab, (which Matt had massacred and left 3-4 meals inside the crushed shell) and prawns we headed back to the resort along with a kilo of sand.

Kai Dinh Tomb
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Drying the rice on the side of the road
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Dinners were spent most nights in town in one particular Street where all the kids got to know the shopkeepers well. They enjoyed Octopussy the most, mainly because the staff let them play pool out the back. They mastered a few more Vietnamese phrases - often being asked if they are going to school here as their memory and pronounciation is so good.

The kids favourite place - Octopussy
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We couldn't leave Hue without heading to the Dong Ba Market to purchase conical hats. Hue is where the conical hat originated from and the kids had all been dying to get one. Toby only because then he would look like the "master" from Ninjago - apparently. We weaved our way throught the narrow market alleys past all the smells and sights and general grabbing of the kids. Past stall after stall of tigerbalm, clothes, household cleaners (of which there was none in the general supermarket) and our favourite highly aromatic pressed dried salted squid. So we emerged some time later with 3 conical hats and just $3 lighter.

3 little Ninjas
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Posted by Watson5 22:11 Comments (2)

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