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Welcome to our blogs. We document our family adventure during this year of travel.  Wishing you well on your journey!

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Southern Vietnam : Ho Chi Minh City,  Mekong Delta Region

Southern Vietnam : Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta Region

2.12.2016  Train Ride to HCMC

 16 hr ride means time for math work.

16 hr ride means time for math work.

 I woke up pass midnight to miles and miles of bright sky.  It felt like an episode of X-Files  discovering something paranormal.  Alas, no.  They are merely dragon fruit farms.  Apparently, they need a lot of light to ripen.  

I woke up pass midnight to miles and miles of bright sky.  It felt like an episode of X-Files  discovering something paranormal.  Alas, no.  They are merely dragon fruit farms.  Apparently, they need a lot of light to ripen.  

3.12.2016

HCMC

We had 4 days left on our visa.  With an early arrival of 5am.  We were able to spend a full day and night here before leaving for the Mekong Delta region the next day.  

 This is more a hostel than a homestay.  A very nice one.  Plus, fresh markets and eateries nearby.

This is more a hostel than a homestay.  A very nice one.  Plus, fresh markets and eateries nearby.

 While waiting for our friend MInh Minh, we met this lady at the fruit stand.  Her sad story goes like this :  Her son left Vietnam 10+ yrs ago.  She had purchased a new name for him or else he could not get the proper documents to leave.  His name became Fernando.  She has a written address of his in Ottawa.  She has not heard from him since he left.  Could we help her contact him?  At the end, she asked us for money.  Her job now is to help some of the shops with customers as she can speak English well.  Scam?  Minh Minh thinks so.

While waiting for our friend MInh Minh, we met this lady at the fruit stand.  Her sad story goes like this :  Her son left Vietnam 10+ yrs ago.  She had purchased a new name for him or else he could not get the proper documents to leave.  His name became Fernando.  She has a written address of his in Ottawa.  She has not heard from him since he left.  Could we help her contact him?  At the end, she asked us for money.  Her job now is to help some of the shops with customers as she can speak English well.  Scam?  Minh Minh thinks so.

 Minh Minh treats us (the kids) to ice cream.

Minh Minh treats us (the kids) to ice cream.

 We came across some sort of international festival at the park.  There were many countries represented but not Canada :(  If we knew ahead of time, we would've been to happy to do something about it!

We came across some sort of international festival at the park.  There were many countries represented but not Canada :(  If we knew ahead of time, we would've been to happy to do something about it!

 We visited the Independence Palace.  The place where the N Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates ending the Vietnam war in 1975.  These two red circles on the roof marked the spot where a Vietnamese pilot rebelled against the US backed government and bombed the building.  Brave stories.

We visited the Independence Palace.  The place where the N Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates ending the Vietnam war in 1975.  These two red circles on the roof marked the spot where a Vietnamese pilot rebelled against the US backed government and bombed the building.  Brave stories.

 Takes no effort.

Takes no effort.

 We met Minh Minh's friends for the evening.  A very nice family with 2 kids.

We met Minh Minh's friends for the evening.  A very nice family with 2 kids.

 They treated us to a meal of fresh fish with rice wraps and herbs.  Complete with pop drinks and juice.

They treated us to a meal of fresh fish with rice wraps and herbs.  Complete with pop drinks and juice.

We ended the day with a drive around the lighted glitzy parts of downtown.  It was a fabulous day!  Thanks, Minh Minh & family of Tran!

4.12 -6.12.2016

Binh Phloc Xuan (Mekong Delta Region)

We found Truc's homestay on Airbnb.  It was a short but worthwhile stay.  The travel there was very enjoyable.  Odd at first because getting on the bus was confusing.   We went to the counter to buy tickets but somehow it was followed by an angry argument between a lady who stepped in to 'help' us and the man behind the counter.  Then we waited at the right place but they didn't allow us to get on the bus until after the bus left?!  Eventually, we had to walk over to where the bus stopped, get on, only to get off once we were settled.  Rushed to another bus, had to pay the guy extra for putting our luggage at the bottom.  At that point, i was upset and called Minh Minh to help explain what was going on.  It was a bad reception and i couldn't hear well.  So, we confirmed with the people inside the bus and Alvin followed it on his phone.  

 Waiting at the bus station.

Waiting at the bus station.

 After the bus ride, we crossed over in a ferry.

After the bus ride, we crossed over in a ferry.

 On the other side of the ferry, Truc and her dad were there with their motorbikes!  We took turns :)

On the other side of the ferry, Truc and her dad were there with their motorbikes!  We took turns :)

 What's up, Ems?

What's up, Ems?

 Truc's home

Truc's home

 Truc and her mom.  This is where the cooking happens.

Truc and her mom.  This is where the cooking happens.

 The hammock is a winner for relaxing.

The hammock is a winner for relaxing.

 Delicious home cooked meals.

Delicious home cooked meals.

 Biking around the island.

Biking around the island.

 I know this is a common sight but nonetheless, we're so lucky it's mango season.

I know this is a common sight but nonetheless, we're so lucky it's mango season.

 Jack fruit too.

Jack fruit too.

 Back in the house...

Back in the house...

Early next morning, we went with Truc to visit a nearby floating market.  A friend of Truc's mom had a boat and willing to spend a few hours with us on the river.  There are too many around SE Asia that are set up for tourists whereas this is the real thing.  There is a really good video online made by a Vietnamese journalist about this market in particular.  She was highlighting the problems of cyclical poverty especially for the children.  I'll link it as soon as i find it again.

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 Something to drink?

Something to drink?

 Yes!  Ice coffee!

Yes!  Ice coffee!

 We also had a quick stop at a fish farm during feeding time - chunky grey gruel.

We also had a quick stop at a fish farm during feeding time - chunky grey gruel.

 On our way home, we passed many lotus farms.

On our way home, we passed many lotus farms.

 Truc's mom - welcoming and feeding us well.

Truc's mom - welcoming and feeding us well.

 The night before, Charlotte arrived.  Though our time together was short, we so enjoyed her bubbly, fun and thoughtful company.  We'd love to visit her in the Netherlands!

The night before, Charlotte arrived.  Though our time together was short, we so enjoyed her bubbly, fun and thoughtful company.  We'd love to visit her in the Netherlands!

 Heading back to the ferry crossing

Heading back to the ferry crossing

 Waiting for the ferry...or just hanging out.

Waiting for the ferry...or just hanging out.

 We waited for the passing bus at this lady's store.  Charlotte was whipped off pretty much right away as there were many more buses going back towards HCMC.  The rest of us waited a bit more before seeing one going towards Chau Doc, closer to Cambodia's border.

We waited for the passing bus at this lady's store.  Charlotte was whipped off pretty much right away as there were many more buses going back towards HCMC.  The rest of us waited a bit more before seeing one going towards Chau Doc, closer to Cambodia's border.

We hopped on a sleeper bus which Truc had to bargain down on our behalf.  Once at Chau Doc, we were able to walk to our hotel and enjoyed air conditioning!  Truc recommended we contact a travel agent to cross the border but having looked into it and read some accounts online, we thought to try ourselves.  It meant taking a local bus to the border crossing town of Ha Tien.  Finding someone with a vehicle to take us to the border.  Try not to get cheated with fees.  Find a way to Kep in Cambodia which is about an hour away from the border.  

 The bus ride was very enjoyable.  No A/C but the wind was nice and cool..  This lady was boss of the bus.  She made use of every floor space to store people's belongings, was amazingly efficient at getting the bus going but that meant ordering us around.

The bus ride was very enjoyable.  No A/C but the wind was nice and cool..  This lady was boss of the bus.  She made use of every floor space to store people's belongings, was amazingly efficient at getting the bus going but that meant ordering us around.

 Bus Station in Ha Tien.  We quickly ate lunch and were here waiting for our motos!  Yes, motocycles!  There is a bus leaving in the afternoon where they help you process visa as well but i think we'll save more doing it ourselves.  The man we spoke with agreed to arrange 4 drivers for the 6 of us + luggage all the way to Kep, Cambodia!

Bus Station in Ha Tien.  We quickly ate lunch and were here waiting for our motos!  Yes, motocycles!  There is a bus leaving in the afternoon where they help you process visa as well but i think we'll save more doing it ourselves.  The man we spoke with agreed to arrange 4 drivers for the 6 of us + luggage all the way to Kep, Cambodia!

 The funnest way to cross a border yet!  Here we are approaching Cambodia's checkpoint.  

The funnest way to cross a border yet!  Here we are approaching Cambodia's checkpoint.  

Good-bye Vietnam!  

Kep, Cambodia

Kep, Cambodia

Central Vietnam : Dong Hoi, Hue, Hoi An

Central Vietnam : Dong Hoi, Hue, Hoi An