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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Things I May Have Forgotten to Share Along the Way

As the adventures in Asia are coming to a close. I noticed a few things I have failed to mention. Don’t worry, we’ll start with the good …

Hoi An, Vietnam. Beautiful even in the rain.

Hoi An, Vietnam. Beautiful even in the rain.

Cool boats, on the shores of Vietnam.

Great boats, on the shores of Vietnam.

Wonderful things happening, this store sells recycled goods hand crafted by the hearing impaired and all the profits go to those who need heart surgeries. Very cool.

Wonderful things happening, this store sells recycled goods hand crafted by the hearing impaired and all the profits go to those who need heart surgeries. Very cool.

Another great idea, a tea shop run by the hearing impaired. Customers point to the cubes with words to communicate.

Another great idea, a tea shop run by the hearing impaired. Customers point to the cubes with words to communicate.

Artisans of Angkor, a non-profit organization that trains Cambodians in art craft, creating jobs for thousands.

Artisans of Angkor, a non-profit organization that trains Cambodians in art craft, creating jobs for over a thousand people. They provide free tours to their workshops and out to their silk farm.

Dragon fruit, I love it. Someone said it tastes like a mix of a pear and a kiwi, yum!

Dragon fruit, I love it. Someone said it tastes like a mix of a pear and a kiwi, yum!

This is fun, it's called a hot pot. You cook your own food in it at your table.

This is fun, it’s called a hot pot. You cook your own food in it at your table.

This little tree frog was perched on my doorknob awaiting my arrival in Ko Lanta, Thailand.

This little tree frog was perched on my doorknob awaiting my arrival in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

Did I mention Hoi An is beautiful even in the rain?

Did I mention Hoi An is beautiful even in the rain?

Okay, on to the bad. First of all, these aren’t necessarily bad, they are experiences that make life interesting, or lead to a good story, or teach us something. I actually have little to report.

The buses in Vietnam were interesting. You climbed up into a seat and tried to sleep through the night. Some roads were worse than others, but this mode of transportation was tough on this light sleeper.

The buses in Vietnam were interesting. You climbed up into a seat and tried to sleep through the night. Some roads were worse than others, but this mode of transportation was tough on this light sleeper.

My next bus attempt was supposed to be a shorter  one, but you know you're in for a long haul when everyone is examining the tire that is no longer on the bus. I decided my time with buses was finished after this one.

My next bus attempt was supposed to be a shorter
one, but you know you’re in for a long haul when everyone is examining the tire that is no longer on the bus. I decided my time with buses was finished after this one.

Train travel was much better.

Train travel was much better.

Finally, the ugly. Now remember this is a matter of opinion …

I had to look closely to see that these were baskets full of eels for sale, maybe they are tasty? Maybe they are not so ugly after all.

I had to look closely to see that these were baskets full of eels for sale, maybe they are tasty? Maybe they are not so ugly after all.

Maybe you guessed it, but this is silk worm salad. And yes, I tried it. Just imagine the silk worms are like little potatoes, they taste similar.

Maybe you guessed it, but this is silk worm salad. And yes, I tried it. Just imagine the silk worms are like little potatoes, they taste similar.

You probably don't want to hear about this one, and yes I tried this too, you never know unless you try. Pig's brain, not that tasty (I'd rather eat bugs)

You probably don’t want to hear about this one, and yes I tried this too, you never know unless you try. Pig’s brain, not that tasty (I’d rather eat bugs)

So we can’t end on ugly, there was far too much beauty seen in the past three months, so let’s end on how I ended. In the tropics of Thailand …

Guest property bordering National Park, near Krabi, Thailand

Guest property bordering National Park, near Krabi, Thailand

Harvesting rubber in a rubber tree plantation, Krabi, Thailand.

Harvesting rubber in a rubber tree plantation, Krabi, Thailand.

Bird of Paradise, Krabi, Thailand

Bird of Paradise, Krabi, Thailand

Park on the island Ko Lanta

Park on the island Koh Lanta

Insert towel, Koh Lanta

Ko Lanta, Thailand

Koh Lanta, Thailand

 

 

 


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In the Land of Motorbikes – Hanoi, Vietnam

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Welcome to Vietnam!

Hanoi is the 2nd largest city, its name means city between the rivers.

The currency here is called dong.

21,000 dong = 1 dollar

The cost of the amazing egg coffee = 20,000 dong

 

Coming from peaceful, bike friendly Luang Prabang and landing in Hanoi, capital city of Vietnam is a shock to the senses. I needed some time to adjust, just crossing the street was a challenge. The advice I received beforehand (when crossing just go for it and don’t stop, motorbikes will steer around you) came in handy. I had one, busy day here and retreated to nearby Halong Bay.

Upon returning, I thought it unfair to not give Hanoi the time it deserved and I stayed for a few more days. I’m so glad I did! I saw the ancient art of water puppetry, incredible. I took in the weekend night market. I visited a great museum about the women of Vietnam. This gave me great insight on Vietnam life. Some women wake at 4:30 am to buy goods from the wholesale market and then sell them on the streets until 7 pm!

I also dove into the street food scene, which can be daunting to some travelers, but with the help with Miss Moon, an excellent guide, this became a highlight of my travels. Miss Moon knew the amazing secrets of the city, where to find the unique, rare and original eats. This included a classic cafe with “egg coffee” and the thin stuffed Hanoi pancake made with rice powder.

One of my favorite memories was watching this city unfold. I had taken a tightly packed sleeper bus and arrived at 5:00 a.m. To my surprise, the city was actually quiet, but in a matter of an hour it picked up pace. It was amazing to see entire street side restaurants being carried in on baskets balanced by a bamboo stick. Oh, and I can’t forget to include the people I met. The people of Hanoi love to practice their English and the conversations are wonderful.

 

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Weekend night market, a walking street

You can find everything for sale on the streets of Hanoi.

You can find everything for sale on the streets of Hanoi.

 

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Foodie expert, Miss Moon

 

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Hanoi speciality, the pancake, rice powder steamed on silk, filled with mushrooms and eaten with sweet basil and cilantro.

There's a candy street! The streets in old Hanoi are named after what they sell, there's silk street, shoe street, coffee street and more.

There’s a candy street! The streets in old Hanoi are named after what they sell, there’s silk street, shoe street, coffee street and more.

 

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A speciality served only near the New Year (here they celebrate same date as Chinese New Year)

 

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Early morning noodle pick up.

 

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Street side food set-up, everything is carried in!

 

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Outdoor hair salon

 

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Egg coffee, this coffee only spot opened in 1949, so tasty!

 

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Water puppets, with live music and singing, the people controlling puppets are behind the screen standing in the water, such talent!

 

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My favorite Hanoi treat, stuffed with sweet custard, the kids line up every morning for this hard to find spot.

 

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One more favorite- tamarind broth soup, filled with tofu, noodles, greens, and crab.

 

 

 


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Sticky Rice of Laos

Sticky rice is a very important food in Laos. The people of Laos eat it often. It is kept in a small basket on the table and is rolled into a small ball and eaten with your hands (it is really fun to eat). Rice is everywhere. It was given to the monks in the early morning as an offering. Early in the day, outside of many homes, you can find it cooking in a pot over a fire. In the afternoon, it was found drying in the sun. Sweeted with palm sugar and coconut milk it makes a delicious dessert!

Offering rice to the monks in Laos

Offering rice to the monks in Laos

 

Sticky rice drying in the sun

Sticky rice drying in the sun

Drying sticky rice

Drying sticky rice

Selling rice at the morning market

Selling rice at the morning market

Cooking the rice

Cooking the rice

Typical porch in Laos, small seats, everyone sits in a circle and shares food and a pot for cooking rice

Typical porch in Laos, small seats, everyone sits in a circle and shares food and a pot for cooking rice

Other fun things to try, water buffalo jerky and Mekong River seaweed paper 😄

Other fun things to try, water buffalo jerky and Mekong River seaweed paper 😄 (with sticky rice in basket)

One of my favorite desserts, sweet black sticky rice with coconut milk and bananas

One of my favorite desserts, sweet black sticky rice with coconut milk and bananas