After a 10 hour bus ride from Cambodia to Ho Chi Mihn city in Vietnam; named after the father of Vietnam- Ho Chi Mihn we were very tired (being told that the journey will take 2 hours longer than planned WHILE crossing borders is stressful to say the least) we had 4 hours sleeping time befor waking at 3am to catch a plane to Hue (Pronounced Hway) which was not aloud to LAND in Hue due to bad weather so we had to keep flying around for a while till the weather improveed (remember it is 5am in the morning) so that when we FINALLY arrived in Hue we were all very grumpy.

ter a long long sleep we woke to the misty sun and quiet atmosphere of Hue -a sleepy city is nice for just walking around and watching all the interesting things go by- and got ready for a cooking class Me and Maeve (and Cian) were to do this morning.

The class started with a trip to the locals market where we bought lots of fresh produce; meat, shrimps, herbs and veg. It was really interesting and a little gross but very mouthwatering all at the same time!!! When we got back to the kitchen recipe books and fry pans, oils and lots and lots of veggies were all chopped up for us and ready to go.

We started with a pancake stuffed with pork, shrimp, mushroom, carrot and other yummies which was difficult because you had to flip it without letting anything fall out! When we finally did and started eating wide grins spread over all our faces. The pancakes were (pretty ugly but) absoluteley delicious. it didn't take us long to finish them off and get stuck in to rolling and frying fresh and fried spring rolls which were also amazing. We even let Mum and Dad try some of these and gave them a bowl of our beef noodle soup too because we were so full. All of it was gastronomical and I can't wait to make it for Mum, Dad and Nanny when we get home. nanny is always getting mad at me because I only cook cakes but i will now be able to prove her wrong...


Mu Ha Sha.....
 
 
Okay, so I won't do 2010, but I will write 10. I''ll try to do the best things but I am not sure if i'll remember...

Dodgy internet in Laos + Lots of adventures = Lots of time and little memory

1. Christmas was amazing, we spent it in a small tribal village located right next to a waterfall. After waking at 5am to get on a plane to Tadlo (the village) we arrived and had some breakfast before putting on some swimmers and heading to the waterfall for a christmas day swim. The waterfall was positioned like lots of small waterfalls and little pools (about the size of a swimming pool except with really strong currents) that fell into more waterfalls and more pools until you hit a really huge waterfall maybe 20m high  which flowed into the strong river. So we walked for a while, up and up trying to find the perfect pool. And we did. We had a wonderful day lazing around the waterfalls, lying on large warm rocks and swimming against the current. Making good "spas" with the smaller waterfalls where you clung to a rock and let the water beat against your back before a very different asian style christmas dinner.
 
 
Here we are in wonderful Laos where we have been located for 4 days, though for me it feels like only 2 and a half and it kind of has been only 2 and a half. You see in the hotel which we were staying in Luang Prabang Dad and I found we had caught the bug that Maeve and Cian had both had over the week. And we were sick as dogs...

So it wasn't until our second full day that I actually got to see Laos. We started (my) adventure with a visit to a waterfall with aqua blue water and trickling falls, it was beautiful and lovely as was the chicken sandwich I ate in the rickety tuk tuk -sheltered ute style "taxi"- The next day was started with a craft village where women were weaving shawls on the street and people were making paper. It was very interesting to see the wet goo turn into pretty sheets of paper. The day ended with a really nice 1 and a half hour massage for me which was a lavender aromatherapy, it was my first professional massage but won't be the last!!! In between we had a trip to another waterfall where we swam and mum and dad had a  few smoochies...

Did I mention the three adorable puppies who were staying at our hotel? My favourite was a really tiny.... I actually have no idea what it was but I decided to call it Coraline, the others were twin poodles and were also sweeties (but not as cute) While we were waiting for the minibus that would take us on the 6 hour journey to Vien Tien Coraline crawled all over me and annoyed dad. 6 hours later we were in Vien Tien...

NOW LET ME EXPLAIN Vien Tien to you with today.
So after a big breakfast at a bakery we put on some suncream and swimmers and went to hire 5 tubes for the day so we could go tubing. Tubing is when you float down a river in a big inflated rubber tyre. So we got our tubes and took a tuk tuk upstream. We jumped in our tubes floated down the river tall rope swings and deserted clubs all around us. We stopped for a drink but spent 3 hours floating down this river until we got back to town where we had lunch before heading back upstream on the tuk tuk again. It was now 3:00  we got out of the taxi to the sound of screaming whities and loud loud music. All around were young white people swinging over the river, dancing on the riverside clubs, drinking, swimming, jumping, screaming. I lost my shoes while rushing out of the way of a ginger who was swinging on a little flimy string, dangling 20 meters in the air.
Basically Vien Tien is a Hoon town. It is a place to go and drink, party, club dance and be young. Safe to say after a little look at the young hoons, a stop for a drink (at a bar which exclaimed; "WE HAVE PHSYCHADELIC 'SHROOMS" ) we got out of there fast bcause it was a little scary. Interesting but crazy. Vien Tien is a party town it is really hard to emphasize this. Every shop in town is an outdoor bar and every single bar just plays endless reruns of either fre\iends or family guy 24 hours a day. It is incredible.....

Tomorrow is Christmas eve!!! I only discovered this an hour ago... we will be on the road travelling all tomorrow and a bit of christmas day but our main task for christmas is Elephant riding!!!!! I hope you all have a wonderful christmas! I will try to blog a bit but internet is iffy here...

Merry Christmas,
Niamh
 
 

So if anyone is wondering I am still here in Vietnam with Mummy, Daddy, Maeve and Cian. 

We just returned from a cruise in Halong Bay which was fabulous. After a long and rather awkward bus ride with a couple of ausrtalians we arrived in Halong Bay. It's going to be really hard to sum up what a great time we had...

Arriving on the boat we met our familiars, the people who would also be cruising around Halong Bay.  There was Jess and Nikki, The McSweeneys and The Pearson's. From Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne...

It may have started slightly awkwardly but it was really very fun, in the end we were like best friends. we jumped on the boat and ran to our rooms. Mum had their own king size with ensuite and Maeve Cian and I were given to double bedrooms with ensuites that had a little door in  between the rooms. We spent a little bit fighting over who got a room to themselves and settled for Scissor Paper Rock (which I won). So I had my own room with a big bathroom and huge bed.

After a day of adventuring through a huge cave and pussy pathetic Kayak we returned to the boat for a sunset party before dinner. With Cinderella mocktails in hand we entered the party and got to know everyone and it was very good but the fun didn't really start till karaoke after dinner.

The challenge was set by the mcSweeneys who said that their table could beat ours at karaoke. we sat quiet but smu knowing that surprise would be the way to victory... They started with a silly song about gambling in which we snuck away to change into our costumes...
no one would know what hit them. Dad was first up with a hilarious rendition of "White Wedding" dance moves included and it was good, really good but not quite as good as th galea threes Video kill The radio star performed by Me and maeve, Cian doing lead. of course the croud was blown away and continued to be astounded through material girls performed with Jess who was on the other team and then.... well we did so many songs its hard to remember but I do know they admited defest.

The next day was mainly about nearly dying under the care of Nikki and jess who our kayak was attached to becouse Me and Maeve couldn't keep up with the group. As we exited the pith black cave that Nikki and jess had been paddling recklessly through Jess turned arounf andsaid "it was really dark in there" we look at to see that she is wearing sunglasses....In a pitch black cave! Nuh Duh...

But back to Me and Maeve. I was breaking down while maeve screamed at me because we were at least 5oom behind everyone else. Whoever decided to put us together (the two weakest members) was absoluteley bonkers so when we FINALLY caught up jess ands Nikki attached us to their Kayak.

THANKYOU!

This is a really long post...
Yet I haven't really talked at all about halong bay I haven't really done it justice.  Mums back so this is really great and today we take a plane to Laos. The post is called "The last Day in Vietnam" but really its the last day in Hanoi because in two weeks we will be back to Vietnam for the last 2 weeks of our trip. I really like Hanoi. some say its aan acquired taste but like alot of things its a taste that I really like...

So goodbye hanoi! Goodbye Vietnam!

for now....

We will be back (soon)


 
 
Yesterday we went on a daytrip to a river boat ride through caves along canals through valleys. It was very pleasant and we were all on little three people boats with drivers. Me and Maeve were on a boat together and our rower was very nice,

What wasn't nice was the journey there...

We thought that e would go straight to this river, maybe a 2 hour drive but after driving aroung Hanoi for an hour picking people up we realised this was not the case, when Cian threw up in the bus we knew something was even worse than a little bit of a long bus ride...You see, Cian never gets car sick, in the roughest oceans he is still reading so we knew that it was something worse than Niamh disease. He may have had a tummy bug but in anycase he wouldn't stop so I had to play Cinderella while my ugly sister and went bicycle riding Prince Charming (Dad). so I nursed Cian right through the uninteresting and unnesascary stop at a temple and at lunch. By the tme we got to the boat ride he was better....

So here I sit,  waiting for Mummy....
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Yesterday we went on a daytrip to a river boat ride through caves along canals through valleys. It was very pleasant and we were all on little three people boats with drivers. Me and Maeve were on a boat together and our rower was very nice,

What wasn't nice was the journey there...

We thought that e would go straight to this river, maybe a 2 hour drive but after driving aroung Hanoi for an hour picking people up we realised this was not the case, when Cian threw up in the bus we knew something was even worse than a little bit of a long bus ride...You see, Cian never gets car sick, in the roughest oceans he is still reading so we knew that it was something worse than Niamh disease. He may have had a tummy bug but in anycase he wouldn't stop so I had to play Cinderella while my ugly sister and went bicycle riding Prince Charming (Dad). so I nursed Cian right through the uninteresting and unnesascary stop at a temple and at lunch. By the tme we got to the boat ride he was better....

So here I sit,  waiting for Mummy....

 
15km later... 12/10/2009
 
I have to admit, when Dad told me our last day in Sa Pa would be spent doing a 15km mountain trek i was a little miffed. Not really very happy. Yet 15km later I am smiling ear to ear and typing enthusiastically about this walk.
    
It wasn't an early start
(thank goodness) so I was able to "sleep in" before some yummo breakfast. We met our guide (most things you do in Sa Pa must with a guide) who was a lovely local lady in traditional clothes and very good english. We packed our bags so we were ready for that night when we would be taken away by a night train back to Hanoi. I wasn't too enthusiastic when we started out but it only takes a bit of that stunning scenery and interesting winding path and you can't help but smile!

So we walked and walked and it is really hard to write how good it was, how fun it was, how amazing it was. We finished in  a small village where we ate lunch and met our driver who took us back to hot showers and free internet. So now we wait and relax till 7:00, when our train comes to whisk us away.

Goodbye sa Pa....


This is truly an amazing place.......

 
 
Picture
Before.
A ruff angry looking man woke up, to a most spectacular mountain view. We had decided today to rest, to have a little holiday so we slept in, read and had a nice, easy breakfast. After a bit of dazing and dozing we decided to stroll through the village of Sa Pa, in which we were staying.

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During.

A man in a stripy top, sat the gruff looking man; with hair everywhere possible on his face, down in a barbers chair in the middle of the street. A cracked mirror hung before us, and plenty of little knifes and razors. He started by giving Dad a careful once over. Over grown eyebrows, badly done choppy haircut, nostril hair and ear hair as well as an unkempt beard and rough face.
He carefully selected a bussing razor and started with the hair (on his head) by the end it was a work of art and he was like an artist at work carefully selecting his paintbrushes and making a few careful strokes before changing brush. the whole thing was so intriguing to watch, to experience.
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After.
He was a new man.  Smooth and relaxed and happy. trimmed eyebrows, even haircut, clean ears and beard, soft face...
So we celebrated with an afternoon stroll up a mountain and visited pretty gardens dotted around the mountain and stunning views that accompanied them. There was one which was a bit Alice in Wonderland because to get to it you had to go up a tiny passageway of a path with big rocks to either side of you. Then it came to a dead end. We were very pussled until i carefully looked at the rock next to me....It was a secret low tunnel!!!! We crawled through it and after a bit more of a maze of passageways came to the most stunning view.....


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First thing, Do you like the new look?

The colour scheme is inspired by Vietnams strong use of the plant indigo and the colourful peoples. Most of the clothes and fabrics here are dyed to a dark dark blue called Indigo...Even the rice!!!!

Today while walking through a market which was wobbling over a cliff in the mountains and looking at colourful women in traditional dress (as seen on front page) we ate rice wrapped in banana leaves dyed indigo!!!
It was very yummy and pretty to eat, as was our day. And if you havent already guessed, that title image is the indigo rice. So today after a wonderful trip to the market we hopped on a long roofed long boat and sailed down the river and enjoyed the tall mountains around us and the beautiful scenery. It was all very pleasant and now after a hot shower I am typing all about it on the blog for you to read. I got one of the skirts you may see in the pictures which is very pretty.

So we are having a bit of a rest now after a pretty busy day, hope to post soon,

Niamh

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Safe to say I am not a frugal kind of person. And I thought it was time I dedicated a post to Shopping!
So I will now list all the items i've bought with a little description...Don't read this post if you're not really the materialist type...

-Handpeaded collar from Borneo- This is a really beautiful thing i got in Borneo and is made with lots of colourful beads and some pom poms. It is also the most expensive thing I bought...

-Brown paper parasol- it is brown paper which is waxed and painted with dragons and is perfect for substituting a hat.

-Crazy asian Makeup- This is actually something maeve bought but i paid 15 percent so i have unlimited access to using it (he he he...) There is everything from Gold maascara to multi coloured eyeliner.

-malaysian shadowpuppets- These two cute puppets made of paper.

-Vintage cardigan (with gold beading) From harajuku- I got this on my first visit to Harajuku in a liittle cool vintage shop and it was really busy inside because it was a public holiday.

-Pink checked coat, same day same place- i LOVE HARAJUKU!!!!!!

-1950's vintage skirt from a little festival that was going on in a rural village of japan we visited

-Japanese yukata- A light summer bth robe for wearing around the house. You know those pictures of me in the kimono looking thing? thats a Yukata!

-Frilly tutu shorts- From Harajuku....frilly white and looking like a tutu... EXCEPT ITS A PAIR OF SHORTS!!!!!

-Printed floral stockings- did I mention how much I love harajuku? I have always dreamed of finding stocking covered in roses!
-Different bits and bobs from Hiromi sato a couple of post cards, a calender all bought from this amazing shop which specialized in Blythe Dolls.

-Pretty cream fur gloves- From a 4km shopping street which was basically the spine of Osaka. All the shops sold clothes or interesting accessories.

-Fur pink oversized bow headband- From the same street and slightly lady gaga ish. Its so pretty! I won't tell you how much though....

-Glass spherical pocketwatch. Yes my collection is growing and this is one amazing pocketwatch which i got in Shanghai from Dong Tai Lu Antique market. It is very ubnlikeley however that it is actually antique. infact I am almost positive that it is reproduction.

-Circular lensed gold rimmed "antique glasses"- These are also probably not antique but they are so unusual and fashion forward i just had to!!!

-white leather oxford style half boots- We got these in a big warehouse of a market which was mainly all knock offs, but these I thought wer really nice.

-cricket cage- for those of you who know the movie "Mulan" you will remeber her little cricket friend who her grandmother gives her because he is a very lcky cricket. Well this is the cage he live in, Its like a birdcage (pretty cane asian style) but smaller. We got this in a pet market so they thought it very strange when i didn't want a pet cricket to go in it....

-The bed throw I bought today which is all orange and embroidered. Bought fom the local village market.

So now I am done being artificial. Sorry about my materialistic post but I like clothes and I like stuff....

I also like shopping.
 
 
First of all,
To those who are involved; Have a wonderful Speech Night (HA!!!) and a really fantastic picnic day!!!

I wish I could be there...

Then again I am having a wonderful time in the mountains of Vietnam...
This morning we arrived in Sapa, The famous mountain village of Vietnam really early on an overnight train, We had to take a long taxi to our hotel but it was all worth it for the views and the beautiful indigenous tribes. After checking into a room with some really stunning views, we had a rice noodle breakfast before heading to the village markets. Sapa is pretty touristy and they sell alot of touristy souvenirs in the market but among the junk there are some really beautiful peices which are traditional to these people and there tribes. All the women here wear gorgeaus patchworky skirts with dozens of pleats through them with embroidered long tunics over the top dyed with the indigo leaves that are harvested in the mountains. Its a little chilly here but its mainly just foggy from being so high up....So as we entered the market dad says: Guys we're here for 4 days so look around, don't buy the first thing you see you like, on the last day we can go get all the things we liked best.

3-4 hours later we trudged through the door -tired from our long hike into a village located in the valley- with three bags full of indigo stuff. Cian was the first to break the vow with a little coin he bought that had a Pig on it...He loves to buy the funniest things. Then admittedly I bought a really gorgeaous blanket for my bed. Anyway you know how it goes, a funky little hat later (that you'll never wear) and you seem to have bougfht something from everyone in town. After Cian had a streetside haircut in a little alleyway (which was actually very good) we decided to check out a little tribes village which was located in the valley underneath the mountain where we were later. getting down was fine, and the little village was very interesting, but getting up was a different story. We spent a good long while climbing back up that  mountain......

sigh.

Anyway, today has been a great start to our little Sappa adventure and I'm sure we are going to have a fantastic time..