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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..
 
 
So we've been here 3 days and it is very clear that the vietnamese eat very differently to us...

Dog is a favourite on the menu, and last night we were given a pot of cooking chicken bits...And I mean bits, you might get some breast or a wing, but you could get a head or an...armpit?

but it is really lovely here  today we paddled around the big lake in a swan paddle boat before going to a rooftop restaurant for icecream!!!!

Yum! The food id good *other than the occasional frog or worm and the people loveley *except for the beeping of motorcycle horns in face.
Tonight we take the overnight train to Sappa, which is a loveley mountain village full of small tribes. Vietnam is really cool, We're having a great time. Today we mainly chilled and discovered that 11 30 to 1 30 is sleep time and EVERYTHING is shut so you can forget doing anything except sleeping or eating.

So so long Hanoi, we will be back very soon (a couple of days) and Mummy will be here too. We are missing her very much and can't wait to see her soon!!

 
Hi Hanoi!!! 12/04/2009
 
Last night -or was it this morning?- we arrived in Hanoi after a bumpy and jumpy flight. I was so tired after my constant airsickness and odd security check in Hong Kong where we bizaarly had a stopover and almost missed the plane because of Dad and his shifty looks....But after a bit of running through the airport we made it onto our flight.

Anyway we had a big big big big sleep and woke up lateish with news of Nannys safe arrival home so this was good. We woke to the noise of beeping and shouting, chopping and zooming which seemed rather odd. But after a delicious breakfast and a walk around we realised this was the daily noises heard in Hoian. Dad took us to the lake which is basically dead center of Hoian and this is when we discovvered how central our hotel was! Hoian is a crazy bustling of motorcycles , ladys walk around with baskets weighing 40kilos on there backs in little cone hats. The atmosphere is intense and exciting. We decided to walk across this bridge we had spotted which was really long and very rickety, with plenty of motorbikes speeding around. The only other person on this bridge 9who wasn't on a motorbike) was this lady who we passed who grabbed Cians arm and started walking with us after a bit of pushing and Dad's stern "no" we got her off Cians arm but when we looked behind us she was following us. Of course our first thought was she just happens to be going the same way, but as we left the bridge this was obviously not the case. We walked fast and got rid of her so we were okay and found this teeny weeny allyway which we walked through and found ourselves  outside our hotel!!! This was especially incredible since it is very hard not to get lost in Hanoi. I look behind m and jump, the lady is standing there!!! Dad shakes his head and says "c'mon kids dopn't go into the hotel, we don't want her to know where we live." So we walked away and she followed. I was quite scared at this point (Id never been stalked before...) but we kept walking twisting ourselves through the busy hectic streets of Hanoi trying to rid ourselves but she stuck like glue. We saw a place which looked good for lunch and dived in. We just wanted to escape. We had a delicious lunch and were about to leave when we saw a back exit which we decided to take just in case she'd been waiting. Although this proved good for never seeing her again, we got terribly lost but eventually found our way home. WE had an afternoon siesta and went for some dinner. So far its been great.

hanoi is intense and wild, totally crazy and hectic but I love it here!!!
 
 
Today I sit in the Hutong hostel, empty stomach and sun shining on me through the window. In an hour and 43 minutes we will be driving to the airport, in 4 and 58 minutes we will be sitting on a plane to Hanoi, Vietnam. Beijing has been wonderful and fancy large promenades and giant cities full of palaces built for one man; The Emperor. Yet now we have to farewell these palaces which seem so ubiquitous but are really quite rare. Its not that I am not super excited to finally go to Vietnam its just that I really like China. We had a great time here like when we took the 20 minute taxi ride to the summer palace. Everyone had corn.

Why
didn't we have corn and where was it coming from?

Cian loves corn, and he was so busy in his determined search for it to take in the detailed paintings of birds on every beam and marbel boats made for empresses who enjoyed watching boats being sailed. All he wanted was this corn. Of course3 we spent our whole visit looking around at the beauty of the Summer Palace but we also spent a hell of a long time looking for some corn. We just wanted one cob. We took on a detective like idea as we calculated how far each person hoing in to the corn was to determine how far the corn seller was away and in which direction they were coming from. And then we found her!!! A lady with beady eyes and a bag full of pale miserable looking corn. We bought one slightly hesitant (we had to buy one, it was a huge deal finding it) and took a bite. It was...


Well pretty gross, I mean seriously how can you make corn taste that bad?

Anyway, we got back and had a big yummy chinese lunch and the ill tasting corn was forgotten.

Today is our 2 month anniversary!!!! I can't believe how quick it has passed. 2 months ago I'd never set foot in Asia. Now I've probably travelled through it more than most.

Did I tell you about Tuesday dumpling night? It's really great. Everyone in the hostel comes together to make 100s (I'm not overexagurating) of dumpling and then eats ALL of them together and it was SO fun!!! Most of the dumplings turned out dishevelled miserable blobs made by Me and Maeve but even these were delicious...

So goodbye China, Happy 2-monthaversary and farewell,

the final question must be:

Which was more important? The Summer Palace or The Corn on the Cob?
 
 
Often the most interesting things are best watched and not performed. This is most likeley the case in the curious food zoo of Beijing. THis is where we ate last night. Live scorpions crawling in the air on the end of skewers, silk worms barbecued, black hairy turantulars, sheep penis, sheep testicles and snake were all on the menu and all on skewers. Rows and rows of stalls selling skewerd EVERYTHING lined the streets. Unfortunateley, although it was amazing to watch, eating the selection there proved less enjoyable. Stall keepers tried to rip off any westener who passed and all the (normal)  meat skewers were undercooked and mediocre. But watching Cian eat a silkworm satay and chicken heart was worth all the dissapointing food!!!

The grossest part was that he loved both silk worm and chicken heart.....
Ick. The day started marvelously with a traditional breakfast of dumplings and rice milk with fried churros style sticks for dipping. We spent the morning walking around the beuatiful lake Hui Ha Ha. Its actually name was  Huiha but dad pronounced it funny and it was hilarious. For lunch we shared an anorexic duck on the lakes edge while we watched live ducks swim by. And then toTHE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN which was great.

Beijing is proving to be wonderful....And  curious
 
 
You know those days when you feel just a bit thing? Kind of down in the dumps and tired?

Well, yesterday I had one of those days. Maybe it was because we were stalked by various chinese "students" or everyone was looking at us funny because we were
1. White
2. Posessing three children
3. Motherless (mum is in Australia because she has to work)
You should see some of the horrible glares we got and there were people sneaking up behind us and taking pictures of us... Very very odd. But in any ase we kept walking through Tennaman square no matter how many people stuck plastic objects in our face or tried to get us to ride on a rickshaw.

Once we got into the forbidden city it was a lot more peaceful yet, I wasn't really very impressed. Yes it was very fancy and beautiful and royal but I just felt it didn't really live up to all the raps it gets. We spent the whole day there, looking at the "temple of heavenly love" and "room of eternal peace" and "palace of living kindness" (The names were hilarious)

Later we went to various pretty parks before getting a cab to somewhere we could have dinner. Did I mention that I had a really tasty dumpling for breakfast? Or that I didn't get any lunch?

Maybe that is why I was so grumpy....

But dinner really did cheer me up because the foos was DELISH!!!!

We had the famous Pecking Duck and yummy beans and lots of nice food. Afterward with full stomachs we walked along the "zoo street" which is basically a street full of people selling satay sticks with ANYTHING  and EVERYTHING on it  seriously, you could get sorpions on a stick, sheep penis on a stick, snake on a stick, seahorse on a stick, starfish or tofffee srawberries and apples!!!! Yummy yummy yummy yummy yum. (not the sheep penis and co. the toffee...)

Tonight we are eating there which will be interesting, but for now I am happy with the breakfast I am just about to eat- Rice porridge and pork buns.....
 
 
Another early morning, a cup of Jasmine tea, 1 pork bun and an hour long bus ride took us to the Great Wall of China. Then we had to get a chairlift up and up and up and up until we finally found ourselves oohing and aahing as we peered over at where the Mongolians would have helplessly stood thousands of years ago. But it was only as we strated walking along the wall that I really started to enjoy myself. It is reallyt hard to get you head around how big and long this wall really is until you have walked along it and seen it dissapear into the distance up onto some nameless mountain. It was really cold and snowy!!! so we took our time but the climbing up steep steep steps and exploring of small passegways in the various towers gets you warm quickly. The great wall of China is beautiful like a long dragon slithering up and down the mountains guarding its country from attack. This is why I have renamed it The absolutely fantastic, completeley wonderful and awe inspiringly superb wall of China. This name is very fitting because a) its very long and b) it has a lot of big happy appreciative adjectives in it. What was also great was our method of transport back down the mountainside and away from the wall: Tabbogoning!!!!!

Which is basically sliding down a raelly long windy slide in a go cart style sled which you can control the speed of. While Maeve and Cian went down at a fast but comfortable pase I sped down like a crazy loony on to much helium. This made Cian really mad especially when I crashed into him going 100 miles an hour....oops. The rest of the day wasn't quite so thrilling with Jade shops (I mean, "museums") Silk shops (I mean, "museum") and an emperors tomb which was beautiful and like a 27metres-below-the-ground-palace.

Oh, you might like to know that Nanny didn't come down in a go-cart, (but don't worry, she came down...)
 
 
 Incase you haven't already guessed this is the name of the first  restaurant we went to in Beijing which as, you already know from the title; is a very flavoursome and "fruity" name for a place which serves very un-flavoursome food. Infact this was the most tasteless dish I have ever eaten. A not so un-identifiable broth of... water? (thats what it tasted like) with some noodles floating in it and shredded chicken which they had managed to take out all the flavour of as well. The noodles, soup and chiken al tasted like... well nothing. Not as in "I've tasted nothing like this before" but as in breath in some air now and taste the sweet taste of USA California Beef Noodle King Restaurant's Chicken noodle soup.

How odd...


Some flavourless noodles later I was in my lovely backstreet hostel passed out on the bed after a long long train ride and early morning start. The rest of the day was spent adjusting to the cold and resting and settling in and also walking around the immediate area and getting a feel for the place while eating "Emperors balls" as we fondly call the chinese puff pastries. In the evening we went to see the Chinese acrobatics. This is one of the best performances I've ever seen in my life and easily the best acrobatic performance. Its hard to describe the magnifigence but it never lkagged on with brilliant costumes thrilling jumps splits and throws weird and wonderful acts of strength, endurance, dance and flexibility. So the day could really be summed up in a noodle; simple and full of flexibility.