Chapter Last (for this trip, anyway)

Okee dokee. Nancy and I are having a few relaxing days in the former fishing village of Hua Hin on the east coast of Thailand’s loooong isthmus south of Bangkok. I found a lovely place 50 meters from the beach. It is a 5 room ‘resort’ (their term). It is beautiful though.

We were a bit (very) concerned when Mr Wan – our driver from Bangkok stopped in front of a guesthouse he thought was our destination. Flashbacks to the Moon Resort (their term) in rural China 8 years ago ricocheted around our skulls with blaring horns, bright lights and warnings from multiple government agencies adding their voices. Fortunately after a couple phone calls, it was straightened out. In those few minutes though, I was willing to have him take us to the Sheraton, Hilton or Marriot and I would do battle with Expedia later to get back our prepaid reservation.

This is right outside our room….our own private but small pool. Laps are dead easy. Three nights here. Yay, we can open the windows with zero traffic noise. When we check out will hope to forget nothing.

Our window is on the right. Yup, our own private pool! The other 4 rooms have to share the rooftop pool with a great view.

After testing this out we went to the beach

A late lunch,

small early dinner and to bed.

Sunday was a day of lots of walking but not too strenuous in the heat and humidity. But before hitting the road we did some dawn beach photography

Lots of pampering too. Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean my razor broke. One of the early hotels had a disposable shaver in the bathroom and I used it a couple times but there is a reason those things are disposable. It dulled quickly and I never really had time to find a new one with all the gogogo we had on. So about 10 days since my last shave. H&H is not good for whiskers so I was itching. We found a nice barber who gave me a 25 minute straight edge (cut throat) razor scraping. He even pushed my nose up like you see in mafia movies before the Don is machine gunned in the chair. What an indulgence. I coulda bought a new blade and shaved myself but why? $1.65 for a shave!

How does one follow that on such a day, you ask. Well with a foot massage for me and a Thai massage for Nancy of course.

I had one a few years ago and that was enough. Pity I couldn’t take Nancy to the Chiang Mai Women’s Prison Massage School where I had mine though.

We then found the Blupoint Resort (that word is used a lot here) Mall. Quite a place. International food court, ($2 lunch) grocery store with more food stalls and a department store.

Then to the beach to walk home

Dinner was amazing at Oceanside restaurant. Grilled sea bass, beetroot salad (!!!!) and chicken satay. An expensive dinner for Thailand but worth it.

To celebrate our last day in HH and in anticipation of the rather leeeeengthy flights home, we had a spafternoon Monday. Foot bath, body scrub, massage and facial! OMB. 3 1/2 hours for @ $70. Wow. What a great time. This was more than other places charge but the Raintree Spa is quite beautiful and comfy.

We finally hit the Night Market for dinner.

But first a Piña Colada at a tiny corner bar.

The seafood on display is just so enticing and we ate at one of the restaurants that was cooking on the street. A whole fish, prawns, squid and cockles. The sauces were full of chilies and fish sauce, garlic and cilantro. Chilies too!

They were pretty busy so I had to get behind the grill to help out a bit. Good thing I can handle a pair of tongs with the best of them.

The street market is a hoot. Lots of people, both local and tourists having dinner and shopping.

Tuesday morning had a glorious sunrise on our beach.

Our ride to Bangkok was pretty easy and we arrived by noon. No major traffic issues. (It just occurred to me this chapter is particularly detailed- I think that is because I’m able to keep this up as we go due to the slooooooow pace we have set for ourselves these last few days).

Off to another food court at a basement shopping center. We actually went to a Vietnamese place for our last lunch.

Since we had to walk sooooo far for lunch (about 10 minutes) we of course had to have a last foot massage

Some of our first pics years ago when this trip started was from the Bangkok hotel Rooftop pool, some of the last are as well.

The hotel Amara Bangkok is a terrific place. Good location for the Night Market, restaurants and sights. This was set up for us by the world’s greatest travel agent – Allan Boyce. He also helped out Callum and Abi who were traveling with us. They have an extra 12 days in Thailand and Allan found them a great place to stay in Patong – all via email with never meeting. Allan has been doing our travels for @ 20 years. If you need a good travel agent (& you DO), reach out to him –

allan@passport2travel.net 800.373.6160

The Amara has a great happy hour with free beverages and food.

This is the wasabi sculpture to go with the sushi. It pained me to ruin it, but …

Up early for our cab ride to the airport and quickly through security and passport control and to the JAL lounge (I love using our miles to fly business class internationally!).

We are currently on the flight Tokyo. Looks like we will be early- go figure after the last time we flew in here a few weeks ago with the typhoon causing a 2 hour circling.

A few notes on the trip. Kinda stream of consciousness rambling I suspect.

We were quite impressed with the food as I am sure you have gleaned from my subtle hints sprinkled here and there throughout my writings. It is reason enough to make the trip.

The people we met, got to know and just happened upon helped make this a trip that when asked will be one of our top vacations. The fellow G Adventurers, and our CEO, the Phenomenal and Phantastic Phong was the supreme highlight. Even catching the eye of pedestrians, motorbike riders, and other ‘local people’ invariably led to a smile and a nod from them. These were not the service staff at hotels and restaurants that ‘have to’ be friendly but the everyday folk. We would be asked all the time from where we hailed. Telling them America always brought a smile and usually a thank you for coming. It seems like a lot of Yanks don’t travel to SE Asia. (Some of these pics may be repeats). Every person we spoke with was incredibly proud of their country. Nobody had a derogatory statement about their native land. Quite nice to see.

We were also quite pleased about the lack of smoking indoors. In prior trips to Asia this was not the case. It was an issue I thought we would have to deal with but happily, no.

All three countries were the same and very different at the same time. Thailand was much more touristy and cleaner. Cambodia was a little less developed but growing. Vietnam is also growing (I read in the Hanoi newspaper that the country will need to make its own sand within five years because of all the development, they are running out!). We feel of the three, Vietnam is the friendliest and has the best food but that could be because we spent more time there. We’ll have to come back and do some more experimentation. It would be nice if there was not so darn much litter though.

The inventiveness of the people in carrying a dizzying amount of stuff and people on a scooter, cart, bicycle or small truck is amazing. If I tried that at home with my Vespa I would get multiple tickets daily. Imagine a family of 5 on my scooter?

The all pervasive scooters and motorbikes was stunning. If everyone in the US drove those instead of SUV’s imagine how easy to park anywhere it would be.

English was spoken most everywhere which is a great relief to us monolinguists. We could usually make ourselves understood and had some words in each language.

We were able to keep in touch with home and our group as all the hotels, restaurants, coffee shops etc had WiFi and it seemed all the local people had iPhones. I did not expect that.

The effortlessness of having G doing all the logistics made things very simple for us. I usually plan every trip but realized that we did a LOT more things than I would have arranged. These include the motorbike, pedicab and tuk tuk tours among others. I probably would have hit on the big things like the cities visited, the caves outside Saigon, Angkor Wat etc but not the things that made this trip unique for us. I highly recommend checking them out for your future travel. (Allan can help with that.). Phong told us the number of Yanks on his tours is quite low compared to Brits, Canadians and Aussies.

We highly recommend also Japan Airlines and love the Dreamliner designed and assembled by Boeing with the help of our friends and neighbors in Edmonds.

(I think I am sounding like an infomercial).

We are in Tokyo now and I will finish this rather lengthy chapter. Here is a video of the self service draft beer dispenser. Note that it adds the bane of beer drinkers everywhere- more foam!

I would be remiss if I didn’t throw in a huge thank you and I love you to my favorite traveling companion, Nancy. Your adventitious spirit really showed itself these last few weeks. You never cease to amaze me. Let’s keep doing this!

Okay, a last (and final this time) update. We are in Vancouver waiting for our last flight of this very long day. So far we have been up for 23 hours today and it is not yet noon!

As they say in Japan-

Sayonara until next time

Lots of love,

Nancy and Chris

Farewell Cambodia, we will miss you

As I write this, we are in a van headed to Bangkok and our group’s last night together. Nancy and I have enjoyed the heck out of the trip, including in no particular order the CEO (chief experience officer) Phong Nguyễn, our 21 other travelers (8 left in Saigon to be replaced with 8 newbies), the way G Adventures organized everything, the people of Vietnam and Cambodia, learning about them and their histories and cultures and OMB, (I am sure you remember that that stands for “oh my Buddha”) the FOOD!

We were a day behind a group from G on the same tour and two days ahead so we would sometimes see them at the various hotels. Without being catty, I would say our peeps were much more fun and animated. We lucked into some very interesting companions. Thanks to all of you! Nancy and I enjoyed meeting, eating, drinking, talking, riding, eating, touring, tuk-tuking, cyclocabbing, eating, sweating, cooking, trying to cross the streets, and learning with you all!

A special thank you to Phather Phong for your guidership. We ALL will reach the next level of Enlightenment on our way to Nirvana due to you. Càm ón ban! We hope to travel with you again. We also cannot wait for you to open a Vietnamese Coffee shop in Edmonds.

We were happily taken with how well G organizes their trips. One example is Phong gave us a suggested amount to kick in to the kitty for tips to local guides, drivers etc. that way we did not have to think about it again. Just that part was impressive enough but after the Vietnam leg of the trip, he posted on the group WhatsApp an accounting of the $$$.

Speaking (so to speak) of WhatsApp, Phong organized a group chat for each part of the trip to keep us updated on times and schedules as well as sending out photos from each of the activities. The passengers too were able to put up pics. After the early leavers went home, we have kept them updated and heard of their travels home (and how much they missed us!)

The activities ranged from tuk tuk rides to cyclocabs to circus performances to historical sites and lessons to cooking classes to boat rides to stair climbing to EATING. Plus more that I can’t think of now.

Needless to say (but I will), we had a great time and will definitely travel with G again. We know all the guides won’t be as Amazing as Phong but maybe he can become the director of training to teach what he knows.

Okay, time to fill you in on our time in Siem Reap. When I wrote last time, we were on the bus from PP. (Seems like a good time to write. Sometimes I get editing and metaphor and simile help, too).

We arrived at the hotel (a word on the hotels in general for this trip – comfy, working a/c, decent -usually (& excellent once)- breakfasts but not posh.) Definitely this hotel was very nice due to the swimming pool. The train did not have a pool but the boat sorta had one. We all immediately plunged in for a refreshing dip.

Nancy and I headed to one of the plethora of spas for four handed massages. OMB what a bit of decadence that was. But, for $14 per hour, how could we not?

SR is very touristy with tons of bars, restaurants and of course t-shirt snd trinket shops. Dinner as a group then an early sleep as we wanted to be to Angkor Wat for the dawn. We made it in time with boxed breakfast in tow. AW is awesome. It made schlepping my tripod 14 time zones worth it. (As usual, all the pics here are iPhone ones). I’m sure you have all seen similar photos but actually being there is a serious Highlight of this trip.

We then toured around this immense edifice with Mr Dat, our local guide, who took us to three more temples after AW – Angkor Tom, Bayon and the Tomb Raider temple, Ta Prohm. We climbed all over them and were happy with the cloud cover. It made for more interesting pics and marginally cooler.

We were all very impressed with the architecture, history (going back to the 12th century!), size and accuracy of the NSEW positioning of the buildings for the solstices and equinoxes. Way back then. Très cool.

Some pool time after lunch then dinner was at a restaurant/school/culinary academy (The New Hope) sponsored in part by G (something else to like them for) & Planeterra. Again like in Hoi An, this is for under privileged kids to get an education and if they want, vocational training. The school also has an adult learning program in the evenings.

Our meal included yet another opportunity to munch on crickets and other insects. Yummy in my tummy. (You can wash down anything with a cold beer.)

Thursday. Ahh, thursday. A day of rest – at least until 3pm. I did one of my favorite activities – an EARLY morning walk with my camera around town. After breakfast w the bride, we set out again on a wander through this pub ridden but oh so character filled town. A second brekkie at a French pastry shop, some t-shirt buying, market visiting & lunch followed by, yup another 4 hand massage (why not?) for me and a tamarind body scrub for N.

I mentioned 3 pm before and you were probably wondering just what occurred then. Well, I’ll tell you. We hit the local countryside with quad bikes. What a blast that was. Again, G made sure we were taken care of. The rental company had outriders stopping traffic the few times we were on actual roads and spaced a guide after every 3rd quad in case there were any problems. Happily there were none. A great time was had by all.

That evening, several of us went to a performance by the local ‘circus’. More of an acrobatic show (no clowns, elephants or bears on bikes). The show was tied in to the time of the Khmer Rouge and quite good, impressive and moving and with original music.

This morning (Friday) had us in the bus to the Thai border. We left early as this crossing is reputed to one of the most chaotic and time consuming. About 35 minutes to get out of Cambodia and miraculously only 10 minutes into Thailand! Phong said it had never been less than an hour into Thailand and usually 2! He was quite impressed- he does this trip about 7 times a year.

Tonight we spend our last time together in Bangkok as a group then go our separate ways in the morning. Some are headed on other tours, some are doing independent travel (like us) but way too many are headed home. We will be sorry to say so long, farewell, aufwedersen, goodbye ( or, tót bye, sosa bye and ดีลาก่อน) to our new buddies.

Nancy and I are headed to the town of Hua Hin south of Bangkok for three days on the beach. When planning the trip, I gave Nancy the choice of travel modes there from Bangkok – train, bus, or private car. She chose the bus as it would be fun to take a public bus through the countryside. Well, am I glad I did not book it! Turns out after all the busing we have already done through the countrysides we will have a car and driver take us.ดีลาก่อน I think I will finish here and you can expect a final chapter in a few days.

Toodle doo for now.

Lots of love,

Nancy and her scribe, Chris

Phantastic Phnom Penh 

Xin chào các bạn (hello friends in Vietnamese),

Nancy, 13 friends, our guide the Phenomenal Phong and I are on our way to the city of Siem Riep in NW Cambodia. This is the jump off site to Templeland (as Disney would call it if they owned it), the location of Angkor Wat and many other temples. We are on a 6-7 hour private  bus ride. 

I stress the private bus as opposed to the public one we took from Sai Gon to PP for a reason. The bus itself was fine as were our fellow travelers. None of my hoped for chickens and goats clucking and bleeting that we know from the always accurate Hollywood depictions. 

We stopped a few times for the border crossing, lunch, happy room and refreshments. Lots of scenery, traffic and amazing hubbub along the way. Photo ops galore as you see. 


However, what made the ride most memorable for us was the almost 7.5 hours  constant, incessant, continuous, never ending, always on (have I made my point?) blaring of the world’s loudest and most unnecessary horn. O M  B!  Matt in our group was ready to commit chauffeurcide!  

It would have been ok if there was a reason for it but none we could see and we sat up front. It is possible the driver was deaf and had a twitchy thumb sitting on the resistanceless horn button. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as I am in my forgiveness mode since we are driving through countryside dotted with Pagodas (Phong has told us Hindus have temples and Buddhists have pagodas). Ommmmm…
PP was not at all what I expected. It is a large, thriving, bustling and growing city. Full of scooters of course and drivers who make up their own rules, just like in neighboring Vietnam. “Roads, where we are going, we don’t need roads.”  Sidewalks work juuuuust fine. Pedestrians should walk in the street where it is safe, silly people. 

Our first evening we did a pedicab tour and then a terrific dinner. I had the local favorite Beef Lok Lat at the and it was delish. Served with a passionfruit mojito- yummy. Nancy had a spicy yellow curry w French (they used to hang out here too) wine. 


Yesterday was a gut wrenching day. First off was a visit to Tuol Sieng Museum (aka S23). This used to be a high school that was converted by Khmer Rouge into a detention /torture center. Just awful. We met one of only 7 survivors from the prison. This place is in the heart of town and you think the screams would cause some problems with the local population. Perhaps they would have but the entire city of PP was forced out into the countryside to perform backbreaking manual labor so the constant screams and moans of the shackled prisoners went virtually unheard by anyone who MIGHT have been able to help them.


If that wasn’t enough, our next stop was Choeung Ex Killing Field Memorial. This is where the prisoners from S23 were taken for execution. Even worse than the prison. Again, the sounds had to be mitigated so the authorities installed huge loudspeakers and played music to cover the noise of their atrocities. 

Nancy took no photos there because she knows the images of that horrible place will be forever in her memory.  


<I lived in LA during the Rodney King riots. A lot of people criticized and ridiculed him for asking ‘why can’t we all just get along? ‘ I have always agreed with that question. More so when I see places like we have seen in the last several days. >

Lunch was at another riverside local restaurant in PP. I finally ate frog. Tasty and better than chicken. Nancy had sautéed eggplant with tofu.

We went to the Royal Palace with fellow G Adventurers Dan, Heaven, Holly and Allan. Paid for Guide who showed us around. It seems the current king is gay. He is 64, childless and wifeless but has not come out. The official story is he is living as a monk. Imagine the good he could do if he came out. He does have a nice “house” so he would be a good catch!


We went to central market after to see what was for sale. The answer is EVERYTHING!  


Dinner on a riverboat (upper deck) and we cruised down the Mekong River and back. Fun. Bit of a breeze which is nice since the conditions are h&h here. It was a bit dodgy getting on and off the boat. The gangplank was pretty flimsy, the angle was steep but the pièce de rèsistance was the hand rail. This was held top and bottom of the plank by two ladies on their shoulders!!!

After, we all enjoyed drinks on the rooftop of the FCC – Foreign Corespondents Club which was a hub of activity buzzing with CIA, KGB and other letters before, during and after the war. We know a former CIA dude who was here, we will have to ask when we get home. 

Now this morning (Tuesday for us) we walked to a French patisserie for breakfast 
and then boarded the aforementioned private bus to Siem Riep and you are now caught up. Except for a mention of the stop we just had at the bug market. 


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During Pol Pot’s time in the late 70s there was so little food, the people resorted to eating whatever they could. This includes grubs, a bit spicy, crickets (crunchy) and spiders (gooey). 

Lunch at a roadside/riverside place. 

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So, faithful reader, we hope you have been enjoying our trip with us. Please feel free to drop us a note or question. 

gặp lại sau

Nancy and Chris

Typhoon Update

Hi everyone- a pretty strong storm hit Central Vietnam yesterday and today – including Hoi An and Hué. These are cities we just visited a few days ago. 

Nancy & I along with the rest of the group are safe but our hearts go out to all those wonderful people when are there. 

Shops, restaurants and fields we just traveled through have been devastated. There is another group from G Adventures following us that is stuck on the train we rode. It is stranded on a high section of track and we don’t know for how long or if they will be rescued anytime soon. 

Other groups have been rerouted but fortunately not us. Once again, timing is everything. 

Let’s hope this beautiful area recovers soon
Chris and Nancy 

Sai Gon (aka Ho Chi Minh City)

When last we visited with you we were on our way here. I regret I left out a picture that was key to OMB 

They sell Buddhas in many shapes and sizes. Genders too. This one was bought by Cullum. He is keeping it in his pocket. 

We flew into Sai Gon (as the locals call it. Officially it is HCMC but nobody uses that).  Phong took us to 

This is where President Clinton dined in 2000. We had an delicious lunch (I’ve run out of superlatives, I know) 


Then hopped into cyclecabs for a tour of the old city. We would get out at different attractions such as the post office that looks like a railroad station

A very tall building 

A memorial to a Buddhist monk who immolated himself to protest the South Vietnamese government in 1963. 

We also just had fun being pushed around 


In case you were curious, the traffic here is not like that in the other H cities. There it is organized chaos. Here, you can remove the adjective. Nothing organized about it here!  Still fun though. It is especially easy to be a pedestrian if you are in a block and only make right turns. The next day, for variety, you can make left turns. Just don’t step into the street (oh, and keep an eye out for errant scooters)


I must get a bit serious here. Our last stop on the bike cabs was the War Remnants Museum. There is a large outside area where there is a static display of mostly American military equipment. A fighter jet, tank, artillery pieces etc. 

Inside, there are a lot of exhibits about the war. I absolutely broke down in one room dedicated to war photographers. Many of these journalists did not go home. Their photos are heartbreaking. 

I think what affected me here was a combination of it being my country that caused all this destruction, the short amount of time that has passed, the whole nonsensical reasoning for the US to be in Vietnam, the absolute beauty of the people and country here, the veterans I know who came over here as young men and the damage they came home with.  Please don’t think I am being critical of our grunts on the ground who were sent here or what they had to do to win. I respect the hell out of them all. 

In the bus on Friday to the Cu Chi tunnel complex our local guide said something that resonated with me. He said neither country won. The only winners were the various defense contractors who sold both sides the weapons from AK47s & M16s to A4 & MiG fighter jets and tanks +++. Vietnam was a good testing ground for the US and USSR arsenals. 

I have never been affected like that at any other museum, memorial or battle site (the US cemetery in Normandy came close though) I had to leave the exhibit and sit out in the lovely coffee shop and try to stop crying.  Fortunately a couple of our group members, Amanda and DJ were there and held my hand – thanks ladies for being so empathetic, I will always remember your kindness!

Ok, back to travelogue. Six of us attended a show in the19th century opera house. This was built by the French while they occupied Indochine (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos). The show is called Ooh & Ahh (for good reason). Nancy and I would love it to come to ECA (we might be willing to sponsor it, hint, hint). 

It is a beautiful theater and the show was acrobatic with the only props big bamboo poles, bamboo boats and other stuff made from the biggest grass in the world. After the show (which included dancing and music) the performers came out to the lobby. 


I do not know who the lady in the front is. A photo bomber I guess (who am I to complain & I am sure my sister can photoshop her out!).

Dinner afterwards was a walk to the Saigon Street Food Market. OMB, what a terrific place. 40 different food stalls making everything from local to Italian, Indian, Chinese, and even a fish taco guy!  He is from Orange County, CA. I told him I would love to sample his wares but I couldn’t bring myself to doing so in Vietnam. Of course we had an amazing dinner. 


To jump ahead, we had lunch there Friday after the tunnel trip. In addition to my spring rolls, marinated pork skewers, I did succumb to the fish taco


Ok, the tunnels. What an incredible feat of engineering these tunnels are. The HCM trail was working for 5 years before the VC started the war. They brought materiel south and built the tunnel complex so they could pop up, and hit and run. 

Here is a video of how one of the entrances worked. I am happy to state that the size of the opening was NOT changed for westerners. Also happy to report that Vietnamese food is obviously NOT fattening. 




This is an air vent used to get fresh air down there. 


On Friday night we say goodbye to 8 of the 15 in our Phong Phamily. They were just doing the 10 days of Vietnam. We will meet their 8 replacements and be with them through Cambodia and into Thailand. Hope they are as terrific as the 1st team. 

(Saturday morning now)

We had a lovely going away / welcome dinner last night. It was bittersweet to see some new friends go but we met the new gang coming in from Ireland, Scotland, England and Canada. Once again, Nancy and I are the sole standard bearers for the USA. 


As an aside, being the only Americans (& now the eldest members of the Phong Phamily now) we know we are not only ambassadors to our host country but to our fellow travelers. We have done a lot splaining of US history and current events (especially current political events – as best we can, anyway. ) With the age of our friends mainly in their 20s and 30s, most of them had only a slight understanding of the Vietnam War. Phong has taught a lot of the history as did our guide to the tunnels yesterday. Nancy and I have filled in what we know as well. (Glad we have read up on it.) 

Not only are we the only Yanks in our group but we hear very few US accents amongst the other tourists. 
Another note – I believe I mentioned in an earlier chapter that I would be putting Nikon pics in the posts and not iPhone- well that has not worked. Two reasons, the time involved in getting imaged from the big camera onto to the phone to see at a proper size. And, the phone is a very good camera. If it was better at zooming in on far subjects I would not need the Nikon maybe. 

Alrighty, we are in the bus coming from our Mekong Delta outing. It is about 90 minutes from Saigon to My Tho. We met a local tour guide Hung who took us hither, thither and yon. We boated to a honey farm, tropical fruit tasting, rock python petting place (named Banana not Monty), coconut candy and brandy sampling a tuk tuk ride, small stern rowed boat then lunch. I’m worn out just remembering it all.  At the honey place we held the hive and poked our fingers into the honeycomb to taste the sweetness. 



Tomorrow we will be on the road to Phnom Penh (pronounced Fenom Pen according to Pong). It is a seven hour ride in a comfy but public bus. Hmmmm, wonder if I should buy a couple live chickens and a goat for the journey.  

Until next time… from Cambodia most likely. 

I’ll go into our impressions of Vietnam soon. Let me sum it up with “you must come here!”

All the best

Nancy and Chris 

OOOPS – MISSING PICS HERE

Sorry gang, I guess we have a dodgy connection here. I’ll try again. Good thing it is the end of the chapter only. 

A bridge at the river

The family that shops together. 

Salt and pepper

OMB – salad rolls, my favorite. Where is the quinoa?

Showing the girls how to do it. 

Chef Pineapple 

Making the rum sauce. 

At the market


Oh My Buddha!

So I finished our last report with a teaser, OMB. From the title of this chapter, you see what that stands for. Oh my Buddha is Phong’s favorite line. He is oh so passionate about his country and teaching us what he knows.  He will start many of his discussions about Vietnam with the phrase. We are all using it know. 


He has been leading trips throughout SE Asia for many years but I feel his favorite place to teach about is his native land. 

When I checked in with you last, we were finishing our short stay in Hué and headed for Hoi An.

 (I just re-read that missive and it is quite long and all over the time line. Sorry about that- I shall try to be doing shorter posts about one place at a time but I cannot promise.)

Anyway, we took the bus down the beautiful coast for about 3 or 4 hours. It was so scenic nobody paid much attention to the time passing, just the scenery and Phong’s stories. 


We had some nice views out the window and a fun rest stop at a former bunker along the way. 


We mentioned in the last post that we thought our group of 15 was pretty darn good. Now we know it is! We have couples, a dad and daughter, single women on their own and single men. They hail from Canada, U.K., Australia, Germany and only Nancy and me from USA. Age range is early 20s to mid 60s. Everyone gets along, no drama queens (or kings) and they all have good stories to tell during bus rides, meals and other gathering times.  Often during our free time to eat, explore, shop and rest we end up either all together or with at least a few of our fellow travelers. 



While we are in this VERY picturesque town on the Thu Bòn River we have more free time and are here 3 nights so the pace has mercifully slowed down a step or two. Hoi An is known for the lanterns decorating the old town, tailor shops making custom outfits quickly, and river life. 


A few of our gang have had suits and shirts made. There are also shoemakers here. Nancy and I have not taken advantage of the opportunity as there is nobody who makes Padres shirts!

Yesterday we attended a cooking class at Oodles of Noodles. This is an organization that through its culinary program and restaurant teaches disadvantaged kids a trade and starts them in a career in restaurants and resorts. 

We learned to make various Vietnamese rice noodles and then had a terrific lunch. 

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The weather here has taken a moist turn. The rain was especially hard yesterday postponing our bike ride to the beach. We may do it today but so far things don’t look so good. 

We did make the most of the pause yesterday with a visit to a spa


Nancy had a nice massage and I was exfoliated with coffee and honey. Kinda weird but I did smell good to all the baristas in town!  Speaking of coffee, there are cafes everywhere here. This was a Halloween treat yesterday 

Nancy and I are loving this trip. Normally we do all our own plans and travel independently. We may be rethinking. G Adventures does an amazing job of putting these trips together. We are staying at comfy but not lush hotels. We are taken to  places we might not know about and have great activities and plenty of free time. 


Phong has put us all together in a WhatsApp group to touch base with us when we are on our own and sends out restaurant recommendations. 

So now it is before 6am Thursday and we are fixin to an early trip to the DaNang airport and short flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).  I’ll try to get this off soon. 

However, I need to tell you that yesterday was a ripper!  The weather held off so we did the bike ride. The beach time was not good for swimming but a lovely place to stop for a break. Lots of pics here. We rode to a dock, the bikes and us hopped on a boat (talented bikes) and we went downriver to an island. We rode all over like we did on the motorcycles, roads, lanes, tracks, rice paddies etc. 


We also met this amazingly beautiful elderly couple who apparently are an internet sensation 


They are 96 & 92 years old. They have an organic farm outside Hoi An. Nancy felt compelled to help them with their back breaking work.
The water at the beach was a bit rough so we just waded. 

After riding back to town, we had $1 Bahn Mi that were amazing along w REAL BEER!


For those of you in Seattle, this place was very reminiscent of Salumi. Excellent food, out of the way, hard to find and a line out the door. 

After visiting the market with our chef, “Pineapple,”we did a cooking class where we learned spring rolls, pho, chicken in banana leaves and mango sticky rice. 


Dinner together eating our efforts followed, then back to sleep before our early rise. 
Pics include the bridge and salt shakers.
Okee dokee, you are caught up. We are on the plane and Astros are up 2-0 at Kevin’s last report. 

I met this lady cleaning fish along the bike path. I asked her for a photo since she is wearing a USA shirt. She was nice enough to let me snap this. 


A Hoi An footbridge at night and a family dressing and shopping together.  Well, our friends, we will close here and

pick this up in a couple days. We are in Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon is easier but everywhere else has been an H city -Ha Noi, Halong Bay, Hué & Hoi An) now and have various activities over the next few days. 

tạm biệt ngay bây giờ

(Goodbye for now)

Nancy & Chris