Vietnam

- August 2008

During the trip to Laos we also ventured over to Vietnam. I was excited and nervous about this trip because I had no knowledge of what it would really be like. My only knowledge was the history of the Vietnam war. But once there, I gained knowledge of the country, the people, the food and I fell in love. I fell in love with the spirit of the people thriving under less than desirable conditions. I fell in love with the food that knocks you out with amazing colors and flavors. I fell in love with the landscape.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) We used Ho Chi Minh City as our starting point to travel the rest of the country. We spent a great deal of time exploring the city and loved it.

Lived: Park Hyatt Saigon http://www.saigon.park.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp

Discovered: The city. I advise you to go off the beaten path. There are so many great shops and restaurants popping up all over the city. Young designers and artisans with entrepreneurial spirits are starting to shape the city in a completely modernized way. But also don’t miss the Ben Thanh Market. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%E1%BA%BFn_Th%C3%A0nh_Market

Loved: Ca phe sua da or Vietnamese coffee. Try it!

Hanoi
From the south we flew to Hanoi the capitol in the North. Many things about Hanoi are different from Saigon. It’s not quite the hustle and bustle of Saigon. It’s still an amazing city with tons of history. You should experience it and you should definitely experience the Sofitel Metropole.

Lived: Sofitel Metropole http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-1555-sofitel-metropole-hanoi/nearby.shtml
This hotel is laced with history, you must check out both wings in this hotel. The old wing is old colonial style and the new Opera wing is an updated modern escape. We stayed in the Opera wing and it was amazing. Way more than we expected.

Ha Long Bay
From Hanoi we took off by car to one of my favorite experiences of our trip. Granted the car ride there was like a game of frogger with real lives we arrived safely in the heaven that is Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay is also a UNESCO world heritage site and for very good reason. You can’t describe the beauty of this place in words. It is one place that I have come across where only memories will do it justice. Fortunately, I have the most incredible ones I will never forget. My husband went out on a limb and hired a private junk boat instead of going the tourist route and for that I will be forever grateful.

Discovered, Lived & Loved: Private Princess Junk Boat Tour. One night, Ha Long Bay, No tourists, a private area of the bay, private room, amazing chef, wine, a full moon and the view of a lifetime.

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Hoi An
This was our next stop after another terrifying frogger trip in the car back to Hanoi, we flew off to Hoi An. A quaint little fishing village on the coast of Vietnam. Another one of our favorite spots on the trip. Venturing in to town is fun. You can pretty much have anything your heart desires made here. There are great restaurants, shops and markets you can explore.

Lived: The Nam Hai http://www.thenamhai.com/ Our villa below was unbelievable. The pool is insane, the spa is an oasis above water and the food is outstanding!


Discovered: Designer Uyen Trinh – She has her own shop in the town of Hoi An. I bought the most amazing dress from her. She made it by hand, to my measurements, hand painted butterflies on it and ended up shipping it to me in the states. She is an artist and I wish her well. There is a sketch of it here on her website: http://papillonnoirfashion.com/uyen.htm

Loved: Morning Glory Cooking School. If you have the time. It’s a great experience. http://www.hoianhospitality.com/morning_c.htm

After Hoi An we ventured back to Saigon to end to our amazing journey and spent a few more days in the city with our friend Brian who so graciously showed us around. We hope to return soon. Thanks for everything Brian!