Posts Tagged With: Vietnam

Letters & Words : Weekly Photo Challenge

I had fun searching and looking through all my photo files to come up with examples of letters. Spending nearly the last 4 years in China and having the opportunity to travel and visit many places in Asia I had to narrow it down to these.

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So stop what you are doing and sit back and enjoy the collection of letters, words and symbols.

 

This first photo is a stop sign, which I am sure you guessed. The word is TING and means STOP in Mandarin Chinese.

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The one on the right is also a stop sign that we spied in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

These letters are very different from what we are used to, but we get the meaning. Who knew the sign colour and shape would be so universal?

 

Welcoming in the New Year 2014.

Welcoming in the New Year 2014.

 

 

Pub Street is a main tourist street in Siem Reap that is loaded not only with bars, but many western style restaurants. The neon sign lights up the night as we wandered along. A New Year’s Eve banner also stretched across the street to advertise their Angkor Beer and welcome in the New Year.

 

 

 

 

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From Siem Reap, Cambodia. A small shop that made its own wine. The 3 types of letters spell out Wine Shop in the local language, English and I believe Chinese.

 

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This funny fellow drove around on his electric scooter spewing bubbles. Meanwhile heart-shaped balloons spun along wildly in the breeze. We saw him a few times and one night as luck would have it he had stopped to refill his bubble machine, so I was able to snap a pic. I wish I knew what he was saying on his signs. Any ideas?

 

Neon signs in Chinese from Honh Kong.

Neon signs in Chinese from Hong Kong.

 

More signs this time down a small side street in HoChiMin City, Vietnam.

More signs this time down a small side street in HoChiMin City, Vietnam.

 

Silly mistakes

Silly mistakes

In China they call in Chinglish, where things are misspelled or lost in translation. There are entire books on silly things like this. I pointed out the 2 mistakes I found -Hepsi Cola and Freda Orange Juice. Take a look as some of the other interesting options on this menu.

Philippines

Philippines

 

The last photo is simple and understated after some of the other interesting combinations of letters. This was a boat that took tourists from the resorts around Mindoro Island in the Philippines to another beach that has soft powdery sand. Enjoy the view.

This is my response to Word Press’ Theme for their weekly photo challenge Letters. Check out more here.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, teaching overseas, travel, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Earth, Sea & Distance: Photo Challenges

I have decided to combine the weekly photo challenges into one this week. Pixelventures has asked us to post on EARTH, while Where’s My Backpack is on a long distance trip, so she has set the theme (off in the) DISTANCE and Word Press asked about the SEA. Word Press suggested we talk about the first time we were at the sea or other feelings surrounding water. I love relaxing by the ocean and hearing the gentle waves lap at the shores. It has been just over a year since we were in Cuba for a two week glorious holiday by the sea. Last year our many return trips to Canada only left 2 short mini holidays and none of them took us to the sea. 😦 Check out the links above to participate and find out more about the themes and their meaning. See below for how I interpreted and combined the three themes into one 😉 .

Here is where the earth meets the sea… and the only thing off in the distance are the clouds.

View from my Beach Chair in Cuba

View from my Beach Chair in Cuba

A view of the sea in the distance through the trees in the Philippines. At this resort the earth is celebrated with gardens and natural building materials. No phone, or TV to distract you. Only the sounds of nature to lull you to sleep each night in your open air hut.

Nature's Rhythym -wind, waves and wonderful

Nature’s rhythm – wind, waves and wonderful

High above the earth we caught sight of the sea and some small islands in the distance.

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A new day as the sun  in the distance rises over the earth and sparkles across the sea in Vietnam.

Sunrise Sparkles on the Surf

Sunrise Sparkles on the Surf

These photos may look familiar since they all come from previous posts, but I thought they were worth sharing again 😉

Stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Travel Theme: Beaches

I have been lucky enough to have travelled and seen many beaches around the world. From the Eastern Coast of Canada to the French Rivera and the warm waters of the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida. More recently I have had the chance to set foot on beaches in Asia. Each one has a unique beauty, but one thing is the same… the soothing sounds of the sea seems to rejuvenate and relax the soul.

Enjoy my collection of beautiful beaches. Here is a slide show of my 4 most recent pics.

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Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has set this week’s theme Beaches. Click here to see more example or post your own because ‘everyone loves a day at the beach’.

Stay tuned… more next week.

Categories: Photography, post a week, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenges x2 Future & Time

Future…. Time…. this week’s themes from Word Press and Where’s My Back Pack?  Word Press has been encouraging us to use our phones to take photos, but my crap Chinese Fake Fone takes poor quality pics, so I am cheating and looking through my images saved on my USBs.

Word Press is looking for Future Tense… a photo that shows something about to happen… and Ailsa’s is Time. I’ve included 2 photos and my interpretation of the theme is as follows…

Vietnam…. Yes the vehicles are moving forward and going somewhere… in the near future. The country is also changing and moving forward as more industry, money and change propel it forward through time. It is a changing nation that is growing from its third world status into something new and more prosperous.

Vietnam Traffic

Vietnam Traffic

My watch… The Chinese Characters show the time… and uncertain future of what will happen tomorrow. Time passes so quickly and is something we always wish we had more of. Where we will be in the future is sometimes hard to see or know.

Time Passes so Quickly

Time Passes so Quickly

Want to see more interpretations or join the challenges then please click on the links above.

One thing for certain… there will be more next time… so stay tuned

 

 

Categories: Photography, post a week, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , ,

Travel Theme: Circles

Around and Around and Around We Go…. Where We Stop Nobody Knows…. Not sure what this is from, but it sprang to mind as I started to write 😉

At first I didn’t think I had anything with circles then thought about the lovely grapes from a winery close by where I used to live in Niagara. As I was looking for that photo I stumbled upon many other possibilities and I included them here…

What do you think? What is your favourite?

Thanks Ailsa for another great photo challenge. If you would like to participate or see more follow the link to join in the weekly fun.

I am still here! YEA! So stay tuned for more…

 

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Photography, post a week, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weekly Photo Challenge x3: Food, Adventure & Dreaming

This week I am going to try to combine all 3 photo challenges into 1 post 🙂 I have done 2 together before and after Island Traveller tied all 3 together last week I thought I would give it a try too 😉

Alisa over at Where’s My Backpack posted the travel theme FOOD. Whenever travelling you should try the local cuisine and what they are famous for. I am not an adventurous eater, but I do try to sample a nibble of something different and try it when travelling. In doing so I have discovered some great foods to tantalize the palate.  Island Traveller’s theme for the week is ADVENTURE and what couldn’t be as adventurous as traveling and trying some new foods? Word Press set the theme DREAMING… and I am always dreaming of a vacation and where to go to next… Check out each of these posts to join in the challenges or to see more 🙂

Last April we went to Vietnam and I saw people with big steaming bowls filled with noodles. I am always weary of food on the street, so I never gave it a second thought. At our breakfast buffet, at the resort we stayed, they had a noodle cart set up and the sign said it was a traditional fare. The cart was providing a soup called Pho (pronounced Fah).

Pho -my new fav food

Despite the heat I decided to try a bowl and was hooked! Rice noodles with bean sprouts, fresh basil,  wedge of lemon and a little tiny piece of hot pepper was an awesome combination. On top there are choices of meat; beef, pork or chicken. Meat is used sparingly, but a few pieces is all you really need to compliment this bowl of goodness. My favourite was the seasoned pork, but it must have been a Seahorse resort specialty because I have not seen it elsewhere. Back in Shanghai we found a place close to our house at the Kerry Centre that is a Vietnamese restaurant and for $15- $20 (100 RMB) we could each have a gigantic steamy bowl of Pho and a plate of spring rolls.

You may remember reading my Vietnam posts and I talked about our cooking class. We learned how to make fresh and deep fried spring rolls. John’s favourite is the deep fried, but I tend to like the fresh which are refreshing on a hot day. Most have mint leaves, carrot, cucumber and may or may not have some meat. The place near us also makes a fruit/veggie combo with carrot, cucumber, apple and dragon fruit. YUM! Here in Canada John found a place that is a small Vietnamese restaurant and they make a delicious Pho and we tried the vermicelli too. That is a rice noodle with meat, cucumber, lemon grass and choice of meat. It is just like Pho without the broth… oh so delish. Price is great too for approx. $20 we both get our fill. The spring rolls are pretty good too. The best part is the Vietnamese owner (or worker) who is so sweet and friendly. If you are ever in St Catharines check out Fresh Rolls on Forth Ave.

Making the Cold Spring Rolls- Vietnam

Travelling to Vietnam was an amazing adventure. We loved the city, the people and the food. The beach and the simple life was fantastic. Laying by the pool or on the beach was relaxing and filled our heads full of dreams for a return visit and more vacations like this. Coming into Vietnam was a little adventurous as we had to get rerouted due to a typhoon. Landing in a strong cross wind jerked the plane and gave the heart a jolt like it does when on some roller coaster ride that suddenly drops.  The pilot did a great job and landed us smoothly and safely.

After a busy school year for me  and my husband just writing a HUGE exam we were dreaming about time together and relaxing. He has been watching some travel web sites for good deals and yesterday we ventured off to the travel agent and booked another vacation to Cuba. This will be our third trip to the sunny island and we are dreaming of fun in the sun, the music and great people. Cuba is not a destination for food, as their cuisine is bland and limited to what they can import. Mojotos and fresh fruit are always on the menu and that is good enough for me 🙂 SO more adventures await as I dream about the soft powdery sands, turquoise waters and gentle salt filled breezes…

Don’t forget to check out the photo challenges and stay tuned for more…

Categories: Photography, post a week, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cooking & Final Thoughts: More on Vietnam

Can you tell we really loved Vietnam? Who knew such a short vacation that was mainly spent lazing by the pool would amount to 4 posts! God help me if we ever go away for a month… you would never hear the end of it 😉

The last full day in Mui Ne was an unexpected adventure and my favourite. It was not what I wanted to do, but I am so glad I did because it made the trip so much more enjoyable. John inquired about cooking classes and they were offered at the hotel. He wanted to sign up, but for some reason we could not at that time and had to come back the next day. It was nearing the end of the trip and panic was setting in that soon I would be back at work and up to my eyeballs in things as the school year was winding down. I wanted to savour every last minute of relaxation and sunshine that I could. We didn’t go out to the dunes as we had hoped -couldn’t give up an entire day of R’n’R for an early morning and long day in the oppressive heat. The last day I planned to go to the spa for a massage and read and John would do a cooking class. That was until they signed us both up. Quickly I jumped in and said NO I am not interested… just John. They informed him the class either couldn’t go ahead as planned with only 1 student, or he would have to pay double (for 2 people). He was going to pass on things since he knew getting away was a much needed escape for me. I didn’t want him to miss out, so I agreed to join. The happy employee signed us up and gave us the details in where to meet and what time the next day. I was very touched that John was willing to so easily give up what he wanted for me 🙂 He is such a keeper!

The next morning we finished our breakfast (more pho -yum) and went off to the lobby to start our cooking adventure. We waited for the cook to arrive and then we would be off. First they would take us into town to buy the ingredients and then return and cook. We had a private car with driver to take us, the cook and a tour guide. I felt like royalty with all the attention… Our tour guide pointed out things along the drive and answered questions about what we saw. She informed us of the building going on at a large development on a hill overlooking the sea just before getting into the beach area (in which a cemetery had to be moved to a new location!), pointed out some places of interest and asked us about our home country. Soon we were in town and left to walk in to the wet market. Our guide told us to watch our belongings and they helped us cross the chaotic street as we entered the crowded market area. Vietnam is a very safe place, but like anywhere pickpockets are always on the lookout for an easy target and foreigners are viewed as rich and good prey.

Buying the Pork

Immediately we saw fluffy little yellow chicks for sale at the entrance. I was falling behind and didn’t want to get lost in the maze of stalls, so I missed a great photo-op. Inside the dimly lit market stalls were crowded in every available space with produce, meats, cloth and other necessities. The ground was stained and soiled from years of debris. We squeezed through the narrow aisles and followed our cook who knew where to get each ingredient. As she went our guide kept a look out around us to keep us safe and explained things as we went. Locals often sat on their table tops squeezed in with their wares since there was just no space to spare and allow them to stand. It was hot and humid outside and inside the tarps and thin roof the heat was oppressive, but they didn’t seem to notice with their long sleeves and pants. Before going I had read that they are modest and don’t dress in tank tops and low-cut outer wear and frown against those who do. Many of the locals wore brightly coloured patterns of matching pant outfits (t-shirt like top with short or long sleeves and pants) in the same pattern/colour or sometimes mismatched pattern or colour. Younger Vietnamese wore jeans and more modern t-shirts.

 

This is what I imagined the Chinese Wet Market to be like but wasn’t. This one was crowded, smelly and somewhat dirty with scattered bits of produce, blood and guts tracked into the floor. I was SO glad I opted for the running shoes today and not the flip flops! The market was a hive of activity where people were buying and selling their daily needs and moving goods in and out. When we stopped to buy some meat and shrimp. As the cook asked for what she wanted, as the guide told us she knew this stand was of good quality. The seller pulledout a large knife and quickly slammed it into the meat and cut off the requested amount. I was glad to move on from the meats and into the spices and vegetable section.

This one grandma?

The colours were so vibrant and the smells much more pleasing. Actually the smell wasn’t as bad as the fish market I went to in Granada, Spain if memory serves me correctly. That stench was unbearable and lingering everywhere, and this was just a bit unpleasant as you went by the meats. As the cook bought some carrots, cucumbers, taro, mint and other items I snapped up pictures and took it all in. We became the tourist attraction as we did not fit; I felt like an example of ‘what is wrong with this picture?’as people did a double take on us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our whirlwind tour through the market we were back outside in the sunshine. Our driver had to drive around to meet us, so they took us to a temple to get out of the hot sun and see all the worshipers. It so happened this was a Chinese temple, or many Chinese worship there. Our guide told us today was busy because it happened to be a full moon, a day for them to pray for good fortune. Later I remembered it was also Qing Ming Festival and this may have also been areason it was busy. Many people were inside the temple with incense which they held near the middle of their foreheads and rocked their heads back and forth as they prayed. Certain statues were spread throughout and people gathered near them and touched them, which was a ritual we didn’t understand. You could see the worn areas from many hands caressing the statues. I felt like we were intruding and I didn’t venture far past the door and took a few pictures before our air conditioned comfort was waiting for us.

Little girl waiting for her parents as they worship

The temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back at the hotel we were given a break while cook prepared the ingredients. We sat by the pool for a few minutes before heading into the restaurant. To our surprise everything was cut and ready for us, we just had to do the assembly! We were making 2 style of Vietnamese Spring Rolls (yum!) Cook cut some large rice paper into triangle shapes and we added our ingredients and rolled the spring rolls up like little cigars. We made some with pork (for me) and others with

Making the Cold Spring Rolls

shrimp(for John). These would be deep-fried slowly in a warm oil. When we used that up we turned to cold spring rolls which were more vegetable with cucumber and mint and would not be cooked. As time went on I got better at rolling – cook who did not know English laughed at my first attempts and even made me do a few again. John on the other hand did well first try -show off! As we worked on the cold uncooked rolls our guide fried up the first batch and by the time we were done we had our meal! They treated us to a table for 2, an amazing cold iced tea (chamomile maybe?) and we ate our creations. Oh they were delicious! As I write this my mouth waters. I really enjoyed the cold ones, so refreshing on a hot day. Fully stuffed we enjoyed the rest of our day by the pool.

 

The next day we were checking out and heading back to Ho Chi Minh City. We spent our last hours by the pool catching the last rays before a long drive. Back in Ho Chi Mihn we wandered the streets and alleys near our hotel and bought a few souvenirs. We learned that many things are made locally and provide people with work and much-needed income. I bought a lovely woven yarn scarf, John a few t-shirts and an interesting purse with embroidery. There was other handicrafts and art work, but we packed light and had nowhere to put it without the purchase of another suitcase, so we had to pass.

The next day we had to leave early so we turned in for the night. The next morning we checked out of the Liberty hotel, the same place where we stayed when we arrived. It was a simple hotel, cheap, without frills and good enough. Breakfast was included and we had to check out before breakfast began so we thought we would have to forgo our free meal. They were kind enough to offer and pack us a little meal to go! Loaded into the taxi we wove through the dark early morning streets as the city began to come alive. Motorbikes loaded down with supplies and materials were being transported to the local markets before opening time and large blocks of ice sat on doorsteps to help keep meats and other items cold. As the sun started to rise we reached the airport and it was time to say goodbye to Vietnam.

Vietnam is considered third world, and doesn’t have all the frills that other international big cities may have, she certainly isn’t as sophisticated and rich as Shanghai… but there is a hidden beauty, an inner light that shines through that made me fall in love with Vietnam and definitely want to go back and see more…. the terraced rice patties, historical tunnels from the war, the floating markets and revisit the beautiful beaches.

Stay tuned for more next time…

Categories: Culture, everyday occurances, Photography, post a week, social graces, strange adventure, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Surf, Sand and Swim -More on Vietnam

Mui Ne is a sleepy beach. If you are looking for night life, rocking bars and clubs you won’t find it here. The shops and restaurants tempt you to stay awhile and relax. Everything is so friendly and welcoming from the restaurant greeters calling hello, the taxis slowing down to see if you want a ride and even the soft and soothing sounds of the Vietnamese language which is not as harsh, loud and abrupt as Mandarin. People don’t seem to be arguing all the time and speaking loudly so you can’t help but overhear their conversations.

If you get bored there is a little adventure to be found with kite boarding (very expensive about $150 US/ hour) and motorbikes (cheap $10/day) for rent. The sand dunes are a short day trip where many people go and explore. We really wanted to see the dunes, but didn’t make it. Missing out makes us want to return. Long ago some good travel advice I learned was to take things as they come and enjoy the journey…. leaving things undone, or 1 more thing to see and do is OK because it is a good reason to make you want to return.

So what did we do? You must be thinking oh yawn… 3 days of nothing… do I have to read about this? Well even in quiet times interesting things happen. I did spend 3 days by the pool reading and having the occasional happy hour cocktail. John and I always cooled off in the pool and got a little bit of a tan. The days were hot with a slight ocean breeze, so we didn’t want to venture too far… besides within minutes you would be drenched with sweat. This reason alone kept us close to the pool. Evenings were cooler, so we strolled the street and enjoyed great food for cheap! We ate at Good Morning Vietnam Pizza twice because it was so yummy. We also found this German place that was part of Charm Villas. They had great schnitzel and the best French Onion Soup I ever had outside of France. We were OK with this pace since we wanted an escape from the cold drab wet winter we were just coming out of. Work had been more hectic than usual and I needed the R and R to recharge me to get through the last few months before school was finished.

I woke up early in the mornings just as the sun was rising and wanted to go out and get some sunrise pictures. A few

Sunrise Sparkles on the Surf

people were out strolling along the edge of the waves and even swimming. It was so peaceful and relaxing as the surf gently rolled in. I snapped lots of shots as the sun rose into the sky and left its shimmery hues of yellow and orange behind before the heat and brightness set in. In between shots I looked around for crabs, the beach was littered with holes and escape routes with evidence of little claw marks that left interesting patterns scattered about. Occasionally the clear coloured crustaceans would skitter like a flash into a ready hole, so it was hard to snap a photo of the camouflaged little critters. Out on the water fishermen were already returning with the daily catch. Small blue boats bobbed in the waves. Smaller ‘teacup’ boats were scattered on the horizon a few hundred meters from shore. They reminded me of an episode of the Amazing Race when a task was to row one of these small round boats to a point and back. One of the contestants found it hard and complained about the ‘teacup boats’ and the image stuck in my mind.I watched the single fishermen, or occasionally a pair, expertly guide these perfectly circular boats by oar across the waves. The sea was still a bit rough, so this was not an easy task. I took some shots, but my little point and shoot camera couldn’t zoom in as much as I would have liked. Down the beach some were being pulled out so I went to investigate. Once the teacup boat was close enough to shore someone was there to help them carry the boat away from the waves. Quickly they got to work and once in position a tarp was placed on the sand and the nets were laid out. Then by hand  they (I assume it was the fishermen’s wife and sons) began to pluck the fish out of the tangle of the nets. It seemed so primitive compared to the large fishing trawlers and nets that over fish most of our waters today, but it was simple and effective. It brought me back to my childhood when I went out with my Grandfather and later my Uncle who were commercial fishermen in Eastern Canada. They too didn’t have a lot of fancy equipment, often homemade, but what they

Carrying the Teacup Boats

Today’s Catch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

had was very  effective. I remember my uncle having a simple wooden frame  with fishing line wrapped around it with numerous hooks. He would lower into the water and when he pulled it back up minutes later with an expert flick of the wrist the fish were flung into the boat. Soon we were ankle-deep in fish and I was covered in scales (yuck!).

I enjoyed the morning exploration and got up early again to watch the sun rise and the fishermen with their daily catch. The resort was quiet as the workers watered the gardens and cleaned everything  before their sleepy guests awoke. In the morning sun the colours were more vivid which made it great for taking pictures of the beautiful gardens and flowers. The resort was almost full with guests, but still felt peaceful and relaxed. This morning time was even more special as I had it all to myself.

Traditional Boat Made from Woven Reeds or Wood. Today’s Version is Fiberglass.

Stay tuned for 1 more post of Vietnam…

Categories: Culture, everyday occurances, Photography, post a week, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,