Monday, June 29, 2009

A quick catch-up on the last 4 days...

Ok, this maybe the quickest post ever. I haven't stopped sweating for the last 4 hours, and I believe that my perspiration is scaring people in the internet cafe.
Last we spoke (disregarding our plea for fiscal responsibility), we were in Hanoi. We woke up on our last day ready to shop for cheap souvenirs. Our first stop was the Chinese market- a place that we were told was better priced than the normal tourist market. Of course, it was better priced- but only because it was a bunch of junk, and partially looked like a wholesale market. We walked around a bit, and then hopped back in a cab and headed to the market near our hotel. Our trip for cheap souvenirs cost us $10 in cab fair. Oops.

At the better market, we spent some money. This was the market that we told you had clothing shops with ladies that literally held on to you and wouldn't let you go. We avoided this aisle until the end when I bought 3 shirts (and used my awesome negotiation skills. Carrie and I really make a great team- one of us inquires, and the other makes faces at the price they say until they lower it. We were able to go from $35 a shirt to 3 shirts for $30). As soon as we walked out of that shirt place, I hurried out of the aisle, but Carrie was held back by 5 women grabbing her. Every (wo)man for him/herself!

We bought other trinkets- purses, watches, placemats. Can't remember everything now, since we are currently carrying more souveniers than clothes. We stopped for lunch at a Pho place- it was my first experience and it was awesome! It was around the corner from our house and named Pho Bo. There are tables and chairs on the street and you can watch them prepare the Pho. It was delicious and we both discovered our new love for chili sauce. Then we headed back to the hotel to shower and buy a coconut pancake that Carrie had her eye on for the last 3 days. It was definitely worth it too! Then, we walked back to catch a cab to the airport. A few hours later we were on a plane to Danang Airport, 30 min from Hoi An. If you every travel to Saigon Airport, bring ear plugs so you don't have to listent to the constant announcements over the PA. Literally the entire 2 hours we were in the airport. Plane ride was pretty uneventful. We were really tired, so we were looking forward to sleeping on the plane. Of course, Carrie ended up in a middle seat next to a woman and her little boy. He quickly became attached to Carrie and did not stop trying to hold her hand/arm the entire flight. Needless to say, there was little sleeping for Carrie, but of course, Dave did well.

The landing was beautiful. Hoi An is surrounded by mountains and the landscape was just green rolling mountains. Gorgeous!

When we arrived at Danang, we caught a cab to Hoi An. The Lonely Planet said we would spend $10. Ours cost $20. And he was slow. We got passed by ever scooter. And the drivers honk here whenever they pass anyone. Our driver just honked randomly. After more than an hour, we arrived at the hotel we hoped to stay in- Pho Hoi Riverside. We were recommended it by someone that we ran into, and asked at the frontdesk if they had vacancy. They did, and Carrie even deftly negotiated us an upgrade and a discount($40 from $60 with a riverview!). Solid!

The rest of Hoi An is a bit of a blur. There are tailor shops everywhere. Shoe shops everywhere. Silk shops everywhere. I don't know what they would do if tourists stopped coming here (tourists are everywhere).

Of course our first stop was to Yaly, a well-known tailor in the city. We came with a purpose, to buy Dave some nice work suits. We are leaving with so much more.

Anyway, it's a really interesting process. You walk in and they ask you what you're interested in and then they put piles and piles and piles of catalogs in front of you. Once you pick what you want, you start going through piles and piles and piles of fabrics. The store is huge and it looks like they have many more options then the others we've seen. Anyways, after you pick out material, you then get measured. They honestly take over 20 measurements which is why it comes out so nice I guess. They then ask you how long, where should pockets be, do you even want pockets... Total took us over 2 hours. Crazy. Since our first meeting, we had been back for 5 different fittings. But the clothes are amazing! We now have 2 huge plastic bags full of clothes with us (whereas everyone else was walking out with 1 shirt, a dress...) Add to that my custom made jeans (from Nam Ngai) we were able to negotiate down from $40 a pair to 2 for $20. However, after this visit, it made it very evident why it was worth paying more at Yaly. The service was 100% better and our consultants Marina and Alice were great! We also got a beautiful hand-painted piece of artwork from a nice woman we kept passing (Xang Thanh at 42 Mgiuem Thai Hoc Street).

There is a beach that we haven't made it too- hoping to tomorrow(We didn't) . A couple visits to our pool cooled us off, but it is so hot right now!

A quick rundown of our meals (really quick since I just finished typing this up and then it all got erased). The first night we stopped at a little place on the corner and Dave had fried shrimp with lemongrass and garlic. I had grilled shrimp you dip in a mixture of lime/pepper and salt and then coconut milk. Delicious. Got an invite from our waitress to go to dinner at her house, but never ended up going through.

Day 2 - breakfast was eggs and bread and fruit as well as fried rice, fried noodles, pho and spaghetti with sauce? Lunch was at a street eatery consisiting of picnic tables with woman at the end cooking in littlepots. We had fried spring rolls (they're amazing here) Dave had Pho and I had Cau Lau (Hoi An specialty of noodles, chicken, veggies and wontons). That plus 2 bottles of water for less than $5. Go us. Dinner was at Restaurant 96 right on the water. Dave had fried noodles with chicken (fried here for noodles is the equivalent of sauteed for us) and I had chicken with cashew nuts. Delicous!

Day 3 - Lunch was a random stop where it turned out the restuarant had just opened that day and we were the 2nd customers. It is similar to Friends in Cambodia in that they help street kids in Vietnam, get them schooling,housing and training to work in the restuarant. Our lunch was great. Dave had chicken with noodles and I branched out and tried the papaya salad with sun-dried beef and chilis. it was so good, but towards the end, the chili strips definitely starting getting the better of me and Dave had to finish mine off. The place was called Duong Pho ( and was delicious, clean and well-serviced.

Dinner was break time again. We went to Good Morning Vietnam which is an Italian owned/chefed restaurant. We had spaghetti carbonara and a hawaiian pizza and were extremely satisfied. Delicious!

That brought us to the internet last night. We had been out all day since 9:30 that morning and were hot, tired, developing heat rashes on our necks and could not stop sweating. We started feeling extremely sick, so we had to head home around 10 and take a dip in the pool. Therefore, this blog was completed and edited this morning when we were clean and sweat-free (as much as possible for Vietnam because it is HOT here!)

Back to the pool for a bit and then we head off to Hanoi. Last stop in Vietnam!


  1. We can always count on your blog to give us a couple of laughs. Carrie, we love the hat. You look great. You are giving us lots of nice pictures for the Gordon calendar.
    Hanoi should be interesting and Liz said you will love Laos. Keep the blogs going-they may take a long tine to write, but you will always have them to look back on .

  2. Such experiences and encounters you are having! Sounds like you are great negotiators and really got some good deals! We're so glad you are enjoying the scenery and hotel also, but feel so badly that you are so hot! We really appreciate your writing the blog especially when it has been so uncomfortable for you. We didn't want to miss any part of your trip! Hopefully, you can spend time in the pool and cool off! We love you!! Have fun!!
    Love mom

    P.S. Are you missing eating any American food yet? What would you like to eat first when you arrive back in the U.S.A?