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Friday, April 30, 2010

Ho Chi Minh Trail in Phong Nha Ke Bang

Bich and her friend Clint seen here while out on a ride through the Phong Nha Ke Bang park. I had a super time with them this day, swimming with the buffalo, visiting the wood workers, having afew cold ones, did I say having a few cold ones. I needed them after the wicked hot beef curry Bich cooked up. It was so hot but so good I couldn't stop eating it. Congrats Clint I saw the wedding photos on your facebook page....lucky guy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Hang

Hang and I having a birthday celebration last year, her cousin sent along an MP3 player and I became the "mule". Seems like I'm always bringing things to Viet Nam for friends and can never get my luggage down to that ideal "carry on only" that I long to do. One of these days. Hang and I always have a great time in HCMC and she takes me to the nicest places. Notice the carrot juice....better for you than beer but just doesn't seem to do it for me.

The Sleepy Gecko Bar

A shot taken at the Sleepy Gecko Bar in Hoi An, just across the bridge. Pictured here is my trusty driver Tang and the bartenders name escapes me but I have it on good authority she's a member of the infamous Dong Koi Mafia. So named because of the number of girls I know who hail from that village. Sau, Kitty, Buccaroo, Bich this bartender and the other bartender that she replaced all come from DK so I started calling them the DK Mafia and they think it's hillarious. This place is loads of fun and Steve and his wife are really living the dream. They have 2 lovely children despite some deparaging remarks from a few Yorkshire Blokes most people have a great deal of fun at the Gecko!

Monday, April 26, 2010

East Meets West Dental

Here at the EMW Dental clinic it's like Vegas a place that never sleeps. They are always busy. This Catholic Nun brought her charges to the clinic from the school for the deaf. The children were so impressed that I could sign alittle and even though our signs and alphabet are very different we were able to communicate with little trouble. The staff at the clinic are versed in Vietnamese sign language to some degree. We had fun and I always enjoy my time at the clinic and the usual pizza at night with the staff. They are a hard working bunch and although some of the staff have moved on to greener pastures they always seem to find just the right fit employee wise to keep the place running smoothly.

Bo Ne anyone?

This is one of my hot spots in Da Nang. It serves the best Bo Ne, or steak and eggs for breakfast. My driver turned me on to it and it's become a favorite of mine. They also serve the iconic Bahn My Opla baguette sandwich but the Bo Ne is the attraction here. Tender steak grilled with eggs on the side, cilantro onions and peppers all tender and hot as can be, topped off with a baguette and some cafe sua da makes for a great breakie! You can read the street name on the awning. ENJOY!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Trinh again!

6 short years ago Trinh was a shy little kindergartener. Now she is growing into quite a lady. Her hair is getting longer , her mother told me she was a real tomboy and that was part of her charm, the reason I found her so cute and different from all the other cherubs.

Trinh is growing up!!!

My friend Trinh here all grown up. She is the sweetest little girl and her teachers say she is an excellent student. She attends the afternoon class at her school and was off studying with friends when I visited this trip. After a brief talk with some neighbors she showed up. Notice her bicycle in the background. I was told she was in need of a new one and I guess I'll have to look into that. Her english is still not very good and my Vietnamese even worse but we manage to communicate and say our hellos. She's always so shy when I see her.

Shave and a Haircut......2 bits?

Two of my friends from the barber shop in Da Nang that I visit evrytime I'm in the city. Usually have a shave, haircut, ear cleaning, shampoo, and yet another shampoo and a body massage by no less than 5 of the girls, pedicure and manicure. Total cost 200K or $10USD. I met the owner and her staff back in 2004 when they were located under the Bach Dang Hotel but they have since moved across the Han river, directly across the river almost. These girls are in their early 20's now but they were cute lil teenagers studying the trade back then. They have since graduated to doing all the services and have really changed alot and grown up in the six years that I've known them.

Riding the Rails

With my home stay behind me it was time to get to Da Nang to see some old friends at the East meets West Dental Clinic. This little girl and her Granma kept me company from Dong Hoi to Hue City and through to Da Nang. She did like Snickers bars this little girl and even surprised me with her ability to "go potty" right there in the seat for all to see. Grandma was so proud.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A room with a view

Here is a view from the balcony at Bich & Ben's home. Spent afew nights here with Bich's beautiful family and drank some beer and rice wine. The food was great and Bich's family treated me so well, despite being a Viet Nam Vet and their past enemy. All is in the past with a view to the future and mutual prosperity for all. I gratefully thank them for their hospitality and warm welcome they gave me. They have a lovely home and the area around where they live is so quaint and untouch in tourist terms I hope it remains that way.

Gives you Pause

Beautiful inside this cave and easy to get around inside also. One of the better kept spots that I've seen in Viet Nam as many of the tourist sites are terribly littered with trash and debri everywhere.


The inside of this cave is nothing short of spectacular!!!!

A shot just inside the cave

This shot is as we first enter the mouth of the cave, ben told me he was here earlier in the year during the rainy season and had to assist the boat operator as the river was up so high and they had to guide the boat in by using the roof of the cave as a hand hold. Quite scary the amount of water that can befall this area. He also told me about leaving their home in a small boat and being surrounded by water for about 2 miles.

Approach to Phong Nha Cave

Here I am travelling up river with Ben Mitchell. He showed me around the Phong Nha Khe Bang area while I was staying with him and his wife Bich. I met Bich years ago on my first return trip to Viet Nam. They are in the process of opening a home stay in this area and were kind enough to invite me to stay with them and her family.