12 April 2014
That was our last day in Vietnam. In the morning we did a boat trip around Hoi Ann estuary. In the afternoon the kids and the grandparents flew to Angkor.
Jaime and me took that day easily. We did a bit of shopping and we went for lunch to a very special place, out of the city, called The Yellow Mustard. That was one of the best culinary experiences in Vietnam. Dinner that day was also great. We went to a place called La Casita, the food was excellent and the people extraneously nice. They brought us back to the hotel by motorbike because it was far from the restaurant.
Our trip to the North and Central Vietnam was amazing!
11 April 2014
We wake up early to visit My Son runes. The temples of the Champ civilisation were strongly damaged during USA occupation. The Americans used My Son as a base. From the 4th to 13th century those temples become an important Hinduism religious centre. The place was full of people and it was very hot. Thus after the visit we stopped in An Bang Beach to refresh for a while and to eat lunch. We had some nice fresh fish in a restaurant just in the beach. However Ha Ha wanted to invite us to eat the best noodles in Hoi An, cao lau noodles. We went to a small family restaurant. The food was very good. Ha was very kind to invite us there, we appreciated that very much. He is a very professional guide and a great person.
In the afternoon we took some bicycles and we went for a ride around the river. That was of the best moments during all the trip. As usual, simple things are the greatest. At night a bit of shopping. ..but…no way to go shopping with boys…
10 April 2014
After breakfast we visited one of the famous pagodas in Hue, Thien Mu Pagoda and the Royal tombs, the tomb of Tu Duc and the tomb of Khai Dinh.
Leaving Hue we followed the coastal line and we could observe the magnificent beaches surrounded by rain forest. On that area they are many marble quarry’s and then we stopped in a carving workshop of that stone.
Before reaching Da Nang we stopped in one of the long beaches and Ha Ha brought us to a nice local restaurant where we had a delicious lunch.
Once in Hoi Ann, we still had time to visit one of the old houses and the Assembly Hall of one of the Chinese congregations.
Hoi Ann Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site. However it has tourists shops everywhere, a bit too much.
In Hoi Ann we stayed in The Sun Rier Hoi An hotel, a very nice place next to the Thu Bon river.
9 April 2014
Getting down to the south, we stopped to visit the Vinh Moc Tunnels, a three level gallery of tunnels built during the USA occupation to escape from the bombing. Whole families lived there and even 17 babies were born underground. These tunnels were the most complex ones in the area. Out of the tunnels, the amazing coast line.
Not far from the tunnels we crossed the DMZ (demilitarised zone), the line across the Ben Hai River that split Vietnam in two. After the french defeat in 1994, they negotiated with the USA to divide Vietnam. That area was one of the bloodiest during the occupation.
The route towards south goes through an amazing landscape, full of wild beaches opposite to hills and rainforest. That area was also fully sprinkled with the orange agent.
Around 4 pm we reached Hue, the imperial capital at the shore of the Perfume river, when the Nguyen dynasty ruled the country (1802- 1945). Their rule was marked by the increasing influence of French colonialism.
It was a bit late, but we could still visit the Citadel and the different sections inside it: Imperial city, enclosing the emperors residence and the main building of the state. Mostly of that area was destroyed during the war. Specially damaged was the Forbidden Purple City, a complex for the personal use of the emperor.
We were impressed about the imperial city, although the massive war destruction, you could still feel the atmosphere of the Nguyen dynasty. Gold, poetry, gardens highly influenced by Chinese culture.
Back to Moonlight hotel, exhausted by such a complete day.
8 April 2014
Early in the morning the plane to Dong Hoi took off. Once there a a taxi was waiting for us with our guide Ha Ha. He spent the rest of the trip with us.
Directly from the airport we went to visit the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, that contains the oldest karst mountains in Asia. Caves and rivers compose a stunning environment that is just at the beginning of being explored. In the morning we visited the Phong Nha Cave, an amazing collections of stalactites, stalagmites and columns. To visit the cave we had to go by boat, the river flow into the cave, silence and emptiness accompanied our visit. We were so impressed with that cave that we asked Ha Ha to visit Paradise cave in the afternoon. It is said that is the longest driest cave in the world. That experience was as stunning as the one in the morning. Pictures talk by themselves.
7 April 2014
Returning from the boat to the hotel we stopped to visit some caves. The Karst topography in Halong is stunning, hard to believe that all has been built by limestone and water.
Once in Hanoi we went to Skylard Hotel, a ery nice place. At night, a dinner in a pretty restaurant. That time we walked around the north east part of Hanoi. We missed the Temple of Literature, a good reason to come back!