Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy to be Home

So Happy to be home at last, the happy travellers met at my place for a celebration dinner a few weeks after our return. This is the Gardenia Room next door to my unit and it is available for dinner parties etc.
You can see why Dympna and I enjoyed having our breakfast in our room!!

Mid morning and the tea pickers were busy getting the little fresh leaves at the top of the bushes.

This is a well loaded coffee bush. Whatever you do don't accept an offer to have some 'weasel coffee'. It has an interesting production process! Vietnam is a big exporter of coffee, second only to Brazil.

We loved the markets. so much we didn't have a clue what it was though!! We began to make up names and uses for some of the things we saw.

Dymp and I at a Zen Monastery admiring the topiary work.

This was the feast we discovered when we got back on board after our snorkelling exercise!

Little baskets that transported us from the shore to our boat. They are made out of 'buffalo chocolate'! Yes - the dung from the buffalo is used to waterproof the cane baskets made out of rice straw. We did feel safe but were careful to wash our hands before dinner.

Amazing scenes when you head into the hills around Dalat.

After our early morning (4.45am) mass we visited the beach and watched the sunrise. I am leaning agains the palm tree near the bikes.

There was so much to see and do in Vietnam. We were all surprised at the resilience of the people, their capacity to enjoy what they had and the way they went about their daily lives. We didn't see any road rage and we only saw one accident - which for the kind of road and the amount of traffic and the fact that there didn't seem to be any road rules was amazing!!
Travelling in our own bus was very comfortable. It was airconditioned and we had a really great guide. Hau was a young educated local and really made the trip for us. He quickly learned what we did and didn't like and made sure we each got to do what we wanted as well as keeping the group occupied. We had several teachers in our group so we had lots of great conversation, lots of fun competitions and sang lots of patriotic songs!!
We particularly enjoyed seeing the rice paddies, the tea and coffee plantations and the activities that turned leaves and nuts into multiple products. The Vietnamese do somuch with the eucalytptus tree. It is made into paper, wood products, Tiger Balm and tea!!
We spent time in the cities and in the fields, on the beach, on the rivers, in museums and galleries, in the mountains and at the markets and shops. It was a very well planned trip and Heather our tour guide did a great job of preparing us before we left and making sure we were having fun on the way. It was a most enjoyable trip.
There is nothing so good as being on the last leg , doing the duty free shopping and landing in Sydney though! Great to be somewhere where you can read all the signs and talk to everyone! Dympna and I headed for the pie shop and had a good coffee and a pie. Before long our plane to Ballina boarded and we were back home at the Shutters.
Billy arrived up at 11pm that night, the children started phoning in, and all was well in my little world again.


Bev said...

Enjoyed your pics of your trip Gemma. It is wonderful to see you back blogging.

Allycat said...

And I am so glad to see you home also - even if it did take several months for you tell us! Now we might even make our way into 2009? lol See you next week xoxo

Trish said...

Your photos show beautiful vistas and bright, colourful markets. Great memories for you all I have no doubt.