Benitakaren Goes to Asia

Old Jan 2nd, 2020, 02:52 PM
  #21  
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Only the best Bob
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Old Jan 2nd, 2020, 09:06 PM
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Sounds like a wonderful day, except for the stomach issues. Hope you feel better Benita.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2020, 01:15 PM
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Breakfast at Club. We had a driver for the day but there was a mix up - not a problem just go to Plan B. We spent three hours in a cyclo (wide seat in front of man in back on bicycle peddling. Around different parts of Old City. Lots of cars and more motorcycles weaving in and out. It was three hours of intense steroids I looked like a duck with my head going back and forth. Lots of people selling vegetables either carrying then or on bikes. Every store selling anything you might need - motorcycle parts, hardware, food, flowers, jewelry store, crocodile and alligator merchandise..Since the Chinese New Year coming up lots of red and gold decorations for the celebration. Women and men on the side of the road washing dishes. Hence, the reason we do not eat street food.

It was Karen's Birthday and Bob took us to the Metropole. I stayed a nite there two years ago. The nicest and very old hotel in Vietnam. Last time we took a tour of the bunkers under the hotel They shut off the lights and played a tape of the bombs going off and they played a tape of woman screaming for her baby. It was extremely emotional and very draining. Paulette and I just stayed in our room and could not go out for supper that night.
This is the hotel that Kim stayed in and Trump stayed at the Marriott where we are staying during their summit last year.

After a delicious lunch off to see the Hanoi Hilton (for the youngins out there it is the prison John McCain stayed in). Quite depressing with lots of pictures how well the prisioners were treated.

Back to hotel to Club. I was tired so Pat and came back for rest. We decided Dinner would be room rservice. I just slept. Was not hungry. Got up at midnight and got ready for bed. It is now 4 a.m. Decided to blog, will sleep for a few more hours then back downtown for Literature Building, lunch and shopping.

Stomach still a little wonky.
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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 01:22 AM
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Worth considering: it might not be just the stomach...
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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 01:27 AM
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We are having fun... eating great food, staying at JW Marriott, Hanoi—. always nice with fantastic club.

Girls left in rain this AM for more shopping—re: reshopping, Temple of Literature visit, etc.

I stayed at hotel and am enjoying the quiet. Sun has come out.
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Old Jan 4th, 2020, 06:53 PM
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Yesterday shopped in Old City- I had seen some items the day before so pretty much knew what I wanted to buy. Rained most of morning- then cleared and very muggy. Shopped at Tan My (probably the best shop in Hanoi) beautiful items, reasonable priced. Decided to have lunch there. As Karen said, very refined. They had a wonderful piano player while we ate. Ordered our food and drinks. My food and Pat's was delivered but Karen's was not. We waited quite a while and then Karen asked about her food. For whatever reason, they never ordered her food. You know I told you that we do not eat street food--but the food we ordered they go out the front door and they come back with a plastic bag of food, put on a plate and serve it. So much for not eating street food. Then the bill came - it was 1,480,000d and three women trying to gather this money was awful. We were all laughing and the guy serving was laughing at us. The bill was $21.00 for the three of us including drinks. Good thing we were not drinking since we never could have paid the bill. Finally we just gave the waiter money and he said we needed more. Difficult to count out money with three zeros. Shopped some more. Found someone to put a new watch battery in Karen's watch.

The watch man was kind enough to order us a Uber back to hotel. We were going to dinner in the hotel, but food they served as appetizers was great so ate in the Club. Had Pho twice yesterday (Chicken soup) Delicious.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 01:14 AM
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Good breakfast-cab to Temple of Literature. University from 1070 who taught Confucious theory. Very sacred temple. Shopped at store of handmade items done by people of Vietnam. Had lunch at Koto restaurant. Kids are taught how to cook and be in the service industry. Excellent food. I had fish cooked in banana leaves and pumpkin soup. More shopping. Karen fell down some stairs in store. Winding narrow staircase to second floor and slipped on way down. Hurt the front of her leg and toe. I was extra careful coming down. Had fun buying cards from lady on street. They are the type of cards that open up into flowers, churches, etc. Very cheap here. Lady was fun and kept bring out more cards for us. Took cab to Church Street. Bob heard it was a great street for shopping. We did not find much. Although Karen and Pat both found jackets. Stopped at cute restaurant for tea. I had a great tea called orange, orange with lemongrass and honey. Super good.

There was a guy next to us - probably in his 30's. Had red shoes with gold on the bottom - short socks and shoes were two sizes too big. He was wearing white short pants, Capri length that came down past his crotch sort of droopy draw pants., green jacket and heavy scarf. It is winter for the Vietnam people. He was very rude to a waiter and walked around in front of us pacing back and forth and talking on his phone. We called him the wanta be movie director.

Have seen lots of women and men in parkers with fur, while my head is soaking wet from sweat. Everytime I see a woman wearing a long sleeved velvet dress, I want to tear it off her body.

Next, took cab to the water puppet show. Since it was Sunday night there was a street market happening so the cab left us off a ways away. Started to rain so Karen bought us all rain coverups. At least we were dry. Got to the Puppet theatre. Went inside and waited. As Bob had purchased the tickets on line, he had a printed off the paperwork and we showed it to several people and they said to wait. Finally showed it to another man and was told we were at the wrong theatre and the show was stating in two minutes. They called the other theater and said they would refund our money and we could buy the tickets for this theatre. We walked in late but had front row seats. Live music which was interesting and am glad I went to see how it was done. After show about ten people who moved the puppets in the water came out and took a bow.

Took cab to Ly Club for dinner. Had tasting menu-about seven courses. Very good. Back to hotel - I collapsed in bed.

Up this morning at six and packed since we are leaving hotel for two nights. After breakfast van picked us up for two hour trip to Halong Bay. We are on the Azalea II boat. On way to boat stopped for a pit stop for bathrooms and drinks. Very large rest stop. Saw lots of rice paddies, fruit trees, etc. on way. Huge business building, electrical plants. Very modern six lanes of traffic. Took a small boat out to where the Azalea was waiting. Everyone had to wear a life jacket on the boat. Took about 20 minutes. On boat now. Short orientation, served buffet lunch. We are presently stopped to go into a cave. We decided not to go because there are about 150 steps down and up and can be very slippery. Other people stayed on boat. Beautiful day, Sunny and slight breeze. Mountains are beautiful and very peaceful. Seeing small fishing boats going past us. We are out on deck just relaxing. There are three different bays, we will not go to Halong Bay. We have heard it is very polluted with bottles and the one we are gong to is very clean. They do not have bottled water on these cruises anymore. They have distilled water that you can get anytime. After cave, there is going to be swimming and a cooking demonstration, then dinner. I think there are about 30 people on the boat. We have a double room with full bath, small balcony with two chairs.

Observations: Roll of toilet paper with no inside roll. Just rolled paper. Also, the old city of Hanoi has small store fronts selling everything you might want, people with carts selling vegetables, fruits, junk. Then you go to the newer part and it could easily be Boylston Street in Boston. Large buildings, huge store fronts, etc. Only reason you would know it's not Boston, are the motorcycles. I think there are more cycles than cars.

Went past Embassy for Iran and they had their flag at half staffed.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 01:28 AM
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Observation: After being in Hanoi for several days, the fresh air is so wonderful. It was so dirty and smoggy. Lots of people were wearing masks.
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 03:11 AM
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Very nice time on boat. Great food with lots of msg. I was so happy I did not have kankles when arrived in Hanoi-now have the dreaded K. Good nights sleep. Went to fishing village today. Very interesting. Got to sample different kinds of rice wine-also snake wine. Lovely display of two jugs of wine with dead snakes inside. Because I hate snakes, I stayed away from the table. Back to Hanoi tomorrow for two nights.

We have a wonderful waiter. He is from Vietnam and started working on this boat six months ago and did not speak English. He studied every night to learn and speaks quite well. We have talked a lot with the cruise director. He is 28 years old, from Mexico City, speaks five languages and is learning Vietnamese. Great trip highly recommend.















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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 05:14 AM
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Nice report, thanks for posting.

How did you arrange the HaLong Bay trip? What operator did you use and did you arrange it before you left for Vietnam or once you were in Hanoi? And about how much did it cost?
Thanks.
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Old Jan 8th, 2020, 01:29 AM
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Bob did all the arrangements. We booked thru Poeny cruises. It was all booked before we went. Partially paid thru pay pal, remainder due it cash when we checked out. They put us on Azalea 2. It does the 3 day,2 night runs which we would recommend. The staff on that boat are outstanding. Dieago the host is very funny and helpful.. if you need more. Information let us know. We were in Cat Ba bay next door to Ha long bay . Less boats, no trash, and same view

Cat Ba bay
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Old Jan 8th, 2020, 02:13 AM
  #32  
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Hi Isabel, thanks for your kind comment. Karen Kimball is going to answer your question about the cruise. The lime outcroppings were spectacular. I enjoyed every minute of this cruise and would do it again in a heart beat. We opted out of the cave tour (too many steps), kayaking and biking (we took a cart). i was perfect for this old fogie. and the rest of the group.

Nice breakfasts-lots of choices-eggs were delicious. Lunch and dinner had about six courses each. Pleasant night sleep. Talked with couple from San Luis Obispo, California; a woman originally from India, now has a house in the Alps and London. Six months in one and then the other. She said because of Brexit, she may sell the Alps house since she will only be allowed to stay there three months. Also met a 17 year old boy from Sweden who was delightful.

I tried squid fishing at night. No luck but at least know how it is done. I paid $22.00 for 1 beer, 4 gin and tonics, and 3 lattes. I think the price was excellent for top shelf gin.

Breakfast was at 7:15 this morning, then a brunch at 10:00 before we boarded the tender back to shore. We had a private driver in a six passenger luxury van back to hotel. Pat and I were upgraded to a suite. Two bathrooms, one with a Japanese toilet. Hit a button and my ass was dried with hot air. What a pleasant surprise that was. I do not know what else it does, but I am going to find out. I will let you know what other surprises I find.

My computer fell on the floor last night and broke the power cord. So tomorrow we are on the lookout for a new one. It will probably be a copy since Vietnam is known for knock-offs. Tomorrow we are planning on a hop on-hop bus. We are planning to just stay on and do the loop.

Tonight I think we are doing room service. Something very simple for me.

The cruise wanted us to bring US dollars to pay the remaining balance. I somehow left my money in the suitcases we left at the Marriott while on the cruise. When we checked in at the boat terminal, I asked if I could pay by credit card and they told me it was ok. Then this morning when I went to pay the balance they said only cash and no credit card. So between the four of us I had enough money to pay my bill and now will pay back Bobby and Pat what they loaned me.
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Old Jan 8th, 2020, 09:08 PM
  #33  
 
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Quite accurate reporting. Benita is behaving thus far and only buying essential lux items from the best shops.

it is great to be back at the Hanoi Marriott for two nights.

tomorrow we fly to Danang and then limo to Hoi an, a small provincial riverside town, known for its shopping and tailors. We will be there 4 nights and then move to Danang beach at the new Sheraton for some down time.
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Old Jan 9th, 2020, 01:37 AM
  #34  
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After breakfast took cab to city and were dropped off at the Opera and took a hop on hop off bus for about an hour. Great tour with lots of information. Got off at Opera and walked to Metropole for lunch again. I had a delicious Ginger Mojoto and smoked salmon with appropriate accouterments with toast points. Delish. Then walked to very upscale mall looking for a telephone/computer shop to buy a cord for my laptop. The mall we were in had only Louis Vuitton, Burberry, etc. Too expensive for us. Then we walked outside for a cab, Pat saw a store across the street, selling Apple phone and watches. They had a cord so I am back in business.

I wanted to buy and try Weasel coffee. Got a name for a store here at the hotel. Took a cab there. Weasel coffee is very expensive so only got one cup for the three of us. Interesting taste - sort of burnt coffee but with evaporated milk and if you want, granulated sugar. It was extremely strong even with milk and ice.

Weasel coffee-years ago the weasels would forage in the forrest for food and would also eat coffee beans, After the weasel passed the coffee bean thru their system, something happens to coffee bean, and then it tastes different. Now adays, they only feed the weasels coffee beans. goes thru system, washed and sold. Kinda makes you wonder who thought up the idea to check the poop for beans and then use them. A very rich man is living the life in Tahiti probably.

Back to hotel for G&T's and then downstairs for dinner at the French Restaurant. It is Bob's Birthday today.

Tomorrow Hoi An.

While on the bus this morning. a gentleman sat in front of me, probably late 50's-early 60's. We have referred to him as Barry Manilow. Had a full head of Barry hair and was running his hands thru it the entire time. Also had some face work done to look younger. His partner sat across from him. Never listened to the headset, just took videos. Got off at Uncle Ho's resting spot.

Then at lunch there was a smartly dressed woman who gave the waitress hell for not bringing her spring rolls fried. We will refer her as the Bitch. I thought the man with her, older, well dressed in suit, was her husband. Sometimes they spoke in English, sometimes Vietnamese. Pat thought she was a pro but I thought she was too old. If he wanted one of those, I hope he would have gone for a younger version. Anyway it is interesting to people watch.

Someone is making a bundle on bungee cords. They use them to tie everything and anything to the back of their cycles.

When a guard stands on the pedestal to guard a building or parking spaces in front of the building, there is s painted V so he knows the exact location to place his feet.

Some street have walk signs in green but that doesn't mean much. The bikes come whizzing by anyway. There are some traffic lights but mostly it is a driving free for all. Every car driver, motorbike, bus, etc. is weaving in and out of traffic as fast as they can. Traffic lights are just a suggestion!

Again muggy today, but nice.
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Old Jan 9th, 2020, 04:13 PM
  #35  
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After drinks in lounge, went to hotel restaurant-French Grill. Bob was very kind and treated us to dinner to celebrate his birthday. My sea bass was delicious. They brought out a birthday cake and sang happy birthday. Delightful evening.

Magic toilet update. When you stand in front of it, the lid goes up. When seated for a few seconds the seat warms up. Spray for front, then rear, then pulsating spray or zig-zag. You can also program water temp for different users. Our second bathroom has a square toilet seat. Pretty comfortable.
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Old Jan 10th, 2020, 05:18 PM
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Flight from Hanoi to DaNang was uneventful, which is exactly what I want. Plane was full. No leg room. Legs practically wrapped around my head. Because our plane was very late, driver from hotel waited two hours for us. Very pleasant dinner-best chicken I have ever had with a pepper dipping sauce. Sat outside by the river. Town is small, looks like an upscale shopping town only Vietnam style. Lanterns up and down the street.

Taking laundry to have washed today. There are two places just outside the hotel. Going to look at having some clothes made today. Have been trying to figure all the things out in a new room. How to plug the sink, how to use the shower, where are lights, how to lock the safe, where is the ac, etc. By the time I learn everything we will be moving to DaNang.

Weather when we arrived was about 72 degrees and slightly muggy. Driver gave us water and a lovely scented cold cloth. I put it around my neck.

Off to our first breakfast in HoiAn on second floor on the river.
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Old Jan 11th, 2020, 03:50 AM
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Wait for today’s shopping tales and the best ever VN lunch
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Old Jan 11th, 2020, 04:02 AM
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Lovely breakfast. Then laundry. Karen left the property with her laundry bag and three women went after her laundry. She told them there were three of us looking to laundry service, so got two cards for Pat and me. I had laundry woman number 1 and when I took my bag out she came running up saying she was number 1. She grabbed my bag and went running up the street to her shop. She dumped my clothes out on the floor and counted the number of items I had and gave me a price. I can pick them up tomorrow. They will be pressed and folded and put into clear plastic bags. She also has a massage salon and I told her we would b back for a massage later in the day.

Went to Yale clothes to have something made. You tell them what you want then they show you the material. Beautiful colors and interesting designs. They take to a room and take pictures of your four sides then they measure you. When you pick out a designs they tell you whether it will work on your body type.

Then went to Morning Glory for lunch. Another amazing lunch. I had a Pomelo salad with shrimp and a beef wrapped in Betel Leaf.
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Old Jan 11th, 2020, 07:13 AM
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Shopped and walked back to Yalla to find my notebook I had left there. Very warm - walked on shady side of street to stay out of sun. Walked thru food market. Stopped and asked if they had chill salt - she gave me a bottle of chilli sauce, then gave me a bottle of salt and pepper, then she went into storage area and brought me a bottle of chili salt. I bought a bottle to bring back to hotel to seeif it was what I wanted Opened and tried it-it is chilli salt, so will go back tomorrow to buy more for my son. The only thing he requested from Asia.
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Old Jan 11th, 2020, 07:23 AM
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On way to Yalla, the Number 1 Clothes washer saw us and wanted to know when we were going to get a massage. Karen and I told her we were going to tailor and would be back in ten minutes. As we were crossing the street Number 1 clothes washer came riding up on her bicycle just to make sure we were going where we said we were and would be back for a massage. Foot and leg massage cost $20 including tip for 60 minutes. Heavenly. Hope to get a full body massage tomorrow if we have time.

Lovely outside dinner at hotel. Perfect weather.
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