Monday, 1 June 2015

So long, farewell, I need to say goodbye...

The time has come to pack my bags.  Every last thing squeezed in to every last space.  Remind me next time not to bring so much stuff...then perhaps I'll have room for all I bought!

That way I shall avoid another worrying moment when I am told 'your bags are too heavy' by the grim faced check-in staff.  A bit of a wobble, I must admit, but a problem solved when your new friends come to the rescue, thank goodness for weight sharing.  Phew, everything on board.

In Kuala Lumpur I even make my connecting flight - right gate and on time :-) 

Despite being waylaid, but not tempted, by a FABRIC shop in the middle of the airport!  A lot of quilters must pass through KL!

And then, before I know it, it raining and I am back at T4, with a welcome from KONE to bring me back to the ground.

Terry was there to meet me and take me home.  A friend who gets up to meet your red-eye flight on a Sunday is truly the very best of friends - thank you x

There was a welcome message waiting for me at home too


And I think Magic was pleased to see me even if she did

look a bit disappointed I didn't bring her a new basket ( Magic, I did try.  But imagine just how more grumpy the check-in staff would have been if I had!). Perhaps she'll be happy with some of the crinkly packaging, that usually does the trick :-)

Vietnam was everything, and more, that I had hoped it would be.  I have learnt so much about a beautiful country, and about myself too.  I missed a flight, but found a country. I was stranded at an airport in a monsoon, but took a taxi.  I cycled a mountain, all by myself, and didn't fall off my bike once.

A year in the planning, three weeks in the living, new friends made, loved ones remembered; a lifetime of memories stored.

Thank you for coming along with me on my adventure, I hope you have enjoyed reading what I've been up to and seeing all the places I have visited.  I enjoyed sharing it all with you and reading your comments.  And before I forget - Congratulations to Claire, she wins the mystery fruit prize, so I have a little durian inspired gift ready and waiting for you ;-)
Is this the end of an adventure?

Not likely, it's just the start! There's a whole world out there, ready and waiting.  Life is an adventure and I plan to live it well.

Next year I fancy cycling Kerela and the south west coast of India - anyone fancy coming along for the ride?? It.l be with Exodus again so follow the link and take a look... go on, you know you want to ;-)

An evening in Hanoi

It's early evening now  in Hanoi, our very last one, so come with me as we explore the streets of the Old Quarter. Just right outside our front door.

there is washing up being done.  See those plastic baskets and hose?  That for washing the seafood...

My goodness, where did you get that hat?  There is just the right size for you here in the streets of Hanoi.  I wonder which little girls will be getting the ones I bought??

Fancy a ride in a 'cyclopush'.  No thanks, not enough time, there's too much to explore by foot.

But there is always some one in a hurry, 

perhaps they want some fast street food.

If only everyone would just move out of their way!

But we have reached our destination 'Little Hanoi'.  A gem of a place 

Hidden up at the top of this flight of stairs.  Come on up, your table is ready, order what you like and we'll have it on your table in a minute or two.

No meal this holiday has been without spring rolls.  From Saigon to Hanoi, we've tried the lot.  Loved each and everyone, dipped in chilli oil, nice and hot.

Chicken with cashew, beef and ginger or sweet and sour pork?  A bowl full of rice.  

Then fresh mango, always a delight. We ate the lot!

So raise a toast ( yes, that's a G&T I've got) to a wonderful adventure, new friends made and an amazing time.

But quick, there's still time to dive through the streets to see what we can find.  

But I don't think this is really for sale,

Just somewhere to park whilst they handout with friends.

A steaming bowl of phô anyone?

This little chap, going so fast, like his country - to make up for lost time?

But there is still life lived at a slower pace.  More fruit for you madam?

Or some spices to suit?

Crisps on a stick, freshly fried.  That's something new!

Sour plums, mango, lychees too, rambutans, papaya and pineapple.  So many things to be found. 
Flowers to delight, arranged and ready to give.

Through manic cities, busy towns and quiet rural backwaters, up into the Highlands, through  a mountain pass, along the coast, down amongst the coral reef and paddling through limestone karst.  These two weeks in Vietnam have truly been a delight. 

Young and old shouting 'hello' as you peddle through, waving and high fiveing as you pass by.  A cheerful wave, a nod of the head, a gracious smile - we couldn't have wished for a better welcome.

Always a traveller, never a tourist.  Vietnam - you see it, feel it, smell it, taste it and hear it when you pedal a bike from south to North, Saigon to Hanoi. 

A feast for all the senses.


The last full day

It had to come, as I knew it would: the last full day.  But what a view to wake up to.

It's about 5 am,

all is quiet 

and calm.

The day hasn't started yet and there is promise still in the air.

Colours starts to appear

and finally the sea is the promised emerald green.

I have my stitching to do whilst I wait,

until the sun finally shows it face; it's going to be another hot sunny day.

The nets are cast

and the shopping is delivered.

Time to go in for breakfast I think, the others are awake.

As we eat the boat steadily cruises on, wending its way through the limestone karst.

So many to see and 

many busy boats,

mostly fishermen,

until we eventually reach harbour again.  Aaaah, that was a lovely trip.  

But before we go back to the hotel, there is more to see and do.  It's around 42C so we are glad of the air conditioning in our magic bus to keep us cool.  On our way back to Hanoi we stop at a
humanitarian textile workshop.  

Here disabled people are trained in textiles, mostly embroidery, but sewing as well.  They produce the most amazing work.

Working from stock images and sometimes commission, their work is sold in the shop and the proceeds divided between the foundation and themselves.

Some are so large two or more work on the piece.

Each embroiderer had a tray of silks to work with.
We ate lunch in their supported cafe.  Phó for me please!

We reached Hanoi an hour or so later and went straight into a city tour.  First stop, 'Hanoi Hilton', aka Hoa Lo prison, rather grim under French rule and only marginally better under Vietnamese control. This is where the Vietcong kept the American pilates shot down in the war.
I couldn't resist snapping their floor tiles,

doors ways and


This door was very fine

and the use of an old Twinnnings time for ticket stubs showed a lighter touch.

From there we went to the Temple of Literature, where Confucius is worshipped.
Another beautiful set of doors, lacquered this time,

window grills,

columns and

door panels give the temple grandeur and splendour.

The line of the roof is also very fine, can you spot the dragon?

Here is Confucius, what would he say to all the piles of food products left in his name??

Another fine set of door panels,

and the roof tiles are quite beautiful too.

 A serpent or dragon - either way, it isn't particularity frightening, really rather splendid in fact.

I was there on that sunny day,

but was Magic too??

Perhaps she slipped through this doorway when I wasn't looking?

A hot, hot day, so I was thankful to reach (yet another) cool hotel room,

and even more so, a dip in the delightful rooftop spar pool.  So refreshing after the heat of today.

Off with the robe, hat and saddles,

happy toes once again - Aaaaah!