Friday, March 29, 2013

Heading for Vietnam

We spent the following morning exploring a bit of Hong Kong in daylight prior to checking out of our room. We wandered the streets and observed the familiar scenes; offerings to the gods for business success and prosperity, dried seafood delicacies, and empty streets with no remnants of last night's bustling markets or atmosphere.

We found the building where a highway runs through it, and around these parts that isn't too unusual, I suppose.

Even though it was wet Kien still got a chance to play at the playground. We are not afraid of some light rain.

We then went to a park close by and walked up the hill hoping to find something worthwhile to see. Unfortunately there wasn't anything except a weather station that didn't allow public access, so we made our way back down the hill.

At the bottom of the park we could hear something that sounded like knocking, and some shrill voices. We went to investigate what the sound was and discovered a group of people singing. Here's a little clip I took of it. Such a strange, interestingly weird sound, so totally unfamiliar to our ears.

Chinese opera at Hong Kong park - link if you can't see the video here.


We were on Vietnam Airlines for our flight to Saigon mid afternoon.

I found something called "Kinder Joy" at a convenience store close to our guesthouse, so I promised Kien he could open it once we were in the air if he behaved. He was so good and patient. The anticipation was so much better than what was actually inside - we really didn't know what to expect because the packaging only had Chinese characters.

Good bye Hong Kong airport.

Jef took some pictures of atolls he saw from the air so he could look for them on Google Earth. I like this one; it looks so remote and I can just imagine it being like the island on "Lost".

The flight path took us over Nha Trang, which looks pretty from up here.

Two and a half hours later we flew into Saigon.

By the time we got to our hotel it was getting dark. We still had to make our way to the train station to purchase our tickets for the following day, and luckily the walk there was closer than what we had anticipated. So after a long wait at the station I had our train tickets in hand.

Kien was too exhausted to go out for dinner, so I left the boys at the hotel while I wandered the streets looking for food. I took this photo a block down from our hotel so that if I got lost I would have a reference point.

I purchased some rice with grilled pork for Kien, and I went for something a little more exotic from this lovely lady's street stall. There she is cooking my snails, and they were divine!

Hello, Vietnam! Good to see you again.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hong Kong for a night

Flying at midnight with a child at any age let alone a 3 year old is downright hard. We had been telling Kien he was going to sleep on the plane to Hong Kong, so he tried really hard to keep awake until we boarded. But alas he could not keep his eyes from closing and by the time we had gone through the departure area he conked out. We got on the plane and he was completely out for the count.

He remained asleep for about 5 hours, although extremely restless for the last couple of hours. During the dinner service though we had some peace and quiet.

Once he was awake he just wanted to make noise and talk and laugh. So I put the "Cars" movie on to keep him amused. This is the first time a movie has held his interest until at least half way. The headphones were too big so I had to be creative.

6am - we arrived in Hong Kong and breezed through immigration and customs quickly - the fastest I've ever experienced. This is such an amazing airport; well organised and easy. We knew we had time to kill as it was so early - too early for checking in to our hotel. So we hung around at the airport and used their free wifi for a bit.

We jumped on the Airport Express train that took us to Kowloon station, and from there we caught the K1 (route) shuttle bus to our hotel. Actually it wasn't to our hotel exactly, but to the 5 star joint close by. We walked a couple of blocks to our flash hotel.

It's actually termed a guesthouse/inn, and all I was looking for when I booked was a) that it was clean and b) close to the action. I can concur it is both, and budget (and I already knew that). This place definitely feels authentic and real.

We also get a cool view out of our window on the 11th floor.

It took ages for Kien to wind down, and finally at 12:30pm local time (6:30pm NZ time) he passed out.

Six or so hours later we finally headed out to explore the city.

We stopped at the playground across the street.

Across from that is the famous Temple Street night markets. There is an interesting array of stuff you don't need and cheap knock offs of stuff you would like, and no price tags on anything so you need to batter well or be taken for a ride.

After wandering rows after rows of vendors we got to the "main" drag of eateries; by day they are normal roads and by night they are street diners. We found a place we liked the look of and stopped for dinner.

Kien was being his spritely little self and decided to wash his chopstick in my beer, but of course he was just compelled to drop it in the process.

It was such a good meal which came to only $1HKD154 (~$NZD23).

We then headed down Nathan Road, one of the more expensive areas of town - a strikingly high contrast of wealth compared to the parallel and side streets we were just in. We came across a seafood restaurant that attracted many tourists looking for photo ops with all their lovely creatures up for sale.

This guy will cost you $NZD305 served up on a plate.

We wandered the Hong Kong streets in the light rain and enjoyed the experience of being in a different city for one night.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


It doesn't feel like we are going to fly out on Sunday or Monday night for a month away from here. Yes, that's right, I haven't made up my mind as yet which flight to take, so I haven't booked. If we fly on Sunday night that means we get to spend practically 2 days plus one night in Hong Kong. Yes, that's right, that also means I haven't booked a hotel in Hong Kong either. Oh, and when we get to Saigon on Tuesday afternoon we are more than likely just going to wing it with our hotel for the night - maybe, unless I have a total panic attack on Sunday and book everything. It just doesn't feel real yet, you know? Jef's been working his butt off and I've hardly seen him these last couple of weeks as he's been working some mighty odd hours. I've been kinda busy at work too, but it's been so hard to stay motivated. But I've had 2 project test plans to complete and people to train for various IT tools - bla bla bla, wah wah wah, so I've had to stay somewhat focused.

Anyway, some pleasant distractions along the way in the meantime, including a kids dinner with my Plunket coffee group friends last Friday.

The kids had a great time, as per usual. It only just occurred to me that there are so many of them! They ran around and played outside until dusk and then migrated indoors to play with toys and watch movies, and iPads.

We all had a great time. This was actually the first one where partners came along too, so it was really nice to meet everyone's significant others. It was our way of including them, because last month they were at home with the kids while we did this:

Thanks, Dads. Us girls do need a bit of time out of the house occasionally :-)


We got Kien jabbed on Monday - Hep A in one arm and Typhoid in the other. He was so brave about it, more so than I was, and I wasn't the one getting a needle in my arm(s)! He winced and said ow but didn't shed a tear. I gave him a Kinder Surprise as reward and he was happy about that. I was so grateful Jef was there at the appointment to hold Kien. I was so nervous and was basically useless.

He wanted to show you his band-aid he got for the injection site, however that wasn't where is jab was located. Oh well, "Cars" band-aids are cool was all he was trying to say.


On Tuesday it rained, and we walked to playgroup. It was also cold, much to my surprise. What is going on? It's like overnight we went from scorching summer to autumn conditions in one foul swoop. Oh, if it wasn't for us going to a tropical climate I would be in mourning for our long hot summer.

The activity was for the kids to plant seedlings to take home. But Kien refused to do it. He watched as I did it for him, and then he said he didn't want to take it home. But I knew better! I left it on the bench along with the other plants, and as we were getting ready to go home Kien reminded me that we had to take HIS plant home.


Breakfast at daycare. Wonderful!


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