Roar and Snore at Taronga Zoo…..

My son Jared invited me to join him for an overnight trip to the zoo.

Roar and Snore -Taronga Zoo in Sydney Australia, is a wonderful experience and I was truly blessed to spend it with Jared- my wildlife animal lover.

At 6:00pm we arrived and were met by our guides at the front gates, who would be spending the evening with us including a couple of young teenagers who volunteer. They all have a passion not just for the animals, also conservation and shared their knowledge with us that made us all think about the world we live in. The zoo actually closes around 4:00pm.

Our bags were tagged and taken to our “camp” whilst our group headed off on foot with the guides, armed with wet weather gear at the ready, as it was a drizzly looking evening.

We stopped to see animals that are right under our noses, however we have never seen them, possibly due to them being more active at night, or perhaps we are always rushing by to get to another exhibit.

The zoo is always under going changes, as they often obtain grants to upgrade parts of the zoo from corporate companies and also government funding, which needs to be used in it’s calendar year, or it must be returned. At present, the new Savannah is being created through the middle of the zoo and from all we could see, it will be amazing.

Butt shot-The cute tree kangaroo

Our first tour lasts for over an hour before we arrive into camp and are shown our tents. The tents are housed close together and there is a main tent where we are offered yummy drinks and nibbles. Our guides brought a few native Australian animals for us to see and touch. In the camp there is a basic amenities building that has showers/toilets and all the supplies.

15- The Chimpanzee tent! kind of appropriate

After our canapés and drinks, we left camp with the plan being to bring whatever we needed as we were having a small tour on our way to our dinner and then we would be heading off on a night tour after our meal.

Our group wonder past the elephants, the sun bear, the tortoise and the giraffes, stopping for small chats along the way and head to the View Restaurant, where a beautiful buffet awaits. We can sit wherever we like, and there are more drinks offered along with our buffet. Dessert will be after the late night tour back at the main tent.

With full bellies, we again stroll though the zoo in darkness, hearing lots of animals calling out. Our guides take us to see the Australian fur seals as there is a new pup there called Torre. The guides have ultra red lights to shine on the animals so as not to disturb or irritate the animals, so everything is glowing red. As we approach the exhibit, Tess one of the guides is super excited as the mum and new pup are right up against the viewing window and the pup is actually feeding from it’s mum! Super cute and a privilege to see.

Looks at those eyes

The Meerkats are zoozing and not making an appearance, so we head off to The Sumatra exhibit to see the 3 new tiger cubs. With mum front and centre at the viewing window licking her paws, it was like she was waiting for us. As we all stand oo-ing and ahh-ing, she stands and walks over to a small open shed, and nudges her babies as if to say come on up you get we have visitors- how wonderful seeing her razz the kids awake then trots them all off to bed.

We are all super excited to have seen the new editions to Taronga Zoo. On our return to the camp, although we try to find the Sun bear on our way to the tents. Never mind we have had a blast tonight and seeing the new babies at the zoo has been a highlight!

A night cap, of tea and coffee with yummy chocolate brownies and it’s light out….. Well not quite but as it’s 10:30pm and we will all be up early or may not sleep with the animals making noises, our guides leave us and let us know they will be back at 6:00am with more tea, coffee and protein balls for our morning adventure! Oh and if you hear an alarm don’t panic, it just means there is an animal on the loose ! So here is the emergency contact in case there is a drama- good night.

I slept like a baby until around 5:15am. I woke to the Mumma tiger calling out -it almost sounded like NOOOOOOOO as she called her cubs. A quick wash and we pack out bags, brush our teeth and it’s off to see behind scenes of the zoo again.

There are mostly couples and a few families on our tour. Before we head off we all grab a quick pic of the beautiful Sydney Harbour and City, as Taronga Zoo has one of the best views of our wonderful city. We watch the Manly Ferry still with lights on cross the harbour on it’s way to Circular quay, and the song by the 1980’s band Australian Crawl sticks in my head……. Reckless- ” As the Manly Ferry- cuts its way to Circular Quay….-Hear the Captain blow his whistle- so long she’s been away”

Sydney at 6.00am

Jared helped “feed” the giraffes on our way to breakfast and we gave a quick hello to some of the asian elephants and also the Meerkats standing as a guard!

Lettuce for Breakfast…. mind the slober

Breakfast is another amazing buffet with plenty of food. The zoo is well and truly awake and preparing for the days activities. We have 2 more experiences before the zoo opens.

Tess our guide take us all to the Heritage listed Indian Elephant House that I remember having an elephant ride from when i was young. Here we got to see inside the building the beautiful old architecture and photos and also meet a cute possum called Atticus, who was 6 years old and has a twin sister- just like me!

Our last experience is down at Seal Cove, were we see the breeding Male and boy is he large. We all sit as he “parades along in front of us with his carer, happily having all his checks done on command like teeth, ears and skin checks, before he dives into the exhibit ready for his day.

The tour ends here and you have the opportunity to spend the day at the zoo. It’ such a great experience and as I have been lucky enough to do both Dubbo Zoo and Sydney – I’d choose to do Sydney again, as it’s more personal and up close ….

Happy reading! Mrs Wong

Vietnam with Wide Eyed Tours-

If you have thought about a trip to Vietnam, then check out this tour company. They specialise in small groups, have contacts on the ground in Australia and Asia and were recommended by our travel agent – Sally at Time Fly’s Travel Seaforth in NSW. http://www.timeflystravel.com.au

Sally sent us a flyer from Wide Eyed Tours http://www.wideeyedtours.com  about an  “Anthony Bourdain inspired food tour” to Vietnam, starting up in Hanoi and working our way down the country to Saigon.  I love a small tour company that can tailor make your travel itinerary, so I rounded up a group of 5 ladies and off we went. Prior to our departure, we were asked if there was anything we wanted to see as it could be added to the tour.

I knew all the ladies, however some of them had never met so as we got to the airport and I made introductions, we drew a straw to see who was sitting with who on our Vietnam airlines flight to Hanoi and we were off.  The flight arrived into Hanoi on time late at night and we were met by a local guide, that had been arranged by Wide Eyed Tours who got us to our hotel and organised to collect us the next morning for our city tour.

All the hotels throughout the trip were fabulous. All within walking distance of old towns, museums and markets!  We generally had a triple share and a twin share room side by side all organised as part of our tour.  We actually got to meet Ha from their Hanoi office on our first day in Hanoi, she met us at a traditional coffee house dating back to 1936! The photo above is outside of the cafe.  It was lovely to meet this lady who clearly loves her job, phoned us every day to check in that all was going to plan or to let us know if our schedule times would change with flights etc.

We loved the fact that at each of our arrivals into a new city we were met by a new local guide who spent time with us, helped us get settled into our hotel, take us to photo opportunities we had seen on social media or helped us find an art store when wanted to find a sketch book.

Our guide in Hanoi took us to see the amazing artwork at Phung Hung Street on the archways of the Long Bien Bridge and then to Train Street, a real live working train track that goes straight through the street, where families live and work, chickens roam, laundry is drying and shops sell trinkets.  The train travels through the street twice a day and the locals move their motorbikes, washing up and head inside. The train doesn’t slow down so take care if you go to watch.

This was only day 1 of our trip!

As our tour progressed from a few days in Hanoi down to Halong Bay and onto the old capital of Hue, we were in awe of not just the food- what a culture explosion in the scenery, the history and the beautiful people we met along the way. All happy and smiling and making sure we were happy. On to Hoi an and the very busy Saigon it just got better and better. 

By having a local guide spend some time with us, we got to get our bearings in each new town, see the local sights before we had free time to wander ourselves. They know the back streets for the best markets, the best way to walk and bike ride through villages, the best bridge to cross on a motorbike- just wonderful.

The food side of things was fabulous from Bun Cha in Hanoi where Barrack Obama and Anthony Bourdain sat together over this amazing dish and a beer. The dish with roast pork and BBQ pork arrives in a steaming bowl of broth that is served with vermicelli rice noodles, fresh greens like mint and coriander, chilli, garlic, it’s the best!  And the street food all the way down the country, was simply amazing, we really had a great food experience. Anthony Bourdain passed away whilst we were touring Vietnam a tragic loss to the food world and I’m so grateful for his inspiration.

Little did we know that each region has its own style and therefore a twist on how they make the classic Vietnamese rolls, fair to say we made a LOT of rolls.

And if in Saigon- this is a must do experience Dining at Noir– again planned and recommended by our new friends at Wide Eyed Tours, we had no idea about what dining in complete darkness in Saigon was or the philosophy behind it.

All in all our 13 day trip through Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An and Saigon, was the perfect experience as not only a taster of their food but a taster of their culture.

There is so much to see and do and I for 1 can’t wait to go back!  Special thanks to Ha and our local guides.

Mrs Wong

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Saigon- Pheasting on Pho 🍲 🥢

This is the last instalment from our Vietnam trip and it’s taken me a while to get my head around what was an interesting last few days including the very sad death of food traveller and life journeys -Anthony Bourdain. Our food tour through Vietnam was inspired by him and we are all just so shocked as is the whole world.

We flew from Hoi An to Ho Chi Min City- or Saigon as the locals still call it on a flight that lasts just under 1 hour.

As their summer humidity and storms season has started a little early it was a little turbulent. The day is extremely hot at 11.00am a balmy 35 degrees and humidity is out of control.

The best thing about Saigon ?

The phood! Pun intended – Pho is the bomb here, the local signature dish to this city. Our local guide takes us to a cafe that serves their version of the famous pho. It’s a style of soup noodles with your choice of meat.

At Cafe Pho 2000, we had a choice of chicken or beef…. as we have been having so much pork and seafood it was a nice change! The cafe has awesome food, lovely artwork and aircon. To be honest it’s the air con we all need oh and a local beer.  I love the way the meal comes fairly plain and you get to add fresh green asian herbs, the right amount of spice or fish sauce you like and the crunchiest bean sprouts ever.

Next up it’s our city tour, and what a huge city it is.

With our local guide from Wide eyed Tours, our group heads off to view the un-used Reunification Palace that is now known as the Independence Palace…… Time warp of the 60’s and the secret bunkers from the war. It’s like they just walked out and never returned…. The grounds are lovely with great views.

It was first built for the French governor, and when the war time era started – 1962 it was badly damaged and re built. When it last built, there was a bomb shelter built underneath However the then Vietnamese president was  murdered by his own troops, which allegedly created bad Feng shui so it was never really used after being re built- just left for general public use.

Below in the bunkers, it’s a bit M.A.S.H-4077 meets Get Smart ! we were waiting for 99 to just appear! The bunker rooms had big doors and rooms filled with maps and telecommunications rooms etc. Of course all abandoned and left as they were.

Next it’s Notre Dame Cathedral and unfortunately we aren’t allowed inside due to repairs it’s like any other ancient beautiful church just currently boarded up, and right behind  the church is the famous old post office. This area is called the Governments Quarter. Beautiful open park lands. There are lovely maps and Art Deco flooring and t now houses kitschy shops and the old phone booths are used for ATM’s.

Next up it’s the VERY one sided War Remnants Museum of Chinese and American War crimes.  It’s wicked traffic and so moving. It is so one side that guides are not allowed to enter with their groups.

No Mention of the VC here – it’s an eye opener and creates lots of  discussions between us and also other groups all trying to get our heads around. It’s now 10 degrees thanks to a wonderful cool breeze  and with a change in the weather we head back to our hotel, a little let down with our city tour and the bizzar war remnants, beautiful parks and a city that is crazy busy and views as far as the ye can see of building that seem to roll on forever.

Our Hotel – one of the Silverland Hotels is fabulous smack bang in the middle of the city…….. actually the city is so frigging huge it’s hard to know where we are but in all honesty the tall skyscrapers from the roof of our hotel just go on and on and on…..

The hotel has an amazing restaurant that offers fabulous food including high tea every afternoon – Marvellous darling all with  a sing song piano performance. The hotels are quite narrow in width with amazingly set out space, including a pool area that consist of 4 small levels so you don’t feel like you are totally on top of each other.

We enjoy a couple of quick cocktails on the rooftop as the sunsets before our special dinner tonight at an amazing restaurant called Noir-Dining in the Dark.

A totally unique experience! We arrive and are seated in a lounge area and are given a yummy welcome drink with no idea what is in it. We also choose our drinks of choice for our evening. We are then introduced to our waiter who is a deaf mute. She is absolutely gorgeous and as we know limited sign language ( I really must go home and re learn the basics again), she is quite dramatic in her miming and charades of  the menu etc.

The first thing she has us do as part of helping getting our sensory of ‘no sight’ ready, is to play with a puzzle set whilst we all wear a blind fold, as technically this is how we will eat dinner. Completely in the dark.

We had approx 10 small shapes to places and then once completed she tapped you on the shoulder and gave you the thumbs up . It was not that easy as you have to get your head to help recognise the shapes as your eyes can’t.

I don’t want to spoil the rest for anyone wishing to attend this, so I’m won’t completely tell you what happens however you eat small bowls of absolutely stunning food, that are set out on a board, just like the puzzles we had done. You are completely in the dark and your senses of smell and hearing are heightened. there was probably 50 other people dining at the same time and to be really honest when they said we re here for an hour and a half we thought that isn’t long, but the experience is actually fabulous amazing and exhausting.

At the end of the meal we are escorted back to the lounge and we meet the owner of the restaurant who goes through the actual food we ate. I’d put the food up there with 5 star dining.

We head back tot the hotel for a night cap and then its lights out a tomorrow is our trip to the Mekong.

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We’re going on a Bike ride- in Hoi An

Hoi an ~the ancient town painted in a golden yellow colour that sparkles in the sun and shines in the rain.

Our 3 hour car trip down the coast from Hue was diverted due to bad weather so we miss the Hi Van Pass and Marble Mountain as it is raining so hard and unsafe. We have seriously seen enough pagodas and temples and walked enough steps so there is not a lot of disappointment in our bus!

Our girl gang arrived to flooded streets and we got diverted around Hoi an town. We had no idea where we were ! It was warm and pouring from the sky above as we sat up high in our 🚌 bus. Toot toot!

 

A quick bag drop off at the hotel and it’s off on a walking city tour with our local guide Hi….. try saying hi- Hi ! We had to remember to say hello Hi 🤭

We walked from our little Island called the Peninsula across the foot bridge that the locals call the love bridge. This links to the mainland and old town via canals. As they are trying to preserve the old town tourists pay a small fee to visit the historic sites, and you can use the ticket for the whole time you visit.

love the cloud reflection

Hoi an used to be a busy port so lots of boats floating up and down the river and there are lots of different architecture styles throughout the town here from French colonial buildings, Chinese shop/houses and amazing temples!

Luckily it’s just a light sprinkle of rain on our wander through town seeing the Japanese bridge, old police station another temple, old Chinese homes.

Hi- our guide says goodbye to us till tomorrow and we are off to the tailors- Shirts, dresses, shoes, boots, bags you name it we are supporting the local economy…. I can feel a new suitcase purchase coming on.

It’s stinking hot and after a few hours of planning/shopping etc, we end up back near our hotel and at our new local favourite Tom’s Spa….5 girls needing an hour long foot massage! So funny all lined up with a fish bowl window.

Yawning our way across the road to our hotel, and early to bed it is still raining and we are shattered. Parts of our hotel paths are flooded and we hope our wish/prayer at the Japanese Bridge temple comes true (no rain) for the end of the week when we go on our bike ride as Lindy has already had a thong blow out!

The next day is a free day and the morning brings more rain and more tourists- funny being in South East Asia there are loads of Australians who the locals adore. At Danang a hotel area 30 minutes away on the beach the Korean, Japanese and Chinese like to stay at high end hotels at the beach and flock in by the bus load morning, noon and night!

It’s a crowded city and add to this the personal space issue of our Asian friends ….. not so squeezy!

Lee, Mimi and I get up early morning and go to photograph the old town as it starts to wake up….. we are all so happy to get up and do this without people with selfie sticks and 5 different outfits getting changed for photo shoots in the streets! Ahhhh….

This picture below is a wall I was trying to photograph and along comes a local lady who sees us taking pics and just sits right where I’m trying to take pic! Well we just embraced it much to her surprise … I think she thought we would move on!

The next day is dry and fine and our travel gang sigh in relief as we have a 25 kilometre push bike tour through old town Hoi an, along the river, through villages, across a highway to a tourist attraction the basket boats. A fishing net demo, a crab catching demo and a cruise through the water coconut plants-

These old traditional boats were used for fishing and then when the French came along the Vietnamese said they were for fighting games as the French were scared the locals would take all the fish!

Our little round weaved boat takes us on a tour through the water coconut palms that are used for roofing of garden beds or pool gazebos etc. They show us how to catch the little crabs that live in the sandy cays around the coconut palms, its a peaceful 45 minute experience that is filled with laughs, photos and a spin by our boat 👨‍✈️ captain!

Back to the dock of the bay and on our bikes again after our bum break! Ouch the seats are not so comfy so the next 10 kms has a few groans happening about butt pains whinging about our tail bones and aching butt cheeks – amazing really considering we all have so much padding !!!

Seriously riding through the rice fields on one side, seeing the farmers herding the ducks and the prawn farms on the side of our trek through squishy mud, grassy paths out to a community garden and we are chanting We’re going on a Bear Hunt” wait wrong song. ‘We’re going on a bike ride”

I have stopped to take a photo and I turn around and the 4 girls in front of me have somehow “bogged” their bikes in the mud!!! Hahaaaaa I take the high road and nearly fall off laughing so hard as they then try to ride a bike and flick the mud of their slippers thats what the Vietnamese call our thongs !!!!

Singing “Riding along on our push bikes honey when I noticed”………wait where is Keryn?

She took the corner too wide and has fallen off her bike into the lemon grass……. she is lying on the garden with the bike on top of her and a bit wedged and we are all wishing we had depend on as we try not to pee ourselves laughing!

A local man- (not us) stops to help her……. we are laughing so hard. Keryn who is a bit dirty and dusty says between laughs ‘at least I smell good’ !

Even our guide is 😂 laughing and we all have to try and be serious for our gardening demo, Kez is already dirty from the mud and now the fall so she becomes our demo gal for creating and planting a new garden bed for us!

Then it’s time to water the garden. Which Lindy and I volunteer for as it’s basically weight lifting 🏋️‍♀️ buckets of water to walk between the veggie patches and tip the buckets as you go…… see the pics below, you get the picture!

Our guide says the younger generation of teenagers here don’t want to study to be a doctor or take over the family farm, because they can earn more money doing these tourist things! He said the older generation are concerned with what will happen in the future….. we can also see all this new infrastructure, highways and hotels, that as tourists we help pay for and the locals are grateful, however it’s becoming so touristy and all the new hotels are huge and there won’t be any beach to visit unless you stay at a resort!

Any way after the bucket watering, it’s off to cook part of our own lunch with Danny, a ‘famous’ Vietnamese chef who spruiks his own cook book and then tries to entertain us only are the main attraction. I throw my pancake over my shoulder ( accidentally ) as part of his show and Lindy’s some how lands her hot pancake on her chest and then the floor, followed by a frog landing on our cooking demo table….. Danny is very clever at food art.

Too many laughs!

As we have been cooking a lot I decide I’m on holidays and sick of cooking my own meal and ask the girls if they want to wag cooking school on our last full day in Hoi an …… of course we all agree so it’s off for a nice dinner and a few too many drinks before a day to lie around the pool, do some art works ahhhhh holidays you gotta love it.

Hoi An has been amazing great food, awesome group of gals willing to be silly in watermelon and pineapple shirts- a pretty little town and we have loved our 4 days here…… it’s off to the big smoke now … Saigon!

More from there later Mrs W xx. More pics below …

Bad mums become The Spicey girls and crash a wedding -Hue 🇻🇳 Vietnam

As part of our Wide eyed Tour, we get to meet local guides when we travel around this beautiful country.

Our guides and experts on the ground have been amazing. They organise for a driver to escort us to our hotel on arrival at the airport and then provide a local guide to help us see the local area and or take us on small day tours.

A quick 55 minute flight from Ha noi down to our next town- Hue pronounced Hway.

Hue was the national capital of Vietnam until around 1945 so it’s a busy and beautiful town with lots of shrines and palaces on the beautiful Perfume River with stone walls that line the water canals and home to the beautiful imperial Tu Duc Tomb and summer Palace with its own Royal theatre.

The river is so so clean, because they are close to the mountains of Laos and there are no factories around here polluting the river. In fact the boats get fined if they don’t pick up their rubbish. This river is wide with little dragon boats putting up and down and has locals of all ages cooling off in the river along the waters edge with tree lined parks and BBQ areas.

Our first night we roam around the streets and find that where we are staying is quite the tourist area and the roads are pedestrian only from 5.00pm until 11.00pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. We also find that 4 blondes of western appearance and 1 tall brunette and everyone wants to be our friend as they shove their crying babies at us to get a photo! Poor babies…….

We have had a full day today, so it’s lovely to find this green oasis The Geko Cafe/Pub to chill in with great music, a cool drink and awesome company…..\

Jared Watton you will rock the casbah in one of these

Our local guide Tam who likes to think he is Tom Cruise picks up our gang of ‘5 girls on tour’ for our day on the motorbikes. The 5 guys immediately want to know who is single ! Sorry fellas settle down we are all taken !

Helmets on….. mmm and although its illegal to not wear a helmet I am not sure we will be saved if anything goes wrong with the ones we are wearing, and zoom we are off. Along the river and over the bridge and off the beaten track. The first market we go to is for anyone including us tourists. We don’t buy anything, just sit back and hope we make it through the crowds…. it’s like being at the royal easter show bag pavilion!

Lee being cool It was crazy busy and super cool!

We are doing a more of a back roads motorbike day, through rice paddies, down lane ways that we wonder how we fit. I love being on the back of a bike, eating dust, smelling the real Vietnam (some not so good), the wind in our hair and smiles on our faces.

I love this Pic of “Cindy” and Tom Cruise

From here we visit local temples and ride along the river where they sit , spit, wee and then wash their clothes! It’s incredible going along these canals seeing the real Vietnam 🇻🇳

We have lunch at a Buddhist nunnery and enjoy the most amazing Vegan meal! Who knew veggies could be that amazing! Back on the bikes for the afternoon tour of a Pagoda Temple dating back to 1601 and the Tu Duc Tomb and a walk through the old royal house where the king had over 100 concubines…….. mmmm he was an interesting character !

Our tour is amazing lots of laughs, numb bums, so Tom the guide make sure we have lots of bum breaks! At one stop we wave as a wedding goes by…… next thing you know, yep we crashed the wedding photos and were invited to the wedding ! Seriously this trip is like one long Netflix session of movies! The Spicey girls, Bad Mums, 50 First Dates ( this is what we say to Keryn) as she has to keep repeating the itinerary as we are all on holiday mode and keep for getting and now we are then wedding Crashers!

So funny everyone wanting their photo with us mum, dad the creepy uncle that seems to be at every wedding, the professional photographer was snapping away. Just too funny

It’s stinking hot 34 degrees feels like 43 and as I realise how sunburnt my neck is…….. Everyone is a little shattered so we wind our tour up head back to the hotel for 2 hours to chill in the pool before we head back out on our Dragon boat trip up river where you will be shocked to know I even managed some shopping on the boat, before we arrive at our next Masterchef performance!

Bloody spring rolls again! Who knew they were different in every city……. same ingredients just a different style, its all such beautiful food though. Pancakes with prawns and pork and quail eggs, stunning spinach and garlic, grilled eggplant in a oyster sauce …… cocktails for some G & T’s for others.

Taxi!

Here are some pics from the Pagoda and the army base. An amazing jam packed 36 hours in Hue- we are off the the Heritage old town of Hoi Ann, so till next time

Mrs Wong x

Once upon a time in a land far far away…… Lan Ha Bay

Dinosaurs roamed the earth 🌏

It is said that years ago dinosaurs roamed these majestic limestone mountains and the indents of the hills were created by the dinosaur tails! These amazing rugged craggy ‘islands’ are jutting up in the water all through Ha Long Bay.

Our 2 day-1 night cruise with Mon Cheri Cruises sets sail for Lan Ha Bay. We are truly blessed to get this upgrade as Lan Ha Bay is beautiful and less crowded than busy Ha Long Bay.

The rooms are beautiful- day beds, lovely bathrooms, beautiful toiletries and balconies to blog on……

I’m sure there are worse places in the world to do this!

Lee comes over to tell us that 7 eleven has just pulled up along aside our boat we all run to her room.

And there she is ~ a local lady and her little 3 year old boy ripping us off before we have had a chance to check out the mini bar!

To be fair the wine, cigarettes and chips are cheaper….. and the beer was double the price!!!! She got us good and the beer wasn’t that cold! Damn that women’s museum sucked us right in! Well actually we just felt bad ….

We have a tasting menu for both lunch and dinner along with a cooking experience. It’s fair to say the food is fresh and stunning.

After lunch it’s Kayaking or the bamboo boating. Originally we were thinking the bamboo boat where the local boy rows you out and about so we could take pics, but they talk us all into life jackets that would fit giants and a longer kayak to a cave.

I was Nellie no friends and flew solo in the 🛶 kayak whilst the skipper ( Lindy) took a new buddy – Keryn and did some circle work 😂 😂 😂 .

Mimi and Lee headed off first and sort out their differences and get into a rhythm followed by a few other couples on our boat, then myself and then the skippers kayak stay with the guide they said- well he nicked off and it was every wom-an for herself !

We kayaked to an open cave that you could see through from the other side. As I was heading through the cave I saw monkeys swinging in the trees at the entrance of course the girls didn’t believe me until on the way back through our boat Captain, pointed out the monkeys 🐒

A swift kayak back to the tender boat at a local fishing village and back to our cruise ship and an offer to going swimming but after seeing the size of the jelly fish with the longest tentacles 🦑 ever no thanks!

Ding ding!- it’s time for buy 2 get 1 free drinks! 🍻 🍸 🍹 🍷 come to our special sunset par-tee ! What the don’t tell you is that’s only applies per person. They were quite strong cocktails. I was trying to be sensible after our other previous drinking sesh and we are on a boat and usually I end up with vertigo but before we know it we are shit faced and getting into mischief. I really don’t need alcohol to be silly !

From happy hour they then asked us to participate in a cooking experience! Making Vietnamese spring rolls, with a lot of laughter on the side.

We were then judged on our individual performance and winner winner, Lindy is the spring roll queen 👸 and as she was a bit shiitake shitfaced the jokes were flying, I think I just spring rolled the group into bad mum’s. Oh and she now has a new Vietnamese name… somehow her surname on her certificate says Melinda Newawarth . Sounds like Pocahontas to me !

Dinner! There’s is only about 15 people on our cruise, which after the hustle of Ha noi it’s so peaceful. We brought our own duty free wine and opened a bottle at our table to which we were very sternly told you can’t do that and you have to pay USD15 ! No hiding here with only 15 guests~ Bad mum’s!

To be honest I think the corkage cost is a bit rich and we spun them a line about being told we thought we could and that we had been upgraded from another boat…… bla bla bla

We will pay the money!

This cruise supports the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, which is why we were here in the first place, so really its all OK but we were just laughing about being the biggest group on the boat and of course we start a riot!

Next up for our cruise is 🦑 🦑 squidding, with a hook on the end of a bamboo pole. I have always wanted one of these poles, Lindy is yet again the winner here hauling in some slippery little suckers followed by Lee and then Mimi – unfortunately Mimi hooks me!!!!! Not a squid ( Jared Watton eat your heart out this is normally your job) and then the current changed and it wasn’t so nice anymore.

Like tourists spots all over the world, floating rubbish is so sad to see… people live out here on what they call Karsts. Like a home on water in junk boats and cute little houses on the water so I suppose their rubbish has to go somewhere.

It was off then bed for us sleepy heads at 11pm as we have Tai Chi at 6.15am!

Not only do they announce this at 6.00am over the loud speaker they then call our rooms!!! What if I changed my mind and wanted a sleep in ? Not on this boat you don’t!

Mimi, Lee and I make it to Tai Chi on the back of the boat it is quite good stretching and then peaceful. What was really funny is that the girl who took the class, came out ready for Zumba….. dressed like she was Olivia Newton John …….ummm it’s 34 degrees with a 150% humidity I don’t think so, so she quickly changed the music and her outfit ! Seriously a funny funny experience, we all managed the stretches and warm up and then when the actual movement of tai chi started it was a little bit special bus!

Our cruise then floats down to Cat Ba Island and Hospital cave. Language barrier has me slightly confused.

Anyway we jump in a Toyota tarago chug up the hill. To a small cafe….. as I said the language barrier has me confused I thought we were waiting for another bus but no we cross the road and climb….. I thought he said 200 stairs….. they look like this, felt like 200 but it was only 50. We then visit Hospital cave a secret bomb proof cave in the side of a hill an amazing hidden gem in the jungle that was in use as a hospital and respite from1965-1973 during the American war….. There were operating rooms, and inside exercise yard, and a swimming pool!

It’s then out the other side of the mountain before we head out through the back door…… another secret passage

It’s then back on the boat for a few more laughs and farewells with the young girls on the boat, we give one of them our Lonely Planet guides to help her improve her english after she gave a us all a small friendship bag each saying she hopes when she gets older she can have friends like us who can travel together…….

We are off to the centre of Vietnam Hue- pronounced “way” for some more food experiences on the back of a motorbike so if you don’t here from us we have gone awol!

Till next time

Mrs Wong xx

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