by Nina Sabin - Travel
Before I continue with our Infamous Asian Tour country number four. I wanted to let you know what we are currently doing. As I write this blog, I am sitting in a work-stay apartment listening to Spanish music and looking at amazing scenery overlooking a reservoir in El Peñol, Colombia. Our travels have morphed into work-stay experiences. When living in Saudi we vacationed during our repats or Eid holiday. Now we can travel anytime since we are no longer in a traditional job. Instead, we get to experience many work opportunities all over the world. We find our work-stay locations on Workaway. We have an account where we can choose the type of work and where we would like to do. Sometimes we contact the hosts and sometimes they find us. In the work-stay in Colombia we are doing maintenance work like gardening and painting at a 10 acre home in El Peñol, Colombia. It has been a great experience and I have really had to practice using my high school and college Spanish. Who knew after all the concerns in Colombia we would be visiting in a very local way. For more information check What’s Next with John & Nina – Colombia – Off the Beaten Path!
Now back to country number four on our Infamous Asian Tour. We still have two more countries to visit on our repat. Now you can see how we managed to go to over 90 countries in 16 years.
We left Singapore on Singapore Air and two hours later we were in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. With all the war stories about Vietnam, we had mixed emotions. It was so fascinating and sad at the same time. There was so much history to be seen.
In my past blogs, I haven’t talked much about money. However, I will now because we found Vietnam’s currency – Vietnamese Dong very different. At the time one dollar converts to 15,000 VD. Now one dollar converts to 23,000 VD. Seeing a 1,000 or 10,000 bill was hard to comprehend. However, the good news is the Vietnamese like US dollars, but we still had to do the conversion.
Our hotel was so friendly and accommodating. The staff really loved our girls and at the end of the trip they gave each girl a small Vietnamese souvenir doll. They even gave one to my mother-in-law. This is just a reminder that there were six of us traveling together. The four in our family and then my in-laws.
Walking down the streets of Ho Chi Minh is very stimulating. There are so many people and everyone seems to be on a bike. There would be six wide lanes of bikes, you could barely see the ground. The smells of the city were fumes from the bikes and delicious food smells of the culture – an interesting aroma.
We spend one day doing a self-tour of the city and then the next three days on a boat tour through Vietnam on the Mekong River. Our tour started with visiting the Cai Rang and Phong Dien floating markets. Just like in Thailand, the floating markets have the fruit hanging on the boat to show what they were selling. The difference is the people had on the Asian Conical Hat. Part of the tour was also seeing rice making and noodle making. Our youngest daughter loves to cook, I wonder if that was her inspiration.
The boat docked in Chau Doc and we stayed overnight in a hotel. Most beds in Vietnam are similar to the rice pads we slept on in the jungle of Chang Mai. They are just a bed frame and a thin mattress. My husband said the sheets were thicker than the mattress.
Another thing that I forgot to mention about the hotels in Asian countries. Many of them have wet bathrooms. I think Vietnam was the first one we experienced because it was such a local hotel. For those of you who don’t know what a wet bathroom is, it includes a shower head, sink, and toilet but no bath tub and no curtain when taking a shower. The bathroom is soaked when you take a shower. We had to learn to take out the towels and toilet paper to avoid them becoming wet.
We spent the next day back on the boat and then to many of the adorable villages. We loved seeing the locals in their daily lives. Our daughters learned school is very different in other cultures, but not the animals. Each of us in our family are animal lovers, especially cats, so whenever we see kittens around the world, you will find one in my daughters’ arms.
We went to a Cao Dai Holy – temple of Caodaism religion. There my eldest daughter stood next to a Vietnamese woman. Even at the age of five and a half she was almost as tall as most adult Asian ladies.
Our last amazing experience was visiting the Chu Chi Tunnels. On our way there we stopped at rice making site and we had a chance to hold a snake. I would never have thought in a million years I would see my-laws holding a snake.
Seeing the Chu Chi Tunnels was a solemn experience as they described the history that took place in the tunnels. The tunnels are very small, too small for my husband to fit into to crawl. So that left my youngest daughter and myself to crawl through the tunnels. There are many ups and downs, so I actually had to pass my daughter, age four at the time, to a stranger to help her get through the ups and downs of the tunnel.
Two more countries left our Infamous Asian Tour. Be looking forward to see where in Asia we go next. Here is a hint it is northeast of Vietnam.