Go to the Holiday in Vietnam 2016 photo album if you want to see the pictures.
This time Sisi and I visited Vietnam to see Sisi's eldest brother Ha, who was very sick, and to celibrate New Year or Tet with the family.
Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City and My Tho
Sisi flew to Vietnam on the 16th of January and I flew on the 26th of January, on one of the last direct flights from Amsterdam to South East Asia with Malaysian Airlines.
Sisi and xxxx were at the airport to pick me up. We drove straight to My Tho where we had lunch. Across the street from the vegetarian restaurant was the very nice Vinh Tranh Pagoda. I had visited this temple already a few times over the last years and some of the big Buddha statues were always under construction, but this time the big fat Buddha statue was finally finished.
Around Tet it is always very difficult to book tickets, but we managed to get flights to and from Dong Hoi in the period I was in Vietnam. We would stay for 11 days in Dong Hoi, so we did not have much time to travel around. This time we wanted to visit Ha Tien and Phu Cuoc Island, but we had only 3 days before we would fly to Dong Hoi.
Ha Tien and Phu Cuoc
The next morning at 2 o'clock we and xxx family were picked up by our minivan. On the way to Ha Tien we visited 2 small temples in An Giang province. Both temples were only accessible over small roads through the countryside. We had breakfast in Ha Van Thien Vien temple and lunch a few hours later in Chua Hoi Duc temple.
In the late afternoon we visited the Hai Son Tu or Sea Mountain temple near Hon Chong. There was also a small market where the women bought dried fish and some other food. At the beach front we sat down for some seafood and enjoying the views on a few small rocky islands that rose from the sea. Finally we reached Ha Tien, situated on the Gulf of Thailand and a few miles from the Cambodian border.
Here we found a nice hotel near the market. xxx's daughter had stayed here during an earlier visit and she was warmly welcomed by the owners. Sisi, xxx and I said goodbye to the driver and the others who went back to My Tho. They just came along to visit the temples. After dinner we visited the lively evening market.
The next morning the hotel arranged tickets for the boat to Phu Cuoc for us. In the afternoon we boarded the fast ferry and a few hours later we arrived at Bai Vong at the eastern side of Phu Cuoc Island. Our resort, booked this morning by Sisi, was on Bai Truong or Long beach, south of Duong Dong and at the other side of the island . The resort was nice and luckily not very crowded. I went straight to the beach for a swim in the sea.
The next morning we took a tour around the southern part of the island. The first stop was at Phu Cuoc Pearls, a pearl farm nearby our resort, where Sisi could not resist to buy some nice earrings. After this visit the bus drove us to drove An Thoi where we boarded a boat for a tour around some of the An Thoi islands. At two islands we had the chance to snorkel and dive. The corals and many fishes in all sorts and colors were beautiful to watch. Too bad the waters near these islands were polluted with plastics, bottles and other garbage. Lunch aboard was really great and after some hours we sailed back to An Thoi. Next stop was the beautiful Bai Sao beach where we spent a few hours swimming and lying in the sun. We were back at our resort in time to watch a very beautiful sunset.
The next day we drove around the island with a hired car with driver. The first stop was the Ding Cau temple, in Duong Dong, which is a strange combination of a lighthouse and a temple. From here we drove to Bai Dai, in the northwestern part of the island. Here fishermen from nearby Cambodia come and sell their freshly caught fish and other seafood. Then it was back to Duong Dong to visit the Duc Phat Pepper Garden, the Hung Long Tu temple and the Suoi Tranh, a small and nice park with all statues of (legendary) people and animals. Because of lack of water we skipped the walk to the waterfalls.
After lunch we went back to our resort to pack our things and drove to the airport to catch the flight to Ho Chi Min City where we spent the night.
The next morning our driver from My Tho was already waiting in front of our hotel. He brought us to the airport and we said goodbye to xxx and her daughter. They would drive back to My Tho, while we flew to Dong Hoi where we were welcomed by the family Duong. In the evening a welcome dinner was prepared.
The next days we visited a lot of family, who were living in the neighbourhood of Dong Hoi, including Sisi's eldest brother Ha. The weather was not very good, rainy and colder than normal, so no trips to the beach this time. The market streets of Dong Hoi were very busy with people doing last minute shoppings for Tet. The streets were lined with pots of yellow flowers. We also made a small trip by car to a newly built temple, southwest of Dong Hoi.
We made a two day trip to Hue, where we visited the Chua Tu Lam temple.
Monday 8th of February was the start of the Vietnamese New Year. The whole country came to a halt for a week and people went visiting families, friends and neighbours to eat and drink from morning till evening. I just went along and everyone was happy to see us, I had never seen so much family-in-law members all in one place before.Two days later we said goodbye and flew to Ho Chi Min City where our driver picked us up and drove us to My Tho.
My Tho and Ho Chi Minh City
The next day we visited the Hai Duc temple where they had started with the building of a new temple. The poster with an image of the new temple looked promising. In the afternoon we visited the Chua Trung Thuam temple. While driving through the countryside I noticed that the rice fields had been replaced by the more lucrative dragon fruit trees. Profit goes apparantly above everything and who will cultivate the rice now?
In the centre of My Tho a street was turned into a small park for celebrating the Year of the Monkey. Every afternoon and evening people came out for a stroll and to take pictures.
Sunday 14th we went back to Ho Chi Minh City. In a hotel in the centre I spent a few hours talking with ex-colleague Maurice Brandt from RSB, Breda, while Sisi and xxx went shopping. Maurice had left the Netherlands after the closing of RSB in 2003 and went to Thailand, where he found a job as an English teacher. A few years later he went to Vietnam, where again he found a job as an English teacher, first in Ho Chi Min City and for the past few years in Quang Ngai. It was nice to see him after so many years. And maybe we will visit him one day in Quang Ngai.
Later that afternoon we drove again to the airport, this time to catch the flight back to the Netherlands. After a long flight, with stopovers in Kuala Lumpur and London, we finally arrived at Schiphol airport and a few hours later we were back home.
On the map you can see all the places we have visited.