Weekly Photo Challenge – Contrasts

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Such a strong cultural contrast between the wonderful city sights of Vietnam and back home here in Australia.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Split-Second Story

The weekly photo challenges are always the perfect time to share a few more of our recent holiday snaps from Vietnam. These next couple are iPhoneography pics (a fancy way of saying I took them on my iPhone) and have been put through Instagram with my favourite filter Valencia. But I love the little bits of story they tell from our holiday.

As we were walking along the street on our way to the Ho Chi Minh City War Remnants Museum, a local coconut salesman handed my husband his ‘cart’ to try. Hubby said it was extremely heavy, especially considering he towers over the average Vietnamese local. Impressive!

 

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The powerlines in Vietnam are cause for concern… wouldn’t want to be an electrician!

 

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In transit… flying is hard work!

 

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Love this weeks photo theme. Looking forward to checking out a few photos other bloggers share this week too 🙂

Travel & Technology

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This weekend gone we spent the afternoon and evening with my husband’s parents on the eve of their latest European adventure.

In their planning for this trip, which will take them all over Italy, then for a cruise along to Greece and Turkey, they wanted to be up to date with all the latest mod cons and technology. With our encouragement, being that we are Apple users ourselves, we talked them into upgrading to a couple of iDevices. An iPhone for my mother in law and an iPad for my father in law.

Then comes the challenge of teaching them new technology. Their youngest son still lives at home, but gets frustrated with teaching them, and middle son used to work for Telstra, and tends to rush through the instructions. So I became their tech guru (scary!).

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Father in  law (FIL) wanted to copy a whole lot of text documents and PDF files onto the iPad for the trip.

There were many options for this but we went with DropBox, transferring the files from laptop to iPad. There were a couple of Gigabytes worth of documents so it was going to take 30+ hours to complete based on the size and their internet connection. FIL was getting a bit stressed it wasn’t a magical instant transfer.

As we were getting ready to leave, with him checking for the 287th time in the couple of hours we spent there, he informed us it would be okay as if they did not all transfer across before they left, as he could finish once in Rome. Great!

He then said, “And if that fails, at least I will still have everything on the laptop“. WHAT?!? Yes, he was taking both the iPad and his laptop with him for a 5 week holiday to Europe.

WHY? No clue! Overkill? YES!

But it reminded me of a previous family holiday to Europe in Christmas 08 when he planned our trip almost down to the exact minute. I remember his frustration clearly when we got lost in the cemetery in Paris searching for Jim Morrison’s headstone and thus wasting too much time and having to miss visiting Versailles Palace.

So thinking back to that trip, I’m not really surprised he was taking both. He spent months researching this holiday ensuring he misses nothing.

Personally, I like to plan a bit, and it does all fall to me to do the research, planning and booking for our holidays as my husband is not a planner (unlike his dad). However, I like a bit of room to move too – Flexibility to be spontaneous and discover something unexpected. I also know sometimes you need a break from constant sight seeing and travel.

I hope they have a wonderful trip and manage to see all they want to… and relax a little bit also. Can’t wait to see the photos when they return.

What is your holiday planning style – Do you like to organise down to the last detail? Do you plan nothing and wing it completely? Or are you somewhere in the middle like me?

{Photography} Weekly Challenge – On The Move

{Photography} Weekly Challenge - On The Move

A quick capture whilst on a walking tour of Cat Ba Island in Halong Bay, Vietnam, having a rest at the village. The chicken wasn’t going to stick around too long with my toddler on the move.

{Weekly Photo Challenge} On Top

On Top : Weekly Photo Challenge

A goat on top of a mountain in Halong Bay. Somewhere down that bit of hill was a hut that belonged to the fishing family who owned the goat.

You can find the weekly challenge here

{Travel} Vietnam – Why I loved this country

Travel is something I never did a lot of until a few years back. It all started in 2008 and when now husband and I, along with his family, travelled to Europe for a mega white Christmas. He is actually of Polish background, so travel was always important to him but not something my own family have done a lot of. But once that first trip was done, I was hooked. I now try and make it a habit to go overseas most years!

Vietnam was somewhere I had heard good things about and contemplated but it never stood out as a must see destination. We started talking about going somewhere different, after having done the Europe thing a couple of times and a few nearby countries like Fiji and New Zealand, it was time for something more exciting.

It was actually through a holiday deals website that formed the plan for Vietnam. A mega awesome deal with beach resort luxury, all inclusive meals and spa treatments and a few days elsewhere in the country. We decided why not, let’s give it a go and from there created a pretty amazing itinerary from South to North. It was actually a little scary though as Asia was so new for us and travelling with a toddler meant we had nervous parents as well.

Right from the second we stepped out of the airport we felt the buzz of this new place. The constant sound of tooting horns, loud people and zooming scooters was pretty surreal. And the amusement we got on the way to our first hotel in Ho Chi Minh City seeing 2, 3… even 4 people on one motorbike and how there did not really seem to be any traffic rules. Yet it worked.

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The city was so crammed with so many people and tiny buildings and unique architecture. Everywhere you turn someone is trying to sell you something, yet everyone is also smiling and friendly. Not once on our 2 week holiday did we hear any negativity, or see people arguing or road-raging. Such a pleasant contrast to home where it is not uncommon for conflict and impatience.

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We were always welcomed with the greatest hospitality. Our daughter was adored, of course… strawberry blonde toddler. They love babies. And be warned, they will try to touch them too… but with no ill intent. It’s a little strange but ok.

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The food is amazing. So much flavour. So simple. And so much of it. Fresh too. Just take a walk around a market to see exactly how fresh with fish, frogs and other critters still alive and ready for purchase.

And so cheap. Like seriously, crazy cheap. You can get yourself a whole meal for about $1-2 US/Aus dollars. That’s street food though. Some restaurants, especially in hotels, tend to charge closer to Western prices. But still reasonable.

You can shop til you drop. Quite literally… probably from heat exhaustion. Yep, its pretty humid. But the markets are an abundance of clothes, accessories, food and other knick knacks. Be sure to stop in Hoi An for a couple of days to get some custom tailored clothing too. Makes you feel pretty special getting measured up for anything your heart desires. All they need is a picture and they can make it.

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And of course the scenery. Some of the most beautiful landscape, especially around Halong Bay. But even the green rice fields are pretty impressive to see. Beaches, jungles, lakes. They have a bit of everything in Vietnam.

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Vietnam is a place that I know I want to go back to. Still so much to see and I just love the craziness of the place. Almost makes me want to quit the daily grind and go live there for a year, just appreciating the simple things in life, rather than the materialistic Western world. So if you are thinking about visiting Vietnam, do it!! You won’t regret it!

{Travel} Vietnam Holiday – Toddler Challenges

So I have told you what helped make our holiday an overall success. For the most part, things were relatively easy, but of course there were a few ‘killmenow’ moments that come from travelling with a determined 16 month old.

Meal time was the most challenging. We were as prepared as we thought we could be. We took lots of Western style food pouches and snacks, but our daughter is a pretty good eater and loves rice and noodles, so she mostly ate parts of our meals.

And luckily enough, most of the places we went for meals (which I will admit were mostly the resorts/cruise restaurants) actually had high chairs available. That was the biggest challenge we expected, forgetting our daughter can be a small eater and likes to throw her food on the ground when she’s done.

Some days she was too tired for dinner which was likely due to the time difference. We tried offering food earlier, but she prefers what we eat. So by the time dinner time came around, she was tired, grumpy and sometimes had little patience for waiting til the food came. Or she was over it before we finished eating. That meant trying our hardest to entertain her at the dinner table, sometimes with quiet toys, Peppa Pig videos on my phone or having her on one of our knees while we ate.

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The worst nights actually meant tag team dinner. One would eat while the other let her run around outside, coming in to swap while the other quickly scoffs down their next course. That was painful!

We decided against electronic gadgets like an iPad or Leappad game console to amuse her as she manages without these things at home. But Peppa Pig really did become our saviour at times so if you’re willing, a device loaded up with kid stuff is a worthy addition to your travel took kit. The quiet book only amused for so long!

We did not really get to see any of the night time sights. We probably could have ventured out with little miss in the carrier and hopefully sleeping. But we tended to let her sleep. That worked for us, but it did mean our Vietnam by night experience is limited to the airport drive on arrival and through the window of our city hotels.

But in saying that, we saw the bulk of what we wanted to see. And those things we missed… well that makes for a good excuse to go back again!