Friday, April 28, 2017

Mui Ne: A Recap.

It all began with a bus ride. A five hour bus ride, in fact, which covered about 120 miles and included several mimosas, sing alongs, wine bag pillows, and conversations on how dragon fruit grows.

Friday is National Day. We celebrated the seventy-first year of Vietnam's independence from French occupation, by renting a van and heading to Mui Ne, a beach town to the southeast of Saigon. 

Upon arrival, we headed immediately into the sea. Americans refer to it as the South China Sea; here, it is usually known as the East Sea eliminating the existence of China.

The sea was rough -- the waves, strong enough to knock us down and carry us far away from our towels and sunglasses we left on the hot, golden sand. Over the weekend, we spent most of our hours here. Diving, floating, tanning, reading and spitting up salt water. 

We stayed at Joe's Seaside Bungalows.  Our rooms were cozy brick bungalows with tiny porches and hot water (if you remembered to flip the switch) and breakfast. Comfortable, simple, and directly on the beach -- perfect for our weekend.

Breakfast included a pile of fresh fruit and mugs of thick, dark robusta coffee.  When my dad visited, he noted how much the coffee in Vietnam tastes like chocolate. Since then, I cannot help but notice this. I cannot un-taste the chocolate.

After one of our breakfasts, we headed to the sand dunes, a fifteen minute motorbike ride away from our seaside bungalow. The sand here, piled high into the sky was a sweet marriage of the hues caramel and rust. The miles and piles of sand looked simply remarkable; illuminated by the sun, high in the sky, they looked like they were glowing.



The climb to the top was easier than it looked from the bottom and the view from the top spilled out across rolling sandy hills and the deep blue sea far below. We stayed and played for as long as we could stand the burning sun. 


On the second morning, we watched the sunrise and went for a run. A long run.  


We ran over six miles; our eagerness to be away from the city's crowded streets and polluted air drove us forward. Along the way, we admired the street art and the landscape.

And took a short break to check out the beginning of Suoi Tien, the Fairy Stream. 

The stream, red from its clay bed, looks like chocolate milk. The stream can be followed to sand dunes and rock formations. Regrettably, we did not have the time to make this venture. An experience left for next time.

All too soon, the weekend came to a close and, tired but happy, we headed back to Ho Chi Minh City. 

Happy National Day, Vietnam. 

Penang, Malaysia: A Sneak Peek at our Upcoming Weekend.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Diner En Blanc, Ho Chi Minh City

It is no secret that I love a good social gathering. Especially if that gathering involves good people, good wine, and also happens to act as an excuse to don a custom made outfit. So when friends invited me to the Diner En Blanc, Ho Chi Minh City edition, I knew I couldn't pass it up.  

Diner En Blanc originated in Paris in 1988 and, in short, is a fancy, invite-only picnic-style dinner party. The location, kept secret until arrival, is a public space; guests identify each other by their all white attire.

Photo Credit: Pam Haake
After gathering at Vesper Gourmet Lounge to mingle and put final touches on picnic baskets, we were bussed to our evening's secret location: an outdoor venue space across from Diamond Plaza. Upon arrival, we set up our picnics, poured our wine, and signaled the beginning of dinner with a napkin wave. After ample time to indulge in the lovely spread of gourmet cheese, meat, and salad, sparklers were lit, telling guests that dinner was over and it was time to dance. 

Photo Credit: Greg Beale

Diner En Blanc made for a very lovely evening full of predictions, picnicking, and pinot gris and marks another successful social event for Ho Chi Minh City.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar: A Last Birthday in Vietnam.

A great last birthday in Vietnam. We gathered at Saigon Saigon Rooftop Bar in Caravelle Hotel, the former watering hole and daily briefing location of the war correspondents, to watch the sunset and sip some fancy cocktails. When it opened in 1959, the Caravelle was the tallest building and the bar overlooked the capital.

 The sunset, the company, the cake, and the happy hour prices made for a delightful birthday evening. Thank you to all those who were able to join in person or in spirit!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Loveland in Jeju.

Turns out, there are about 100 museums on the island of Jeju which seems a little strange because the island is not large. Because we are only on the island for two full days and most of that time was to be dedicated to catching up with old friends and colleagues, we sadly had to limit ourselves to only one museum. We chose Loveland -- a statue park and museum featuring scenes of love and lust --mostly because that seemed pretty intriguing in comparison to every other museum any of us have ever visited. And it did not disappoint our intrigue; the museum/park features a plethora of items for viewing (and tasting) pleasure including gardens with statues and dioramas depicting various sexual positions and interactions, display cases of enhancement products from around the world and throughout time, and even love-themed treats in the cafe.  

I am not going to lie, I am a bit sad our choice was not the Hello Kitty Museum, but, alas, Loveland ended up being a pretty cool way to spend the afternoon. Entrance is 9,000 won (7.50 usd) and takes about an hour and a half to fully explore.