My Muong Thanh Breakfast Buffet

These breakfast buffets are amazing
These breakfast buffets are amazing
Asparagus crab soup
Asparagus crab soup

Muong Thanh Breakfast Buffet Land

This one is amazing!!
They have Kim Chi!!
I am doing last chance Vietnamese / Asian breakfast and enjoying ALL of it !! ( mostly!)
Having a Scandinavian smorgasbord background, I feel obligated to taste little bits of almost everything!! I know it’s living dangerously but …. Why not!?!?!

*Asparagus crab soup with fried wonton and fried sweet potato chip
( not quite hot enough … But tasty

** Assorted Asian “entrées ”
Singapore stir fry with noodles,
Sea bass with passion fruit sauce
Steamed Shrimp / prawn dumplings
Steamed corn in milk

Stir fries, dumpling and corn
Stir fries, dumpling and corn

***Pho ga
I only wanted a little custom-made pho, without the pork .. The chef understood little but NOT, no pork!! So I had chopsticks skill drill picking the bits out of the soup!!
I added the extras! Lettuce ( yum) lime, soy, and some funny dried banana tree threads!!

Pho ga with lettuce, lime, and funny dried banana plant threads
Pho ga with lettuce, lime, and funny dried banana plant threads

****Fruits and Dessert
Watermelon, dragonfruit and grapes ( which definitely try to roll off the plate)
Passion fruit mousse, coconut cake and chocolate eclair

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With lots of tea

I guess I’ll be ready for a short stroll, a swim and the final packing up

I’m going to miss Vietnam !!

 

My An Loc Mission

With this gift I REMEMBER you! RIP!! 24FEB71
With this gift I REMEMBER you!
RIP!!   24FEB71

It’s Friday morning and I’m on my way to breakfast, to organize my memorial offering and find my way to The Spot!!

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The breakfast menu
The breakfast menu

 

This is a  big adventure, I’ll tell you!

These lovely ladies helping me complete the mission!!
These lovely ladies helping me complete the mission!!

 

 

 

 

 

The lovely ladies at the hotel called a hire car for me at 10am…

It is now 10:40 and I’m back in the hotel having a beer!!

Having completed my mission!!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Here's the map with the location of the mission: 11 39.562 N 106 36.646 E I found it!! Quite easily actually!!
Here’s the map with the location of the mission:
11 39.562 N
106 36.646 E
I found it!! Quite easily actually!!

The bar is playing the baroque Classic: Johann Pachebel, Canon in D major! (one of my absolute favorites, even if my classical music

Exactly the right spot!! The second taxi driver I had took quite a crazy route to get to "The Spot" and thought that I was completely out of my mind running into the middle of the road with my flower basket!!
Exactly the right spot!! The second taxi driver I had took quite a crazy route to get to “The Spot” and thought that I was completely out of my mind running into the middle of the road with my flower basket!!

knowledge is pathetic!)

How does that happen ????  It is has been a very emotional day!!  The bar music is inspirational and melancholy!!

And I’ve done what I came to do!

There wasn't much traffic but An Loc / Binh Long ? Is quite a large city now!
There wasn’t much traffic but An Loc / Binh Long ? Is quite a large city now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I left my frangipani basket at the corner of QL13 and No Trang Long!!
I left my frangipani basket at the corner of QL13 and No Trang Long!!
Time for a Heini OR two !! It is 11am on a very emotional day!! The bar music is inspirational and melancholy!! And I've done what I came to do!
Time for a Heini OR two !! It is 11am on a very emotional day!! The bar music is inspirational and melancholy!! And I’ve done what I came to do!

Thought for the day:

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NEVER do this!!!

This lovely sales lady just said, "You are very lucky!"
This lovely sales lady just said, “You are very lucky!”

I had an absolute heart attack Tuesday afternoon when, after tooling up and down Dong Khoi street all day …. I got back to the room
AND
I did NOT have my PASSPORT in my Australian Aboriginal designed bag!!!

I use the bag for passport wallet and hotel key and put it in the chain strap shoulder bag with phone/ camera

I have everything else!!
Ran around like a nut back to souvenir shop across the street where I got shot glasses ….

Turns out I left it on a chair when I took a picture of the restaurant folded napkins!!!
Panic OVER!!!

Look at that beautifully folded napkin!!
Look at that beautifully folded napkin!!

Arrived An Loc Hotel and Spa

Fruit and croissant course
Fruit and croissant course
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Asian foods course
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Fried eggs with bacon, chicken, spring roll and baguette; pawpaw garnish
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Another delicious breakfast DESSERT??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I left HCMC after another amazing breakfast. It was, however, very crowded and they had a hard time actually finding me a table! The foods are always the same … But also different!

  • After my pawpaw pineapple watermelon warm croissant course I had:
  • Vermicelli stir fry, Bok Chou, begger’s purse and roast chicken ( with 6 baked beans)
  • Fried eggs, bacon , baguette, chicken pawpaw garnish
  • I tried one little dessert cake – a citrus cake and a to die for cream puff!!

No Brie, no tiramisu, no broiled tomatoes, no pho

THE DRIVE TO AN LOC – It’s 2 pm Thursday and I’ve just arrived at the An Loc Hotel and Spa on the main route QL13 just a few miles from the Cambodian border!

Coming out here, my overpriced Grand Hotel organized driver said two things:

1- My business has NEVER driven anyone to An Loc before! It is very famous from the American war!!

2- This area is very poor!

It’s a two and half hour drive on a divided toll highway! There wasn’t much traffic once we got out of the city!  Almost the entire road was lined with grimy little shops, Gigantic factory entrances for multinational companies from Korea, China, Germany…, there were three large war memorials, a huge new mall, a couple pagodas, an amusement park, eventually a few rubber tree plantations.

My deluxe non smoking room is quite posh!! I wonder who usually stays here?? It's in the middle of nowhere??
My deluxe non smoking room is quite posh!! I wonder who usually stays here?? It’s in the middle of nowhere??

Right now there is a massive swarm of dragon flies outside my second floor window!

I am ready to try to figure out what’s next. The current front desk staff does not speak English!

 

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View from my bedroom window
Beautiful view of the highway!
Beautiful view of the highway!

Wednesday in HCMC

The HUEY is much smaller than I thought and there was no separation between the pilots and the crew!
The HUEY is much smaller than I thought and there was no separation between the pilots and the crew!

 

The door gun
The door gu

 

 

Wednesday morning breakfast – To start papaya, pineapple and watermelon with a fresh, warm croissant.

This then followed by:

  • A cheese omelette with baked tomato
  • A Baguette with Brie;
  • Asian dim sum and fried noodles;
  • A green tea cake with whipped cream, garnished with strawberries;
  • A heavenly tiramisu.

All with hot tea!!

After all that food I waddled to the War Remnants Museum with my free ticket in hand.  The War Remnants Museum was very well done – the pictures of a useless and wasteful war are all spinning in my head!!!

My fruit course with croissant! The white slice with black seeds is Dragon fruit, the round halve is passion fruit, watermelon and pineapple with Vietnamese coffee!

 

I was most impressed with the exhibition about the photojournalists that lost their lives while trying to document what was happening during the war! Their photographs are amazing, iconic,  classic images of the American/ Vietnam War!

The exhibit included biographies, quotations expressing their emotional involvement in what they were recording and in many cases, their last photographs! Powerful!

  • A Henri Huet photograph taken at Quan Loi, 1965. It could just as surly be the crash I am here to remember from February 1971! RIP brave heroes
    A Henri Huet photograph taken at Quan Loi, 1965. It could just as surly be the crash I am here to remember from February 1971! RIP brave heroes

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    The hotel are organizing my journey to An Loc via a couple of tourist sights – Can’t wait to see what it will cost!!

    I’m looking forward to the dance performance tonight, it will be my first in a communist controlled environment???

So it’s Thursday morning  – Well it is finally happening – I’m leaving for An Loc in my expensive hire car!!

Only 3 more hotel nights !!  The end of my trip is coming to a close FAST!!

 

I Ate PHO ….. For breakfast

Pho ... Made to my exacting standards " just a little please, beef!" By a delightfully smiling breakfast chef !! She was so happy that I like Pho for breakfast because she taught me it was delicious
Pho … Made to my exacting standards ” just a little please, beef!” By a delightfully smiling breakfast chef !!    She was so happy that I like Pho for breakfast because she taught me it was delicious. I tried 3 sauces! The fish sauce tastes like the bottom of a dirty aquarium!!
Complementary fruit: bananas and dragon fruit
Complementary fruit: bananas and dragon fruit
My phone works!
My phone works!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few pictures of the Ancient Wing of the Grand Hotel and breakfast.

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM  (thanks for reminding me, Pat!)

It was a very long day getting from Bukit Lawang, Northern Sumatra to HCMC, Vietnam via the Crew Hotel at KNO airport (Kualanumu – Medan) and a five hour stop in transit lounge Bangkok (Don Mueang) airport .

I love HCMC and the Vietnamese culture already!! So mellow and gentle compared to crazy Medan!!

I’ve just arrived but have glimpsed the Notre Dame Cathedral, some lovely parks, the Opera ( I’ll try to get a ticket for the Mist dance performance!). I feel like I am in Paris!! A city that I just adore!! So I feel safe and ready to explore…..

I am a spoiled brat, however, just sent out my laundry, and found the insanely expensive airport private pick-up The Best Thing Ever!!!

It’s 10:45 am here and there is lots to do and see, with rain forecast for the entire day.
I want to walk around not be stuck in a car!!  Don’t think I need to be in a boat on the Mekong river all day either!!

With shopping, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Vietnam War era stuff to see right in HCMC… That’s enough

I sent out a lot of laundry again,  with it being SO hot everything gets wet and smelly fast!!

This city makes me happy ( remember… I used to fly to Paris for my birthday weekend!!)

My room in the ancient wing, accessible by classic 1930s era French lift!! Fantastic. The ceiling must be 10feet high! Huge window that opens onto a not-too-noisy, one way street!
My room in the ancient wing, accessible by classic 1930s era French lift!! Fantastic. The ceiling must be 10feet high! Huge window that opens onto a not-too-noisy, one way street!

 

 

 

 

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Next Stop HCMC

The drive from Bukit is second to none CRAZY.  My driver was excellent – Swerving left, moving right – Into the other lane – avoiding livestock,  wildlife, people,  assorted third world vehicles, buses, trucks full of palm oil seeds, police, vendors…. Ah the third world!!

I don’t seem to be able to keep an Internet connection which is driving me nuts!!!  to make up for it I’m sitting in the lobby restaurant having Indonesian spicy chicken noodle soup and the SMALLEST/ most expensive BinTang of the trip.  Great view of planes taking off and flying right over the place.

This place is state-of-art mechanized!!
I couldn’t figure out:
*    How to make the elevator work
*    How to use the Conservation Asian water flush system in the Lue, or
*    How to open the door to the room to get out!!  That one is a bit scary!!!

The hotel took 200000 ” deposit ” and reluctantly handed it back to me this morning!!  So now … I’m swimming in marginally worthless Indonesian rupiah!!  Another long travel day ahead!!!

3:20 am
Made it to the airport.
The baggage check isn’t open!!
As my friend Patricia says, “good morning VIETNAM!!”

9:00 am Sunday
Starbucks in the transit lounge of the old Bangkok airport Don Mueang
Pretty hopping place – It’s huge!!
A bit crumbly but it seems to work.
If my bag arrives in HCMC I’ll be delighted!!
Anyway next flight at around 2:00 pm.  Boarding at 1:10 pm.
Once again I’m hunting for a gate!! ( nothing listed yet!)
It’s a sunny day in Bangkok

6:00 pm Monday
Enjoying a Grand Cocktail at happy hour in the Grand Hotel Saigon.  My bags all made it to the same destination as myself.

There is a fierce thunderstorm !!!  I am watching the thunderstorm from the rooftop bar.

When you get to ANOTHER COUNTRY
It’s a whole new ballgame!!

Everything is different
No more crazy little straws for the cups of water!!!

French is the second language ( like Iran)
The music keeps singing  – “Je t’aime ”   I love you!!!

I am staying in one of the old original suites, which I have the pleasure of paying addition $10 per night to secure.  I really did not want to end up in one of the ‘new’ rooms in the box built behind the original Parisian hotel.
I also have to contend with a crazy little Parisian hotel lift!!
I AM LOVING it.

Things I saw in Sumatra

Dunkin Donuts is celebrating 30 years
Dunkin Donuts is celebrating 30 years
The orange bus, cars and people all blocking the road!
The orange bus, cars and people all blocking the road!
Palm oil plantations, many gigantic palm trees in perfect monoculture rows!
Palm oil plantations, many gigantic palm trees in perfect monoculture rows!
Looking for "Palm oil" nuts?
Looking for “Palm oil” nuts?
Sidecar motorcycles for hire
Sidecar motorcycles for hire

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I started to write down just images from the 4 hour drives to and from Medan / Bukit Lawang.

I also tried to capture a few telling pictures about ” the life” in Northern Sumatra….