đây là mẹ tôi (this is my mother)

I proudly learned  this new sentence during my Mom’s visit. I loved introducing her to everyone and our life in Vietnam.

Hoi An with Mom

Hoi An with Mom

Besides meeting many of our friends, we enjoyed cyclo rides, cooking class, visits to the tailor and fabric street in China Town, runs to the market and eating at beaucoup of my favorite restaurants. Lots of shopping including the purchase of these very authentic Vietnamese socks that my Mom can’t wait to wear this fall!

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A big highlight was time spent together at the Fusion Maia Resort and Spa in Danang and a side trip to the exquisite town of Hoi An. The only bug was the one that found its way into our tummies early in Mom’s visit. But it didn’t keep her down! Enjoy this little video montage of my Vietnam mama:

We made so many lovely memories that I am already cherishing and will hold dear for the rest of my life. I consider myself very fortunate to have had this very special time with my Mama. Con yêu Mẹ rất nhiều (I love you very much, Mom)! Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa

what is not art?

Anne and Paul with very artsy lantern backdrop in Hoi An

I could never be accused of being a detailed oriented person…but that fact was glaringly obvious during the visit of my artist sister-in-law, Anne. How eye-opening to see Saigon through her connoisseur eyes. How many times have I walked past the vertical garden on Hai Ba Trung without observing so many of its characteristics? Or how could I have passed a mural on countless occasions without ever knowing it existed? Every day of her visit, she admired something that I had not noticed before. Besides the traditional galleries and artists, Anne also discovered admirable art in gardens, architecture, massage, food, kite-making, silk worms and even geckos. Yours truly learned a few things along the way. I was even the beneficiary of a one-on-one Photoshop tutorial with this creative spirit!

We are surrounded by inspirational objets d’art in our everyday life. Time for me to slow down and take more notice:

On a personal note, it was terrific spending this amazing time with Anne. Although we have always clicked, being able to share fun and Vietnam with her was priceless. If you want to learn more about the art of Anne Boudreau, check out her ethereal mixed media sculptures and collages on her website.

But, when girlfriend put on her artist-designed moto mask, I knew it was time to send her home! Saigon LOVE to you, Annie!

love the middle

Whew! It’s been a crazy two weeks traveling. Lots to tell you starting with my trips to three cities in the middle of Vietnam a couple of weeks ago with my BFF, Tien.

Here we go!

This was a rare opportunity for a bird’s eye view of how Vietnamese families live as I stayed in the homes of Tien’s Grandmother and her Aunt. I was left with a new appreciation for Vietnamese people and their traditions but also for my own!

Part 1:  Danang 

Iconic Han River Bridge

We flew early in the morning to Tien’s family’s hometown of Danang. Both of her parents were born in Danang and she still has grandparents living there. We stayed with her maternal grandmother who could not have been more welcoming. Her grandmother’s house is like a little compound with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins living there. The happiest place to be is on the family bed, which is  a wide slat frame without a mattress. Instead of a sofa, this is where everyone congregates to visit, snack and catch up.  At night, her grandmother covers the slats with her sleeping mat. I love this photo of her grandmother:

Danang is a major port city on the China Sea and the largest city in Central Vietnam.  While there, I had some very tasty seafood and local delicacies, rode along the scenic beach and  climbed nearby Marble Mountain.  But, most enjoyable was getting to know Tien’s loving family.  I swear I don’t know how babies ever learn to walk.  They are so adored and their tiny feet never touch the ground!  It was also heartwarming to see Tien interact with her grandparents in such a caring and respectful way. Easy to see why I love her so much! Here is my video on our time in Danang:

Part 2:  Hue

Bridge Over the Perfume River

We did a four hour train ride from Danang to the Imperial City of Hue. Wall to wall people, livestock,  and very hot. Glad for the experience but not one I am anxious to repeat!  In Hue, we stayed with her very gracious aunt and uncle in their lovely home.

Here we are inside the Phong Nha Cave

The charming city of Hue sits on the banks of the beautiful Perfume River and at one time was the capital city of the Nguyen Dynasty.  It is famous for its monuments and architecture.  Tien brought me to Emporer Khai Dinh’s magnificent mausoleum. I also visited the Forbidden Purple City, cruised the Perfume River, made a four hour car (and boat) trek to visit the fabulous Phong Nha Cave and of course, ate lots of the “royal cuisine” Hue is famous for. Her aunt even showed me how to cook a spicy beef noodle soup called Bun Bo Hue, the most famous of Hue dishes! You can check it out in this little movie made just for you:

Part 3:  Hoi An

Chinese Bridge in Hoi An

We skipped the train and opted for a car ride back to Danang.  From there we made the one and half hour moto ride (read sore butt!) to the most ancient city of Hoi An for a day trip.  Unlike Hue, Hoi An’s buildings were spared by the Vietnam war.  This was the most beautiful stop in my Central Vietnam adventure and  I am very anxious to return for a longer visit.  Tien timed our visit with the “Hoi An Full Moon Night” when once a month in the Old Town section, the electric street lights are turned off and is lit only by lanterns….breathtaking!  Hoi An had all of my favorite things…delicious food, incredible shopping, enchanting ambiance and stunning scenery! See for yourself:

Although we butted heads a few times (that happens when you get two “wannabe-tour-dictators” in the same room!), I can say that at the end of the day, Tien and I are better friends than ever.  In fact, you could say BFF Forever!  Thank you, Tien, for a memorable trip that I will treasure always.

cyclo ii

Just back from a sensational trip to Central Vietnam with my BFF, Tien. I have lots to share about staying with her very gracious relatives and the alluring cities of Danang, Hue, and Hoi An.  But, it will have to wait until next week when I get back  from the land down under and Hong Kong.  Until then, enjoy my first suspense thriller about all the cyclo fun I had in Central Vietnam.  Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa

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