07 November, 2012

Vietnam - Cu Chi tunnels and Bitexco Skydeck

Todays adventure, included a drive to the Cu Chi tunnels, via a handicapped working facility that were making the infamous lacquer artwork. Here they made 'mother-of-pearl' inlays, 'duck-egg' inlays or simple painted lacquered works. I could appreciate the art, but its not my style either... (a thing that I had a strong dislike for, was that after the tour, there was an expectation to buy, and the sales lady was hovering, asking something for family... Something for friends... Please help the handicapped people... I told her that I did not like these works, I can appreciate the time/effort, but I was not buying today...)


Anyways, we drove for about 30-40 minutes and arrived at the Cu Chi tunnels. It was already very hot, and humid, and there were quite a few tour groups here; mainly Japanese. We first stopped in a little movie theatre where we watched just how the Vietnamese fought, and it wasn't at all pretty. I had a Japanese man sitting behind me, who simply just would NOT shut up, so I turned and 'shhhh' him, so disrespectful of him to be talking to his mate on opposite side of room... We then started walking around, trying to fit into the access holes for tunnels, and failing, and then into a trench. We saw a US Army Tank that was destroyed, and saw many ventilation stacks that kept the tunnels 'cool'.


Soon enough, we arrived at the riffle shooting area, and the opportunity to have a shot, was too good to turn away, and we bought a round of 10 to share (4 & 4 & 2). Afterwards though, we 'splurged' and got 20 rounds for the machine gun, M60 Riffle, now THAT was fun!!


And finally, we arrived at the entrance to a tunnel, that had been slightly enlarged so as tourists could access, down, down, I started to go through 'squatting' and shuffling, but in the end, relented and crawled on my hands and knees... It was hot, cramped, and even though I have done a bit of caving, it was uncomfortable... But, I am SO glad that we did it...


We then headed back into Saigon for lunch, and a visit to the Reunification Palace, which was a bit of a let down, the Post Office, stunning building, before heading back to the hotel for a swim and a freshen up.

After a short cool down, the pool was nice, we headed for the Bitexco Financial tower, which has a skydeck on level 49. We arrived JUST on sunset, and we stayed until it was dark to get some additional photos...


It was a long day...

Hoo roo for now...


06 November, 2012

A day in Ho Chi Minh City...

We woke this morning, early (or 'normal' time for being back at home in Australia), and managed to do some editing and posting of photos. We even got an 'interesting' email from home, from 'M's' brother and his girlfriend... It went a little like this...

J to M - That's good!! The traffic looks crazy!! Glad ur safe! Me and J locked ourselves out already... Well we locked ourselves in the room between the screen door and the wooden door!!!!!!!!!!!! Haha LC is coming to save us haha and we are locked in with the cat!! I am scared of Cats!!!!!!! Haha all good though :) Hope ur having fun!

M to J - How did you lock yourself in??? What time were you locked in there??? D and L next door would have heard you yell!!!

J to M - Haha well I picked up a set of keys as I was leaving work and said to James are these the ones and shower him and he was like yeh. So I go out and I'm trying to open the screen door and I was like which key is it? So he came out to show me and the big door shut behind him. Then we realised that the keys we had weren't the ounces Bernie gave us. Not sure what they are haha so we were stuck! Haha so we called Luke! And he saved us. We were stuck for like 1 hour maybe.. All good :) safe to say we Won't make that mistake again!! Haha

All harmless and pretty good fun really, but the 'up side' to the story is that J has a mate who is a locksmith, who came and let them out and changed the screen door's lock so it is keyed the same as my front door!!! Thanks J&J!! So after this, we went down and got some breakfast, and a coffee, and then we thought we'd check out the hotel's mini golf! Yes, it has a green, and two cups to putt on!! Its also on the 7th floor!!! After we had a look, we then ventured to the tenth floor, for the pool and spa, and we were not disappointed at all! It looks out over the surrounding buildings, and if clear, would also be spectacular! A good swim/cool down was very refreshing...

So now, it was time to venture out of the hotel, all of the above was done by 9am, so it was still early enough to learn how to cross the road! this may seem strange, but in a city that has no (apparent) road rules, crossing a road could be problematic. So we got to the first road, and literally watched a couple of people cross, and remember the hint from home, cross and make it look like you know what you're doing!! We have now mastered this art, however, I do wonder why I am always placed in a position closest to oncoming traffic...

We soon arrived at the Ben Thanh Market, which is huge, but at one end, is the 'wet market' which was a little off putting...

Ben Thanh Market Wet Market (meat)Ho Chi Minh Fruit Stall

We walked through the market, I got a small something for me, whilst M got some things as well... I also grabbed a cheap pair of sunglasses due to the glare about!! I was all but about to purchased a shirt, possibly more, but when the price got more expensive for multiples (even after an agreed price) everything went pear shaped and I simply walked away...

We soon started walking about, and the Melbourne Cup slipped into our heads, and luckily for us, and another Aussie couple we met at breakfast, we managed to find a bar to stand and watch the race (not to mention a FREE glass of Champagne as well! After the race, we crossed the road and had lunch, before starting to head back to the hotel. Along the way, we spotted a store that was selling a wide angled lens for my camera. I had been longing for one, and would have really loved an 8-16, but for the price, I could not let this 10-20mm lens go by... (I later in the evening went back and exchanged $6.683M for the said lens!)

Ho Chi Minh Phatty's Melbourne Cup

The only other thing we did today, was visit the War Museum. I had not really followed or read much about the Vietnam War, but what we saw (aside from the preserved aircraft and tanks outside) was really quite oppressive in its nature. Some of the many images were even quite graphic, and if you'd like to see them, then click on any of the pics in this post (land at my flickr page, and then have a look for yourself)

Ho Chi Minh War MuseumHo Chi Minh War MuseumHo Chi Minh War MuseumHo Chi Minh War MuseumHo Chi Minh War MuseumHo Chi Minh War Museum
So now, after dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, we are now back at the hotel. We had a quick swim (although closed 30 minutes prior to us arriving), and showered and in bed... Both J and M are asleep, whilst I am typing this post!!! Although, I shall not be far behind them, as tomorrow is promising to be as big as today!!

Hoo roo for now...


05 November, 2012

Well, we're in Vietnam!!

Well, for me, that day started early - 4am I woke... Not sure why, I was packed and ready, and I had only gone to bed at 1am... Anyway, we got ourselves ready and headed to the airport for check-in (we ALL wanted window seats).

Waiting Traffic 34LSydney Olympic ParkRAAF Richmond

Flying Vietnam Airlines was a pleasant experience; crew were wonderful and the meals I had were tasty (and BOY, do they know how to make a scotch)!!

Coke and ScotchVN LunchAustralian OutbackAustralian OutbackCrossing the equatorCloudsPork (spicy)Descending into Ho Chi MinhHo Chi Minh outskirts

When we arrived, immigration was SO easy, and we were greeted by our guide (and driver)... Could barely understand him he was talking SO fast, but introduced himself as Bruce Lee and the driver as Jackie Chan! Traffic, was bedlam to say the least, but amongst all of the hustle and bustle, we saw a mate of ours doppelganger!! Soon enough, we were at some restaurant somewhere, and sitting down to dinner...
Menu (English)

After dinner, it was time to 're-join' the hustle and bustle on our way to the hotel, which I might add, is a very nice hotel...

Long day, very tired... Good Night!!

Hoo roo for now...


Farewell from Sydney (test post email)

This is a test, but off to Vietnam this morning...
Kind regards
Sent from my iPhone

01 November, 2012

Thursday Thirteen #19 Blind Photography

Over the last couple of days, I have been 'entertaining' a friend of a friend of mine, who had come up from Melbourne, as a photo of his was being exhibited in a competition, Arts Access Australia - Art for people with disabilities. He took out the inaugural, Peoples Choice Award!!

Andrew is vision impaired, and is legally blind. The way he explained it to me was, he has zero sight in his left eye, so close your left eye, now 'squint' your right eye, so as you can only JUST see something about a meter in front of you... that is all the sight he has! Bad hey! So with that in mind, I showed him around, as best we could, some of the Sydney spots for his upcoming work, 'Day is Night' which will be exhibited in August 2013, and here is some of my shots from the two days in Sydney...
  1. Woolloomooloo Gate - The Royal Botanic Gardens
    Woolloomooloo Gate - Royal Botanic Gardens
  2. Fort Denison - Sydney harbour
    Fort Denison
  3. Kangaroo Paw - Mrs Macquaries Point
    Kangaroo Paw
  4. Photographer and his Guide Dog
    Andrew and his guide dog, Eamon
  5. Sailing Ship
    Sailing Ship
  6. 'Talent'
    Sailing Boat - TALENT
  7. Sydney Ferries
    Friendship and Scarborough
  8. Water over Rocks
    Water over Rocks
  9. Opera House, Harbour Bridge (and a Ferry)
    Opera House and Harbour Bridge
  10. Light Painting a Photographer
    Andrew (blind Photographer) being 'Light Painted'
  11. Sydney CBD by night
    Sydney CBD
  12. 'Andrew' and the CBD by night
    Andrew (blind photographer) with Sydney CBD
  13. Sydney Olympic Park - Boulevard
    Olympic Boulevard - Sydney olympic Park
Hoo roo for now...