Hey every one! I’ve officially gone back to school and while it’s great to see my friends again, I certainly miss spending the days around the house. About a week after vacation ended, I did a 10k run. It was the HCMC Run. The only problem was that it started at 5:45 which meant getting up at 3:50 am. Not pleasant. I had to run alone since my dad was not healed up enough from his surgery to do 10k. I felt pretty good regardless the fact that I’ve been having some foot issues and that I ran up a huge hill during the race. My hard work of training for Fobisia must have paid off for this race as well considering I was the 3rd amateur female and received Flyknit shoes and a trophy, and 50 dollars. Getting up early was totally worth it.
We’re starting 2015 on a high note. We thought we’d take advantage of the cool evening weather (hovering somewhere in the ’70’s) & take a motorbike tour around Saigon. Several friends had told us how much fun it was and the Foodie tour by XO Tours is right up our alley. Umm, hello, local food and beer…Sign me up!!!
So, on a Friday night, we met our guides, hopped on the back of their bikes and away we went. Now, I’m going to be honest. I was pretty sure I was going to hate it. I’ve never ridden on a motorbike and certainly not in the craziness that is this city! Sometimes, I get nervous just being in the car & I’m not even driving! The first time we did a left hand turn into oncoming traffic and survived, I said a little “hooray” in my head. It took a few minutes to relax but then it was really fun. It’s such a unique way to see the city that we don’t normally get to. I might even admit that it was a little fun to sit knee to knee in traffic with the Saigonese. Bailey even rode like a local which means “look Ma, no hands!”.
They took on a “street” food tour to districts that I hadn’t had a chance to really explore yet. Places that you’d never think to go to without someone from the city.
At the above restaurant, we had a chance to try some things I’ve never had before. The “safe” options were the shrimp and grilled okra. You can’t tell from the picture, but the table had these little grills right on top where you grilled your own dinner. Really fun option for a night out. In addition to the shrimp, we also grilled goat & frog. Everyone always says that frog tastes like chicken and it really does. I was surprised at how much I liked it. Bailey liked it without the skin but not with it. I’m not 100% sure I’d order it as a complete meal but if it came as part of a dinner, I know that I like it. We finished it up with a chaser of banana wine that they tried to convince Tony was Monkey wine. He was unsure for a few minutes but he’s game for anything.
In addition to trying some new foods, we got a chance to see the city from a different vantage point. It was really fun to ride around town on a motorbike through some areas that we’ve not really had a chance to explore. We went through about 5 different districts. While I had been to Chinatown, Bailey & Tony hadn’t. We had a chance to ride through a local wet market. If I’d wanted to, I could have picked up some fresh veggies & seafood and never even gotten off the bike, we were that close to the stalls.
On our stop in District 7, we had a chance to really observe the differences between it and the rest of the city. As our leader said, “open roads & stop lights that work”. He went on to say that since the roads are not as crowded, we’d have a chance to drive the bikes. Tony & Bailey got extremely excited about that option. They should have know they were kidding (these guys are serious jokers & teased us all night about various things). The closest we got to driving was posing like we were driving.
We had a great time & I can’t recommend the tour enough. When you come visit, be prepared, because we’re taking you on this tour!
Hey it’s Bailey! I know I haven’t written on the blog for a while but I’ll definitely be able to now because I’m still on winter holiday for another week and a half. We’ve recently returned from a week in Phuket, Thailand for Christmas. It was a ton of fun but it got off to a bit of a rocky start. It began with the Bangkok airport only having fast food options to eat. And of course, none of the restaurants except Burger King and Starbucks took card so we were forced to eat a disgusting burger. Then our gate changed as the flight to Phuket was about to leave so we had to make a mad dash to the gate that was farthest away. The flight ended up taking off late anyways so running was not necessary. When we arrived in Phuket, we couldn’t seem to find our luggage at the belt. We waited for about 20 stressful minutes for our luggage to arrive when we were finally informed that our luggage had gone to the international belt. We were upset because we wasted 20 minutes and we thought that they had lost our luggage. We walked outside to the pickup area where the hotel driver was supposed to be waiting to take us to the hotel. We couldn’t seem to find them so after about 3 calls and half an hour of pacing around the pick up area we finally realized that they were not going to come. Desperate, we decided to take a taxi but in the stress, we got into the wrong line and ended up taking a shuttle bus. We were told that the shuttle was going straight to our hotel (in Karon) but were told by a lady who was also on the bus (and also lived in Thailand) that we were taking the long way around. We ended up being dropped off last. A 45 minute car ride turned into a 2 hour ordeal. We finally arrived at the hotel, ate dinner at a Thai restaurant called Ying and went to rest for the next days adventure.
The next day, we booked a tour for 3 islands called Kai Nan, Kai Nai and Kai another island that I don’t remember the name of. We snorkeled, swam, and played at the beach. At one of the beaches, the fish were all over us and one even came up to my snorkel mask.
On Christmas Eve, we took a big boat out to Koh Phi Phi Island (pronounced: co-pee-pee). It stopped at Bamboo Island, Monkey Beach, Maya Bay, and Phi Phi Island. We were unable to stop at Bamboo island because the waves were too choppy and unsafe to swim in (as the guy on the loudspeaker made very clear) so we ended up stopping at Bamboo Island for only pictures and going to Monkey Beach. Monkey Beach had really clear water but snorkeling there wasn’t great because there weren’t many fish. At Maya Bay, we snorkeled off the boat instead of going to the beach. There was tons of awesome fish and they were all swarming around your feet as you swam. Finally we stopped at Phi Phi Island but we only had 40 minutes to do what ever we liked. I was tired from swimming so we got a snack and we had to head back to the boat.
On Christmas, we finally realized that boat tours aren’t really our thing so we went to Kata Noi beach for the day. But not before opening a couple presents! I got a book, and an Oregon duck shirt. The water at Kata Noi was awesome and we had a Christmas miracle and it was finally sunny! We spent about 4 hours swimming before lunch at a delicious restaurant called Mom Tri’s Kitchen. We headed back to the beach to swim some more. We had Christmas dinner at a place called Bella Vista. My parents shared a seafood platter that came with lobster, crab, fish, tiger prawns, and mussels. I stuck with green curry.
We spent Boxing day with my dad’s friend and his family. He had 2 kids, 5 and 8 years old. We swam at a beach near their hotel and then went over to another beach that had a restaurant attached to it. The beach had tiny pebbles instead of fine sand so I got rocks in my bathing suit (not fun!).
We spent the next day at the beach with them but this time, only in the afternoon. We had lunch at Mom Tri’s again. We swam for a long time and the waves were so strong, but finally they calmed down.
On the 28th, we went to the beach again but the waves were so big that you had to dive under them and that takes a lot of energy out of you. I went to lunch with my family feeling dizzy and exhausted. We decided to get a spa treatment at Mom Tri’s (Villa Royale). I got a facial and my parents got massages. That night, we had dinner at Mom Tri’s. We spent so much time there we should have just stayed there!
The next day, we spent the morning at the beach before we got rained out. Later, my mom was saying she had a stomach ache. I said she probably just swallowed some sea water or something. We never really thought anything of it until it got worse and worse so she could hardly stand without getting nauseous. Sometime around 5 or 6:00, she started throwing up. We figured out that she had food poisoning.
The airport was a bit miserable for her but she began to feel a bit better. She even ate a little bit of rice and held it down! We arrived back home around 10:00 P.M. and all fell asleep exhausted.