explore. dream. discover.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." This site will take over from my previous blog: http://dayumnicebridge.tumblr.com

Outsiders: The view from the minivan

In Lang Co for every luxury resort, there are at least four or five derelict houses and shacks made from sheet metal. On the few journeys where we left the hotel to go to Hoi An or Hue, we would have a clean, private, air-conditioned bus. Between the resort and the cities themselves we would pass locals scattered along the roadside for the entire hour long drives. 

One morning, as we were being driven to Hue “the old capital”, we noticed that money littered the streets as if it were invaluable. We asked our tour guide why, when people were so poor, did they leave the money there. She told us that people threw money to bring them good luck and if you pick it up off the ground it is believed to give you bad luck.

All the while I’m sitting in the car thinking…”but it’s money???”

From the outside looking in, I knew these people were a lot poorer than me, living in the make-do houses along the main road. It was fascinating, like I was staring through a keyhole into another universe. I would have loved to have spent a day with some of them, in their ordinary lives, knowing what it is that makes them tick and seeing how they go about everyday life.

Until next time,

Jess x

 

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A random collection of my travels in photos.

Hoi An, Vietnam

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Hoi An, Vietnam

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Mekong Delta, Vietnam

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Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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New York City, USA

ImageHue, Vietnam

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Mekong Delta, Vietnam

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Riva Del Guarda, Italy

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Paris, France

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London, England

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New York City, USA

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New York City, USA

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The Vatican City

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Farewell Angsana

To compare Angana resort to a slice of heaven would be too easy. A sheltered part of paradise hides on the beaches of Langco, where the locals are some of the gentlest creatures I’ve ever met, and the happiest. As we leave the resort headed to the airport, we drive past the shadows of the mountains on one side and the rice and fish farms on the other.

Yesterday, our tour guide Djong, told us that electricity had only come to Langco six years ago and that some of the farmers couldn’t afford the new equipment and so farmed with buffalo instead. In a world where my birthday presents cost more than the average Vietnamese citizen earns in two months, you could say the experience has humbled me and planted a new seed in my heart.

I have made friends among the staff at Angsana resort. The wonderfully attentive and slightly mischievous Nhen was our waitress at dinner on New Years Eve. She taught me the true value of laughter, language and how telling the bartender “En yu ahn” or “I love you” can brighten up the otherwise boring dinner shift. She taught me a few words and organised a cooking class, where she joined the chef and myself, talking my ear off about my travels, friends and asking me why I didn’t have a boyfriend. I won’t ever forget her or the playful spirit she was.

Unexpectedly Vietnam has been one of my favourite holidays. The only shopping I did was for a book and a small collection of souvenirs and I’m happy about that. It’s been a holiday for my mind. There are people I would love to bring back here and today I am leaving with the feeling that there is so much more to see, touch, hear, smell and taste…especially taste.

Next I will write all about the food that I have tasted, from the food I would live off to the dish that could only be described as warm tinned tuna that might have actually been salmon.

Until next time,
Jess x

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The backseat roller coaster.

I’m currently sitting at the back of the shuttle bus on the way home from the ancient city of Hoi An. I chose this seat for the single reason of enjoying more leg room for the 2 hour drive. Whilst I have more leg room, and am completely satisfied, I feel as though I should have worn a sports bra today. The amount of involuntary bouncing around that I’m doing back here is kind of ridiculous. I feel worse for Dad though as he’s sitting next to me with his arms crossed – probably to minimise the bouncing around of his own boobs without having to admit he actually has…well you know.

Hoi An is an ancient city 2 hours from our resort in Langco. Filled with markets and little women offering $2 pedicures…or was it foot fungus? I can’t remember. There are a few art galleries scattered around with some stunning paintings that I was coveting until I saw them in the form of bookmarks in about 15 other places. Everyone wants to know where you’re from and if you’ll come to look at their shop. I can’t help but feel guilty as I’m usually the type of shopper who wears earphones to avoid sales people, so I smile awkwardly at them and hope they’ll ask someone else. It’s a bit like when guys hit on you in a bar so you just tell them you have a boyfriend except unfortunately I don’t think these women would care about my dating life…or lack there of.

Foodwise Hoi An has a lot to offer. We choose Miss Lys and her wontons for lunch, because I have a soft spot for wontons and the people who enjoy them. What I expect is not actually what we receive though the result is quite delicious and let’s face it, I probably wouldn’t turn down free food unless it had an unnatural amount of legs. So I was brave and tasted the strange wontons and I was rewarded for my troubles with a tasty meal. Asia is full of goodies so if you come here be prepared to eat… a lot… Don’t worry about gaining weight though, the food is very healthy and with some luck you’ll get gastro and it’ll come straight out anyway (too much information?)

Before I leave you I must tell you about Randy’s book shop. As most of you know I adore reading and often prefer the company of a book rather than a person. Randy’s is owned by an American man who sounds alarmingly like Philip Seymour Hoffman. In fact he spoke to us from his office before he appeared and I was convinced Philip was about to come out to greet us. Unfortunately it wasn’t him, but Randy was quite pleasant anyway and I enjoyed his American accent as I mostly enjoy them all. His bookstore is filled with second hand books in all different languages, I could have spent an entire day and a lot of money in there but the parentals pulled me out…after buying me a lovely book. I chose “On the road” by Jack Kerouac.

Alright kids, I’m going to continue to enjoy my roller coaster bus ride now, the entire 90 minutes that I have left. Enjoy your evening, morning, night or afternoon! Oh and Happy New Year!

Until next time,
Jess x

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The Binh Duoc tunnels at Cu Chi

Yesterday afternoon, following our splendid morning at the Reunification Palace, we met our tour guide and private driver in the lobby of our hotel and started the 2 hour drive to Cu Chi. Along the way our guide “Quan Ting” better known as Kevin, gave us the low down on the tunnels, the Vietnam war and the ruthless abilities of the Viet Cong.
Mum and Dad asked a lot of questions while I listened and stared out the window at the rapidly changing landscape. Within the space of about 30 minutes the city had vanished and was replaced by roadside stalls, shacks and forest. People were selling anything from clothing to fruit to giant plush toys the size of a toddler.
When we arrived at Binh Duoc, the only people around were Vietnamese and there weren’t many of them either. We had chosen to go to these particular tunnels as they aren’t for western tourists and have been kept almost exactly as they were 40 years ago. We watched a video before our tour explaining the tactics of warfare and how the “little devil beasts” aka Americans, attempted to destroy the land with poison.
After the video we walked through the jungle and Dad and I climbed into the entrance of the tunnel, a tiny trapdoor about the size of Dad’s belly. I made it through much easier. We were taken through a series of tunnels into underground bunkers where the Viet Cong had established hospitals and living areas. The vast system was fascinating and is surely the reason they were unable to be defeated.
The guides here are very proud of their heritage and the fact that they ran the Americans out of Vietnam.

The tour ended with our guide Kevin sharing some local fruits with us and a long drive back to the city. He recommended a great restaurant for us and that’s where we had dinner before returning to the hotel.

Until next time,
Jess x

Good morning Vietnam!

Hi Chi Minh City, like New York, is always under construction. The city is constantly moving, awake at all times with the continuous honking of horns creating a perfect soundtrack. People on bikes (sometimes four at a time) fill the roads creating the perfected art of organised chaos. Watching the traffic from above the city provides hours of entertainment as I watch in wonder how they avoid collision. Giant roundabouts with no lanes or use for indicators are a “cross or die trying” game for pedestrians. Brave families with children under the age of five, cross fearlessly as of to say “I dare you to hit me”. It is fair to say that the Vietnamese could be the worlds best drivers.

Obviously, the food is phenomenal. The freshest cuisine I’ve tasted and the most fun to eat. Rolling your own rice paper rolls at the table and attempting not to spill the entire bowl of pho down your front at breakfast.

The most interesting part however is trying not to laugh at my parents social media ignorance…
Dad: oh look Scott liked your photo, so did cayleigh. Cayleigh liked all of your photos, what is she doing in the back streets of St Ives?
Me: Yes dad, I got the notification, I realise who has liked my photos.
Dad (to mum): Why do you have a photo of Cayleigh on your iPad?
Me (to dad): That’s Facebook dad
Mum (to dad): Cayleigh’s my friend.

And so on… I will provide more anecdotes later. For now I will amuse myself watching Dad eat musli out of a tiny jar.

Until next time,
Jess x

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A glass case of severe regret.

So for breakfast on the plane I chose to have fried rice instead of poached eggs and I’m definitely starting to regret it.

I had a feeling that eating that one prawn was a bad choice. Now I’m trapped in a glass case of stomach pains.

On the plus side, if my situation starts to go south, it could be the best weight loss technique I’ve tried so far.

In the mean time I’ll try and find something more entertaining than the bathroom to help me pass the next five hours at Changi airport.

Did someone say cocktails?

Until next time,
Jess x

Vietnam Tomorrow

First of all, Merry Christmas.

Second of all, who wants to help me pack for Vietnam. I leave in 12 hours so any help would be amazing.

No takers? Didn’t think so.

Packing has got to be one of the worst parts of travelling. I can never decide what I want to take and when it comes time to make the gut-wrenching decision about which clothes to take and which to leave, I feel as though the poor rejected clothes will just be lonely in my drawer. It’s completely heart breaking.

I cannot wait to explore a country I know almost nothing about.

As I sit here watching my sister take selfies on my phone, I realise that she is probably going to be very bored whilst I’m away, so if there’s anyone that wants to bring over some board games or a ball of string for her to play with, it’d be appreciated.

Alright, off to empty some drawers into a suitcase. If anyone has any recommendations of what to pack please let me know.

Until next time,

Jess x

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Day 7 – A letter to your guilty pleasure…

(how do I choose just one)

Dear days where I don’t have to wear a bra,

Thank you for existing.

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Dear Mama June Cooking Show,

You’re truly amazing. Thanks for teaching me how to make a tuna bake.

Dear Chicken Schnitzel,

You. Complete. Me.

Shut up, just shut up, you had me at “mushroom sauce”

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Dear Teen Mom Marathons,

You are true television genius. Thank you for always making me feel better about my life choices.

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Dear Oversizes Shirts,

Thanks for making it uneccessary for me to wear pants. I hate pants.

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Dear Frank Sinatra Christmas Album,

You are number one. Always were, always will be.

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Dear Hashbrowns,

You’ve saved my life on many occasions…thank you.

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Dear Books,

Thanks for all the adventures you’ve taken me on that I couldn’t have otherwise afforded. Thank you for making it easier to ignore the fact that people in reality are generally shit.

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Until next time,

Jess x