The Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City

The gates, that the North Vietnamese Army crashed through at the end of the Vietnam war have been rebuilt and a copy of that tank sits on the grounds of what is now a museum.  We toured the building and the basement which has a command bunker with old radio equipment, maps on the walls and propaganda photos.  The South Vietnamese presidents lived here during the war. 


Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

When we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, we met our new guide, Lucy.  We jumped in the van, stopped at a local market to pick up some snacks, walked through the Thien Hau Temple and headed to the  Reunification Palace, home to the president of S. Vietnam during the war. 


Hoi An

We got to explore much more of Hoi An today.  Bob and Danny wanted to have custom slacks made so we did some research on various tailor shops and settled on A Dong.  A walking tour of the city exposed us to some of the old homes where residents give tours and sell traditional items to make money.  There are trap doors on all the second floors, so furniture can be quickly lifted to the next level during the seasonal floods.


Hoi An: Red Bridge Cooking School

This morning was fab!  We signed up for a cooking class at the Red Bridge Cooking School and it did not disappoint.  After meeting at a local restaurant, we set out for a walk through the local market in groups of 6.  We were lucky to get the head chef as our guide.  After the tour, we hopped on a boat that took us to the restaurant where the classes are held.  There were 19 of us from all ends of the globe and together we learned to make spring rolls, Vietnamese pancakes, eggplant in clay pot and yes...rice paper.  (So cool!) After the class, we sat outdoors, sheltered from the rain and enjoyed the fruits of our labor.  Yummy! (oops...can't say that in Vietnam... it means "horny")

Hoi An: White Marble Wine Bar/ Bamboo Buddha

We reached the ancient town of Hoi An. It was well preserved and so different than the previous cities we visited, with much less motor bike traffic.   Just enough time for cocktails and dinner at Bamboo Buddha and all walking distance from our hotel.


Da Nang and Marble Mountain

We drove through Da Nang, past the remains of the American Air Base and stopped at Marble Mountain.   Guest houses and resorts that are being built everywhere along China Beach home of the famous evacuation hospital, where American Soldiers came to recover. We took the elevator up ( an eye sore on the side of the mountain) to the first level.  At first we were a bit disappointed.  The view was nothing special and it seemed like just another pretty pagoda, but as we began to explore it became more interesting.  There were tons of little passages and caves.  Some tiny and some huge like the one with the big buddha.  We found out that the caves served as one of the bases for the Vietcong which has a good look right on to the beach.  The narrow, steep, slippery steps made us glad we opted to take the lift up but we used them on the way down. 

Hue/ Citadel

The Citadel was hands down our favorite place today, despite the various renovations going on. 


Hue/ Perfume River

We woke up at 3am to catch our flight to Hue, located in the middle of the country.  On arrival, we were greeted by the rain and our new guide "T". He was our most knowledgeable guide on this trip and lots of fun.  He finished every sentence with "yesss?" and started laughing hysterically when he told jokes.  He even left us a bottle of the local rice wine to try at our hotel.
 We headed to the Perfume River where the next boat awaited.  We were told it would be a one way trip and our driver would meet us at the end.  This time, the lady on board, in hopes of selling us something, gave us a complete fashion show with everything from dresses to PJ's in her french manicured toes.
Out first stop was the Thien Mu Pagoda, the tallest in Vietnam. Then several more stops...Hochen Temple, Ming Mang Tomb.

Our guide "T"