Good Morning Vietnam


Latimer: What else could I call a blog post about Vietnam? It’s a phrase I overused so very much while in Vietnam. I said it basically every morning, and if I forgot, I’d say it mid-way through the day.

This post is a continuation of my trip around South East Asia, as it’s getting to the end of summer now; I find myself reminiscing more and more about my adventures in the past. They were so good; they make me consider what the next adventure will be!

But well, back to my South East Asian adventures! I had made it through Thailand and Laos, with lots of fond memories and exciting adventures, onward to Vietnam, a place that I was expecting to love, though I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting to love about it…

I was right about the loving part; it’s a gorgeous, bustling fun place, full of amazing places to see and history to learn about, all inter-spaced with yummy food, cool art and random livestock on bikes (the motorbike is everything in Vietnam!)

Beer corner, Hanoi where local people sell beer and we all watch the crazy traffic go by, as we sit on the street and drink. Yup. I randomly met up with some of my China-travel buddies here too, so the world is a very small place guys!
Bun Cha, Vietnamese delicacy, Hanoi
Crash site of Senator John McCain’s plane, shot down by the Viet Con during the Vietnam war (it is still there in Hanoi where it fell)
They are super happy about having shot down this plane, so it’s very well sign posted – I think it’s because Senator John McCain is a Senator now
This is the Hilton Prison, Hanoi. Hilton was a nickname placed on the prison, by the prisoners, who were American POWs
Motorbikes on the streets of Hanoi
More yummy Vietnamese food!
Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh) propaganda artwork for sale in Hanoi
Artwork, Hanoi
Chinese monument in Hanoi – there is a heavy Chinese influence in Vietnam, as the country was part of/occupied by the Chinese during it’s history (Vietnam feels like it has more Chinese influence than, Laos, Thailand or Cambodia)
Halong Bay
Sunset, kite-flying off the back of our boat in Halong Bay
Yes, that is a cow on the back of a motorbike… yeah
Food wraps and kawaii fingers, Hue
Vietnamese dragon and my Chinese Travelling Buddha, in the Vietnamese ‘forbidden city’, Hue
Just on the road in Vietnam, amazing
Blurry Buddha and me in an old American war bunker, on the road
The Mighty Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City (kinda)
Fresh coconuts on the Mekong Delta
Travelling Buddha gets around, here he's at the Chu-Chi Tunnels
Travelling Buddha gets around, here he’s at the Cu-Chi Tunnels
Tofu, noodles and veggies, yum!

I saw a lot of amazing places, but my favourite had to be the laid-back beautiful Hoi An, I could have spent a long time there, it was a small, but very lovely town?


Beautiful wedding couple. As in Chinese tradition, red is the colour for the bride in Vietnam, not white
Laid back streets of Hoi An
Hoi An streets
A bridge across the river, Hoi An
Lanterns, beautiful Vietnamese lanterns
Sunsets on its way over Hoi An!
A cool eatery Hoi Ah, though it looks very Spanish or something!
Super fresh noodles and yummy avocado smoothie (delicious!), Hoi An
Lanterns and more lovely Lanterns, Hoi An
Lanterns and more lovely Lanterns, Hoi An

Hoi An has a lovely river running through it. I went on a boat ride during the sunset and cast some lanterns out on the water, sending my wishes with it!

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It’s where people get clothes made lots of the time, but it has some cool art shops also, and also, the best tea shop I have ever been in in my whole life. It’s called Reaching Out Teahouse and it’s run by deaf and mute staff, so everything is done by indicating via the menu and also these little notes where you can ask for a re-fill of water etc. It is a Fairtrade shop and it works with people with disabilities in the community to find employment and live an independent life, so it’s well worth supporting. They also sell these amazing crafts in the shop – and all the tea cups and cutlery (metal and ceramic) are made by the Reaching Out artisans.

Used to communicate with staff
Iced coffee, with coffee ice… haha
Crafts from the shop
Traditional seating
The tea tasting menu (3 types) – soooo good, plus you get three interesting treats with it! Like, eg., a sweet potato swirl, or green tea biscuit
A platter of very interesting treats!

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The famous Vietnamese coffee (iced) – three type tasting menu here! It was so good!

It was really serene and it was nice to sit in this traditional style teahouse and look out of the open shutters at the front at the people passing by in the street. Some Chinese tourists randomly stopped in front of the windows and took photos with us Westerns in the background, which was… well, hilarious and random, but I had noticed this happened a lot in China also, so I was kind of used to it, in a very weird way!

Vietnam was a brilliant place, I would definitely go back. Maybe one day I will, but from there it was onward to the place I had wanted to visit the most, Cambodia (and the stunning Angkor Wat… what)!


Trekking around Thailand

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Latimer: Lately I’ve been doing some globetrotting. Every time I hitch up my trusty wheelie bag and head off into the far blue yonder, I come back with lots of stories and lots of ideas. I think the most recent trip to South East Asia has me all inspired for writing!

Ridley and I are really excited to be working our way through our Keeping Secrets series, plotting and outlining all the books to come. We are back firmly on track now – and we’ll be releasing Book 2 by the end of August! So stay with us for updates!

In my recent travels I visited Thailand. It was a quick run through the north of the country from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, to a fly-by visit at Chiang Rai and then Chiang Khong (to cross into Laos). I didn’t see that much of Thailand really, but what I saw was stunning, beautiful, strange, inspiring and… stranger still!

Bangkok is a pretty cool place. There are lots of things to see there – when I was there I took a trip around the canals in the city and went to Wat Pho to see the huge golden reclining Buddha, which was amazing. Buddhism (and monks) feature strongly in my Asian travels; I sometimes think I’m starting to understand it, then I always get stuck and realise actually I don’t know much about Buddhism, but it’s really interesting.

Bangkok canal views
Reclining Buddha… massive!!
He looks like he’s pretty comfortable here!
Wat Pho outside views
More of the Pho
Yet more Pho!
Another Buddha inside another temple in Wat Pho – I ear-wigged as this guy was explaining Buddhism to these people!
Lot’s of monks – notice how young some of them are! All men in Thailand must serve a year (at least) as a monk before they get married, to be considered ‘a good man’ for marriage
Thai green Curry… because… it’s Thailand!
From the back of a tuc-tuc… the only way to travel in Thailand… I love tuc-tucs!

From Bangkok, I got an overnight train to Chiang Mai. Lots of people on the tour were worried about the overnight train, but having experienced the Chinese ones, I was no longer afraid. The ones in Thailand are actually brilliant; and compared to the Chinese ones, they are very spacious and comfortable – this coming from someone with extreme ‘creature comfort’ problems!

Chiang Mai was a fun place; we had a walk around in the blistering heat, went to see beautiful Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple ate some lovely Thai food and went for a cool bike-ride around the city. While on our bike ride we stopped at an orphanage for Hill tribe children, for dinner. I bought some lovely artwork by the children – it was Naruto inspired 🙂

During my time in Chiang Mai, I was coming to terms with the heat, I won’t say I ever ‘got used to it’, just learned to accept I would always be dripping sweat and needing to drink water and isotonic drinks.

Train station catching my ride to Chiang Mai
These trains are fantastic! So clean and comfortable. There’s a bunk that comes down from over these seats and the seats themselves are transformed into another bed – big and very comfy.
I had the top bunk, which was fine… but not as big. I had some pocky for the trip!
Some cool outside dining in Chiang Mai
Artwork on the streets
Beautiful, random temple
More temple action
Buddha outside the temple
A very cool dragon vomiting snakes… well, maybe not but that’s what it looks like!! Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Walking up to the temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep bells
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Getting my fortune at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Monks visting Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
I got this white blessing bracelet from a monk in Wat Phra That Doi Suthep; he said a prayer over it, for luck and safety in travel.
A delicious vegetable spicy soup…. it was feckin hot though!
Buddha overlooking the river on my bike ride around Chiang Mai
Handle bar views in Chiang Mai
Buddhas in Chiang Mai
More views from my bike in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai temple
Chiang Mai temple
Chiang Mai temple
Cool artwork done by the Hill tribe orphans
More temples from my bike ride Chiang Mai
Buddha and candle wax – from bike ride Chiang Mai

From Chiang Mai, we stopped off briefly in Chiang Rai to see the White Temple, which is a bit like Sangrada Familia in Barcelona, in that it’s unfinished at the moment and being built by the artist that designed it. It’s full of demons and cultural references – though I never got to go inside, as we were late getting there and it was closed! It’s supposed to have like cartoony stuff inside and be really strange and interesting. This temple was badly damaged after we had seen in, in the earthquake that hit Thailand – so I feel lucky to have seen it before that happened!

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Batman and Pinhead… heads.. .weird!!
Freddie, Pinhead and Hellboy… retro weirdness!

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Yummy food in Chiang Khong
Yummy food in Chiang Khong

Then from Thailand, I took a bus into Laos! But that’s a post for another day!

For other posts about South-East Asia check out: Lovely Laos and Laotian Living