Good Morning Vietnam

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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!)

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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!
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Bun Cha, Vietnamese delicacy, Hanoi
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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)
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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
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This is the Hilton Prison, Hanoi. Hilton was a nickname placed on the prison, by the prisoners, who were American POWs
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Motorbikes on the streets of Hanoi
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More yummy Vietnamese food!
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Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh) propaganda artwork for sale in Hanoi
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Artwork, Hanoi
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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)
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Halong Bay
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Sunset, kite-flying off the back of our boat in Halong Bay
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Yes, that is a cow on the back of a motorbike… yeah
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Food wraps and kawaii fingers, Hue
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Vietnamese dragon and my Chinese Travelling Buddha, in the Vietnamese ‘forbidden city’, Hue
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Just on the road in Vietnam, amazing
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Blurry Buddha and me in an old American war bunker, on the road
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The Mighty Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City (kinda)
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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
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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?

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

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Used to communicate with staff
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Iced coffee, with coffee ice… haha
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Crafts from the shop
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Traditional seating
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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
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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)!

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Take to the Streets

Down by the Luas Lines in Dublin
Down by the Luas Lines in Dublin

Latimer: Recently I’ve been taking a lot of notice of street art. To the point where, as I walk down the street and come face-to-face with an empty wall, I start to daydream about what maybe I could put there…

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I imagine images weaving across the concrete. And I start to think, leaning back and getting some perspective on the wall – ‘That would be fun!’

My daydream then takes me to the street at night-time, wearing dark clothes and carrying a bag of spray-paint cans. I’m going to unfold my masterpiece image. I’m going to fix it to the wall, by climbing a steep rickety old ladder that stretches up six floors to the roof. And I’m not afraid to do it (this would never happen, I’d be crying if I had to climb a ladder).

I spray-paint the stencil. I scramble down the ladder and race across the road.

Girl in an egg, Barcelona
Girl in an egg, Barcelona

No police catch me.

I admire my mural, and then, I fade into the darkness like a thief in the night. A wispy shadowy creature of the witching hour; in the morning people will pass the image, wondering – who did that? How’d they do that? And I’ll pass by, smile a secret smile, and walk on.

Then my daydream ends with the harsh whack from the reality stick. I don’t go down that street at night-time, because it’s too dark and could be full of people baying for my blood; like gangs of New York.

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I don’t dress in all black, because if I remember correctly I don’t have a black hat and I threw out those black jeans the other day. Where would I find the stencil? That’s a big wall, the perspective would be too much; I mean drawing on an A3 page is the most I’ve ever done. And I’ve never made a stencil…

No. I’d get caught! Definitely; if anyone would I would. The police would catch me. I’d get in trouble.

It's too risky!!
It’s too risky!!

Where do you get the spray paint anyway… is it expensive… etc. etc.

Yup, the dream fades pretty fast.

So, I’m left as a voyeur on the street art of others. I like the secret pictures and I like the mysterious people that flit in the night, spicing up the streets with quirky images. Their work waves at me as I pass the streets, from time-to-time, and I smile thinking, “Well, hello there piece of art!” Like it’s a secret discovery, belonging to just me and the street.

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After you see one, as with all things, a door opens and suddenly they’re everywhere. It used to be a Dublin thing, now it’s a world thing. The images from people I’ll never know, waving across countries at me, a little Latimer they’ll never know.

Here are some I found in Barcelona.

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Keep an eye out on whatever streets you’re walking! There are cool secret artists out there! Thank you for sharing your art!

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I’m not sure who the artists are, so if anyone knows, drop us a message and we’ll tag the photos etc!