Our trip to Vietnam – Da Nang & Hoi An.

 

Last week I finally faced my fears after 2 years and got on a flight! This may sound absolutely minuscule to someone without an irrational fear of flying but to me, this was such an accomplishment. Feeling like the Queen of Sheba, we landed an hour and half later in a cloudy Da Nang. We made our way to our accommodation to find that the hotel website had not only lied to us but had also cast us in a hotel from hell murder mystery, without our consent. Faster than you could say “Expat Brat”, I was typing my credit card details into booking.com and planning our escape. Now I have stayed in a range of accommodation, from hostels to insect infested Muay Thai camp tin houses, however, I will draw the line at red coloured stained walls.

After an awkward chat with the reception staff, we were on our way to the Furama hotel. Our room wasn’t ready until 2pm so we dropped our bags and made our way to their Italian restaurant DON CIPRIANI’S which totally hit the spot. The tiramisu deserves a special mention! Wowza

The Furama was a beautiful hotel where we spent the next 3 days indulging in utter relaxation, morning beach walks and forced yoga classes (sorry Phil!). Unfortunately the weather was pretty disappointing but with a 5* buffet breakfast, who really cares eh?

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One afternoon, we felt we needed to rip ourselves away from our comfortable little abode and see a little bit more of Da Nang. We first visited Han Market, which is named the best market in Da Nang. Safe to say, we lasted a total of 5 minutes browsing the same identical stuff at every stall and then went on our way to an Australian bar for the best coffee I’ve ever had…. ironically. Vietnamese coffee is on another level! 

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On our third day, we caught a 30 minute cab to Hoi An, just south of Da Nang but embodies a whole different vibe. Bustling with backpackers, stunning 17th century architecture with an array of shops, restaurants and galleries. A far cry from the peaceful, relaxed Da Nang.

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Luckily the weather improved greatly for the remaining 3 days of our trip which we spent at the Belle Maison, exploring and eating our way through Hoi An Old Town.

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One of my best meals from the holiday had to be from a restaurant called  Morning Glory (Thanks for the recommednation Sarah!) . Papaya mint chili peanut salad for me and a roasted pork Bahn Mi for Phil.

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On our last day, we went to An Bang beach to catch some much-needed rays. If you can ignore being asked every 10 minutes to buy something, then this beach is a great day out with great places to eat and relax.

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For dinner, we enrolled ourselves in a cooking course at Mamma’s Gourmet cooking class. Not only did we learn to cook some traditional Vietnamese dishes in a beautiful garden setting but we also had a great time being entertained by Chef Vu.

We cooked three courses of veggie spring rolls, zesty fish in banana leaf and a glorious mango and papaya salad.

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Back in Hong Kong with yet another sinus infection but nothing can take away the great feeling of finally facing your fears :)

 

 

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Belgium

For Christmas this year, my family & I wanted to break tradition of a Christmas and New Years in Hong Kong and indulge in our first legitimate wintery wonderland-esque holiday. Much to my delight, with my extreme fear of flying, we opted to take the Eurostar to Brussels for a 4 day mini-cation. With absolutely no preconceived idea of what Belgium had to offer (apart from chocolate and beer), it was great to have no expectations and the ability to explore.

We spent the first day in Brussels and checked into The Queen Anne Hotel, located conveniently within a 10 minute taxi between the North, South and Central stations. Everything about our stay at The Queen Anne was perfect. The staff were extremely helpful and friendly, the beds were unbelievable comfortable and location was a god send. I would highly recommend for anyone visiting Brussels who doesn’t have a large budget. The only downfall admittedly was having a satanic child staying across from us who was more than happy to scream it’s lungs for no apparent reason for about half an hour each morning.

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Our first day was spent walking around the centre, visiting the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, the Christmas Market (Grote Markt) and my most favourite of all, The Grand Place. The light show was magnificent! so so magical. It’s just one of the things where no explanation will do it justice.

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On the second day, we caught an hours train to Antwerp, where my uncle resides. We spent the day tasting a variety of Belgian beer (Cherry Liefmans for the win!) and Glühwein (in our attempt to dodge the rain), wandering the christmas market to see the Silvius Brabo statue and finishing off the day with a lovely 5 course dinner at Jeanty’s.

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On Christmas Day, we hopped one another train to Bruges. Bruges was filled with cobbled streets, chocolatiers and little beer factories. Such an enchanted little city.

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We travelled back to Brussels for Boxing Day which we spent relaxing and wandering around before our train back to London. My experience of Belgium was one I had not expected and I’ve genuinely fallen in love with it’s town and cities (There are restaurants dedicated to varieties of chips. HEAVEN on earth).

Thanks mother dearest for a great christmas holiday. K