P, J and Biba’s big trip – part 3

Just trying to catch up with myself as there seems to be no free wifi in Oz. I didn’t get a chance to tell you about our Ha Long bay trip. You may have seen the bay in the Top Gear Vietnam special. It’s incredibly beautiful and we had our own private wooden junk with two cute little en suite cabins and a chef. We mainly just cruised around the bay, lazing on the top deck (when the kids weren’t trying to throw themselves overboard!)

2 Floating tuck shop

It was very misty and atmospheric with delicately balanced rock pillars seeming to float on turquoise sea, hundreds of tiny islands teeming with Vietnamese boat life.. Fish farms, floating snack shops, noisy tugs, coracles, tourist cruise ships, floating bamboo dog cages, sailing boats and egrets all drifting quietly in and out of the mist.


Biba had her first birthday on board and Elsa and Ren surprised her with a lovely cake and that all important first candle to blow out. It was really special and we’ll remember it for ever even is she doesn’t!

First Candle

Back from Ha Long bay to unpack, wash and pack again, sleep for our flight to Bangkok and then onto Sydney. A fond farewell to our Nam buddies and into the taxi. Once at Bangkok airport we settle in for our 5 hour wait, quite a lot of which is spent in the queue to check in with BA (bloody awful…), during which Biba squeals like a banshee constantly, does three poos, they tell us we have too much baggage and cant check it in, we have to repack at the check in desks, one bag explodes everywhere and it’s 30 degrees…..argh!

Once we’re through everything is much nicer Bangkok airport is actually quite amazing and Justin gets his burger king and I get to sleep on the floor next to an AC unit so everyone’s a winner!

In the Botanic Gardens

Is this cruel....

Until the flight…which is like the stuff of genuine nightmares, and goes on all night too! The first 2 or 3 hours pass peacefully enough – we waste this watching movies etc. Then all the other million children on the flight wake up and squeal and argue and jump about, one repeatedly kicks the back of Justin’s chair which turns out to be made of very thin nylon, when he sneaks onto the floor in desperate search of zeds another one pukes all over his seat, then Biba gets cracking with the squealing again. Some how the 10 hours pass and we drag our sorry asses into Sydders where our lovely pal Dave is waiting to take us home and put us to bed.

Lets poke a Koala in the bottom

Lets poke a wallaby in the eye

To get to Dave’s we have to take the Manly ferry, a fine old push me pull you boat that chugs away from Circular Quay right past the opera house with the harbour bridge in the background. The sky is screamingly blue, the sun is beaming down and it’s a gorgeous welcome to Oz…why would anyone leave!

On the Manly Ferry

P, J and Biba’s big trip Part 2

Buy some peanuts little girl

Hello from Oz! We had a fab time in Vietnam especially once the baby jet lag had sorted itself out – took about 5 days mind! We pottered round Hanoi, visiting the amazing fabric market where we bought lots of lovely florals and stripes to get tailored. It was jam packed with every fabric you could possibly want – why haven’t they got this in Newlyn? I loved it! I always thought I would struggle to find my style of fabrics in Asia but they were all there!

fabric market, Hanoi

Once we felt we’d caught up on the zeds we took an internal flight down to Hoi An which is around half way down Vietnam. It’s an historic trading town and has a mish mash of ancient Chinese, Japanese, Vietnemese and European architecture. Every other building is a temple or an assembly hall, a fancy bridge or a restored merchant’s house now open to the public. We bought our day pass and had fun visiting them all. (Whilst Biba either slept or was whisked away to be photographed by complete strangers!)

Streets of Hoi An

Shady Cafe, Hoi An

But mainly we went shopping! I got shoes made, Justin got two shirts made, Biba got three tops made (these people took less than 24 hours to make this stuff to measure!) We bought t shirts, pottery, coffee pots, magnets and last but not least a new bag to put it all in! (more soon on trouble at check in and BA’s very restrictive luggage policy!)

Giant Incence


We also managed to nip to the beach in Hoi An – a beautiful, palm fringed white sandy spot with a couple of surfers, some fishermen expertly making their way through the waves in intricately woven coracles and a couple of shacks selling seafood. Biba did end up looking like she was actually made of sand though…

Coracles on the beach

Hoi An's old Port

Once back from Hoi An we had to un pack, wash and pack again for our trip to Ha Long bay – but the babe is squealing right now so that will have to wait….

P, J and Biba’s big trip

Hello from Vietnam! Justin, Biba and I are staying with our lovely friends Renwick, Elsa and their 14 month old Azy. They live in a great big apartment in Hanoi which is in the north of the country. It’s a bustling busy city but more conservative than Ho Chi Min city (or Saigon) in the south which is the economic capital and, so we are told, more maverick. Hanoi is more traditional. The streets are crazy with scooters(but every one wears helmets), buses, taxis, ladies in conical hats on old school bicycles over loaded with stunning flowers, women with weighing scale style baskets on their shoulders selling everything from plastic pots to mangoes.

Renwick, Elsa and Azy

It’s been quite a challenge travelling with Biba who will be one on Saturday. The flight was bearable but the baby jet lag ever since has meant we’ve had to review quite a few of our plans as she wakes up for a good three or four hours in the night so we’re knackered the next day! So we’ve decided to concentrate on Hanoi and some of the surroundings and then have a trip to Ha Long Bay planned at the weekend when we’re all going to hire a boat together and cruise the bay, sleeping and eating on board. (You can see the bay at the end of the Top Gear Vietnam special – it looks incredible)

That said travelling with her has been a joy on a lot of other levels – the Vietnamese really love babies (especially blonde ones who are meant to be good luck) and if we go to a café they make a huge fuss of her and usually just grab her off us and we can drink our mango smoothy in peace! Pushing the buggy down the scooter riddled streets with no pavements people pop out of shops at every meter to touch her and entertain her with smiles and clapping. I guess some babies might find it a bit overwhelming but Biba just laps it up!

Biba being made a fuss of! (And loving it!!)

Justin, Biba and I ventured out alone today without our friends to guide us (considering the sleep deprivation this was a brave move!) but we managed to have a really nice afternoon nosing around the old town seeing the streets of shoes shops, jewellery shops, button shops or sunglass shops (one product per street) and managing to cross 5 or six lanes of busy fast moving traffic to get to the promenade by Huan Kiem Lake. You just walk out and move into the gaps between the traffic and somehow you arrive at the other side – when you watch other people do it, it looks like complete magic and you can’t believe they’ve made it in one piece!

I will write more the next time I’m awake in the middle of the night after finally settling the tiny monster! (Oh god is that crying I hear…)

Poppy x

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