Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blog Giveaway
Thanks for all the comments for my blog giveaway. I always have fun reading silly kid stories, we all have them. For some reason all of ours seem to revolve around poop, but I'll spare you any details. I've sent emails to the four winners, and if I don't hear back in a week then I have back ups! On to a normal post for a change.

Final Thoughts on Vietnam
I realized that through all the posts and pictures, I really didn't get a chance to actually say how we felt about our time in Vietnam. First of all, we did enjoy our vacation. Regardless of throw up or canceled flights. We still give it two thumbs up.
For the dirt on Vietnam. It's not a third world country, it's just not industrialized like America or Japan, or most other countries you think of visiting. We thought it was a lot like Thailand in the way it looked and with how friendly the people were. Granted, we didn't travel to Thailand with kids so this was a completely different experience for us.
Ho Chi Minh City is just kind of dirty. I'm glad we spent little time there with the kids. One day of shopping was good for us. There was no way we could drag and 3 year old and 1 year old site seeing, even if we would have liked to see some of Ho Chi Minh's big attractions. As for the dirtiness, let me try to convey what we saw. Many people just set up a little road side restaurant on sidewalks. They have several large buckets of water to wash their dishes and throw any garbage in a pile on the sidewalk or in the ditch. Kids don't where diapers so we saw lots of naked kids or ones with perpetual wet spots. The city just looked like it was in constant disarray, like our house! However, if you are site seeing as a couple or with older kids this would probably be a pretty neat place to stay for several days. If we could do it over again, we would have done all our shopping there since Nha Trang was so much more expensive for the same products.
We are glad we chose to go to Nha Trang for the majority of our vacation. One couple told us they loved it there and wished they had spent more of their vacation there, so it was on top of our list. Then, one of Eric's classmates is from Vietnam and said if we were going to one place in Vietnam it should be Nha Trang. We were sold. The people there are extremely friendly, more so than HCMC. Let me talk about the "friendliness" that we encountered. It was mostly directed at the girls, in particularly Etta. People would just walk over and pick her up or lift up her shirt, pat her bum, pinch her arm or cheeks, and check out her eyes. I was not freaked out because I had read in many different places that this would happen if you had pale kids. The girls weren't sure what to make of this for the first couple days, but half way through the trip the girls would just avoid all strangers. People would try talking to them and they'd whipped their heads away from them giving the cold shoulder. We just laughed. We loved it when people would warm up to the girls before coming over to say hi. The high five method works like wonders with the girls.
I do have to recount one story (Eric would be better at it since it really happened to him). There was a park in between our first hotel in Nha Trang and the beach, so we stopped to let the girls play there before bedtime. It was of course dark so we couldn't see all that well. There were some crawl spaces that Chloe was going through and Eric commented on it smelling bad. He assumed there was probably cat pee and poop in there. Chloe comes out running towards the slides and a local picked her up and Chloe transferred some smelly poop from her shoe onto the lady. I laughed because it was all second hand to me. While Eric was dealing with poopy shoes, I was watching this young pregnant couple fawn all over Etta. She was going down the slide and the husband would pick her up and then take her back to the ladder. It was so cute. I just think the Vietnamese love children, and then to see two little kids that look completely different than what they see just adds to there desire to play with them. The Japanese just stare and take pictures, the Vietnamese are much more hands on (as well as picture taking too).
Food...we really enjoyed the food! I was hoping to eat Pho while we were there (I think it's a traditional soup) but only one restaurant had it on there menu (that I noticed) and it was way to hot outside for me to even think about soup. The food is very diversified, lots of noodles and rice, chicken, and plenty of seafood. There were only two meals I look back on and shutter. One was shrimp brine which was just awful with a side of kimchi (don't like that either). I think, how did I pick that off the menu. I must have pointed to the wrong item. The other meal was just because it was a horrible restaurant. But, we had tons of great seafood while we were there, specifically squid. I'm real touchy with squid because so many people overcook it and it's chewy. No one likes chewy squid! Not the case in Nha Trang, it was always perfectly cooked. Also, one seafood restaurant had tilapia in a lime sauce which was super yummy. But, our favorite dish was probably a Vietnamese Beef Salad we had our last night in Nha Trang. I loved it so much I have taken several recipes online, plus my memory of what was in it, and created a recipe. We ate it last night and will make it again. I'll post the recipe soon once I try adding one more thing to it and see if it's better.
My dad recently asked me if we'd go back to Vietnam. I said no. We like to check off countries and go to a different place next time. However, I would recommend Nha Trang. If we do end up taking a cruise this time next year and it happens to stop in Vietnam, we won't be put out. Actually, if it stops in Nha Trang will be going to the artist's shop we bought two paintings at. We wish we would have purchased more as gifts.
As for all of you that think we are insane for traveling internationally with two toddlers, I don't blame you. It's a lot of work. while waiting to board our flight from HCMC to Nha Trang, we were talking with an American that works in Vietnam. He asked what made us want to travel with two kids this young. Eric puts it perfectly, "If we waited until they were easy to travel with, we'd never go anywhere". Yes, they are difficult but the good times override the bad. However, I'll never forget Etta's throwing up on the plane there, the tantrum Etta threw while boarding the Nha Trang flight, or the constant screaming, crying, and thrashing they both did on the return flight to Japan. Luckily, I remember many more good things about the trip too.

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