Friday, September 28, 2012

Bad to Good

Okay, so I know I haven't been the best blogger this week. But doing our Lesotho weekend on Monday morning just was never going to happen. Plus I was in a pretty miserable anti-social mood on Tuesday. And part of Wednesday.

You know when you are so annoyed and hurt and angry with someone. Yeah that. Let's just say the drive home  from Lesotho was less than awesome. And things didn't get resolved properly (my way, The Trucker was fine from Tuesday morning ... which made me feel worse) till Wednesday evening.

But things did get sorted and things were discussed calmly and rationally ... it's hard when in the heat of the moment you're both stubborn and both think you're right and neither will back down. Things have been much better since then. Am all aglow with happiness in my relationship again :) I much prefer it that way.

So yes, due to anti-social tendencies on my part,  I skipped SCM. But I did fit in my 3 boot camp workouts (omg. I am sore). The Eating Plan went proper out the window in Lesotho what with their sheer lack of lunch stops along the route ... we did manage to buy a packet of Lemon Creams tho :P Haha. My Nutritionist probably just died a little!

But, the amazing news that kicked off an awesome long weekend last Friday was that I actually did really well in my first 3 weeks. Lost a total of 9cms! 9. (That's 4 around the waist alone!). And 2.5kgs too. It was awesome, I won't lie.

And that is about all that's been happening this week. Got a social weekend planned and am loving this damp rainy weather too. All is right in the world again :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

11 August: Phu Quoc to Siem Reap

We managed to grab a few pieces of fruit for breakfast before our 7:15am transfer to the airport. It was pretty easy going but, just as we moved to the security check, a busload of tourists arrived and the check-in counters became chaotic.

The departure lounge was pretty dull, plenty of overpriced items, as with anywhere. And a little weird because there is only 1 gate.

When we landed in Ho Chi Minh City, we were in a mad rush to make our International flight. But it was hurry-up-and-wait because it was such a small plane (we worked out approx 64 passengers), we had to wait for everyone before the bus even took us to the terminal and then they offloaded *all* the luggage before they brought any of it to the conveyor belt.

But, really, we needn't have worried. We speed-walked from the domestic terminal to the international one and then walked straight up to the counter. Yes, please. There are perks to having had to book Business Class for the flight. Haha.

With suddenly so much time, we headed for the nearby Burger King we'd passed on our way into the terminal. Haha. Weirdly, it seems they don't let anyone but the people flying into the Terminal building. We scoffed down the burgers for breakfast. I had a Spicy Tendercrisp with cheese, it's a chicken burger and more like our KFC than McDonalds.

Then we went thru Passport Control. Goodbye Vietnam! We headed off in search of the Vietnam Air Business Class Lounge. As someone who's never flown Business Class before, the experience was awesome. And, I think just what we needed. Some quiet, free food (which we bagged and it came in super handy on our Angkor Wat day!). And then, of course, the actual flight. We were 2 of maybe 7 people in the whole section. Wow. It is fantastic! Damn shame it was such a short flight (less than an hour!).

We landed at Siem Reap and I dunno how much of a general reflection on Cambodia this is (it's still a pretty small city), I can't believe the difference to Vietnam we felt.

We'd organised evisa's online and this was definitely the way to go, the queue for arrival visa's looked tedious. But just generally things seemed calmer here already.

Travel Planning tip: I highly recommend getting yourself an evisa when visiting Cambodia. The turnaround time online was fantastic and the experience at the airport was hassle-free. Just remember, it's only for certain types of travel (I think only air) and you can only use it when arriving at certain cities.

We checked into our hotel, the Soria Moria, and then hired a tuk-tuk to go to the War Museum. It was okay, but I'm not sure it's actually worth the travel and entry expense, unless you are super into your rusty old war machinery tho.

Travel Planning tip: We booked all our Vietnam and Cambodia accommodation thru Agoda and I would definitely use them again when planning my own overseas accommodation. 

After that we decided to walk from our hotel to the Angkor National Museum. We paid extra and got the audio guides after very little English explanations in the Vietnamese museums we went to but, it was quite unnecessary. It's kinda interesting, and I'd probably say check it out just because it helped me with some of what I ended up seeing at Angkor Wat.

Then it was time for some relaxing. The Trucker slept, I looked up Cambodian stuff on Wikipedia. I've been doing that quite a lot on this trip. The free wifi in all the hotels and having the tablet with us has been great. I'm amused tho at how many tourists I've seen holding up their tablets to take photos on this trip. I think that's a bit mad!

Have also reflected on this trip, with all the free wifi and Facebook check-ins, how things have changed in the years I've been traveling. I remember my first trip to Europe in 97/98 and one or two phone calls home at most. Oh, and plenty of postcards. And then things had even changed by my trip around Southern Africa in 2004: Getting half an hour in an Internet Cafe, maybe once a week if you were lucky, writing the longest email about everything you'd done and sending it to everyone you knew all at once. Now if we can't Facebook check-in to a place the trip feels incomplete :P

Around 7pm we took a tuk-tuk to the Night Market and had a wander around. What a fabulous Market :) We had great fun. I was quite determined not to buy anything more, but it really is harder than it sounds! I ended up with a new bag that I absolutely love, so totally worth it :)

We had dinner at Khmer Queen (there was no show on when we were there, but now I understand the stage - haha). The Trucker had the Beef Amok, which was surprising and delish! I had the Cambodian Chicken Curry. Quite tasty.

And then we had another fairly early night. Our tuk-tuk is arriving to collect us at 5am tomorrow so that we can be at Angkor Wat for sunrise :) *excited*

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

10 August: Phu Quoc

Today we had the same idea but also ended up getting a somewhat later than planned start. Worked out okay tho, again :)

This time we headed North. It's pretty surreal. They have a proper double-lane highway type thing. But of course only one side of the road is open at a time. We rode thru their absolutely amazing National Park up to Bai Thom. The lush jungle with massively tall trees was spectacular! Bai Thom was pretty unremarkable but we did while away some time having a pepsi, sitting in a home-made hammock next to the sea :) Gotta give our bums some reprieve from the scooter - haha.

Am quite horrified at the litter here in Phu Quoc. Actually thruout Vietnam. Horrible and it definitely ruins the gorgeous beaches here :(

After our little break in Bai Thom, on the way back we took a turn in the direction of Cua Can. Along the way we stopped at a Pepper Farm and took a wander thru the crops. I'm not sure I ever thought about how pepper was grown before but, I don't think I pictured it like this!

When we hit the T-Juntion, we decided to head further North towards Ganh Dau. This included some interesting scooter riding (& a water crossing!). And eventually we stopped somewhere along the coast where we found the most gorgeous, perfect and almost deserted beach (except for 2 topless tourists tanning who'd found this spectacular spot before us).

We stopped  and swam and had a snack (today we were smarter than yesterday!) and swam once more. The sea here was beautiful! And then we turned around and headed home. This little beach was definitely the highlight of our ride!

When we got back we had lunch at The Spice House, which was superb. And then went for a 90min massage. The Trucker was so right, we should've done that every afternoon we were here at a mere 20USD per person! Damn, it was so good and just what we needed :)

We watched sunset from our resort beach restaurant and ate dinner there. Lovely dim sum but I have been somewhat disappointed with the salads since my first one in Hoi An, that was so delish!

Anyway, then there was repacking to do. Our holiday is nearly over :( I am so not ready to be back at home or work yet! But first, Cambodia and Angkor Wat :)

Early morning tomorrow, although no quite as early as it would've been if they hadn't moved our flight :P

Photo aside: Some of the interesting things we saw while driving around today. Saw this weird fishing boat made from a polystyrene surf board and plastic outdoor furniture while relaxing in Bai Thom. Surreal. Wish I'd seen someone actually using it - haha.

And then I finally managed to get a decent shot of one of their scooter "kiddie seats". Seriously, we saw loads of people driving around with set-ups like this with their kiddies. And then we found one on the side of the road sitting empty as we were riding around today.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Exercise Exhaustion

Shew. This week has taken forever. It may be because I've exercised more than ever before, probably in my life. But it definitely feels like there was a day too many thrown in here.

On Monday (Full Body) I started at my first Adventure Boot Camp. I'll admit I've been pretty slack at gym since I got back from Vietnam. And even worse since I gave up my Personal Trainer at the end of August. So to say I was a little nervous would be an understatement. But I loved it. Seriously, there is something about being outside when exercising that I really think helps my mindset.

I was sore this week, in a way I haven't been from gym in a long time (okay, except for that last session where my trainer tried to kill me as a goodbye :P ). I went again Tuesday (Upper Body) and Wednesday (Cardio & Legs). I'm signed up for the 3 times a week option. I couldn't manage 5 times. Sheesh. Wednesday nearly killed me. I do NOT like running.

And then last night I joined a guy from work for some paddling at Emmarentia. I've wanted to paddle since before I moved to Joburg, but a) didn't have someone to do it with and b) didn't think I could do it alone what with the getting the canoe up onto the roof of a car and off again, not to mention all the way to the water! Ha. Well I was right, that was certainly the least fun part for me. But the paddling was good fun :) We only did 3 circuits of the dam (which is not that impressive when you hear there are 10 in a time trial). And these canoes are fibreglass, not like the heavy plastic yellow ones I'd used before moving to Jozi or the ones we used for the Orange River. Yep, I think on a good week I could manage all this ... Fun, and apparently being outdoors, is definitely the answer to exercise for me. Who would've thought it'd take me to the age of 32 to realise something so simple. Sadly tho, Discovery Vitality does not recognise any of my efforts anymore :(

Anyway, on Monday and Wednesday evening, The Trucker came over for dinner. On Tuesday I was back at SCM. And then last night I pretty much just collapsed in front of my TV. Haha.

The Eating Plan has been going pretty well. I have my first post-plan visit later today. Finger's crossed there have been some improvements ;) I won't lie, I'll be a little gutted if there are none after all this effort. Effort must be rewarded, because I need incentive ;) Haha. And then it all goes out the window for the long weekend - no Eating Plan on Holidays. That is my personal rule. I mean I'll try not to eat terribly, obviously, doesn't one always try to not over do it completely. But it is a holiday and I'm not spending it stressing about food :P That's not to say it's generally a stress, at home it's easy to be organised and make sure I'm eating right. In fact I'm thrilled at how (mostly, except on weekends) easy it has been to integrate into my life. And I generally don't feel like I am depriving myself at all (which, really, is the only way it'd work).

We're off to Lesotho's Katse Dam and Sani Pass this long weekend (yay for Public Holiday Mondays!). Very excited :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

09 August: Phu Quoc

We actually set an alarm this morning. We wanted to be up and off exploring on the scooter early and then back by midday to avoid the worst of the heat. Unfortunately we hit snooze for an hour and got a bit of a late start (well, we are on holiday! Haha).

Breakfast was good and then we set off to explore the South of the island. Unfortunately we were working off an awful map which didn't actually have the real roads marked. More like just hints and suggestions ?! The signage here is also pretty poor.

Travel Tip: We did discover a far better map halfway thru our last day when we were pretty much done exploring. I highly recommend you get your hands on one of these maps when visiting Phu Quoc and save yourself any hassle.

Regardless, we had great fun today and managed to find some great spots! We headed South down the road hugging the West Coast (which our hotel is on) and we stopped off at a Pearl Farm. There are about 3 along the road, but I'm guessing everyone, including us, only bothers stopping at the first one.

They cracked open a 2-3yr old oyster and showed us the pearl inside. I'll admit I did feel a little sorry for the poor thing, they are alive, after all. They showed us how the colour on the edge of the shell's Mother of Pearl will match the colour of the actual pearl inside. I still have no idea how baby oysters are made tho?!?

Anyway. The super big pearls are apparently from 5-7yr old oysters. This is a long term business plan, clearly. We went into the shop and saw so many pearls! I really had no idea how many colour varieties there were (Aside from white and black)! And the quality of a pearl is rated on it's shine and it's roundness.

I almost bought a necklace. But, I'm not a big jewelery person, really, and I can't even imagine when I'd wear pearls! So, we moved on.

We took a wrong turn which took us past Phu Quoc Prison, which was actually the highlight of our day's stops for me. It is quite surreal. They're rebuilding the whole thing with half the barbed wire in the world (that may be an only marginal exaggeration :P). There are mannequins and descriptive signs. The signs are glaringly anti-American (as you'd expect since they took over the Prison and used it to hold Vietnamese). Again, it was all pretty horrific and shocking.

We ended up going all the way down to An Thoi in the hunt for the road to Sao Beach. Then we headed back the way we'd come, past the prison and further North (we did stop to ask a few people but the English here was non-existant).

We did find the turn-off eventually and went to Sao Beach. But, we were completely disappointed in what we'd read was supposed to be Phu Quoc's best beach. It was crowded with people (quite a few tourist buses in the parking lot) and expensive restaurants that didn't interest us. Also, the water was filled with boats. Nope, we didn't stay long at all.

Travel Tip: Speaking of which, the wikitravel article on Phu Quoc seems terribly out-of-date (that's we'd read that Sao Beach was the place to go). We went looking for one of the restaurants mentioned on it (The Dog Bar), in the evening for dinner, only to be told it closed down 2 years ago!

After the disappointment of Sao Beach, we headed home. I was getting grumpy and hungry. We had lunch on the loungers at our hotel beach and swam and read the afternoon away. Simply blissful.

We headed back out in search of dinner at about 18h30 and ended up at a place called Pepper's. Superb watermelon shakes (just the way I remember them from Thailand).

 We came home straight after that and I finished reading The Hunger Games. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Which surprised me a little since a) I really had no idea what it was about and b) it has all sorts of similar hype as Twilight and 50 Shades. Looking forward to the next one! Wish I'd brought it with me. Haha.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...

We've been tempted to buy another book while here, but apparently there are all photocopied pages inside the covers. It's cheaper (and no doubt total piracy). I'm sorta tempted to get one just for a memorabilia item - haha. (I didn't)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

08 August: Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc

Up earlyish today to repack our bags. All marvelous since we bought a new backpack as hand luggage last night. A sneaky plan we'd had since leaving home, so we were using a mini backpack that attaches to The Trucker's main bag (which is now packed to bursting with coffee!) previously. So actually, technically, we have no additional bags ;)

We had a quick breakfast then met our driver from yesterday and headed off for the airport.

A short 55 minute flight later, we arrived on Phu Quoc. We have an adorable little bungalow that you can *just* see the sea from (lots of foliage here), at Mai House Resort.

Travel Planning tip: We booked all our Vietnam and Cambodia accommodation thru Agoda and I would definitely use them again when planning my own overseas accommodation.

We spent the afternoon relaxing on (free) sun loungers, swimming in the sea, eating & drinking and reading our books.

I finished Pharmakon by Dirk Wittenborn. Thoroughly enjoyed it! It's pretty long but, a lovely story that continued to surprise me and make me laugh. One truly about people and their interactions. I'd recommend it! Thanks @meiraputerman for the recommendation and lending it to me :)

'I was born because a man came to kill my father.' It is 1950s America and madness is in the air. In a world where the 'cures' for craziness include coma therapy, cyanide treatment, sulphur injections and full-frontal lobotomies, Dr. William T. Friedrich's ambitions are more modest. He just wants to find a way to prescribe happiness. Friedrich, a young, ambitious professor of psychology at Yale has stumbled upon a drug that promises to make him famous. Derived from an exotic plant, 'The Way Home' seems to possess the secret ingredient of happiness. But Friedrich and his colleague Bunny Winton must find subjects willing to test their hypothesis, and in Casper Gedsic, a fiercely intelligent, socially inept, near-suicidal maths student they seem to have found their perfect guinea pig. But when their experiment goes awry and Casper's thirst for revenge turns murderous, his actions will have consequences that haunt Friedrich and his family forever. Friedrich's youngest son, Zach, who owes his existence to the fallout of those turbulent months, grows up in the shadow of Casper Gedsic. For him and his family, the bogeyman is real. Despite Friedrich and his wife's best efforts, they remain defined and imprisoned by the memory of Casper, and his presence continues to haunt them as they move from their well-ordered suburban life of post-war America through the chaos and freedom of the counterculture into the drug-fuelled, media-crazed eighties and beyond, each pursuing their own quest for happiness while tainted indelibly by the past.

At about 4pm we rented a scooter and did a little exploring on either side of our resort. We'll do the whole island tomorrow. Well, that's the plan. It does still get quite sore on the bum, all this scooter riding! We stopped and tried to watch the sun set over the sea. But some heavy clouds had rolled in so there wasn't much to see.

We headed to the Night Market for dinner. Wow. So much seafood selection. One of those where you choose what you want and they braai it up for you. It's times like these that I'm devastated that The Trucker doesn't eat seafood. Seafood is meant to be ordered in large quantities and shared - haha.

Daddio would've loved all the weirdness on offer! Aside from the quite usual prawn, fish, crab and squid (although these were actual whole ones, with their eyes!), they also had urchins and all sorts of scallops, clams and snails. Some had lobsters and frog fish (which I've actually only ever seen once before, while diving at Aliwal Shoal). I'm sure there were other things I've forgotten. I kept my dinner quite simple with prawn, squid and crab. Was good :)

After dinner, we wandered the market a bit and I bought myself some old Vietnamese notes (damn that collecting-bug! Haha). We had some ice-cream for dessert and then headed home.

We went and sat on the beach for a bit because the view of the stars here really is stunning. And it's quite weird not being able to recognise any of the constellations! But, I did see a shooting star :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

07 August: Ho Chi Minh City

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City at about 6am (an hour later than we were supposed to, again). The Sleeper Train wasn't too bad. I managed some sleep but not a lot. We found a private car who took us to our hotel, the Saigon Zoom Hotel, where we couldn't check-in yet (as we expected).

Travel Tip: Private Cars work for a fixed price not a metered rate like a normal taxi. Knowing when this is a benefit is helpful.

Travel Planning tip: We booked all our Vietnam and Cambodia accommodation thru Agoda and I would definitely use them again when planning my own overseas accommodation.

We got changed quickly in the hotel bathroom. We'd asked our driver to wait and we then headed straight off to the Cu Chi Tunnels at about 7am. It was actually awesome to be there before the crowds although it does cost quite a bit more doing it privately. But we were expecting this and had planned for it because we really only have today in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Cu Chi Tunnels were fascinating and you get a guide on arrival, although it seems quite a few people bring a guide thru with them from the city (which seemed to irk our guide). I won't lie, I knew next to nothing about the Vietnam War before today. Well, I'd looked up a little on Wikipedia before our trip but, it was hard to follow and it's not something we were really exposed to as South Africans born after it had ended. I imagine, even as it was going on, we were all too wrapped up in what was happening in our own country with Apartheid. I didn't do history in High School, but The Trucker says it wasn't covered either.

It was fascinating and horrific. Those Vietnamese were sneaky. They came up with some seriously horrifying hidden traps for the Americans. And for their part, we found out later in the afternoon when we visited the War Remnants Museum just how awful the Americans were too. I guess I'll just never understand the atrocities of war and the awful side of humans it brings out.

We got to walk thru part of the tunnels. This just makes you realise how strong the human will to live is, I doubt I could've stayed down there, hiding, for too long! We also got to see how they hid the smoke from their underground kitchens and try a little of their staple diet: cassava with spices & green tea. While eating, we chatted to our guide, who was born 2 years before the war ended, about it a little. His father & uncle fought in the tunnels. His uncle didn't survive. Blows my mind, it was only 40 years ago!

I would definitely recommend a visit to this highly unique place. And enjoy the war-propaganda video too - haha. Was surreal. Reminded me of those old World War II propaganda videos. Blatantly bad-mouthing the American Devil Pilots etc. which I guess is fair enough since they were at war and all. Propaganda is such a weird thing.

As I said, we visited the War
Remnants Museum and it was a heavy afternoon. Agent Orange was just awful and to realise the very real effect it is still having on people born today. Well, I was emotionally sunk. Shew. It was a rough day of human realisation, that is for sure.

We didn't do much else during the day but wander a bit of our local area. We had Subway for lunch :) And we bought ourselves some Vietnamese Phin Coffee Filters and some of their amazing Trung Nguyen coffee (so cheap compared to home!).

We relaxed in our hotel room's air-conditioning and read about the snow back home in Jozi. It was 31 degrees here today. Haha. Am a little sorry I missed the snow.

We had a delish dinner out and a pretty early night. I am looking forward to our upcoming island days :)

Monday, September 17, 2012


Well it was another pretty quiet weekend. No socialising. On Friday evening The Trucker came over and we watched Children of Men again.

On Saturday we breakfasted at home and then he headed off to do some work while I went to meet a prospective new tenant. Hold thumbs, people. After that, I think we had a lazy afternoon while he worked a bit and I rewatched Splice. Movies are rarely as good the second time around #sigh.

In the evening I'd booked dinner for us (Surprise Date Night) at Lucky Bean. I haven't been since it was still called Soulsa. The place looked pretty much empty when we arrived, The Trucker was a bit nervous. But it filled up quickly and was buzzing. We started with their amazing Haloumi. Man, that is as good as I remembered it. Yum. And then I had their Springbok Pie. Can never pass that up ;) It was good, but not spectacular. There was also only the merest hint of veg served with it. Anyway, it was a good evening. Love that boy <3

On Sunday we had a lazy morning and a quick breakfast out before doing the weekly grocery shop. In the afternoon we took The Trucker's ex-girlf's dogs for a walk and picnic at Golden Harvest.

Okay, I know it sounds super weird. But they were once his dogs too and so, since he lives in the same complex as her, when shes away he dog-sits (she's in Thailand for a week). I'm over (*all*) the weirdness in that sentence, but don't misunderstand, it took plenty of time to reach this zen state. They really are lovely dogs tho and he adores & misses them.

Was a great way to spend the afternoon while I read my book in the sun and he ran around the field with them :)

And that was pretty much all the excitement of the weekend. Oh, except I did finally buy some fairy lights for my verandah (PnP has them on sale at the moment ... old stock, I presume) and got The Trucker to hang my hose pipe thing (bought it like when I moved in and it has been lying around since then!) and the trellis for the jasmine I planted under my bedroom window :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sorry by Zoran Drvenkar

The most gripping thriller since Thomas Harris's Red Dragon. ONE. TWO. THREE. That's all it takes to drive the nail into her head, to leave her hanging on the wall. She deserved to die. Now all he needs is absolution for his sins. And he knows just the people who can help. Kris, Tamara,Wolf and Frauke. Four friends, living in Berlin, with one big idea: an agency called Sorry. Unfair dismissals, the wrongly accused: everyone has a price, and Sorry will find out what it is. It's as simple as that. But they didn't count on their next client being a killer. Standing face to face with a brutally murdered woman, the philosophy that has brought them so much success sounds hollow. But who is the killer and why has he killed her? Someone is mocking them for playing God and hell is only just beginning.

Hmmmm. This sounded so promising that not only did I buy it for bookclub, but I picked it as my first to read. The concept is kind of novel. It's just a real pity that it is completely confusing to follow. And although it all comes together in the end, as one would expect, it's no where near the revelationary sort of ending one would expect from such a convoluted, bounced-around story line. I found it terribly disappointing and lacking. I wouldn't really recommend it unless the write-up still appeals to you ;)

The Ebb and Flow of Real Life

So it's been a quick week. Well at least it feels like it. Work is a very weird place for me at the moment. There are somethings I'm really enjoying about it and there are others that I know are destructive and no good for me and I need to get away from it. #sigh I dunno how you solve that short of getting a new job. But again, there is the out of the frying pan into the fire factor. That and it's not exactly an ideal time ... I'm just hearing of too many retrenchments stories and what not.

Speaking of which, I'm on the hunt again for a new tenant for the little Studio apartment. My tenant got retrenched and now can't complete her lease period. Have only had 1 person show any interest in the place this whole week (with ads on Private Property and Gumtree!). Showing it to her this weekend. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, Monday was a really nice evening, went out with a bunch of the people from our old company (ie. before the merger) for a farewell dinner for someone who was leaving. Was a really nice bunch and I enjoyed it. We went to Doppio in the new Sandton (Protea Court - which to me sounds like a Hotel, honestly ... I was a little confused at first). Very nice, really. Although from what I saw it just looks like they put in a ton of escalators! Haha.

On Tuesday I had an early dinner and swung past Montecasino to collect a gift my mom had sent up with a friend. She bought me Sarah Graham's Bitten cookbook. Which I've wanted since I made those Sweetcorn & Sweet Potato Fritters. Which is amusing to me now that I am on this eating plan ... #sigh. Although that in itself is actually going quite well. I'm sticking with the 1 breakfast & 2 dinner cheats a week and I've been pretty stable. Weekends are hard tho. Actually quite a few days are hard. I find it difficult that you can't just eat or snack as you please ... because obviously then you either eat too much in a day or eat the wrong things. But I do miss my Super M Chocolate Milks.

On Wednesday I had my annual Doctor's Day. It was nice to be off work in the chaos. Had a lazy morning at home with a bit of a lie-in. Headed off to my appointments and for the first time ever I barely had to wait at all (of course, because I had lugged my book along for that very purpose). And my appointments were all under 15mins. Yes, and it still costs R900 #sigh Being a girl is expensive. But everything is all good and I got my repeat scrips. Turns out I'll also be on my Allergy-related Asthma maintenance meds for *ever*. I was kinda hoping that now that it was under control, and it is, the difference to my life is actually astounding. I'm a little sorry it took me so long to get it managed properly! But anyhoo, the meds are the only way to continue this easy-breathing, no-morning-coughing-up-a-lung existence. So I guess I pay and medicate. Such is life.

So with everything done in such an unusually expedient manner, I spent my afternoon doing a spot of gardening. Sheesh it is sweaty work. Laying down more lawn-dressing and composting the plant beds in the hope that I can give the plants a little bit of an edge on the bunnies - haha, wishful thinking!

That evening, The Trucker was supposed to be having dinner with @Toxic_Mouse so I invited CollegeInstructor over for dinner. Was good to catch up since we've both been away :) The Trucker's plans fell thru and he ended up joining us as well. Was a good evening but definitely proved to me that I need a new home computer :( *sob* The expenses are just racking up. Also need to do my car service this month. Life is expensive lately. I've tried to break the house stuff I want to do down into bite-sized affordable chunks so that at least I'm doing a little something each month ... was supposed to be with the money I was saving when I paid off my car. Yes, that giant residual payment has to be made this month too! That's going to be an expensive day. But seems there are so many other things cropping up that are more urgent than the house ... #beinganadult. Urgh.

On Thursday, The Trucker finished work early and actually came over for a proper evening (has been a pretty disjointed week). We made dinner together and watched some series. He did some work and I lazed in a bath and read my book. Ah, bliss.

And that has pretty much been my week. Not much planned for the weekend, but I have booked a Surprise (my surprise for him this time) Date Night with The Trucker for Saturday evening. I guess the Date Night isn't really the surprise. The surprise is more in us each trying to one-up each other with the restaurants we try. And I have a good long list waiting for me ;) So if you have been to any amazing restaurants in Joburg lately and think they're worth a visit, leave me a comment :) Am always on the lookout!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

06 August: Nha Trang

Had a pretty awesome day today. Woke up late with no alarm at about 08h30. Got dressed quickly and headed down for breakfast before having a lazy morning in our hotel room repacking our bags and showering.

Our train this evening only leaves at 10pm so a lazy morning was just what we needed.

After checking out, we headed out on the scooter exploring a bit of Nha Trang. We ended up at the Oceanographic Museum. It was pretty weird. All these fish, sharks and turtles in tiny pools (not unlike Vinpearl's Underwater World). But then they had some cool skeletons - perhaps the closest I'll get to seeing a dugong :(

And a room full of jars that reminded me of the Huntertarian Museum. At the less than 1 USD entry fee, I'd recommend it so that hopefully they can take better care of the sea life in their care.

Then we headed to a shopping centre I'd seen yesterday. I do love to explore the grocery shops and see all the different things they sell. We had some delish sushi for lunch at the food court (so cheap!) and then went shopping!

Got Daddio all sorts of weird foodstuffs :D And found a new Fanta to try, as I do. So far I'd only seen Orange here till today. Oh, and I haven't seen a single McDonalds. Although there've been a few KFCs. The Fanta is Sarsi (Sasparilla) flavour. We'd tried a Sarsi Miranda too. The Fanta tasted almost Iron Brew or liquoricey (which I despise).

Also saw Seaweed flavoured Pringles that I managed to convince The Trucker we should try. Haha. Would you believe the chip was actually green?! Surreal. Not too bad taste-wise either, I thought. Oh, and we also bought a pack of Peanut Butter Oreos. Yes, please :)

After that we hit Nha Trang beach for the afternoon. We rented loungers under an umbrella from The Sailing Club and settled in. The afternoon was a blur of snacking on our weird new purchases, reading and swimming in the sea. Fantastic. It sped past tho and at 5pm our time on the loungers was up.

We decided to use the remaining sunlight to do more exploring on the scooter. We headed quite far North out of Nha Trang along the coastal road. Sunset was beautiful. Yes, those are the actual amazing rainbow colours we saw (below)!

Then we went in search of dinner. We had seen quite a few restaurants near where we'd eaten last night so headed back there. First we tried a place called Oasis.

We'd already ordered drinks before we got the food menu, which didn't impress me at all. That and they didn't have any Spring Rolls at all (although there were 3 differnet types on offer according to the menu). They didn't offer much Vietnamese food at all. The Trucker ordered a prawn cocktail starter and we decided to wait and see before ordering mains.

The Trucker didn't like the starter at all so we decided to move on. We ended up at a place called The Why Not Bar. Free beers with our mains :) I had some prawns and he had Cabonara (which is what he'd been eyeing at the first spot too).

We didn't hang around after eating. We headed back to our hotel, with a brief stop at a very unimpressive night market. We faffed around a bit then caught a taxi back to the train station.

Turns out our train was, yet again, an hour late. Less than thrilled.

Travel Planning tip: We booked all our sleeper train tickets online before we went with Vietnam Railway.

Also a little panicked because we got an email about a change in one of our flight times. They've moved out flight from Phu Quoc to Ho Chi Minh City later. Less than ideal because we'd given ourselves 3hrs to switch from the local flight to our international one (in a different terminal) to Siem Reap. Now we have only an hour and a half!

Plus I am even more panicked because I don't think I brought the credit card I used to book the flight with me overseas. I have no idea what will happen. Bugger & Damn. Like I need to spend my next few days worrying :( :(

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

05 August: Nha Trang

A better train ride than the last one, by far. But after last year's many sleeper-train trips, I thought sleeping on trains would be far easier for me.

Because of our late departure last night, we ended up arriving later than we were supposed to (obviously) in Nha Trang. Not really a problem for us because we discovered that we couldn't check into our hotel room, at Prime Hotel, till 2pm anyway.

Travel Planning tip: We booked all our Vietnam and Cambodia accommodation thru Agoda and I would definitely use them again when planning my own overseas accommodation.

The staff here are the least friendly or helpful of anywhere we've been in Vietnam so far. Also, they speak the least English, so maybe that is why. We seem to have left the French behind and have traded them in for Russians.

So we went in search of some much needed breakfast. After that we made use of the hotel's pretty freaking awesome rooftop pool to cool off. Unfortunately we didn't have any towels because we have no room yet. But we rented a scooter and dried off pretty quickly.

While having breakfast we'd spotted a long cable car across the sea to one of the islands and decided to go check it out.

Turns out it was the entrance to Vinpearl Land. Ordinarily really not my thing but, we needed to kill some time before we could get into our hotel room and we were saving renting sun loungers on the beach for tomorrow (which we are hoping will be quieter, being a Monday).

So, off we went. Meh. It was pretty average. I loved the 12 min longest across-the-sea cable car in the world :) After arriving on the island, we went for the Alpine Coaster. Exactly like what I'd used to come down The Great Wall in China. But this one could have 2 per cart and was much longer. Kinda fun, but not much adrenalin required :)

After that we took 2 spins on their Roller Coaster which was quite fun. One of those short, 4 people to a cart ones. Just the way I like it.

We wandered thru to their Underwater World which was very average. Nothing like the 2Oceans or Ushaka.

Then it was off to the water park which The Trucker was super excited for ... I've never really been to onw. Most I've done were the Muizenberg super tubes as a kid occasionally. It was pretty disappointing tho. After leaving out stuff in a locker, we climbed all the way up these awfully-sore-on-your-feet stairs only to be told that you need a raft thing for this super tube. #Sigh. Unimpressed.

We did gone down the Space Hole and I was terrified on the Tsunami Slide. We had a swim in the ocean and then tried the family slide. Bad idea. You're supposed to use a massive 6-seater round rubber boat-thing but we saw people using the normal tubes so we grabbed a double-tube and headed up.

Halfway down the slide tho, we gained a little too much momentum and flipped. I was quite sore after flying thru the air and landing on the super tube. Those things are not soft! Ouch.

Before we headed back to our hotel, we had a look in at their Indoor Games area. Basically all sorts of video games and all free. We played one or two before leaving.

Yay, back at our hotel we could check into our room and we lazed around there for a while, having a shower, charging phones and sitting on our balcony enjoying the view. When booking our accommodation we'd especially splashed out a little on a sea view suite here. Since it was a single night between 2 overnight sleeper trains - haha!

For dinner we headed off to Yen's at a friend's suggestion and we weren't disappointed. We shared a Beef Papaya Salad and a Caramelized Shrimp Pot. Both were delish.

After dinner we took a walk along the beach, which was insanely crowded. In fact, the whole beach front area (Apparently it is school holidays here). Great vibe tho.

We came back to our room balcony and enjoyed ice-creams while watching (and trying to photograph) the stunning moon-rise directly in front of us over the ocean.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin