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Chapter one hundred and one - Beijing

A hundred and one train stations...it seems

all seasons in one day 22 °C

Day 361: Beijing, China 24/09/2012

Arrive in Beijing at around ten am, tired, greasy and bedraggled, with stinking hog breath and an emergence at a station different to the one advised by the stupid woman at the hostel in Pingyao. Manage to ring the hostel and arrange a pick up from outside the station and after a short minibus ride we are surprised to find ourselves at a Super 8 motel - not quite the small, independent hostel we expected the 'Beijing Dragon' to be. Shower, pull ourselves together and head out into the frighteningly big metropolis that is Beijing, China's capital and second most populated city.

A decent lunch sets us up for the afternoon ahead, though nothing could quite prepare us for the horrendous air quality amid the traffic strewn streets - the smog reduces visibility to less than a hundred metres and the first place we have really noticed it. No wonder Beijing is considered one of the most polluted cities on earth. After a bit of time trying unsuccessfully to get our bearings, we enquire into Great Wall trips before heading back to the room, both knackered after the journey to get here. After watching a DVD, we go out for dinner, discovering that crispy duck pancakes are not a myth and in fact taste better here than they do in any Chinatown....accompanied by a sauteed lotus root dish and some nice rice we leave well and truly stuffed. Worryingly close to the end of the trip.

Day 362: Beijing, China 25/09/2012

Today's goal is to get a few little gifts for those people we feel deserve a little something, so we head to the Pearl Market, which is lauded by the Lonely Planet. Well, we find it [i]eventually[i] after getting lost in a strange little sports shop district (some amazing tracksuits on offer here - think loud, think synthetic fibres, think 80s scouse with a Team China twist) and must say that it is a highly disappointing chavtastic tourist trap of an indoor market. About the only highlight was the food and a huge African man's ruthless haggling technique. Lots of idiot tourists and naming no names, the Russians and the Americans are the repeat offenders. Cue exit stage left to battle for a cab (some drivers trying to pull a real fast one) and a journey to the nearby flea market, which sounds deliciously tacky.

After paying about a pound to get here (some old lady cabbie quoted eight quid) we step out of the Hackney Carriage to have a million litres of water dumped on us as the craziest rain storm begins. Luckily, we have our jackets so we venture into the market, where most of the unfortunate stall holders have no such rain protection, huddling under parasols and draping polythene sheets over their wares to protect them from the elements. With a puddle about three inches deep around each and every item, there are bargains aplenty and a whole lot more interesting looking bits and pieces that in other circumstances may have demanded a closer look. Soaked to the core we take the 'short' walk to the subway station, traipsing and dripping for about twenty minutes in the driving rain to find a successful entrepreneur flogging ponchos to the hundred thousand people huddled under the station entrance. Looking like a pair of drowned rats, we expect the cold air conditioning of the subway system to make life miserable, being pleasantly surprised by the relative warmth of the subterranean den of the Beijing underground. After a soaking like that there is little to do other than dry off and eat.

Day 363: Beijing, China 26/09/2012

Sun is shining, Beijing is our oyster. A welcome change from yesterday's weather, we decide to take advantage of the sun, naturally heading underground. We take the subway to the Olympic Park, passing through some very shiny and impressive shopping centres (another successful Asian shopping mall food court lunch) and some rather striking - and clearly well funded - public open spaces and enjoying the improvements to the public realm clearly brought about by the 2008 Olympic Games.

We take a wander down the HUGE and intimidating Olympic Walk, flanked either side by the Bird's Nest Stadium and the strange, almost extraterrestrial, Aquatics Centre. A trip into the Bird's Nest reveals a seriously impressive stadium and it is incredible to think of the blood, sweat and tears that went into producing some of the memorable moments of recent sporting history that happened here. After taking the self-guided tour and exhausting the stadium, we jump back on the subway to Tiananmen Square - another site of important modern world historical events and another one to tick off the list. Bar the thousands of people, huge Mao portraits and some soldiers doing a little march, we head back to the hotel after it emerges that Mao's mausoleum is closed. We have an evening out at the Great Wal-Mart of China and an uneventful dinner.

Day 364: Beijing, China 27/09/2012

'He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man' - Mao Zedong.

'He who has not frozen his bollocks off and got a soaking on the Great Wall with the missus is not a true man' - Thomas Evans

So, off to the Great Wall this morning, doing it ourselves after looking at a number of tours before realising we have done every other sight off our own backs, catching the bus and listening intently to the Chinese tour guide (who is clearly quite amusing - or so the other passengers think). Arrive at the Great Wall to be advised that due to the incumbent weather conditions, ascending in the cable cars is the best course of action. Dry and warmish at present...

A tackier mess of things you cannot hope to see as the entrance to the Great Wall of China, with a horrible succession of black bear enclosures and crap souvenir stalls. A reject rollercoaster from a shitty theme park acts as the cable cars and immediately proceeds to give us a wet arse. We get up to the Great Wall and the wind and rain really give it a go, with the rain coming in sideways. Our hands are pretty soon a very pink, very cold and very numb. The wimpy Chinese tourists are all hidden in the built up bits of the wall, leaving the wall almost exclusively to us, allowing us to walk and conquer the wall in some seriously extreme weather conditions. Cue some great snaps and a decent hike back, before getting back on the cable cars and seeing the sun come back out. Typical!

Our last night of the whole trip (how are we here?) and whilst getting ready to go out for some dinner, I somehow manage to delete all of today's photos, which is disappointing. Crispy duck pancakes and a few drinks to celebrate the best year of our lives and try to block out the fact that we are off home tomorrow...

Posted by tevs 13:06 Archived in China Tagged food city china beijing great_wall_of_china Comments (0)

Chapter ninety eight - Xi'an

Enter the warriors!

sunny 28 °C

Day 354: Xi'an, Shanxi, China 17/09/2012

Our overnight train pulls into Xi'an at around five forty am, and we are soon fighting the sizeable crowd that have alighted our train for a cab, aided by Jason, our pilot friend from the train. Driven by our woman cab driver - whose photo licence looks remarkably like who I guess to be her husband - we soon find ourselves lost in Xi'an and unable to find the hostel we have booked. A quick phone call to the hostel helps us locate the rogue venue and we are checked in and settled down before half past six. This then begs the question 'shall we sleep, shall we not?' After agreeing that we won't, nay, can't sleep, we wake up about three hours later...

A nice hot shower in the brand new hostel (and the first shared dorm room of the whole trip - we had to try it!), with its pristine new pool room complete with leather sofas, sees us ready to go out and have a bit of a wander round. Taxi to station. Bus ticket booked to Pingyao. Getting the hang of this ticket booking thing now we have booked our last journey...

Stroll through the town for the rest of the day, through the some beautiful and busy parts of the city, past the bell tower and the drum tower, through the sense bombarding Muslim quarter and into a traditional Chinese Wal-Mart. A night spent unsuccessfully trying to find good food, ending up with some strange sweet rice porridge in the Muslim district and trying to get to know our new Ukrainian room mate Andrew (though I suspect he means Andrei).

Day 355: Xi'an, Shanxi, China 18/09/2012

Up a little later than anticipated (9am) to accompany our Ukrainian/Russian roomie to the Terracotta Warriors. A cab to the train station then a bus on to the warriors themselves sees us arrive at the right place at around eleven. After a bit of confusion on where to go, we buy our (quite pricey) tickets into the Warriors and face a ten minute walk from ticket booth to site entrance, passing the obligatory noodle stalls and stand upon stand of crap souvenir stands, though many are selling the much needed Alsation skins to the passing tourists. Odd.

Eventually find our way in to the pits full of the thousands of terracotta warriors. A seriously impressive piece of history here, with row upon row of individually made clay soldiers being preserved for a seriously long time (thought to date from the third century) with a huge number of them being found in almost mint condition. The most amazing thing about them is the fact they are all unique, from their facial features to their hairstyles to the tread on their shoes. No mass production plants in China back then! Lots of tourists here but only to be expected from such a world renowned site and definitely worth the trip out to see. Not sure how our Eastern European friend has found spending the day with us but a spectacle nonetheless for all involved.

We head back to Xi'an on the bus and make our way back to the hostel. We spend a bit of time chilling out before moving back into the Muslim Quarter and being disappointed once again by the dinner we manage to procure here. A large number of old people dancing together in the park makes for an entertaining trip back to the room and a couple of games of pool sees off a good day.

Day 356: Xi'an, Shanxi, China 19/09/2012

A quiet day in Xi'an today and with the sun blazing outside we take a stroll to the small park nearby, where I catch up with the diary and we get a bit of vitamin D. In search of a 'traditional market' a bit later on we find the map we have is referring instead to a fruit and veg market and though not as expected the usual suspects make an appearance as in any Chinese public space - the intimidating woman, the gobbing/retching old man, the small young kid with an ice cream and the small dog.

Continue our jaunt and end up in a trendy bar district of the city. The price is right so we sit down for a couple of beers. While away the afternoon with a few more and order some average food before hailing a cab home and packing the bags in a slightly inebriated state...

Posted by tevs 14:03 Archived in China Tagged food traditional city china xian Comments (0)

Chapter ninety two - Hong Kong

Genuine copy Rolex, sir?

overcast 32 °C

Day 337: Hong Kong, Hong Kong 31/08/2012

Up early, a slap dash beard trim and a quick drink and we are out the door past the newly acquired antiques sourced last night and en route to the airport before our eyes even have time to focus properly. In need of a decent couple of hours sleep and a substantial breakfast after the beer took precedent over a decent dinner last night. Cue a trip to Duty Free and McDonald's for a camera and a couple of McMuffins. Just your standard Friday morning purchases really.

We are soon on the second last flight of the trip (sob) and the apprehension and excitement of the prospect of a new country - such a familiar feeling this year and one we shall miss - manifests itself in the pit of our stomach. Not only are we heading to another new territory, we are also heading into the unknown, with China being very much a place we have afforded little thought, due partly to its position at the very end of the itinerary and our denial that the final chapter would ever come...despite this the excitement and buzz of moving on to a new place is one of the great things we will remember from this year.

Some good treatment on our A380 flight and a welcome catnap sees us through the flight to Hong Kong and after a brief foray into the Business Class section of the cabin for some photos for the old man and his unhealthy Airbus obsession we are catching a bus into Kowloon in search of somewhere to stay. Forty minutes after boarding the bus to Kowloon, we pull up outside Chungking Mansions, a tried and tested centre of affordable backpacker accommodation, but a truly barmy set up to boot. Take one part 1960s high rise council block, one part Indian bazaar and a pinch of labyrinthine qualities and a multi-cultural melting pot and you get one overpriced, undersized bedroom, the sizer of a double bed and with a tiny en suite bathroom, ours with a genial and kindly old Chinese owner. Run out for some noodles and get our heads down for an earlyish night.

Day 338: Hong Kong, Hong Kong 01/09/2012

Awake refreshed in our attractive cell and despite the best efforts of the clunking, sputtering air conditioning unit and the paper thin pillow, we wake up feeling slightly less tired than we did yesterday. Our room in Chungking Mansions is situated on Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare through Kowloon and a beacon of absolute chaos, swathes of neon lights and a never ending snake of traffic. We take a stroll down to the waterside and after taking in the scale of the skyline, catch one of the ubiquitous Star Ferries across to Hong Kong Island (we are on the romantically named [i]Twinkling Star[i]) and at 30 pence an absolute bargain for one of Hong Kong's must do's.

Arrive at a damp Hong Kong Island and after getting our bearings we purchase ourselves a huge plate of noodles and gorge ourselves silly. The rest of the day is spent walking around Hong Kong Central, which seems a little disappointing given the buzz surrounding everything in Kowloon. We visit the very boring Western Market and see a graduate art exhibition at the HK Arts Centre before catching the ferry back and making our way back up the very busy Nathan Road to the Temple Street night market for a bit of retail therapy. A couple of bargains is followed by a very strange and overpriced dinner before we call it a night and make our way back to the Shoebox Inn, where the old man greets us with his customary 'welcome' and his wife makes an appearance to join in. Bed.

Day 339: Hong Kong, Hong Kong 02/09/2012

Another night's sleep that rates no more than 'satisfactory' in the Tommy Evs scale of sleep satisfaction sees us up and about in the shoebox reasonably early, trying to pack the bags in the ridiculous amount of available room. Leaving Chungking Mansions on a mission to buy some bus tickets to Guangzhou, I am offered 'has, marijuana, coke' twice in the space of approximately three seconds. Emerging triumphantly from the bus station and walking down Nathan Road with two bus tickets under my arm, I develop quite the sweat before we head out for another day in the big city. Our tour of Kowloon incorporates a very good lunch and a stroll through Kowloon Park. Here we sample the delights of the pensioners' trim trail (manage to hit the 'advanced' level of six chin-ups) and take in the laid back Sunday atmosphere. Amid hordes of domestic workers enjoying their day off gambling, gabbing and gobbling picnics we catch the rays and find ourselves sat watching a reasonably decent six-a-side tournament. Miss playing and make a note to self (get fit).

A trip back to the market to pick up a few bits and pieces is followed by a great noodle soup. We have the obligatory Sunday Night Skype and are well and truly stung for printing a few confirmation emails out...

Posted by tevs 13:19 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged food markets city busy hong_kong Comments (0)

Chapter eighty eight - Sydney

all seasons in one day 12 °C

Day 312: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 07/08/2012

After a refreshing two hours' sleep we touch down in Sydney, breeze fairly easily through customs and are kindly met at the terminal by Gemma's cousin John. Amazingly, the Pakistani woman who tried to board the plane without a ticket is one of the first at the baggage carousel to claim her stuff. To say the eight degrees celcius outside feels a bit chilly given the last ten months is an understatement and we are happily soon in the back of John's car on our way to the first 'proper' cup of tea of the trip. A quick shower at John and Nele's lovely flat soon blows the cobwebs of the flight away and before long we are on our way out to see the sights.

First impressions of Sydney - and Australia - are very, very positive, with the area in which J&N live being home to countless terraces of beautiful houses, all cast iron balconies and bay windows. The 'normality' of the roads after ten months in Asia is a big shock to the system (as are the prices...) but all is good as we board the ferry at Double Bay and head for Circular Quay, home to the postcard shots of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour bridge. My perceptions of these buildings/structures being cliched are blown apart, and as we sip a couple of beers in the shadow of the Opera House, any misconceptions we had about Australia and what we should expect from our time here, are laid to rest. With friends and family here, we could not ask for better hosts and we start to look forward to the next three and a half weeks and what it will bring.

After a quick lunch - and some welcome 'home' food (who'd have thought a pie would be so good?) - Nele heads back to the flat to sort some things out and John shows us some of the local pubs. A more pleasant, cleaner and more relaxing environment in which to have a few bevvies could not be found and before long we have whiled the afternoon away. Over a good dinner I am somehow roped into running the world's biggest fun run on Sunday, the 14km City 2 Surf event. Great! I am very well prepared for this...We manage to stay up until 2am somehow before hitting the hay.

Day 313: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 08/08/2012

A great sleep and a well deserved lie in (we have had a tough time of it this year!) is followed by a nice cup of Rosie Lee. Given the beautiful weather outside - unusual for this time of year apparently - our hosts take us down to Bondi Beach and beyond. Another cliche blown apart by actually visiting it, Bondi is actually a really great place to spend some time - the beach is long and wide, the sea is clear and blue and the surf is up. The skatepark on the beachside further compounds my admiration for the place.

We then take the Bondi to Coogee walk over the clifftops, with some stunning views and some rather nice properties overlooking the sea. The traditional end of hike Aussie meal (McDonald's) further sells Sydney to us and the bus back to their flat passes some big parks and cricket grounds. A trip care of John and Nele to a quiet spot overlooking Sydney harbour at sunset introduces me to Heartbreak Hill, a half mile piece of hell that makes Gladiators' travelator look friendly, which is part of the City 2 Surf route. John rustles up some meatballs for dinner and after some Olympic action from a faraway land we head to bed.

Day 314: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 09/08/2012

After another great night's sleep John takes us for a brisk walk around the local park, which has lots of public facilities including playing fields, an equestrian centre and a heap of public barbecues for use for a nominal fee. Nice. A spot of lunch at the Sailing Club at Double Bay is followed by a trip to see all the nearby sights, including 'The Gap' - a suicide hotspot but also a beautiful part of the city - Shark Beach and Camp Cove, which has some dream properties on it. We then take a quick stroll up the cliff towards Lady Bay Beach. This involves taking in some more sights than we originally hoped for, as John 'remembers' that it is a nudist beach. 'There won't be anyone there on a blustery day like this...'Oh. We have to tell one of the men on the beach that it's rude to point. Ahem.

A trip to the supermarket for tea is followed by some decathlon pole vaulting action - who invented this event? - and bed.

Day 315: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 10/08/2012

A very short entry today. We are left to our own devices as John and Nele are at work today. The weather outside is positively Novemberish Manchesterish - rain, wind and cold - so we have a day in front of the tv enjoying a few brews. Our big day out eventually sees us venture into the nearby Westfield centre at about four and after braving the gale and getting some supermarket produce we return to the flat over an hour later. Roast chicken, mash and veg lifts the spirits.

Day 316: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 11/08/2012

A marginally more eventful day than yesterday and after dragging ourselves out of the very comfortable bed we decide to do something with the day ahead. We head out on the bus, with Circular Quay in mind, and find ourselves alighting slightly earlier than expected in the trendy Paddington district of the city. Here we visit the Saturday Paddington Market, where there are lots of bargains on offer at ten to fifteen times the price of those in the Bangkok markets. Still, some nice stuff available.

After visiting some nice shops, getting some trousers for next week's wedding and passing some nice looking bars and restaurants, we visit a rather cool coffee shop/second hand bookshop and get a Lonely Planet for the China leg of the journey. We then find ourselves back at the harbour, which looks completely different lit up at night and get some nice photos.

We get the bus back to the flat and embark on a carb load for tomorrow's 'fun' run. After months of (delicious) Asian food, pasta is a nice return to the diet and after a quick skype it is time for bed and a rest before the day of reckoning.

Day 317: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 12/08/2012

So then, the day has come for the City 2 Surf. Up at six to don my shorts and trainers and with me nervously glancing at the clock, Gemma kindly makes me some breakfast. Soon on the bus and seemingly sooner still find myself at the start line. There is an enormous crowd here - allegedly there are over eighty thousand people running (the biggest fun run in the world I am reliably informed) - and before I know it...we're off!

Start the race at a blistering pace, thinking this is a bit of a breeze. Soon flag however, with the hedonism of the past few months catching up with me with a vengeance. An attempted murder by Heartbreak Hill does little to dampen my spirits, and despite nearly throwing up when a cup of Gatorade goes down a bit wrong, I start to think we must be getting close. Then the 8km marker rears its ugly head and the realisation that we are only just over halfway dawns on a few of us runners I think! Anyway, ignoring the stunning scenery of the route the run takes due simply to the lack of oxygen reaching my brain I am at the finish line before I know it and an enormous sense of relief and joy sweeps over me. A time (I later learn) of seventy six minutes is not too bad all things considering and I am reasonably proud of myself. If only I was fitter...one to work on when we get back I think.

After forty five minutes spent finding Gemma and braving the biting wind blowing onshore from Bondi, we are soon in a VIP hospitality tent care of Jon, our friend from the Gili islands. Some great food, some unsuitable recovery drinks and a good massage later, we bid goodbye to him again and thank him for the invite! With bags of freebies in tow, we sit down for a drink in Bondi, where we meet an older Brummie couple and during Happy Hour the day catches up with me and I doze off in my chair. A quick dinner and a well earned early night follow. Exhausted! Gemma tells me how proud she is! If only I was fitter...If only I was fitter...zzzzz.

Day 318: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 13/08/2012

Arise ever so slightly sore today and with the sun back in the sky we decide to make a day of it. A bus to Circular Quay opens a world of possibility and after watching an Aborigine play his didgeridoo we catch the ferry across to Manly. A very choppy crossing is compensated for by yet more fantastic views and after arriving we spend a very windy afternoon on the beach. Glad to be wearing a hoody!

The lactic acid builds up progressively during the day and soon my legs are giving way underneath me. A touch of the green eye as we spy people running out of their front doors and straight into the sea with their wetsuits and their surfboards. A bit nice for them really. We grab a great steak for dinner and prepare for tomorrow's early morning flight.

Posted by tevs 02:29 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches opera_house sydney food harbour city run bars Comments (0)

Chapter seventy nine - Hoi An

Hoi An, Hi Anne and tailors

sunny 31 °C

Day 277: Hoi An, Vietnam 02/07/2012

Another complimentary breakfast at the hotel, with me getting a beef noodle soup (good) and Gemma receiving a nice portion of dry bread and jam (not so good). Spend a little bit of time in the room watching the telly before we head out for a spot of lunch, thinking of trying the Why Not bar again. Despite having been there twice before, passing it at least fifteen times as we have walked around the town and it being literally round the corner from the hotel and with time being of the essence before our impending bus trip to Hoi An, we find ourselves hopelessly lost. We eventually plump for another place just down the road, watching the clock and panicking that our banana blossom salads would see us miss our coach and have to walk the couple of hundred miles down the coast to Hoi An.

We soon make it back to the hotel where, after panicking about missing the bus, we end up waiting about twenty minutes to be picked up. When we are summoned to the bus, Ruby the hotel manager and our bessie mate for the past two days, runs out to hug us goodbye. And so onto the bus, where the panic of being lost and potentially missing the bus subsides to the nervous energy of knowing an Evans family reunion is just a couple of hours away! We arrive in Hoi An a couple of hours later, where it is near impossible to get a taxi and seemingly more impossible to find the hotel we have been booked into. Eventually find the hotel, check in and they arrive. Gemma jumps out at Billy from around the corner of the corridor, leading to a manly scream from the little fella. It is great to see them again - travel tired Dave, Ozzy and the giddy younger sister, as well as the suave, sophisticated younger bro (haha he wishes) - and after a few drinks we skedaddle out for a bite to eat. We make it third time lucky in finding somewhere to eat, as the joys of being in a group sees us sit down at two places and leave without ordering. A nice dinner eventually ensues in Hoi An town, which is a lovely, decadent and atmospheric old place, full of history and street traders helpfully asking 'want buy something?'

Day 278: Hoi An, Vietnam 03/07/2012

Awoken at half seven by the annoying kid siblings. Make our way down to the small restaurant area and have a superb slap up breakfast - fresh baguettes, bacon, eggs, fruit and Vietnamese dishes. And unlimited portions (would love to say this was not abused but I can't). A morning round the pool follows under the intense coastal sun and very nice it is too. A bit of luxury for the world weary traveller goes a long way and despite being quite used to a bit of luxury recently, is of course much appreciated.

On Billy's instruction we head for lunch (he hates the two meals a day routine he normally 'endures' on holiday apparently). We take a stroll around the town, taking in as much history and culture as possible, supplemented by a few extortionate 4000 dong beers. Enough said I think. A decent day/evening follows and we have a great dinner, taking advantage of some generously priced set menus...

Day 279: Hoi An, Vietnam 04/07/2012

A similar morning to yesterday sees everybody take advantage of the incredible breakfast on offer at the Windbell Homestay. The one difference from yesterday is rather than knocking on each other's doors we utilise the latest in modern technology and ring each other from the in-room phones. Small things.

We are poolside for most of the day and enjoy a lunch of fresh, crusty, very generously filled baguettes (the French colonialism left some good points it seems) and then enjoy an afternoon in the town, with the sights, sounds and smells of Asia again capturing the imagination, for us not for the first time, but still so new to the rest of the rabble, making it doubly exhilarating. The girls find themselves in a tailor shop, which as will become apparent, sparks the beginning of a timeless love affair.

Another excellent dinner in the town - Hoi An is a culinary hotspot - before picking some drinks up from the old lady we have befriended up the road. These accompany an epic evening of Uno. Game after game in fact.

Day 279: Hoi An, Vietnam 05/07/2012

See yesterday morning. Repeat process. Take advantage of the 'unlimited' word printed on the menu. Boyz n the hood become boyz n the beach as me, Billy and the father head to the seaside, which is a short taxi ride away. A very hot morning at the beach, which is wide, sandy, clean and very pleasant. The water is a bit colder than we have been used to in the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean. We get back for lunch time, where the girls are still in the exact same position by the pool as when we left. Tough for some...

We head to the town for the afternoon again, where the girls coerce me into the tailor they have befriended and I end up being measured up for a suit. Another huge set menu is eaten by all, and before long me and my mummy are enquiring into having a cooking lesson in the kitchen at some point this week. The evening concludes with that age old tradition of making a six person bed up in the parents room, watching a film and duly all falling asleep.

Day 280: Hoi An, Vietnam 06/07/2012

The silence of the dawn is broken at six am as the local community coffee shop sets its speakers to loud and plays some seriously bad dance music to do the neighbourhood a favour and wake everyone up. Back to the beach for the boys after another decent breakfast and yesterday's formula is pretty much repeated. Upon our return myself and Billy are sent for baguettes for lunch and return with an epic lunch.

Back to the tailor's for the afternoon and the await the suit to be run up. Rosie picks up her bridesmaid's dress and looks stunning. Gemma is also up to something...We go for another great dinner in the town and before long me and Delia are enrolled in a cooking lesson for tomorrow morning. Bargain. The evening ends with some more Uno, a classic family game for people of all ages.

Day 281: Hoi An, Vietnam 07/07/2012

The usual drill at breakfast is followed by a stint in the kitchen for mother and me, who are the only people in the kitchen to enjoy becoming the proteges of the local celebrity chef. We learn some excellent dishes and before long have mastered the chilli, lemongrass and garlic fried fish in banana leaf, stir fried squid, wantons and our very own spring rolls. Every time I tried to make it look like I knew what I was doing, I managed to make it go horribly wrong. The lesson results in some special food we take back to share with our very 'special' buddies. This goes down a treat. The food that is, not this description of my family.

An afternoon at the pool goes swimmingly, with a couple of frosty ones to help while away the time. We make another quick visit by the tailor in the early evening, where some minor adjustments are made to my suit and whatever it is Gemma has been up to that requires such secrecy and mystique...an afternoon of hush hush secret missions. For some reason Billy is chosen to accompany G for THE dress fitting.

We have a couple of beers waiting for the bride and best man before we head for tea at the place I was very close to being offered the head chef position at earlier. We avoid the things on the menu that we made earlier. Billy takes us to his favourite bar in Hoi An, one he discovered during his previous visit to Hoi An, Why Not bar. Well, I can give you a hundred reasons why not. It's expensive, it's a decent hike out of the town centre, it's poor, it was completely dead, it was rubbish. I could go on. Cheers Billy.

Day 282: Hoi An, Vietnam 08/07/2012

Our last day in Hoi An is celebrated with a breakfast before we are straight up and out and about. The girls head to the tailor for some last minute minor details and a John Cena cinematic masterpiece. After a very brief swim we all decide to go and join the girls in town, which is easier said than done, as they are not where we expect them to be. We decide to take a minute and sit down for some very cheap drinks. We eventually find the girls after taking a detour down a few alleyways on Anne's instructions to get a 'new perspective' on the town. With the girls in tow we have some lunch where nine baguettes are devoured by six hungry people.

We make our way back to the hotel and pack our stuff ready for the journey down to Nha Trang tomorrow. We head for the last supper in Hoi An, a great place to visit and one to cherish for our time with the family. An early morning awaits so an early night entails.

Posted by tevs 18:53 Archived in Vietnam Tagged food beach vietnam hoi_an tailor Comments (0)

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