At the end of the first part of our adventure, Tim asked our kids what their top places were and the top photos that were taken during our time in Vietnam & Cambodia. There were some similarities, but also a few differences that they highlighted – and their photos did not always match the memory… Here they are:
When you’re away for 2 full weeks it’s hard to narrow all the great things into 3 distinct moments, as so much of the trip stands out. From markets to floating houses and temples, this trip left many memories, BUT my three favourites were conquering (sort of) my fear of heights while riding an elephant up to Bayon Temple in Cambodia. Something I will probably never do again, but SO worth it!
The lanterns in Hoi An were another favourite. I wrote the initial blog post for this stop and it’s true that this city did not disappoint. The streets were lit up with beautiful colourful paper lanterns, and we all agreed we should replicate it in my parents backyard. Definitely two nights I will remember for sure!
As much as I was skeptical about an indoor cooking class on my last day in 35 degree weather, our final afternoon in Ho Chi Minh was both delicious and crazy fun!! I tried jelly fish (omg ew) and got to pretend to be on Top Chef running back and forth from the pantry to gather ingredients. Learned new skills for sure! This trip has been better than my wildest dreams and I am so grateful and happy to have tagged along for this part of the adventure.
My favourite photos actually match the memories!
Genevieve’s Highlights of Asia
Hanoi – I realized later on our Asia trek how much I really loved Hanoi. Being a big city automatically bumps it up my list slightly, though once in Saigon I realized how different and amazing Hanoi was compared to any other large city I’ve visited. The streets were “teeming with life”, quite literally packed both on the road, sidewalk and stores. It was an overflow of culture and also had so much to offer and do. Since this was our very first stop, we were super jet lagged and culture shocked while visiting it, and I’ve mentioned many times along the way how I wish we could go back to Hanoi now that we’re feeling more up to it, with the hopes of it being slightly less overwhelming.
Halong Bay – I think the photo tells it all on this one, a gorgeous, unique landscape that we got to sail around in for 2 nights. There truly is something soothing about being on a boat, and to be sailing amongst such gorgeous landscape made it one of my highlights of the trip!
Hoian Lanterns – I really liked Hoi An as a city, although it felt more
touristy than the other places we have visited. I found it really fun to go to
the tailor’s and get clothing custom made, as well as the lantern-lit streets. At night the streets were alive and so nicely lit with paper lanterns. The river flowed right along a nice strip of restaurants and walkway which we were able to enjoy both nights.
Noir Restaurant – I’ve been wanting to dine at a similar concept restaurant in Toronto for quite some time, so when I heard there was one in Ho Chi Minh City I was beyond excited. Starter, main and finally dessert made their way to us, each of which was a tasting menu of 3-4 dishes. We tried to figure out what we were eating and even at one point I decided I would be able to poor some more of my Coke into the glass which ended with it all over the table. I think the best part of the night was the summary (in the light) after dining in the dark. We got shown all the dishes that we’d had and were surprised at some of the unusual yet tasty dishes we’d tasted. It really was about the entire experience and showed us what preconception our vision forms when eating, and man was it ever humbling.
Food – I love food. Honestly, I really do! It seems that there is nothing that food cannot fix (especially attitude). Coming into Asia I reluctantly prepped myself for food that I wouldn’t enjoy, and that would make me sick. No preparation needed – the food has been amazing! We determined that we ate ~54 meals, and there was only 1 that I took a couple bites of and couldn’t finish – our last lunch in Ho Chi Minh. I think those stats are wonderful, and like I said good food makes all the difference and provides energy so you can go explore, and retain all the amazing things that you’re seeing. A couple of my favourites that I enjoyed multiple times were Pho Bo (Pho with beef), as well as pork noodle bowl.
Halong Bay: These two days were two of my favourite days in Asia for many reasons, the three main reasons are that we got to meet new people (some of whom we ran into later), there was great scenery and the temperature was slightly colder than the other parts of Vietnam and certainly Cambodia. On the two days that we were on two different boats on Halong bay, we met three sets of travellers that we ran into later on in our trip, one family we saw not much later in our hotel back in Hanoi, but two different small groups of people that we met on our boat, we also ran into later on in Hue. The second reason I liked Halong Bay was the scenery, the natural islands were so photogenic that I spent most of my time in Halong Bay looking through a zoom lens, while I may have missed some things, this was definitely a highlight and some of the pictures turned out quite well. The final reason that this was a highlight was the temperature, because it was slightly colder than the rest of Vietnam, it was great for helping us adjust between cold Canada towards warm Vietnam.
Noir: On the second last night in Ho Chi Minh City, we decided to go to a restaurant that gives you the experience of being blind while eating. The restaurant we went to was called Noir, which means black in French, a fitting name. in the restaurant we had no idea what we were going to eat other than that it would be an ‘Eastern’ menu. We had 11 different dishes throughout 3 courses and we were surprised to find out what some of them were afterwards, all around the food was amazing, and the experience even better.
Grain by Luke Cooking School: The last day that we had in Ho Chi Minh City we had a few hours in between checking out and leaving for the airport, we went to a cooking school a few blocks away from our hotel. We made three courses plus a fish sauce that is used in every single meal and course. The food that we made was great, even though I made it, and the instructor was nice, a good chef, and had fantastic English. After our meal that we made, they had already prepared us a ‘Vietnamese Crème Brule’ that was made from coconut cream. All around a fantastic experience and I would do it again with a different menu any time.