Postcards from Abroad

Whether your dream is to stay in a colonial-era bungalow in the middle of a tea plantation, an Indian princely palace, or to cruise in luxury the Irrawaddy to Mandalay, we never tire of searching for your next great travel destination. This is the place to share with us your most recent adventures.

Reflections, and Hectic Hanoi by James and Cate Fraser

HanoiWe arrived safely in Hanoi, and on time; just as in our previous internal flight from Ho Chi to Danang. Vietnam Airlines seem to get some bad press but we have no complaints whatsoever.

We really enjoyed Hue. The hotel, the Saigon Morin, was great, sits besides the riverbank and was an ideal place to stay, particularly as there were 2 excellent restaurants nearby. We can only recommend The Mandarin, where we had lunch every day, and Hanh's where we had supper. The bill at the former amounted to a total of £6 inc beer, while Hanh's came to £10 for many courses and beer. Sad to leave!


Our hotel in Hanoi is the Essence D'Orient which is right in the Old Quarter. It is completely and utterly mad here, motorbikes and cars jamming every narrow street, motorbikes parked on all the bits of pavement where people aren't sitting and eating. The noise is incredible as all the locals shout at each other at the tops of their voices. It is great fun and colourful!

Hectic Hanoi

Our visit to the Palace of Literature was intriguing, Vietnam's first university was established here. As you can see the weather wasn't great.

The temple of Literature

We probably picked the wrong day to go to Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum (Sunday) because the queue was appalling. Everyone in Vietnam had decided to go today of all days, many were groups of school kids. We reckoned we would have to stand in line for some 2 hours to spend 10 seconds filing past the body. Once you've seen 1 dead body......

Fortunately, our guide, Phong, worked a flanker and got us on to the site, through what appeared to be a side gate, so we could see the Mausoleum building from the outside. Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum had great banners either side, one translated as VIVA FOREVER THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM and just inside the tomb door was written, ' Nothing is more precious than freedom and independence'. Communist propaganda at its best as there are 4 million members of the party out of a population of 90 million! The tomb was guarded to the hilt by officious soldiers decked out in sparkling white uniforms, some had donned white wellies so watching the changing of the guard was quite amusing.

Ho Chih Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi's accommodation and the outside of the Presidential palace were well worth a visit. The stilted house, his last home, was fascinating: so simple as it was meant to give an insight into, and reflect rural living. He refused to live in the huge Palace, preferring much simpler accommodation. Shades of Gandhi?

James had some misgivings about the Water Puppet Show but thoroughly enjoyed it. It was cleverly
constructed but our advice is to read the programme so you know what it is all about because once the show begins you will not have a chance to do so. Great summary of Vietnamese country life interwoven with legends and sacred animals.

Hanoi is loud, crazy, compelling and captivating, very different from Saigon......not as smart which is very appealing.


Day of rest today. Halong Bay tomorrow. Hope the weather improves!

Hallowed Halong and Tam Coc by James and Cate Fras...
Vietnam 2 Awesome An Bang to heavenly Hue by James...