Monday, March 9, 2015

Kid/husband-free mommy-vacay to vietnam.

In February, I did something that I haven't done since our now 3 1/2-year-old was born. I left the kid with my husband overnight for the first time, hopped on a plane with my two gorgeous Aussie friends from Singapore, and spent a kid/husband-free weekend in "chilly" (it was like 60-degrees one day) Hanoi, Vietnam. I was completely apprehensive about leaving my baby girl behind in Singapore, but when Mama Bryce decided to just go ahead and book my ticket for me... it's hard to say no:) Papa Saigh took two days off from work to be home with Linna, get her to and from school, and spend some much-needed quality time with his princess, while Mama Saigh was away on a much-needed mommy-vacay. I still have to pinch myself when I say, "When I was in Vietnam...", and I feel so incredibly lucky to have a wonderfully supportive husband who encourages me to do these types of things. I couldn't have asked for two better ladies to spend this mommy-vacay with. We literally spent two full days and three nights eating and walking around Hanoi. The only time we went back to the hotel was to change for dinner and sleep. Let's do it again soon, Mama Bryce and Mama Petts!

(I put Linna on her school bus in Singapore on Friday morning at 8 a.m., and was on a plane to Hanoi at noon. I sure didn't cry as I watched her school bus drive away!)

No kids. No strollers. Hanoi, here we come! This was Mama Saigh and Mama Petts
(middle) first trip without our kids and husbands. Yippy!

The currency in Hanoi is the Vietnam Dong. A million
Dong is equivalent to about $45 USD.

Brand new bridge that we crossed over on our way to our hotel from the
airport. Taxi drivers honk in excess in Hanoi. "Many beep beep!".

Mama Saigh on the balcony of our hotel. We stayed at the Intercontinental on Hanoi's Westlake.
Great location and a beautiful hotel that is about a $4 USD taxi ride from the old quarter of Hanoi.

View from our hotel at night.

Two of my besties in Singapore. Mama Petts (left) and Mama Bryce (right) are Aussies.
Having lunch at Cau Go in Hanoi's old quarter. Fantastic views, and even better food!
We actually ate here twice. The traditional spring rolls, lemongrass-chili tofu, banana-blossom
chicken salad, and pork belly rolls are to die for. We had our very first Vietnamese coffee here
too. Oh, and the lime juice is out of this world. I think we all ate for about $30 USD total.

Spring rolls, pork belly rolls, and banana-blossom chicken salad at Cau Go.

I still crave this: Lemongrass-chili tofu at Cau Go.

Our server at Cau Go with our Vietnamese coffees.

Mama Saigh and the very strong Vietnamese coffee.

Beautiful view from Cau Go's roof terrace in Hanoi.
Night view at Cau Go in Hanoi. We had dinner on our last night in Hanoi with Mrs. Pett's brother, Tim!
We stopped at a cute little cafe called Hanoi Social Club in Hanoi's old
quarter one afternoon for these yummy drinks made with real fruit and herbs.

Amazing passion fruit desert at Don's on Westlake in Hanoi.
This place has a huge menu, including burgers, Thai and Vietnamese food.
Great restaurant with a nice view, but a bit more expensive than other places in Hanoi.
However, we did enjoy some live music on the rooftop deck during dinner.

All three mommies with THE Don of Don's, and our yummy Dragon Fruit Margaritas!
This Hanoi man wanted a photo with Mama Saigh.
Photo courtesy of Kylie Petts of WonderLight Photography in Singapore.
Mama Saigh and Mama Bryce. Photo courtesy of Kylie Petts of WonderLight Photography in Singapore.

Random lady selling goldfish and baby turtles in Hanoi. I guess
it's considered good luck to buy and release a turtle or fish back into the wild.

Mama Bryce will have good luck all year!

Vietnamese woman making toffee on a bridge in Hanoi.

Temples around Hanoi's Truch Bach Lake.

Temples around Hanoi's Truch Bach Lake.

Cute little walkway going to the Hanoi Cooking Centre.

Time for some Pho! I am addicted to this soup.

Mama Petts and her Pho Ga (Chicken Pho), which was all of $4 USD. Nom!

A food market in Hanoi's old quarter. We watched as five dead pigs were driven into the market on
motorbikes, and butchered right in front of us. I could have gone on without witnessing this.

Food market. No idea.

Who wants chicken?!

Walking around Hanoi's old quarter.

These blue plastic table sets are everywhere in Hanoi's old quarter "hawker" food places.

We saw a wedding in Hanoi!

Hanoi's old quarter. So busy and full of life! But also full of honking and pollution.

Hanoi balloon lady. Apparently, these balloons are filled with a dangerously flammable gas.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi. We just drove by, as we ran out of time. Ho Chi Minh's
embalmed body is in there! Visitors aren't allowed to talk or wear shorts inside the Mausoleum.

We had a lovely chat with Pete, who is the owner of Tet Decor Cafe in Hanoi. This man is
simply a breath of fresh air. He's so full of life, and every part of his business has meaning. The food
served at Tet Decor Cafe is locally grown on his own farm, and Pete trains underprivileged youth in Hanoi
to work in his cafes and hotels. The food and atmosphere at Tet was beautiful, which is probably why we made
two stops during our three-day visit to Hanoi!

Mama Pett's breakfast at Tet Decor Cafe (she also took this amazing photo) on Hanoi's Westlake.

Mama Saigh got the same breakfast during both of our stops at Tet Decor Cafe. The baguettes
in Hanoi are absolutely outstanding, and something you won't find anywhere else! You can buy a
freshly baked baguette at pretty much an bakery in Hanoi for less than a dollar (USD).

Mama Petts and Mama Bryce outside Tet Decor Cafe.

A chef prepping food in Tet's kitchen.

WHY didn't we eat this when we were at Tet Decor Cafe?!

Random Vietnamese woman on the streets of Hanoi's old quarter.

Hanoi's old quarter is truly one-of-a-kind. A little bit of Bangkok, a little bit of NYC...

Organized chaos in Hanoi. Remarkably, we never saw one accident. This is the view from
Highlands Coffee on Dinh Tien Hoang Street.

Making shoes on the streets of Hanoi's old quarter.

These are everywhere in Hanoi's old quarter, but we never rode one because we
were told that the drivers tend to rip people off.

A local school in Hanoi. Like the power lines?!

Super skinny house.

This is a gas station in Hanoi. Crazy.

A random tomb stone popping out of the sidewalk on a backstreet in Hanoi.

Burial site in Hanoi.

Mama Petts took us on a walk through the back alleyways of her old Hanoi neighborhood,
and uncooked meat like this was a common sight. It's for sale!

Vietnamese woman selling fresh meat on a backstreet in
Hanoi... under an excess of power-lines.

Little kids without helmets on the front and backs of motorbikes, are very common in Hanoi.

Random Vietnamese kids kicking around a soccer ball on the backstreets of Hanoi.

Just a random pond/swamp in the middle of a neighborhood.

Super cheap and fresh fruits and vegetables for sale on every street!

Hanoi's Westlake.

Fisherman on Hanoi's Westlake would lay their fresh fish right on the sidewalk,
where people would just step over them.

Hanoi's Westlake.

I was shocked when I came home on Monday afternoon, to a spotlessly clean house, and more importantly a happy 3 1/2-year-old! I think Papa Saigh was happy to have me back home, but his time spent with Linna made a huge difference in our daughter's overall behavior. I think she liked the change of pace, and she had one of the best school reports from her teacher on Monday!

Thank you, Mama Petts, for showing us the beautiful city that you once called home. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that would have been completely different if we didn't have you as our trusted tour guide. Mama Bryce and I are incredibly lucky to call your talented and cultured Aussie a*s, our friend. Xo.

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