Faifooink Tattoo - Hoi An - Vietnam

Faifooink Tattoo - Hoi An - Vietnam

Faifooink Tattoo – Hoi An – Vietnam 

It was a rainy day. By rainy day I mean to say it was like a garden hose from heaven is was turned on full, deluging the city of Hoi An. Such rain! It’s the rainy season, and this level of advanced precipitation is average. Or at least that is what they tell me; I think it’s crazy.  

Faifooink TattooOne of the roommates form the Workaway program I am with here, wanted to get a tattoo. Travis (one of the founders of the Workaway program here) told us about a decent shop. With this knowledge in hand, we ventured over to Faifooink Tattoo – Hoi An – Vietnam (Link).

Braving the waterfall of rain outside, we motorbiked to the small shop a few streets over. Upon arriving, there was no one on the ground floor — just an open bar with empty seats. The slick marble floors beckoning for you to slip. *Pro-tip, if your feet are wet, dry them before walking on a marble floor. Following a sign, we made our way up to the second floor of what felt like someone’s home. Upon reaching the top, it was clear that this was someone’s home. 🙂

Faifooink TattooMeeting the owner 

The artist and shop owner, Mr. Viet, greeted us at the glass door of his studio. Viet has been making body art for a while. About eight years if I remember correctly. He was very laid back and diligent in his work. 

Read one of our previous articles here.

Faifooink TattooHe had met with my roommate the previous day to discuss ideas and the vision for her tattoo. She opted to get a phoenix rising on her side. It was an excellent selection for a work of body art. Phoenix birds have a lot of meaning, such as rebirth, growth, and renewal. I think everyone has a life event they can associate with this. 

Faifooink TattooThe process of putting down ink.

My self, I don’t have any tattoos on me, so the process was intriguing to witness. At first, they give you a paper print of the tattoo to place on your body. After some time fidgeting with it and finding the ideal placement, you hand it back to the artist. 

The artist then does the beautiful line transfer onto some carbon paper. When the illustration is on another type of paper, they cut it out and mark the location on the body you wanted the art. 

Faifooink TattooWith location marked, the artist cleans the area and applies a transfer solution. Like one of them stick on wet tattoos we used as kids, the art gets transferred onto your body. This is the last phase in the process; you can change something before the inking starts. 

With everything set, you lay down, and for the next few hours, you have a little needle poking your skin. Over and over and over again… just when you think you may have had too much, BAM – completed. Congratulations, you now have a new tattoo. 

Sparrow Summary: 

While I am no expert on the process, I have a lot of friends who are into tattoos. Sometimes I too want to get into tattoos. It is from my third-person perspective I say Faifooink Tattoo – Hoi An – Vietnam delivers some quality work at an acceptable price. My roommate is happy with the quality of the work, and it looks beautiful. 

Till next time, Cheers~ 😀


Trung Moto Bike Shop - Hoi An

The Trung Moto Bike Shop, Hoi An, Vietnam

The Trung Moto Bike Shop

Well, about a week back I bought a motorbike here in Hoi An. Its an (I think) a 3-year-old Honda Wave A (Alpha). I did some reading and should have done more. I read one post that said the Alpha version was crap, but I don’t know these things. Perhaps it was just a lousy bike that the author had?

The person selling the Wave A I bought is a friend of the vice president of the English Langue School that hired me. Given this, I just assumed that the bike would be of decent quality, run like a charm, and be a win. 😀 If only things were so easy, right?

Sidebar:

I should say that my bike riding experience was limited to one time in Indonesia and then a few days before this zipping around on the OLD Nuvoe motorbike at the place I am staying. Both times these bikes were full automatic transmissions.

Back to the story:

The bike I bought is a Semi-Auto bike, meaning you have four gears you click threw with your left foot. Pro-tip, if you buy a motorbike and you never drove a Semi-auto bike, the place to learn is NOT outside the dealer with people point and laughing as you cant drive a motorcycle. Then teaching you in a dialect, you don’t understand. Lol. Pro-tip two, if you never bought a motorbike, its a lot simpler then a car, but bring along someone that knows about bikes.

Fast forward, I learned how to operate the bike. The VP of the langue school taught me that night on a back street in the Rice Fields. With this knowledge, I picked up the bike the next day and was on my way. The first trip was to the Hidden Mural Village. When I got back from this, I was at the Dingo Deli in Hoi An, when pulling out the breaks snaped. Hahahaha, it’s not funny.

The person I bought the bike from came the next day and fixed it. I was unhappy as the bike was still not working well. I wanted to sell it back to the original person. But, he said he would take it back for less than I bought it.

The Trung Moto Bike Shop

Trung Moto on Face book (here)

Not really loving that idea (In hindsight I should have said yes) I went looking for a bike shop and found one, the Trung Moto Bike Shop. Puling in here was an experience. I was pulling into their shop, a bunch of shirtless guys working on bikes all stopped and looked at me. Like one of the scenes from an old Western film when the stranger walks into the saloon.

The owner, Mr.Trung, waved, finished a conversation then greeted me, we talked in broken English about the bike. He then went to work with skill and efficiency. You could say he was like a Samurai slicing fruit.

Parts came off the bike; parts went on to the bike. He stood up at times and yelled things to the other mechanics, who nodded and drove off for parts. He took off several times on a scooter and came back with parts.

Trung Moto Bike Shop

While waiting, I meet another expat, Arnold. Arnold is a 65-year young man covered in tattoos that left a job working state said heling kids with substance abuse. He just got back from Northern Vietnam, where he picked up a MONSTER of an old bike. A bike that Mr.Trung was helping him fix-up.

It looked like it was going to take more than a few moments, so I helped to clean up the shop, and took some photos of the space. I also returned a second time to get some new things fixed, and at the time of writing this, I will be returning for the third time (A new noise developed in my bike).

I also offered to help Mr.Trung get his shop online as he wants to “Awake” The shop again. So I may be back a few more times.

Here are some photos from the shop

Trung Moto Bike Shop

Awesum old tires in a pile.  YES!

Trung Moto Bike Shop

Wicked vintage bikes just waiting for the right person to come and fix em up.

Trung Moto Bike Shop

The starter of my bike all exposed. This was a Major Pain the ass.

Trung Moto Bike Shop

More vintage action!

Trung Moto Bike Shop
Mr.Trung takeing a break to “pose” for a photo!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. 😀


Making a Lantern in Hoi An - Sort of

Making a Lantern in Hoi An (Sort of)

If you have been to the Vietnamese coastal city of Hoi An, you will know its famous for its Lanterns. The abundance of lanterns started as part of a festival to promote good luck. The local people celebrated this festival on every full moon.

Read one of our previous articles here.

Making a Lantern in Hoi An

After the Vietnamese government opened its borders to additional tourism in or around 1997, Hoi An took off in popularity. Since about 2013, this once sleepy city started to see an even more significant growth of tourism and income. And that is for a good reason; it is beautiful here, and the lanterns add to that in spades!

The Lanterns of Hoi An are made of silk and adorn just about everything. They are in the trees, on the streets, on the art, on shirts, and in shops. It’s no wonder that tourists will want to learn how to make these glowing balls of happiness they see everyplace.

Making a Lantern in Hoi An

 

 

Here to experience culture, my friend Fredrica and I set out to make a lantern the other day.

The Making A Lantern in Hoi An Experience

We all have this Pie in the Sky visions of what something will be like. I thought we would be bending and shaping our lanterns, making Frankstine like creations that would fill us with more respect for the craft. The experience I got was more like a “paint by numbers” art class.

 

Making a Lantern in Hoi An

The making a lantern in Hoi An process went like this.

  • Come in and sit down.
  • The shop gives you a pre-made frame.
  • You have a selection of fabric (about six colors to pick from)
  • The shop will then cut the fabric into strips.
  • You will then glue the fabric down on to the frame with duck glue, three stays at a time.
  • The shop will fix any errors in your work.
  • Then you are done.
  • Cost: 120,000 VND.
  • Estimated time about: 30 -45 minutes.

Making a Lantern in Hoi AnSparrow thoughts:

Don’t get me wrong; I did have fun making a lantern in Hoi An. I did learn new ideas and can see how to some people that may not be significantly versed in handcrafts; or those out on a date looking for something fun too; this would be a good challenge.

The person who helped us was also just AMAZING. She was very kind and thoughtful. If only for the chance to meet and talk with a local about life, the 120,000 VDN fees are worth it.

Making a Lantern in Hoi An

While making a Lantern in Hoi An, two other tourists on vacation also joined us. Thye kicked butt too as well. Meeting other people outside of a bar is another good reason to do an experience like this, you meet other exceptional people.

If you are looking for an in-depth lesson on the art of lantern-making, I suggest you search beyond the lantern shops for a class. If you are looking for a lite (*Pun intended) evening activity to spend the night, then I recommend you try one of the classes.

Making a Lantern in Hoi An


Hoi An Night Market - 10/7/2019

Hoi An Night market - 10/7/2019


Hoi An has a few different faces it shows across the day.

In the early morning, it’s a sleepy face. The streets are quiet, and the occasional dog wanders past. The next look Hoi An shows is when locals start taking coffee. As the eyes of the city open, so does the sights of the town, with the tourist destinations becoming active. As the sun keeps creeping up in the sky, Hoi An puts on her makeup; the markets open up, sales start. Around noon, the heat of the day is crushing motivation, and the town takes a nap. When the sun begins to dip; however, the dinning starts and the streets expand with vendors. After this and into the night, the night market opens and shows its colorful face.

Read one of our previous articles here.

This evening I went out to adventure the roads after dusk to see what sorts of sorts, I could capture with my camera. Some of the highlights of this outing were seeings food vendors and just taking in the faces of the masses as they flowed past.

I don’t think I fully experienced this market and will come back for a second night for sure.

This is either a very band name for a bar or quite a genius name if you consider “The Fountain” by Duchamp ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_(Duchamp) ). Perhaps they are just very hip?

There were many stalls with frogs on sticks at the Hoi An Night Market. Despite my curiosity, I decided to keep on the vegetarian diet.

There were also a lot more “standard” foods like fresh off the boat (*Like they were taking it off the boat) kinds of seafood.

I watched for a moment, this stall they both seemed very concerned over something, I wanted to go ask them… ” Excuse me, I could not help but notice from over there, that you looked concerned… can you tell me why?” … LOL, I could just imagine how that would go.

Hoi An Night Market

There was also an abundance of cute little pups around.

Hoi An Night Market

And like strange glowing fruit, lanterns in every tree.

Hoi An Night Market

The night market is a special thing and you should experience it too!

Hoi An Night MarketHoi An Night Market


Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Located about 56 km south of Hoi An is the quiet beachside town of Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam. This town was not even on the map for tourists till, in 2016, artists from Koria and Vietnam collaborated to bring art to the wall of this city.

After this collaboration, tourists started to take note of this small city and make the 1 hr drive south from Hoi An to experience the art here. I was being Inspired by raw curiosity myself, and along with a desire to drive a motorbike, the other day, a friend and I set off for Tam Thanh.

The Drive from Hoi An to Tam Thanh

The vision in my mind was a lot of rice fields, small streets, and quaint roads. This vision was far from what the drive is. Directly south of Hoi An is a giant bridge, then a massive water park. After this explosion of new growth, you enter what I call the desolated wastelands.

Sparrow Tip: Make sure your gas is topped off before you leave from Hoi An; in the wastelands, you won’t find much rest.

We drove down along the coastline. While we did drive past some small hamlets, the bulk of the ride was wase treatment plants for miles and then a sprawling cemetery. This cemetery was EPIC. Monuments to the parted scattered in what looks like haphazard orientations, all in white sands. It’s on my list to go back and take some photos of the cemetery here. For this adventure, we were in a rush; as such, we drove on.

Read one of my previous artices here.

Entering Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

We were looking for a large mural or something to say YOU ARE HERE! But it was a soft entrance into the city. We even had to stop at one point to ask a local if we were on the right path.

But we did arrive. Just note that when you think you are almost at Tam Thanh but not sure, drive a bit more, and you will be there.

We stopped at a large mural and were impressed. It was what looked like a hotel but covered in jellyfish. Next to this were a bunch of the weaved round boats. They were painted to look like the sun, flowers, and more. These made for a tremendous initial impression of the city.

Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Traveling further into Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Jut down the road from where we parted the Wave Alph bike, was the city center proper. Here was what looked like the central art installation. White frames highlighted the picturesque ocean waves, while the blue horizons reached off over the horizon.

We stopped for some photos here; I also ventured to the beach to capture a few pictures of the marvelous looking boats.

While I walked across the sands, I thought of winters snow. If you lived with snow, you know the sound it makes on a cold morning. It’s a squeaking crushing sound. The sand was the same on this hot sand. It just squeaked when I walked on it. So very hot, even at 10 am.

Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

The rest of the city presented small moments of “Oh, this is nice.” Murals were popping out from around a bend. Or from down an alleyway calling you to adventure to see them. We ended up taking many photos of this city. Then as suddenly as we realized we were in the town, we were at the end of it.

Turning around, we walked back through the city to our bike, and with a wave, bid farewell to Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam.

Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Thought about Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

It’s a great idea. Art inspires people to see it. Art inspires people to experience moments with it. Tam Thanh is on a progressive track for sure. While the project completed in 2015, the paintings on some walls suffer.

A lot of the murals are well taken care of; others are not so much. Vandalation and time are taking its toll on the art. Construction is growing over some art, and others are getting obscured by growth. The change is life tho and adds to the history of the walls and the art.

I believe, to see this project fully bloom and be a more significant tourist draw, items like maps to find the murals, more significant signs indicating the city, and more art is needed. A lot more art! Like on every wall! Perhaps there are plans for this, maybe not.

Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

 

Is it worth the hour drive past an endless garden of white sands and cemeteries? I believe so, and I would recommend this adventure to those passing through Central Vietnam.
How to get to Tam Thanh from Hoi An

You have a few options for routes to a from Tam Thanh. Here is a link to Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/xfwzzy4dr1tGWZiA9

Here is the option we took down Tam Thanh, which was along the coast.
https://goo.gl/maps/LKNztJaxyp9nk2V4A

On the way back we went like this:
https://goo.gl/maps/HqHngGvwTrNQsZog6

The way back was much less exciting. I would have opted to do the same coastal route home to see some change in scenery. The way we took home was along a highway. No shade, just a hot road is speeding past underneath us. Around us, not much.

Google does list another way, a little further to the West; I am curious if this would be more through rice fields and provide a nicer rider. Perhaps the next adventure, we will try this route.

Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of VietnamRandom Notes about this outing.

  • Make sure you fill your gas tank before leaving.
  • Pack a small lunch to take with you.
  • Most shops serve drinks until later in the day. You may be hard-pressed to find a meal.
  • Sun Screen is important.
  • The beaches here look ASTOUNDING, Bring a suit and splash around a bit before heading back home.

Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam


Slice of Life passing by in Vietnam - 1

Slice of Life passing by in Vietnam - 1

Slice of life passing by in Vietnam
Slice of life passing by in Vietnam

The road is long, my friends, very long. When you think you have seen it all, you realize you have not seen any of it. I have started an ESL job here in Vietnam, so it looks like I will be in Hoi An for at least three months. I had to take this job as the funds I thought I would have, are not looking like they will be coming in. That is very disappointing and makes me sort of not like people. (* I sold my company of 10 years to people who said they would pay, but as the sparrow fly, they are not at the moment – this is a story for another day, however).

The ESL job.

Every day a driver named Mr.Tue comes to get me. I sit on the back of a Honda Wave 110. Together we drive across Hoi An, over some old bridges, past rice fields and more. The other day I took my camera with me on this ride. The goal was to capture some of the sights on the way.

Here are some photos from the adventure from Hoi An to my ELS job. I think these turned out good and will do another batch again.

Read one of my previous articles here.

This is an EPIC old bike I stumbled across in the woods one day. So many stories must be held under that chipped paint. So Many

We would set out for the school at sunset, and drive past endless side roads like this.

Over waterways with people on bikes stretching in the setting sun.

 

Slice of Life passing by in Vietnam - 1

Kids would be getting home or going out on bikes.

Slice of Life passing by in Vietnam - 1

Others would ride past as well on their bikes and not even take notice.

Slice of Life passing by in Vietnam - 1

Past large beasts of burden walking in from the fields after a hard day’s work.

Slice of Life passing by in Vietnam - 1 Also past a lot of flaming trash, just left burning on the side of the road.

Slice of Life passing by in Vietnam - 1

Past people working in their shops, fixing bikes, or just living, doing what they do.

Slice of Life passing by in Vietnam - 1

Life.  Its a slice of life for a second that was captured and now shared with you. Enjoy~


The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Hoi An 2019

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Hoi An 2019

What do 45 well-dressed men and women riding motorbikes together have in common? That is the question I asked my self at 9 am when I jumped on the motor scooter I was using and rode over to 9 grains bakery in Hoi An. The bakery was the starting point for the First ever The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Hoi An 2019

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Hoi An 2019 (DGR abbreviated), was an event to raise awareness for prostate cancer research and men’s mental health. Rides from around the world dust off their vintage bikes, waxed up their staches and put on a suit for this groovy cause.

Read one of my previous articles here.

The Day Starts

Ok, before we go on, I lied to you. I did not arrive at 9 am (that just sounded better). I arrived at 8 am. With my guilt released, let’s go on.

I arrived at 9 Graines bakery ( 441 Hai Ba Trung, Hoi An Vietnam: http://www.9grainshoian.com/ ) at 8 am. Sitting for a coffee and a Bai mi (Bread) I was not quite sure what to expect. In front of me sat a dapper-looking man. Striking up a conversation, I find out he is the owner of 9 Grains, and just launched a line of palm oil-free hand made soap. Super cool.

As nine arrive, so did the masses — bike after bike motored up to the sidewalk. Fancy dressed men that were looking sharp stepped of the vintage bikes with smiles. With each new guest, hugs were given, handshakes made, banana bread handed out.

Being somewhat new to Hoi An (Less than eight days), I felt a bit like an outsider looking in; however, everyone was super cool, and I met a lot of great people.

Drafted into service at The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Hoi An 2019

The initial goal was to see about getting on the back of a bike or car and then taking photos while underway. My goal was, however, not in the cards. One of the ride organizers as if my self and two other photographers could race ahead of the pack and take some photos when underway.

I agreed, and with that, I got drafted into the DGR.

Shortly after this, the two main organizers stood on some chairs and welcomed then masses while I famous local restaurant owner translated. With robust applause, a cloud of exhaust and engine purring, the ride was underway.

Zipping around and trying to get a good photo.

Never did I have to try and shoot such an event as this. First, it was a mad race to get ahead of the pack, then stop on the side of the road. While stopped and bracing a bike, flip on the camera, find a focus, then Oh no. Its too late and the riders are flying past. Dam, can’t they stop and let me get the right spot?

After this, you are again, at the back of the pack. With many a “beep beep,” I then speed past to get back to the lead. The cycle then goes again. Frustrating and exciting. Mental note, get your shutter speed set BEFORE leaving to dive a bike and snag photos. Don’t do this when bikes are speeding past.
.
The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Hoi An 2019
.
The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Hoi An 2019
.
The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Hoi An 2019
.
Photography woes aside, the ride was quite enjoyable. It was the longest time I have ever been on a bike in Vietnam. See the wold zip past while being in a pack of bikers, was a unique occurrence.

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Hoi An 2019The First Rest Stop

After about 40 minutes on the road, we got to the Mango Mango restaurant and bar in Old Town (45 Nguyễn Phúc Chu, Hội An: http://mangohoian.com).

Even tho it was just an hour-long ride, getting off the bike, I felt like an old fashion cowboy saddling up his steed — the long dusty ride behind as we shunter into the bar for a drink. Lol. I know, I know… it was just an hour-long ride, not several week-long trials. Still, this is how I felt.

At the door of Mango Mango we were greeted with fresh cold towels and serviced juice and soda. The restaurant was remarkable too. Poking around back, I met a man named Sam. He was the GM and took me on a quick tour of this three-story restaurant!

Back downstairs is where I meet Cheif Duc for the second time this day. Early in the day, he showed up looking slick, and I had to take his photo. Later I find out he is Cheif Duc, owner of the Mango Mango restaurant. Wow. He invited me to have a glass of champaign with him and a few others. Very nice. I have a mental note to go back and have dinner there sometime soon.

With fruit juice drinks behind us, it was time for a group photo. The photo went off rather smooth (All things considered). The crew stacked up in front of Mango Mango, we took some pictures and then it was time to saddle up once again.

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Hoi An 2019The last leg of the ride and, confusion.

Sometimes I wish I had a better lense, but you have to work with what you got. The plan was for the riders to set out from Mango Mango, go over the historic Hoi An bridge, make two loops down the waterfront then head on to the final stop.

I volunteered to stay on the far side of the river to attempt to capture the riders on the water with the historic Hoi An buildings behind them.

The photo plan was a feat of fitness that did not yield great results. I ran from Mango Mango to the far side of the bridge, the riders passed. Then I ran to the other side of the river. Running along the banks, I saw the rides on the other side. DAM, I did not have time again to get in the right spot. Fliping on the camera, zoom at the max… I cursed not having the time to get an epic shot.

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Hoi An 2019They told me they would do several passes up the bank, so I have a second chance! After about five minutes, I realized they were not coming back. This hunch was confirmed later when I was talking with a rider who said they took a wrong turn.

I was then on my own. My pack left me. Lol. Jumping back on the bike, I headed for the last stop on the trip. The end location was across the jetty over at Salt Bar (32 Nguyen Phan Vinh, An Bang Hoi An, http://anbangbeachside.com/salt-pub/ ).

The ride to the Salt bar was quite. It gave me time to reflect on the day’s event. Pulling in to the restaurant felt good.

Here they served AMAZING food, and it provided a location for some friendly conversation with the other riders.

I also meet London, who runs Hoi An Barbeque ( https://www.facebook.com/hoianbarbeque/). Delicious foods and I highly recommend him.

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Hoi An 2019Sparrow Thoughts

With the surf splashing, smiles, and conversation, I realized I had over 900 photos to go home and look through. A thought that both excited me and I dreaded at the same time. I realized that for this reason, I both do and do not miss having a desktop computer.

For the moment, however, sitting looking at the waves of the ocean crashing. Life was good. The first annual, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Hoi An 2019, was a success. Who knows, perhaps next year I will be here for the second.

Learn more about the ride here: https://www.gentlemansride.com

Or follow these hash tags:
#DGRhoian #gentlemansride #dgr2019 #ridedapper #jointhegentry

Thank you for reading and enjoy the adventure.


10 days on the road - Vietnam Update

10 days on the road - Vietnam Update

10 days on the road - Vietnam Update

10 Days on the Road - Vietnam Update
10 Days on the Road – Vietnam Update

Its been a little over nine days since touching down in Vietnam, and now only about1 week in the ocean side city of Hoi An. A lot has happened in this time from good to bad. I made new contacts, photographed some new places, and am working on integrating into the Vietnamese lifestyle.

I have also encountered a lot of challenges: both internally and externally. I also fought to overcome jet lag (*My dad did warn me about this), a battle I am just now winning. Feelings of isolation crept in at times, struggles to find a place to eat, worries about the future, choices made, and fiance woes lol. However, it’s only been nine days on the road. All of these feelings and thoughts are natural, and a lot of traveling people do get them.

Ten days on the road Vietnam
Ten days on the road Vietnam

Highlights of my trip so far

  • Flying from New York and stepping off the plane into Vietnam.
  • Exploring Old Town Hanoi.
  • Drinking Egg Coffee.
  • Driving a motor scooter.
  • Swimming for the first time at Cud Di Beach.
  • Hanging out with Dustin Bever.
  • Getting a motorbike ride to an ESL gig in a rainstorm.
  • Exploring Old Town Hoi An.
  • Meeting Travis and Joleen from HiddenHoian.com
  • Meeting Marissa from LoveMarissa.com
  • Meeting more locals and learning some Vietnamese.
  • Having great photos to upload to stock photo sites.

Some of the low lights of the trip so far

  • I think I have a small rash on the back of my neck.
  • Ankles are a bit itchy, believe it was that I walked too much.
  • Funding, I got to start to save more funds!
  • I am not feeling like I am making the most of this.
  • My headspace drifts to dark places at times.
  • Thinking, I can never learn Vietnamese.
  • Feelings like others are taking advantage of me.
  • Seeing a mountain of photos, I need to tag and upload to stock photo sites.
Ten days on the road Vietnam
Ten days on the road Vietnam

Upcoming events I am looking forward to

  • Getting a motor scooter to get around.
  • Meeting more locals and getting behind the tourist wall.
  • Exploring the ESL job in more depth.
  • Sleep normalizing.
  • Next team meeting at HiddenHoian.com.
  • Sunday is the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride then beach party.
  • Tasty meals
  • Getting my first pay from a few days of ELS work.
  • Doing more Veitnmease langue learning.
  • Taking more photos.
Ten days on the road Vietnam
Ten days on the road Vietnam

Sparrow Thoughts

I am sitting in a small cafe called “Thy Thy Cafe” at 562 Cua Dai here in Hoi An as I type this. This cafe is one that locals go to, and I am the only westerner here. As mellow music drifts over the radio of some female Veitmese singer I cant understand, locals are talking. They are saying words I do not know. However, kids are running around in silly hats, I have a cup of coffee next to me, and for the moment the weather is fantastic.

Rocks leave ripples when they get tossed into the water. These ripples fade in time, and the water finds its balance again. When you are setting out for a long time on the road, or even a short time, this is a big rock getting tossed into your life — the bigger the stone, the more significant the change, the more ripples.

I feel confident that the next ten days will bring with it more challenges, more woes, but also more moments of joy, more moments of awe and wow. With each day, the ripples fade further, and life goes on.

Thanks for reading!

Go on and enjoy the adventure!


Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam - The First Few Days

Hoi An Vietnam - The First Few Days

Hoi An Vietnam
Hoi An Vietnam

The Young Veitenimese lad dropped me on the streets of Hoi An after dark, and the journey in a new city started.

I have been in communication on WhatsApp with my host, Travis. After waving by to my driver, Travis and I met and headed a short distance up to the road to a pub called “Havana.” Here surrounded by photos of Cuban woman smoking cigars as we drank a “Bia Siagon,” Travs filled me in on the details of what they are looking to achieve.

Hoi An Vietnam
Hoi An Vietnam

My Assignment in Hoi An

I connected with Travis through the web page Work Away. He is the point person on a web page called “HiddenHoian.com.” This web page is all about informing tourists and primarily western speaking people about the many wonders that hoi An offers.

Hoi An is a city that is developing very rapidly. Land that ten years ago went for $5 – $20 a square foot, now goes for $100,000 if not a million in some parts of the Old Town. People that were once very poor are now quite well todo. All around Hoi An you can see the growth of new buildings and casinos are springing up along the road into the city.

I am very excited about the optuntuitines this city will provide as I dive into the people, the culture, and this work away assignment.

Hoi An Vietnam
Hoi An Vietnam

Exploring Hoi An and settling into life.

For a living location, I was put in a totally new home. The whole pace has marble floors, new appliances, and three floors. This, in itself, was an experience.

Heading out onto the street for the first time the next day filled me with a sense of adventure and excitement. I had to have walked around 20 miles. Exploring the various parts of the Old town before sunrise, up to an epic 1-hour walk to the beach to swim in the waves.

Hoi An has a lot of surprises, and I tried my best just to enjoy the moment, but I found myself, taking photos every few feet with each unique corner I turned.

Old Town Hoi An

Old Town Hoi An is remarkable. It was started around the 12th century, and since then the many peoples, nations, cultures, and traditions shaped the face of this city.

In the center of the Old Town is Ancient Town. This part of the city has the oldest buildings and the ancient Japanese Covered Bridge.

Sparrow Tips: You may get charged to walk over the Covered Bridge if you show up in a group. They tend not to charge single people, but if you are in a large group, you may have to pay a small price.

 

The Long walk to Cua Dai Beach

Travis told me about a beach that was at the end of town. After a long day of walking around, the idea of swimming took hold of me. Willing my legs to keep going, I set off to walk to Cua Dai Beach.

This was a 55-minute walk, but arriving and jumping into the very warm waters, I felt stress get washed away in the surf. In the coming days, I would be taking a motorbike every morning to this beach to do some swimming at 4:30, or 5 am with the locals.

Three Tigers Bar
Three Tigers Bar

Meeting Dustin Beaver and a night of fun.

Heading back is when I had a very unique experience. A young lad on a bike pointed and smiled at my mustache. We talked, and he offered me a ride back to the city. What a blessing; my legs were not too happy with the day’s epic walk.

Dustin and I got to talking and became friends. He is a great singing artist that is chasing his dream to be a singer. Here is a link to his crazy Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/mr.dustinwinn/).

That evening we set out into old town for dinner at a fantastic restaurant and drank the night away at Three Tigers bar, watching westerns and one Australian guy, act like fools.

The Following Day, 4 am motorbike ride to the beach

As I said, I fell in love with the beach. I set a goal to get to it every day and do some swimming. Travis gave me a key to an old motorbike and a crash course on how to drive the beast.

Not being one who drives these things every day, I thought it would be best to get my teeth cut in the AM when the streets were less packed than in the midday. Whit a dark sky still overhead, I turned the key, and with a surprisingly zippy jump, set off to the beach once again.

Scooters are fun as hell I tell you. They are zippy, have a nice seat, and get to where you need to be. At first, it was a bit… omg.. but then you settle in fast and there you are.

The morning at Cua Dai Beach

The morning time at Cua Dia was everything I wanted and more. The sky was in the blue light, the time of the day just before the sun comes up. Many locals were on the beach stretching, a group of ladies was blasting pumping techno music and doing acrobatics, old men were splashing in the waves, and the air was alive.

I did some stretching as well and jumped in. Waves were washing over, the sun coming up inspired me on a fundamental level.

Hoi An Vietnam – The First Few Days : Let’s see where the next few days go!


Hanoi Vietnam

Adventure and opportunities abound in Hanoi Vietnam.

Adventure and opportunities abound in Hanoi Vietnam.

Hanoi Vietnam
Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi sits in the north of Vietnam in the Red River Delta and is the current capital of this nation. Hanoi Vietnam bolsters a population of over 7.7 million and that many, if not more motorbikes on the streets.

In a seemly never-ending river of zipping face and beeps, moto bikes could be considered the native species of this city. Venturing around, you better accept that you will need nerves of steel to conquer (explore) this city.

The Old Quarter – Hoian Vietnam

Most tourists and some ex-pats opt to live in The Old Quarter, near Hoàn Kiếm Lake. This area of Hanoi is trying to hold onto its past. However, as tourism keeps rising, rents keep going up, it’s just a matter of time before Starbucks will start to pop up. But dear god, I hope not. As it is while on the ground in this city I saw a KFC logo adorning a classic building… this made me sad.

The wild charm of stepping out onto the streets in the Old Quarter and into the organized chaos is an experience every traveler should have. Its a magical experience to arrive from the airport, be ushed into your hostel or hotel. Get settled and then step outside. You get smacked by the noise, sounds, smells, and life of the street.

Pro tip: Embrace this moment of awe and wonder. Then shake it off as you will need your senses to be on point.

At the start of the 20th century, Hanoi, being composed of “36 streets”, the citadel, and some of the newer French buildings south of Hoàn Kiếm lake was a bustling city on the grow. Streets specialized in goods, from silk to bamboo. If you are quick with your Veitinmeases, you can see that the street signs still echo this.

The French influence is apparent in the building designs and the ever famous Banh mi French bread sandwich! YUMMY! At the time of writing this, one tasty Banh mi was going for between 20,000 VND ~ 45,000 VND ($1 or $2).

My First 24 Hours in Hanoi Vietnam

My first 24 hours in Hanoi vietnam were a bit challenging. My Western mind took a while to adapt to this new way of life. I found my self walking the streets looking for something to eat. Every place was just not right, or I did not see a place to sit… it was a strange feeling.

It was only after a day and a few poor choices that I began to see the abundance of food stalls and options that were available. Quite literally on every block, there is a food stall.

Pro Tip: To reduce your chances of getting food poising or sick, as a rule of thumb, only eat from stalls that have steaming food, and you can see them making it. Steam means the food is hot, this implies that the germs may have been killed. Also, look for stalls that have a lot of locals eating at them. This is a sign that it is a good place and the food has a high turnover. I say avoid the places serving western foods. They may not know the right way to cook this, and as such, this may have a higher chance of a food-based illness.

Its also worth point out. If you are coming from the West, you may be a bit put off by the food preparation methods. There is no FDA here to speak about. People butcher animals out back, clean them in the streets, and then serve them to you in the front. If you are up for an eye-opening experience, walk down some of the back allies, and see how the food is prepared. You may love it, or discover a new love for the hygiene standards the West imposes on restaurants. Just keep an open mind and try new things!

Hanoi Vietnam
Hanoi Vietnam

You are a tourist, best accept this and be on your toes.

Unless you live for a long time in Vietnam and learn Vietnamese, you will be a tourist first in the eyes of those you meet. I say embrace this. There are many benefits to this. The first being that people will be more happy to help you. I read a few stories of travelers who dress in bright colors. Why? Well, it’s not uncommon to have gate changes while waiting on a flight or a bus layover. If you stand out somehow, you have a higher chance of a local directing you to the right location if you miss the announcement. Also, locals may want to connect to learn about who you are and where you come from. It’s great!

But be aware. You are also a mark to some. People will come over and put a basket on you, smile and take a photo with you, you may think it’s just a friendly act, but chances are its cause they are looking for you to pay them. Or when you are distracted, you get taken advantage of. Don’t let this hinder your trip, just be aware that these things happen.

Pro tip: The further you get out of the “tourist” areas, the higher chance is that your interaction with locals will be more authentic.

Hanoi Vietnam
Hanoi Vietnam

Overley friendly can be a bit off-putting.

Do you not like to be touched? Well, put that hang up in the closet at your home. When walking around the Old Quarter, in some of the more packed bar and restaurant streets, you will be accosted with gestures to come sit. A lot of the bigger restaurants have one or more, I call them “fishermen” out front. These fishermen will gesture at a chair and say, “Sit here Free Beer!”. Some will even put their arms around you as four others come around, almost pulling towards a seat.

You will need to accept this and ether engage or just walk on past like you did not even see them. Yes, it sounds a bit rude, but if you stop for everyone who waves you over… you may not make it 100 yards from where you are staying.

In the end, it’s up to you if you will sit or not, but if you do slide past, be ready for the next person fishing for you to rest and have a beer at their location. It was a bit off-putting for me at first, but then, this is another cultural, its not the West, you have to adapt. So smile and enjoy the ride.

Getting around in Hoian Vietnam.

You have a lot of options with this. From cabs to the Grab app on our phone, to locals. If you choose to go the more “adventurous” route and snag a cab, get a flat rate from point A to B. If not you may be driven around for a long time as the meter clicks up. Lol.

Best to check with your hotel ahead of time for a pick up for the easiest method.

Another method that is more budget-friendly is the buss. Yes, when you arrive at the bus station, motorbike drivers will come over to you and ask, “Where are you going?”. I just tell them I am going on the bus. ONe they realize you are not going to hire them to drive you, chances are they will leave you alone.

Pro Tip about busses: You pay when you get on the bus. Most busses have a person that is on the bus. Just get on and sit down. Someone with a wad of cash will cove over to you. Pay them, and they “Should” give you a receipt; just hold on to this till you get off the bus.

Pro tip 2: If you are confused about what bus to take. Ask someone. By and large, people want to help you. Eat the ego and ask someone, even one of the moto bike drivers that tried to get you to hire them.

Hanoi Vietnam

Looking for a pleasant morning walk in Hanoi Vietnam?

The Long Biên Bridge is a historic French-designed bridge. It stretches across the Red River that connects two districts, Hoan Kiem and Long Bien of the city of Hanoi Vietnam.

For an exciting experience, get to the bridge before 6am. I suggest 5 am. Start on the Old Quarter side. Walk, so the river is on your left and the bridge on your right.

This walk for me was one to remember. At first, I was only one of a handful of people on this bridge at 5am. It starts off over a VERY BUSY food shopping location, then reaches out over the red river. The sidewalk you use is well, very sketchy looking. A rusty railing and the pavement is a quarter thick bit of concrete with a 50″ drop under it to the river. Every now and again, a block will move a bit when you step on it. Hahaha. It’s fun.

If you time it right, you will be coming back on the opposite side when the sun is rising at your back. People go for a swim in the river early in the morning, and the INSANE traffic will be starting, so you can get off the bridge before rush hour hits at full swing.

Hanoi Vietnam
Hanoi Vietnam

Pro tip: when passing on the bridge I recommend, standing to the side, your back at the railing, and waving the on comer past. You will get some nods of respect and, it’s a much safer method than trying to squeeze past someone. There are also pull off-break areas at regular intervals on the bridge. So if you need to stretch or you need to take a break, get to this area. You will also find locals here in the morning stretching.

Last pro tip. There is a commuter train that runs down the center of the bridge. Some people stand on the tracks for photos. DONT DO THIS. First, there is a live power line you can get killed by touching, also, trains faster than you, you have a high chance of getting hit. Remember, no unneeded risks.

Hanoi Vietnam
Hanoi Vietnam

Wake up early at least once in Hanoi Vietnam

If you only see Hanoi Veitnam in the day time after the sun comes up, you have not seen Hanoi. The Old Quarter is very different before the sun comes up. At about 4:30 or 5 am, the streets are quiet(ish).

The sidewalks that are full of motorbikes in the day time, now are empty. You can walk down the streets and enjoy the builds and cross the roads with ease.

It’s also lovely to see the Old Quarter come to life as the sun rises. Markets start to open. Workers and shop owners begin to full the Old Quarter once again.

If you see an early morning food stall with a lot of locals sitting and eating at it, join them. Smile and greet someone new, have a strange and wonderful morning meal, and perhaps make a new friend.

Pro tip: Even tho it’s early, be on your toes for petty theft. Don’t just sling a bag or camera over one arm, this makes for an easy drive-by grab. Also, don’t take unneeded risks like walking down a dark back street you don’t know. Stay is fairly main streets, keep your head up and don’t be a victim.

Hanoi Vietnam
Hanoi Vietnam

Sparrow Thoughts:

Hanoi Vietnam is a vast city that is growing. It has deep roots in the past and very modern trends developing. My experience has only been in the Old Quarter, from my conversations with travelers, the city has a lot of layers to explore. This includes sights to see and do outside the Old Quarter too.

Start your adventure in the heart of madness in the Old Quarter, stay for a few days, network at hostels, and then head out to see more of Hoian or Vietnam.

My next stop will be in Hoi An along the coast and towards the middle of Vietnam. While Hanoi Vietnam is the capital, Hoi An, many many many years ago was the capital. Excited to see what this city looks like.

Till next time, enjoy the adventure!

Learn More

Wiki on Hanoi : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanoi