We shared Friendly Planet Travel reservation agent Liz Hutchins’ first-hand account of her trip to Vietnam last year in a blog post, and more recently, her review of authentic Vietnamese cuisine. But Liz is also an amateur photographer, and took many pictures during her trip, so we thought it was fitting to ask Liz to share her five favorite photos of Vietnam with our blog readers. Scroll down to see her choices.
“As I was preparing for my first trip to Vietnam, and my first trip to Asia, I bought a 32-GB memory card. I was determined to take as many photos as possible to make sure I’d remember my fabulous experience, and I surpassed 1,500 images. Of course, I still wish I could have seen more, but that just gives me an excuse to revisit this beautiful and culturally astounding country. Allow me to share with you my favorite moments:
Everyone always asks me, “What’s the strangest thing you saw someone carry on a motorbike?” This picture shows just one of the 12 locals I saw transporting TVs on their bikes. I think 40 inches was the largest TV I saw, but the biggest cargo I saw being transported via motorbike was a full-size mattress! Sadly, I did not capture this. Other extreme cargo included a stack of cages with chickens, a 6-foot-tall pane of glass, and a family of four.
I really enjoyed riding on the back of a vintage Vespa myself on our Vietnamese food tour. Taking pictures while holding on for dear life was a bit difficult, and they all turned out blurry. But the one thing that I’ll remember from the ride is that my face hurt from smiling so much. It was amazing! Read more…
Check out this week’s throwback Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!
We shared a bit about Liz Hutchins’ first trip to Vietnam in a previous post, but Liz has more to share with us! Read on for her personal account of experiencing authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
“The most interesting food I encountered in Vietnam was the infamous durian fruit. I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, and after hearing many stories about the world’s stinkiest fruit, I decided I had to try it.
I thought I’d be clever and try durian-flavored ice cream, and found it at Fanny’s Ice Cream Parlor in Ho Chi Minh. As I scanned the pristine ice cream selections, I noticed that the durian ice cream was not in the glass case in the front of the store, but in the back freezer. I became apprehensive, so instead of getting an entire serving, I asked for a sample to taste only. I was alone in my adventure, as no one else in my group had any desire to try it.
These signs should have tipped me off that I was in for an unpleasant experience. I had been warned that durian ice cream smelled like dirty gym socks or garbage, so I held my breath and just went for it. At first, it wasn’t that bad … different is the only way I can describe it. Afterwards however, oh boy! Every breath I took, every sip of water, every attempted bite of food, all I could do was relive that awful bite of ice cream. Sadly, I had to endure a night of illness and plain rice, as the dreaded durian got the best of me. I’m told that many Vietnamese people love it though, and the fruit is sold all over the country. All I have to say is … consumer beware of this funky fruit.
I certainly did not, however, lose faith in Vietnamese cuisine after this incident. As they say, when one door closes, an open window with delicious smelling food wafts through it. Case in point was my amazing tour with food blogger, cookbook author, and restaurateur Daniel Hoyer, who owns a restaurant in Hanoi and knows all of the best places to eat in this fabulous city. Read more…
Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!
Are you dreaming of wide, open spaces, and exploring the great unknown on an African safari? If so, you’re not alone. That’s why our Kenya Wildlife Safari is a very popular tour among our travelers.
We recently received the below email from Carol Schmidt, who recently returned from this 11-day tour. We wanted to share her email with you (verbatim).
“We just returned from the Wildlife Kenya Safari and one would have to say, “Hakuna Matata” about any concern I had after reading travel reviews that the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi was less than satisfactory! It is disconcerting that one could complain about the accommodations. While it is an older hotel, it is clean and in a great location, particularly given the short amount of free-time we had.
This location gave us a chance to go to the International Market and to see the Parliament and governmental buildings. I would rate our breakfasts at the Intercontinental as scrumptious and the presentation was incredible! Who could possibly complain about fresh squeezed orange juice, Kenyan coffee with hot milk, and a variety of over 50 feet of food choices? It was absolutely awesome and the service was superb.
Thanks to Vintage Africa we had an incredible driver, Dominic, who has an A+ personality, and is probably a mixture of human/animal/bird! Dominic could sense animals before they were visible and he knew their patterns along with having a vast knowledge of their behaviors and instincts. He astonished us with his mastery of the bird species. We learned so much from him and it was so obvious he loves his job!
This was the most spectacular Safari we could imagine and we cannot thank all the Friendly Planet staff and Vintage Africa for making it one we will never forget. Our accommodations, the food, everything was simply marvelous! Friendly Planet was recommended to us by an unfamiliar traveler we met in California; now we will recommend Friendly Planet to our friends and acquaintances and we will be back for another adventure with Friendly Planet in the future! Asante Sana and feel free to share the good words. While the leopard is often difficult to spot, thanks to Dominic, we were fortunate to see him up close and personal! We hope you will enjoy the photo.”
Thanks for sharing such kind words, Carol! We’re glad you enjoyed your safari vacation with us!
Life is too short to do anything that you don’t love. At least, that’s how Scott Calafiore and Christy Woodrow see it. The couple met in 2006, and began traveling the world together to pursue their love of photography and surfing. They started their travel and photography blog, Ordinary Traveler, in 2010 to chronicle their adventures for their friends and family. The blog has since taken off and become one of the top blogs in its genre.
We wanted to hear more about why Scott and Christy got started traveling, how they balance travel with their home life in San Diego, and what tips they have for other travel dreamers looking to get started. Read below for their answers, written by Christy.
1) What sparked your decision to begin chronicling your travels in the form of a blog?
We wanted to have not only a record of our travels, but also an online portfolio for our photography. The two-month trip we took in early 2010 gave us the motivation to actually build the blog and start writing stories. I realized how much I love writing and sharing travel tips with others, so it has been a large focus of our lives ever since that trip. Read more…
Check out this week’s Friday Funny from cartoonist Dave Blazek!
As more Americans learn about the opportunity to travel to Cuba legally, we’ve begun fielding questions about what the island is like, what travelers need to do to prepare for a trip there, what is and isn’t allowed in Cuba, and how Americans are perceived after so many years of embargo-fueled shortages of just about everything.
I have written my latest contribution to Huffington Post with those questions in mind. Titled “What to know before you go to Cuba,” the article covers what the people of Cuba are like, what Americans need to do to comply with the People-to-People license, and why, if you truly love to travel, you really should visit Cuba. Visit the site to read my thoughts in full.
Do you have more questions about travel to Cuba? Leave them in a comment and I’ll be happy to answer.