Vietnam: Part 2 – Central

Vietnam: Part 2 – Central

Mar 15-Mar 26, 2019

The Sleeper train

The train ride… oh the train ride. So let me start off by saying, we’ve never taken an overnight train. So I was a little wary. When we booked our beds, we couldn’t get a 4 bed bedroom (2 beds on each side). We had to do a 6 bed bedroom (3 beds on each side). We could only book the top two and the bottom, the rest were taken by STRANGERS! The rooms were tiny from what we could see on Youtube. So I was already wondering exactly where all our bags would go, who would we be with in the compartment, was there AC, would they snore, what would it be like to be on a train with the train noise and shaking, what was the toilet like, what if there were bed bugs or cockroaches like the YouTube videos showed… There was nothing exciting about this, it was all foreign and outside my comfort zone.

We get to the train station and it begins to fill up. Finally it’s time to board the train. We get on, walk down the tiny corridor to our room, open the door and there are our bunk mates who all don’t speak English. There was a huge Styrofoam box on the ground and I was already starting to wonder where we would put all our backpacks. I get quiet when I’m really stressed. I go way inward. So Luc kept asking what was wrong. There was no way to answer it. Everything about this felt so weird and uncomfortable.

There was a pillow and blanket on each plastic bed but I didn’t want to use their blanket so I pulled out my silk liner from the Camino and laid it on top of the pillow. There was a USB charger for my phone which was a bonus. We all got into our beds (fully clothed) and tried to fall asleep. I of course couldn’t. I started to wonder, did Vivi go pee? What would happen if she had to go pee in the middle of the night, how would she get down from all the way up there? Where was the bathroom? What if I got robbed? I’m telling you… I thought about train derailments… just about everything that could go wrong. I threw some music in my ears to hopefully elevate my soul and maybe put me to sleep? I began texting with Todd and Jess to take my mind off of it all. We left at 10pm and now it was around midnight… Then I thought, Ok, I need to fall asleep or I’m ruined. I could hear the loudest snoring coming from the guy right above me. So stupid loud. So after I tossed and turned with music in my ears, I put in my ear plugs (also from the Camino) and tried to fall asleep.

Every once in a while I would wake up because the train would stop. And then at 5am that was it, I was awake. At 6am, someone started smoking in the hall outside my room. It was revolting. The train would stop, let people off and on (I assume), more smoking, noise, talking, etc… at around 6:30am Vivi woke up and I took her to the bathroom.

Well, we’d been warned but it was still just as bad. The first toilet was overflowing with pee and as the train moved on the tracks, the pee would spill over the sides. No chance we could pee there. As we move further and further down the cabooses the toilets got better and better until we finally found one that had toilet paper and it flushed.

We passed more smokers who were smoking on the train (no smoking signs everywhere) and food carts. I dropped Vivi back at the room and headed on to see if there was a place we could sit. As it stood we would need to lay down in our beds for the next two hours. Oh and I forgot to mention, I had seen one of those cockroaches made famous on YouTube on the table right by my head.

I found some empty seats  so hightailed it back to our room. When I got there, the family was up and taking up all the space in the room. The Styrofoam box was leaking water. What the heck was in there? And it was just about to soak my backpack. Wonderful. I told Luc and Vivi to get up – we were getting out of there. We grabbed our stuff and went back to the seats. Gone. People were sitting there now. Sigh… so we pushed on to the next caboose and found some more seats (some man made a motion that they were his but he was sitting elsewhere so too bad for you. Don’t mess with a tired ginger).

We stayed there for the remainder of the trip. Near the end, music came on FULL BLAST. Vietnamese national anthem? I have no idea, only that it was the loudest music I had heard since the Pearl Jam concert in the 90s.

We got the F off the train and I was so happy to be done with that.

Hue

We got a GRAB to our hostel, grabbed some breakfast and headed out into the hot sun while we waited for our room to be ready.

The next day we went on a tour of Hue. We don’t usually do the tour thing but we’d heard that Hue had a lot of history and was once the capital of Vietnam. It was also the city that was bombed the most so that also interested us.

The tour was really good! The guide spoke great English and was pretty funny. We had an American fellow who continued to get lost. We visited the Royal Palace and Imperial City, the Thien Mu Pagoda, and many temples where kings were buried. Something that was really interesting was that the kings were usually buried where no one would find them. The guy who buried him, committed suicide after burying him so that the secret went with him. We wondered if maybe the guy just ran away after burying the king instead of offing himself. That’s what we would have done of course. These amazing temples were huge and something that the king built for just his death. One king decided to live in it before he died (I can’t remember why) and another sent his helpers to search for 7 years before he found the perfect place for his burial.

After that we visited a place that does Kung Foo and we were entertained by some Kung Foo fighting. We’re now hot again and I’m was so uncomfortable all day. I just don’t get how the locals don’t sweat! We also visited a place that made Vietnamese conical hats as well as incense making where Vivi got to try making incense!

That night we had dinner in the centre of the walking street and checked out all the tourists and locals passing by.

Hoi An

After my terrifying experience with the train, I had earned myself a private car to Hoi An. I was a bit sick of travelling by way of planes, trains and busses so we paid a bit more and got a driver to pick us up and take us to Hoi An. The drive was chill (AC baby) and laid back.

Hoi An is a beautiful little town. The lanterns come out at night and really make Hoi An a place of beauty. We spent 5 nights in Hoi An because we loved it and also because we wanted to get some clothing tailored.

We visited a Refill MyBottle water refill station here and the guy was really committed to reducing plastic waste in Vietnam which was so nice to see. He was so happy to see us as I think not many people come to refill their bottles (yet) and asked us if we could share on our social media networks to get the word out about his restaurant.

We visited Gangaa boutique who was referred to us by my friend Helen, and Loan really knew her stuff and we loved spending time with her. We got to know her story and it’s really powerful story of a woman creating what she wanted in life with her business and her family. She’s the main breadwinner in the family supporting her and her husband, son, her husband’s parents and sometimes sending money to her mom. She quit her job of 7 years at a large tailor shop to start up her own business and she’s doing really well from what I can see. I’m so proud to know her and now have clothing that came from her shop. We got a bunch of stuff created by her and it’s now on its way to Canada. If you go to Hoi An, please shop at her shop. You won’t be disappointed.

We rode falling apart bicycles into town and the traffic was frightening. Luc and I argued as he had Vivi on the back of his bike (we were without helmets) and I was not happy with how he was riding with her on the back in the crazy traffic. It was a full moon when we were there so we got to be a part of the full moon festivities in town with lots of people, pay parking for bikes and beautiful lanterns on the river – oh and the power was turned off in town! These paper lanterns with candles placed in the river are also garbage and end up down the river where no one cleans up. So while they are beautiful, it’s also a lot of garbage. We refrained from putting any in.

We also rode our bikes 4km’s to the beach. More stress on the road from me. It’s just not really worth it IMHO. Pay the extra and get a cab. You’ll miss the countryside but you won’t miss the incessant honking every time a car, truck, scooter or bike rides past you. You’ll also miss getting hit by said vehicles (no kidding, I was almost hit 8 times while riding a bike in Hoi An by all modes of transportation). No tuk tuks in Hoi An unfortunately. The beach was really nice. We got a couple of loungers and just chilled at the beach for the afternoon. It was so hot in Hoi An that the beach was a welcome break from the heat.

We did a little shopping and bought some lanterns for back home. We also visited a market where we got some cheap delicious food. Luc was in heaven.

We ate at a place called Streets Restaurant and Café which helps to get people off the streets and gives them skills to take forward for them to be able to work in 5 star international hotels and restaurants. It was a bit more expensive but the food was delicious and it felt good to be contributing to a good cause as well.

We did the Hoi An EcoCooking Tour that really went all out. It started early in the morning and we walked through the market looking first at all the veggies and fruit. Then we moved onto living and dead seafood, then over to the meat area. If you’re a vegetarian, this is not the place for you. We witnessed people buying meat and putting the money directly on the raw meat in front of us. What a great learning opportunity to tell Vivi “that’s why you never put money in your mouth and to wash your hands after dealing with money.” Later on she saw someone put money in their mouth and she was disgusted and pointed it out to me. Lesson learned.

After the market, we climbed onto a boat and floated down the river until we got a ways away, and then we climbed into round coconut boats which seemed a little unstable for me. The guy rowing us couldn’t speak English but he was pretty hilarious. We stopped to do some fishing (piece of bamboo with string and a piece of fish) while he made bamboo art for us. On the way back, we sang “Et on pagaye, on pagaye” and he sang along as well as he could to it. It was so cute.

Then into a cab to the kitchen where we started cooking fried spring rolls and fresh spring rolls, a pancake type Vietnamese dish and also finished with a soup. We were stuffed!

We loved Hoi An. I dislike the getting around part. It was far too hot. But it’s a really cute little town and we met some wonderful Vietnamese people there. The lanterns really make it incredible to see at night. I can’t wait to open up my lanterns when we get home and have a little taste of Hoi An.

Timothe’s Beach Bungalow

Back onto a train to get to Timothe’s. We wanted to have a break from all the seeing and doing so we found a little beach bungalow between Hoi An and Dalat called Timothe’s. It’s off the beaten path and a bit challenging to get to and from but it was a little piece of white sandy beach paradise that I didn’t want to leave.

But first another train experience. We booked amazing seats with a table between us so Vivi could do some learning time and I could write some blogs. The 6 hour ride was great! We were even commenting that riding on the train was better than a bus because there’s toilets, more space to move around, a table, etc…

We were getting close to the end of our trip and things get hectic for me at these junctures. They don’t tell you on the train when the stops are coming but I’d been watching on Mapsme to see how far away we were until the stop and it looked like about 5 mins. So I announce “we should pack up we’re almost there.” Vivi said “I have to go to the bathroom”. We’ve had a few moments on this trip where going to the bathroom so close to getting off a plane or bus has caused some issues. (On a plane, she told me when we were on decent so she couldn’t go, and when we finally landed she ran before everyone could get their seat belt off and of course she was stuck behind 30 people coming back. I was freaking because I couldn’t see her. Needless to say, it causes stress and it becomes hectic. This would be the worst time this happens.

I should have went with her. But I watched her walk to the bathroom in our car so I thought “no problem, she’ll be back soon” I also told her to hurry because we were almost there. What I didn’t notice after I turned my back, was that she came out of that bathroom and continued to the next car because there wasn’t any toilet paper. After 3 mins I was really wondering what was taking her. I walked to the bathroom and knocked on the door yelling her name. But the train was so loud I had no idea if she was responding. After about 1 min a man emerged. Say what?

So I walked to the next car but she wasn’t in that toilet either. I could see Luc and I just had no idea where she went. I looked down at the next car and I saw this little hand waving at me through the window. I ran to the door and it was locked. She was on the other side bawling her eyes out. I started yelling “help help help!!!” I was panicked. She was beside herself crying. One of the guys that works the train made the motion of “no” and I was like “oh no your don’t motherfucker” – mamabear just showed up. Everyone was looking at me as I was screaming “help help help, my baby is stuck on the other side of the door!!” Finally the guy came towards me walking so slowly down the aisle. Fucker. He walked up to the door and unlatched it up at the top so she could get out. I could have done this but I was just so panicked I couldn’t see straight. I started crying and held her while we basically ran back to our seats, grabbed our stuff and got the fuck off the train.

After wondering and wondering why they would have locked the door we read somewhere that when trains are getting close to stations they lock one end of the car. It was just terrible timing that Vivi went into the toilet between it being open and it being locked.

Then we got in a car to go to Tomothe’s. My nerves were completely shot and the driver was driving like he was Michael Schumacher. I started crying in the backseat again. It was all too much. So I wrote on Google translate “my wife is feeling sick, could you please slow down?” and passed the phone to Luc to show to the driver. He slowed down. Breath, Robin.

And then we were at Timothe’s. A little piece of paradise. Our room was bright and we had beautiful views to the ocean. White sandy beach. The beach was strewn with garbage in places so we did a garbage pickup one day and got free coffee! There wasn’t really anything around to do or see except the hammock and the beach so we chilled, taught Vivi Jass (swiss card game), swam, and got to be. I wanted to stay longer but it wasn’t in the cards with our itinerary (we did stay an extra two days from the 2 days we had originally planned).

Another epic bus ride is in the cards when we leave Timothe’s. Stay tuned.

Please follow and like us:
error

Myanmar/Burma

Myanmar/Burma

Jan 30-Feb 10, 2019

Going to Myanmar, I was still pretty nervous about travelling. I knew that Myanmar would be the least set up for tourists and I wondered how “rough” it was going to be. Rough being not being able to get around, no one understanding us, transportation might be sketchy… all these things went through my mind.

Mandalay

We arrived in Mandalay and it was a bit of a culture shock. Myanmar has so much garbage and was so hot. The garbage was really incredible. I wondered why people would just throw so much of their trash on the side of the road. Then I remembered it was like this in Turkey and also a bit in Thailand. I reflected to Luc and he said that they probably don’t have any way of cleaning up their garbage. No trucks come by and get it. So what do you do but throw it away or burn it? It was my first taste a real shock and realizing how good we have it in Canada.

We got to the hotel and went up to our room. Nice enough place but it smelled like kerosene or gas. I was worried about mosquitos as this was a malaria zone and we didn’t have any pills for malaria. It’s a bit of a long story but I should have got them before we left Canada but we didn’t know how long we would be in the Malaria Zones so I didn’t want to over buy as the pills are really expensive. I thought we could get some before we left Switzerland. And then I completely forgot when we were in Switzerland and of course you couldn’t find the pills that I wanted anywhere. There are other pills but one makes you light sensitive (not great in Asia) and the other can cause psychosis.

Luc of course wanted to go out and explore immediately. Me on the other hand just needed to get my bearings. This would be a common theme when travelling from place to place. Luc immediately wanted to explore and me wanting to take an hour or the rest of the day (depending on how long we travelled) to just gather myself. Neither is right or wrong, but it certainly adds to differences and conflicts in what we want to do. What he ended up doing is going outside and hopping on the back of a scooter and riding around Mandalay.

The next morning we changed rooms. I couldn’t sleep because of the smell and Luc thought he saw a bed bug. The we hired a driver who didn’t speak hardly any English and burped all day while driving us around to the sites. Driving through intersections was INSANITY.

We went to the Mandalay Royal Palace which was beautiful, the top of Mandalay hill where there was another temple, Kuthodaw Pagoda that houses the worlds largest book, Shwenandaw Monastery, we had a delicious and huge lunch that is typical Myanmar style with many many dishes to choose from and finally to U Being bridge where there seemed to be hundreds of people there to see the sunset. It was a long day.

The next day we climbed aboard a boat to take us down the Irrawaddy River. It was a wonderful day. What a great way to travel. Smooth, slow, watching the day go by, it was really beautiful. It wasn’t until the end when shit went waaaaaaay sideways.

The boat didn’t have some easy plank you could walk to get off it… it was essentially 1 piece of wood over the river about 50m long with railings that were sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left, sometimes none, sometimes too far away to reach. I lost my shit. First things first, I needed to change my shoes. Which essentially put me as the last tourist to disembark. I think I might have had an anxiety attack. I was crying, and just couldn’t bring myself to walk on this shitty plank. I finally did it but could only take about 4 steps before I started sobbing. It was just too much. By the end of it I was hating the people who drove the boat, hating Myanmar, hating that I had to do this, hating everything about it. Of course Luc, on the other hand saw the plank and thought “what fun!” I’m telling you, sometimes I just can’t handle it.

Walking the plank
One of the worst moments in South East Asia

We hiked up the hill after and someone was waiting there with a car to take us to the hotel. Small miracles. And then we got stopped as we needed to pay some fee before entering into Bagan. Which broke the bank for us and we had no idea about.

Bagan

We checked into our hotel again and I broke down crying. The hotel seemed like it could house bugs of all kinds. I think after all the bed bug incidents, I’m suffering from PTSD a bit because bugs just really creep me out now. I wondered why we had come here. So far I was NOT having a good time.

We slept and were awoken by either a dog fight, a rooster crowing, or birds that were landing on our tin roof. I was feeling sick like the beginnings of a cold so we totally stopped for that day and just chilled out. Luc couldn’t (of course) so he rented an ebike (electric scooter) and cruised around to different places. We watched the sunset and then took in a puppet show which is a thing in Myanmar to see.

Two things we learned while there: when two dogs are stuck together (because we saw this twice) and about the monks of Myanmar as they are everywhere. This also led to learning about Buddhism too.

The next morning we rented ebikes and it was sooooo fun! I was of course a bit scared to go at first but after a while it was so wonderful to be able to see all the temples in Bagan by bike. There really is no other way that gives you that freedom to just go at your own pace and see everything you want to see. I adored the ebike. It reminded me of when I was on the Camino and rented a bike and just got to go and be free.

The next morning we walked to a temple to watch the sunrise and see the hot air balloons over Bagan. What a sight to see. One of the highlights of the trip to see this gorgeous view. On the way back we were assaulted with the smell of burning plastic everywhere we went. It was revolting. I wasn’t sure at this point if it was the burning that was causing my cough or a cold but I continued to have it for a few weeks after Bagan.

Yangon

We took the longest bus we took the whole trip which was 12 hours this day. It was long but not too bad. A ton of garbage all along the side of the road. We lost a few things getting off this bus as I think we felt a bit rushed and it was dark and we were tired. We got to the train station and so many people trying to get you to take their taxi. It all becomes quite a lot to deal with after such a long day. So we didn’t have GRAB yet, so we were forced to go with the taxi queue to get to our hotel. The taxi didn’t have seat belts and it was really terrible. When it would stop, the car would fill up with smoke and I would choke and cough. It was terrible. After such a long trip, I was done.

Then we had about 6 days in Yangon. It was nice to just slow down and take things easy. I think Luc thought that it was entirely too long to be in one place.

The hotel was nice and the breakfast was pretty good. We started using GRAB to go everywhere and GRAB is just amazing. We don’t have Uber in Victoria, but it’s similar and soooo cheap.

The things we did: walked around the lake that was there, visited a beautiful garden, did a walking tour (on our own) in Yangon, visited a French patisserie, went to a super cold mall (oh the relief!), visited more temples and almost got scammed by a guy who wanted $20/gold leaf that we put on a tree (one for Jaedyn too of course). We ended up giving him $5 as he told us some interesting things as we moved around the temple. I think he was pretty disappointed.

We also took a train that was supposed to take us on a circular route but it was broken somewhere along the track so we could only go out and back. We really got to see some of the poverty stricken parts of Yangon on this train. Also on the train they sold everything you could possibly want.

Something that I wasn’t prepared for was what the locals eat. I thought it was chewing tobacco but it’s something called a Betel Nut Chew. They chew these leaf things that turn their mouth and teeth red. It’s a source of pride for them but for me, it was actually really hard to look at them with these crazy red mouths. At first I thought it was a drug that they put inside the chews, but after doing some research, I realized it makes them feel like they’ve had a couple of cups of coffee.

We ended our stay with an Italian feast at the Italian Embassy. What a thing to find! Food was delicious and so was the wine!

We had one night at a place with a pool before heading back to Thailand.

Reactions:

We had many mixed reactions about us going to Myanmar. Some people were nervous for us while others told us we shouldn’t miss out. We had one person say that they wouldn’t give their tourist money given the recent history of the country. It definitely was the country that I’ve had the most unsettling feeling in. I don’t really need to go back and see Myanmar again.

We decided not to go to the Philippines given some of the unrest that’s happening there.

I think Vivi might have had the hardest time there because everyone seemed to want to touch her and take photos with her and she really doesn’t like being touched by strangers. We have been practicing asking people not to touch her and saying no with the photo taking. This experience has given her a lot of practice telling people not to touch her and by the time she’s grown up she will be very well versed in saying what’s ok and what’s not ok for her.

Click to watch video of our Myanmar Trip
Please follow and like us:
error

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

October 16-21, 2018

Kidney Stone Watch: 
A little nervous about leaving to go to another country not knowing what’s going on inside me. I vow that as soon as I get back I’ll get checked at a hospital in Switzerland. During this time away the pain and discomfort comes and goes and starts to become a little more regular. It starts to feel like I have to go to the bathroom more frequently. It’s super annoying and really fatiguing.

Before we even left for Turkey, we were faced with the possibility that I might not be able to go to Turkey because we didn’t realize that I needed to have an extended permit from Switzerland before I could return back from Turkey. If I didn’t get the permit before we left, then it was possible that I wouldn’t be allowed to go back into Switzerland even though my Swiss passport carrying family could.

This caused some sleepless nights for Luc as he was a bit stressed about the timing (we’d also been through the exact same issue last time we came back from Egypt and the guy at immigration almost didn’t let me back into the country). We came up with a back-up plan that he would go and visit his friends there and I would travel around Switzerland with Violette for a week.

None of that happened because the permit showed up while we were at Europapark. Turns out we didn’t even need to do all that worrying because when I went through immigration on the way back, the woman didn’t ask for it at all.

We started our journey on Turkish Airlines. One of the best airlines I’ve been on. I would say, think about how good planes used to be 20 years ago and Turkish Airlines is that. Great meal, screen with new movies, blankets, head phones, a toy for the kids. Great customer experience.

We arrived at the old airport and the airport was so smooth on our arrival. Our luggage came as soon as we get to the conveyor belt. #perfection.

The first thing I notice is Istanbul is massive. The city sprawls and sprawls. There’s signs everywhere. Shops, houses, hotels, apartments for as far as the eye can see.

We arrived at our hotel which looked online a lot better than what we actually are greeted with. I’m not disappointed, I’m just a little surprised at how the photos can look so much better. The breakfast is out of this world (we sample it in two days). It really has everything you could want. EVERYTHING.

We take a walk to the beach which is just around the corner but it’s cold. Like 12 degrees cold. Now I’m a bit disappointed. When I was on the camino, Luc was trying to organize this trip… I was tired of visiting big towns and really just wanted to be near the ocean and near some peace and quiet. Luc on the other hand wanted to visit a big city! So we compromised and got a hotel by the beach so we could venture into Istanbul. I would say that he won out as we couldn’t really spend any time at the beach as it was too cold.

The next morning, we met up with Can (pronounced John) and Christina his Canadian wife. When Can was in Canada studying, he met Luc and Christina. They have two girls who speak Turkish and English and are about the same age as Vivi. So Vivi became instant friends with them. So nice for her as she had spent the last 3 months without any English speaking friends. I didn’t realize it but this family would be our tour guide for the entire time we were in Turkey! So incredible that they showed us all around and gave us really a locals tour. We are so incredibly grateful for the time we got to spend with them and the time that they spent with us.

They picked us up from our hotel and took us to a typical Turkish breakfast. This breakfast consisted of everything you can imagine: cheese, French fries, meat, tea, fruit, veggies, pickles, olives, bread, croissants, sauces… we ate and ate. This is where I tried my first Turkish coffee – STRONG!

We went with them to a market by their house and Luc bought a belt that was way too small and paid full price (ask Luc about this story).

We then headed to Can’s restaurant. This place is AMAZING! He has a full restaurant and also 20+ little wooden yurts that people can go BBQ their meat. There is also a fireplace that you can enjoy. No where to sleep unfortunately LOL! Since Can owns the restaurant the food was plentiful and sooo good. We ate like kings until we couldn’t eat anymore. It was so delicious.

The next day was a day for exploring Istanbul. We drove there and the traffic was INSANE. Took us about 1 hour to drive 30km. 10 lanes of traffic but in actual fact only lines for 6 lanes. People were on their phone while driving and people were weaving in and out of traffic. For some reason I just can’t come to terms with how other people in other countries drive. Not sure I ever will.

We visited the Blue Mosque that was under construction and the under ground city. It’s not really a city but a water reservoir with many many pillars. We also walked to the Grand Bazar which really is GRAND. HUUUUUGE. Luc and Can got matching knockoff Jack Wolfskin jackets (#bromance?). We also had a really great lunch with a flaming pot!

We spent about 2.5 hours to get home as traffic was really bad.

The next morning, Can took us to have a typical Turkish pasta/dumpling dish called Manti out in the hills of Istanbul. These tiny little dumplings are boiled and then a cream sauce is poured on top. Absolutely delicious.

We then drove out to the Black Sea. It was a really windy day and the waves were immense. It was stunning and beautiful to see the power of the sea. It was also our first time seeing so much garbage on the beach in real life. We looked through the plastic to see what we could find. Small pieces of everything from all sorts of different places. So sad to see so much plastic. To be honest, this also was our first experience with so much garbage everywhere all over Turkey. I think I’m becoming a little desensitized to all the garbage as we’ve been travelling.

A few other things I noticed at this point in my trip is there are soooo many dogs and cats everywhere in Turkey. What Can told us is that they are all stray but that the municipality feeds them and looks after them. This is how they look after their animals rather than putting them in places like the SPCA. It’s an interesting way to look after the animals. I remember when we were in Cuba, the strays there were in really bad shape. So skinny and sick and no one looked after them. I think Turkey’s way of dealing with it is better than Cuba’s but I’m still surprised by it because there are just so many.

Another thing: this is the place where men come to get hair implants and women come to get nose jobs. I was again surprised when I saw the first man with tiny red dots on the back of his head and the front of his head and a big white headband around his head. Then I started to notice these guys everywhere. Then the women who’s noses were wrapped in bandages. We wondered when we saw a man with the distinctive headband and a woman with the bandages walking arm in arm if they got a 2 for 1 deal.

That night Luc went to the barber shop! He got a much needed haircut, his eyebrows threaded, a straight razor shave and the hair inside his ears burnt off! We each got a massage which was really enjoyable. We compared afterwards and our masseuses each got on top of us to work our backs. That was new for both of us. After that I took the girls to the pool and we played around only getting in trouble once.

The next day Can picked us up and took us to one of the most famous streets for shopping. We just window shopped mostly.

Following that we drove along the coast. I didn’t know this but Istanbul has a river that runs through it and on one side is Europe and the other side is Asia. I don’t think there’s anywhere else that is split between two continents. As we drove along the coast, we saw many Embassies and expensive houses. It reminded me of Cannes, France. While we were driving we saw a car get rear-ended BADLY. The car was turning left into a gas station, and a car came up behind her and he probably was texting because he didn’t step on the brake at all. I would say he hit her from behind going at least 60km/hour. She had her indicator on which is a small miracle because no one uses their indicator there. (This was at the same time as Kashoggi being murdered in the Saudi Embassy so this was really big news in Istanbul.)

Then back to his restaurant for the afternoon and dinner again. Stuffed again.

Then I had the pleasure and honor of being able to celebrate a birthday for Can’s aunt. All the women gathered around and ate 3 cakes and danced a Turkish dance. All the men went to the river to drink and smoke.

After that, Vivi got to have a sleepover at the girls house. It was such a nice way to end their time together. After 4 days together they had become really great friends and just loved to play and hang out together.

The next morning we met up with the girls at the beach and rented a bike that takes 4 people to ride along the sea. We ate some baked goods and said out goodbyes. Can then took us to the airport.

Next time I do want to check out other parts of Turkey where it’s a bit warmer and less noise. I heard that Turkey has some very different parts to it that are really culturally different.

I’d like to thank Can and Christina once again for being amazing hosts and making our visit to Istanbul and the area so full of fun and culture. It’s wonderful to have to local people show you around and take you to so many awesome places. Thanks you so much and make sure you let us know when you’re coming to Canada so we can show you around and we can hang out!!

Please follow and like us:
error