Asian Adventure: Hội An, Vietnam – The Ancient City

Although much of the trip was spent dancing with  VLX …. I was able to check out a few sites, ate some amazing meals and even got to visit a tailor to get some custom threads made!!!

A few noteworthy things to mention if you are planning on visiting Vietnam:

  • There is a VISA requirement for this country.  From my earlier post, What to Know Before you Go, many Asian countries issue visas free of charge on arrival at major airports and land-boarders. Vietnam is NOT one of these countries.   There are a few online service providers that will help get you started with the Vietnam Visa process, we used:  http://www.myvietnamvisa.com/   The application process is simple enough – just go online and apply. But the cost has gone up unfortunately — the online processing fee is $20 (just remember to select Canadian dollars).
  • Make sure the name you put in is exactly as your passport, that your passport number is correct, and that you put your arrival date correctly. If any of these are incorrect, you might have to pay a heavy fine upon arrival.  This takes about 2-3 days to process and they will email you a letter – which you will need to print and bring along with $45 USD in cash exactly, to be paid with CRISP bills – no joke.  If your bills are wrinkled or ripped, even slightly, your money will be rejected at the counter and Visa denied.

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    The Japanese Bridge – Hoi An
  • In addition to this letter, you will be required to fill out a form at the counter that you will have to frantically fill out before they will take your money.  Some online service providers send out this form with the letter.  Our service didn’t. FYI.
  • Oh, you also need passport photos – which you might want to get while you’re overseas travelling – as North American passport photos are usually highly overpriced.
  • The currency used is the Vietnamese DONG – maybe the best currency ever, by name alone 😉  Everyone is a Millionaire there, as $100CAD translates to $1.7Million Dong!  It took me the entire 4-days to get used to the giant bills to pay for anything correctly there.

If you’re not already following me on Instagram … Here are a few snaps from my adventures in Hoi An …


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THE FOOD!!!

I’m a huge fan of asian cuisine … but the amounts of delicious foods that were eaten my short time in Hoi An was magical – and sooooo cheap!!!!!

VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE (CAFE SUA DA)  – This is oh-so delicious.  Made with Vietnamese coffee press + Sweetened condensed milk filling a tall glass filled with ice to its brim!

AND then these BLOSSOMS –  Hoi An fried wontons are covered in a salsa-like topping of vegetables and sweet and sour shrimp or pork …. they are crispy, mouth-watering works of art.

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VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE (CAFE SUA DA) HOI AN FRIED WONTON BLOSSOMS

OK! The below dish is called Cao lầu – it is a regional Vietnamese dish made with noodles, pork, and local greens, and is only found in the town of Hội An.

Naturally, I ate as much of this as I could while I was there.

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Cao lầu and Larue Beer – genuine Hoi An street-must-eats!

WHAT I BOUGHT

In terms of souvenirs I behaved myself.  My purchases included: two medium-sized fabric lanterns (for my balcony), coconut bowls, Viet snacks for coworkers AND the most delicious coffee ever + metal coffee distiller!

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My biggest excitement …and spending … took place with the custom-made clothes!!! 😀

Everyone who had visited Vietnam before, had told me how great the tailors were out there.   I was loosing my mind trying to narrow down my choices of what items I wanted to get made.

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The tailor I used — visited them a few times to get the following pieces perfect for moi!

Before leaving for my trip, I picked pieces that I’d been coveting that didn’t come in plus sizes at the vintage/reproduction boutiques I frequent.  And found my TOP FOUR items I wanted to get made:

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1. Hello, Yellow two-piece midi-crop top set
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2.  Green Gingham
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3. The bow-tie dress shirt & 4. overall skirt with pockets

Buuuuut there were TONS of cool ideas and dress designs hanging all around me at this little shop.  And I’ve got a problem and weakness for pretty frocks.

In the end …. SEVEN new pieces actually came home with me!  And when all was said and done, each item cost me approx. $42 CAD.

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Saving this floral frock for Toronto Vintage Society’s Annual Tiki Party this August 29, 2015 – save the date friends 😉
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Bird Dress

Which is pretty awesome, considering I selected premium fabrics + lining, got to add my own ‘design’ ideas such as adding POCKETS to everything …. and each piece is unique to fit me perfectly.

Nobody in Toronto is gonna be wearing my outfit. Huge Bonus 🙂

Stay tuned for upcoming blogpost highlighting each of these outfits specifically!!! Thanks for reading! xo

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Asian Adventure includes:

Boracay, Philippines – White Sand Beach – click here for blogpost

Hội An, Vietnam – VLX – click here

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Food, Fun and Fashion (coming soon, I promise)

Asia: What to Know Before you Go – click here for blogpost

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Asian Adventure: Hội An, Vietnam – VLX (Lindy Exchange)

Xin chao! [sinjao] – Hello!

Ban hay khong? [bahn nay khom?] – Would you like to dance?

Hoi An, Vietnam!

Of all the places on my travel agenda for this trip – this destination was for the shortest stay.  We flew out just for the weekend from KL, Malaysia to Danang, Vietnam ….a 30min drive from Hoi An, specifically for VLX – Vietnam’s Lindyhop Exchange weekend!

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What is a lindy hop exchange you ask?

A lindy exchange is a gathering of lindy hop dancers in one city for several days to do the same dance at other venues, showcase ones own talent to the local community, and to dance with visitors and locals alike.

This was my first time swing dancing outside of Canada!

If you remember from my previous post, there was a pie chart highlighting the various nationalities that would be at this dance exchange – I’m proud to say that me and Dee (my travel mate) added to the 7% Canadian slice who were in attendance 🙂

Where We Stayed

We signed ourselves up for the full weekend – which meant we did’t have to do a thing when it came to booking hotels and transportation to/from airport – VLX took care of us as soon as we landed!

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The glorious Hotel Royal Hoi An, MGallery Collection – we had breakfast around this lovely pool every morning!
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THIS was our fantabulous suite —- These Beds! These Pillows! These amazing fluffy robes!!! This place was divine!!!

The Dances

We were on a tight dance-filled agenda which began with a Welcome dance our first night at the Hoi An Historic Hotel ….

The theme that night was “East Meets West” … here’s what I wore:

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Dee and I found these lovely batik printed skirts from The Central Market in KL, and went twinsy for the evening complete with flower in hair and vintage bangs.

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Batik skirts with fanny prints + tanks + vintage hair flowers + bumper bangs = East Meets West
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Caught in the lindyhop act.  (Thanks Jason & Sheila)

AND we were caught on camera and made the News in Nam!!!  See if you can spot ME in the news clip friends 😉

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While other VLXers woke up super early for a bike ride to explore Hoi An (after dancing ’til 3:30am the night before) …

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me and a few other deep-sleepers chose to enjoy the day in the pool instead – until the next afternoon dance of course 🙂

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Isn’t this a great picture? I borrowed this hat from a VLX Cowboy …and he snapped this photo complete with cartoon Asian sworded companion. 🙂
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Beach Afternoon – An Bang Beach, Hoi An
On Sunday afternoon we were shuttled to An Bang Beach’s Soul Kitchen and took over a lovely little section of sun and shade …in between DANCING, of course!!!
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Day drinking + relax-o in between barefoot lindy hopping = Paradise!
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Me among the beauties representing Malaysia at the VLX 🙂

And then the barefoot Lindy Hopping began!

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The VLXers of 2015…. such a great group of people!!!

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MORE Dancing Nights …

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve likely already seen a few of these pic and can watch a few vid clips too.

Every evening there was a dinner and a dance planned for us.  Here are a few shots of all the fun:

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Dancing at the Bamboo Buddha

This evening’s dress code was “Extreme Opposites”.  I had no idea what that meant … and so I went as Batman!

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I’M BATMAN! 😉

Our last night in Hoi An, we had a farewell dinner at Green Mango ….with a dress code of “Modern Vintage”

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Dinner our last night there…le sigh.

After dinner our last night of dancing in Hoi An….we took the Lindy Hopping to the streets…

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My dress is from the Canadian designer Cherry Velvet Plus, click here for outfit deets.

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Dancing in the Streets! Loved it!!!

Of all the places I visited this trip, THIS is the city I wish I had spent more time in….sigh.  Guess this just means I’ve gotta make another visit sometime soon ❤

Although much of the trip was spent dancing …. I was able to check out a few sites, ate some amazing meals and even got to visit a tailor to get some custom threads made!!!  7 new pieces came home with me!

Stay tuned for the next blogpost highlighting these things specifically!!! Thanks for reading! xo

In case you’ve missed any… PPMeow’s Asian Adventure includes:

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Asia: 22 days – 3 countries

In an effort to keep my 2015 promise to myself to Shop Less, and Travel More … I’ve taken the bulk of March off work to explore South-East Asia.

In my last post, I reviewed the 5 essential things to know before you go ….the importance of planning BEFORE a big trip.  I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to book all my flights, determine a budget for the overall trip, topped up my travel insurance, and have made an appointment for all necessary vaccinations with a travel clinic for early next week (giving me plenty of time to begin any early doses of meds, if required).  I’m feeling pretty accomplished friends. 🙂

Now, the big question remains … WHERE the heck am I going?

The Huffington Post recently put out an article entitled: The Top 50 Cities To See In Your Lifetime.  I’m sad to report that I’ve only been to 8 out of these 50 cities so far. Buuuuuut…come March 2015, I’ll be able to check off #26 from this list!

DESTINATION #1:  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur

This is the capital and most populous city in Malaysia. The main religion there is Islam, with significant Buddhist, Hindu and Christian minorities.  With tropical super-summer-heat weather from March through to July.  I’ve gotta keep both of these elements in mind when coming up with outfit choices.

Sadly, there won’t be any major festivals being celebrated while I’m there.  This is the first destination of this trip as I’m meeting a gf of mine who currently lives there.  Once I’ve recovered from the 29-hour flight there (yup…29-hours of solo travel – two stopovers – ew!  That’s what you get when you book big travel on points friends.)  After taking a few days to adjust to the time difference, she and I will head off together to ………….

DESTINATION #2: Boracay, Philippines

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Boracay Island

This is a small and most famous island in the Philippines –  known for its beautiful beaches, and pricey resorts, with a major party scene.  Woot! Woot!   We’ve decided to book a more modest hotel for the bulk of our stay here, but do a two-day splurge-o at a fancy spot before we depart.

Thinking I might even don my very first bikini on this beach …let’s see if my online order arrives on time…and if my body confidence is at an all time high by then.  The main religion here is Roman Catholic, so I’ll fit right in – catholic guilt and all 😉

DESTINATION #3: Hội An, Vietnam

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Hội An

Our last trip will be to this historic Old City in Vietnam, with a unique mix of Japanese, Vietnamese, and European influences.  Turns out, there’s a community of swing dancers out here and they are hosting a dancing weekend while I’m there!!!

VLX – Vietnam Lindy Exchange, is a fun weekend of Swing dance exchange hosted by Saigon Swing Cats annually since 2009 in different towns in Vietnam. (Mui Ne, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Saigon).  

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2015 VLX – Swing Dancers Nationality

Apparently for the first time in the history of the VLX, this year, the Vietnamese represent less than 10% of the dancers.   We have signed ourselves up for the full weekend – which means we don’t have to do much research for hotels – yay!    I’m also determined to find a fab tailor to make me some custom threads too while we’re in Vietnam, I just hope there’s enough time.

There you have it folks – high level overview of where and what I’m planning on doing in South-East Asia.  Weeeeeee!  Writing this post has been super helpful – It’s really REAL now and I’m getting excited.

Full Disclosure: I’m freaking out!!!

This will be the first time I’m flying completely solo — I’m a nervous flyer in general, and these multiple connections I’ve gotta do alone is making me very anxious.  Plus, don’t the airplanes of Malaysia have a recent history of disappearing all together!?!?!? 😮

A tourist inadvertently destroying the place he is visiting

Packing right is going to be incredibly important.  With all my many flights and connections, I’ve decided NOT to check any luggage.  Which means, I’ve gotta come up with 22 days worth of outfits that are cultural respectful, yet summertime comfortable that fits into 1 piece of carry-on only … yikes!

That’s gonna be challenging.  Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll cover just that friends.  Dun dun dunnnnnnn…

What are the MUST pack vs. Nice-to-pack items that YOU’D recommend I take along with me for this upcoming adventure friends? Would love your packing tips and thoughts and tricks — leave them in the comments below.

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