Wondering around on a Sunday morning can be a complete surprise. Don’t look for something , let it find you.
I love exploring down side lanes off the main drag and that what happened when I explored off Dong Khoi in Dist 1. Saigon.
For a long time I have seen Vietnamese art but not really looked at it. The pictures I saw today were naive but captured the mood of traditional Vietnam in form and colour. One tends to forget that The country is like a blank canvass made up of a rainbow of colours and moods which depict the vibrancy of the scenes. Shift the prism and the colours will change. Nothing stays the same in this surprising vista of South East Asia.
One week ago I landed back in Saigon from London. I took a direct flight with Vietnam airlines on their new aircraft. The Dreamliner. This turned out to be a revelation as I always thought that they were at the low end and basic end of flying. Well I was pleasantly surprised.
I was seated next to two unaccompanied minors, two boys aged nine and ten who did not know each other and were both from Vietnam. They were charming and polite and never complained. We ended up playing games and exchanging jokes and stories. Very entertaining.
On take off I noticed there were no blinds on the windows and then the windows went blue ! An automatic tint was applied and could be adjusted just under the window with a nifty touch dial . It went from clear to shades of blue to black. Cool .
The service was excellent, good food and wine with snacks and sandwiches throughout the flight served by a friendly flight crew. This is a good alternative to hopping through Dubai or Bangkok . Go Vietnam Airlines .
Having been away for a year from Saigon , changes are apparent , some good some bad. When I first laid eyes on this vibrant city in 2001 it had its rough edges but huge character and it was an unpredictable place to live but what fun we had.
Of course it’s demographic has changed and now it has grown up but there are still remnants of the old way of life which are being visibly strangled and swallowed up replaced by new , sometimes , brash architecture. Even the traditional street life is struggling to survive. How much longer ? God forbid we lose the old ways completely.
It has been a while since my last entry but I am delighted to say I have returned to Vietnam which is as noisy and manic as ever. So I look forward to posting stories and experiences from here on a regular basis.
I thought I would change my routine and try Cafe la Coco , Patrick Street, Kilkenny. What a mistake. I ordered a cappuccino and patiently waited, they were busy. I enquired about the availability of wifi. None.This in a way was quite refreshing but slightly annoying.
Coffee arrives, looks good. Try it. Stone cold. Returned it politely. Coffee came back one minute later. Enquired if they had made a fresh one. No. Goodbye. Went to Willoughby’s across the road. Hot coffee. Good service. Comfortable. Moral: stick with what you know.
How many times have you been somewhere that is familiar but you see something unusual. This morning I took a wander up to Kilkenny Castle courtyard to see what was new and saw a small opening into a dreamy garden and venturing a little further came across an absolute gem of a house, Butler House. On further inspection I discovered it is in fact a guest house with a splendid decor. The mouldings on the ceilings and walls are original Adams. Not many guest houses can boast that. It exudes a friendly family atmosphere reflecting its historical past.
Butler House was built in 1786 by Sir Walter Butler 16th Earl of Ormonde for his wife Lady Eleanor so that she would have somewhere comfortable to live after his death. How thoughtful. It was once used as a soup kitchen during the cholera outbreak. It was also was used by students studying the arts and is now under the umbrella of Kilkenny Civil Trust.
On Monday 17th it reopens after an extensive renovation project and it will be opening a tea rooms and restaurant. To stay the rooms range from €99 to €250 for the Presidential suite.
So if you are visiting the castle seek out this little gem and enjoy the view.