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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bay: A Wrap Up {Travel Tuesday}

Happy Tuesday Y'all! 

Last week- I shared a few posts about our cruise along Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bay. We had a great time exploring the caves, laying out at the beach, eating delicious food, and seeing a fishing village. And while all of these things were amazing- I think the best part was seeing the limestone islands that cover this bay. 

Today I'll wrap up our cruise and share some a lot of pictures from cruising the bay. 

We really had a fun time on the cruise, and hope to return there again one day. I would really recommend taking a cruise along Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bay. And I would definitely use IndoChina Junk since they don't follow the normal route, so you are not crowded with tourists. 

{If you missed any of my previous Ha Long posts- click here

Would you take a cruise on the Ha Long Bay? 

{Linking up with Bonnie

Monday, September 29, 2014

Digital Project Life 2014: Update

Happy Monday Y'all! 

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. 

For the last couple of weekends, I've been working on my Project Life album and trying to get my Cambodia trip finished. Today I want to share those pages with y'all. 

This was a huge project to complete, but I really liked the way all the pages turned out. 

{Click to enlarge the images} 

It was hard to select the pictures I wanted to use for this. We took so many pictures, but I didn't want these pages to get too out of control. I tried to keep each temple to a page, and just did a whole layout for the larger temples we went to. I did buy 3 new templates this month for this project. I added templates V, O and Squared Away 10 to use. I love the V and O template because they hold a lot of pictures- which was perfect for this trip. 

When I am working on the pages, I always get worried that it looks so small, but the pages are 12 x 12- so I know it will be perfect. 

Whenever I am finished with a layout- I put it straight in my Shutterfly album online. This helps make sure I have my project saved in multiple places, and it helps me see how my book is turning out and how many pages I have left for the year. 

The biggest block I am facing right now is I am getting a bit tired of the midnight edition. I know I could buy another template and shake things up, but I really want the whole book to look consistent. I've seen people mix around different editions, and it looks great, but I don't think I want that. So for now I am a little tired of using the edition, but I don't want to change anything. 

Maybe next year I will get a couple editions that work well together. 

If you've missed my book so far- click here

Midnight Edition 
Templates A, B, F,V, O, and Squared Away

Would you use Digital Project Life? How do you document your adventures? 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Letters #56

Happy Friday Y'all! 

I hope you all had a wonderful week. Our week went by pretty fast, and I am excited it's the weekend. 
We are spending the weekend with our favorite family The Schmitts. Jackson has a football we are going to tomorrow and then we will be going to Octoberfest at the Osan Air Force Base. We always get exciting going on base because it's like a little piece of America- it's always a treat. 

Anyway- onto the letters. 

Dear Students, Sometimes your outfit choices crack me up. Over the last year, I've seen some pretty weird choices in clothing. You would think I would be used to all the weird things people put on shirts here, but sometimes a student walks in and I just have to grab my camera. This week a student in my Junior 2-3 class (age 11) came in with a sweater that read "I love Beer". I knew I needed to capture this sweater for the record books. 

Dear Fall TV, So glad to have you back in my life. This week has been absolutely wonderful. This week we saw the finale of Big Brother 16 {Congrats Derrick}. We started the show Red Band Society - which I love in a this is heartbreaking, but funny at the same time type of way. Sleepy Hallow returned- which if you're not watching- there is something wrong! We've had a fun week catching all the premiers and getting back in the Hulu groove. So so happy! 

Dear Fall, It's nice to see you coming around the corner. I know technically it is Fall now, but the days here are still feeling a bit warm. The evenings are getting nice, and I can see some leaves changing. But if you could hurry along- that would be great.

Dear Skype, Thanks for being there for us while we are 7,000 miles away from our loved ones. This week we got to skype with both of our parents, my cousin Jessie, Matt's sister Malia, my BFF Beth, and we have another two dates set up with my sister Chantal and brother Joe. While I really love being able to see everyone's faces, I can't wait to see them in person. 8 more months!

Dear Vic Market, Thanks again for being a great date night spot. It's nice to get a hot dog and pick up groceries for the week. Maybe Matt and I should branch out on our date nights, but for now- you're golden. 

And that's our week in a nutshell. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. 

Love, Alex 

We Took the Road Less Traveled

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thien Cahn Son Cave and Hon Co Island

Happy Almost Friday Y'all! 

Continuing with the theme of the week- I thought I would share some more from our cruise of Ha Long Bay. 

On our first day, we stopped off to explore Thien Cahn Son Cave and to hang out at the beach. This was a nice break from the boat and we enjoyed swimming in the water and relaxing. 

The cave was pretty neat to walk through. Our guide said that in the past, the fishermen would live in caves like this. 

After exploring the caves, we were able to hang out at the beach. You could swim, kayak, or lay out on the sand. We chose to swim around and enjoy the nice and cool water. It was so nice to be swimming around after so many months without a pool or ocean to jump into. 
(Man, I miss Hawaii!) 

And that was our nice relaxing trip during our Ha Long Bay tour. It was a perfect way to end our first day on the wonderful junk. 

So cave exploring- Yes or No? 

Treasure Tromp

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

IndoChina Junk Cruise: Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bay {Travel Tuesday}

Happy Wednesday Y'all! 

Today I wanted to share a little more about the cruise we took while in Vietnam. We went through the company called IndoChina Junk and we absolutely loved them. 

We did a 2 day 1 night cruise and I really think we should have added the 3rd day- it was that much fun. We did the 2 day because we had never done a cruise before and I really didn't know how I would like it. So we played it safe and just did 2 days. If we ever visit Vietnam again- I know I will go for the longer cruise. 

We did our cruise on the Red Dragon which had 5 cabins and could have up to 11 people. They have smaller junks for honeymooners or families to have to themselves and they have larger ones that hold up to 22 people. We really wanted to do the small boat and just be the 2 of us, but we didn't like the $700 price tag. So we opted for the Red Dragon for about $400 total. We really lucked out because we were just with one another family, so there were just 7 of us on the boat. It was perfect. 

For dinner, they set up this table by the wheel for Matt and I to eat dinner alone. It was so romantic and nice to break apart from the other family for awhile. 

I loved sitting on the lounge chairs and enjoying the view. The only downside was our chairs weren't fully shaded, so it got a bit hot. I wish there was more water time to help cool off, but it really wasn't that big of a deal. 

Okay- let's talk food. We loved the food. I requested not to have shrimp in my meals ahead of time, and it was no problem at all. If there was shrimp in the meal- they would serve me a side of chicken instead. It worked out perfectly. The dinner was amazing. We had grilled fish, crab, beef, and clams. We loved every meal we ate while on the boat. I still dream about the yummy clams and crab we had.

*While the food is included- you do have to pay for drinks. We got a drink or 2 every meal and spent about $20. {By drink I mean- coke or non-alcoholic drinks.}

Not only do you get to travel and see the limestone islands- which are amazing- there are also a lot of fun activities planned into your tour. 
Ours included- exploring Thien Cahn Son Cave, playing at the beach at Hon Co Islands, kayaking, visiting Vung Vieng fishing village, and a water puppet show in Yen Duc village. 

 (This is the largest of their junks.) 

This junk was seriously the best thing ever. Our little cabin was the cutest room. We had a great window, so even if we were in our room (which we hardly ever were) we could see the wonderful limestone islands. Everything was real clean in our cabin. The bathroom was great. The bed was comfortable. And the AC was nice and cold. Our room was right off the kitchen, and we never heard any noise from them. It was the perfect experience for first time cruisers. 
(The IndoChina website has pictures of the cabins if you want to take a look.) 

We love love loved our 2 day cruise along Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bay. I would definitely go with IndoChina because they made everything so wonderful. We had great activities planned and saw some truly wonderful things. It was a great experience. 

Would you ever take a cruise along Ha Long Bay? 

{Linking up with Bonnie

Monday, September 22, 2014

Vung Vieng Fishing Village: Ha Long Bay

Happy Monday Y'all! 

As most of you know- a couple months ago- Matt and I took a trip to Vietnam and we absolutely loved it. However, I've only shared one post from our trip because that's just how our summer has been going. I am so far behind on posts, but I am looking forward to getting all caught up. 

Anyway, today I thought I would share a stop we made while on our two day cruise of Bai Long and Ha Long Bay- Vung Vieng Fishing Village. 

Ha Long Bay was made an UNSECO site in the 1990s. When this happened, the government decided to gather the different fishing groups that were living on the water. In the past, the families would live on their boats or in caves and they were pretty spread out. In the 90s, the government founded the Vung Vieng fishing village. This helps the government get news to all the fishermen when there is bad weather and it provides a school for the children in the village. We also got the feeling that it helped cut down on the pollution so the tourists wouldn't be put off on their 'luxury' cruises.... or maybe that was us being cynical. 

From what our guide said- the IndoChina tour group (which we took) helps the fishing village by taking their trash into town and bringing in supplies. The guests are asked to bring small school supplies and treats for the children in the village. We brought notebooks, pencils, stickers, and hard candy to give to the village. 

The small room off to the side is the bathroom. 

To tour the fishing village, we got off our junk and then took a little wooden boat around the village. Our guide was nice enough to lend us a couple Non Las (leaf hat) to protect us from the sun. Plus- I got this awesome picture. 

 The residents of this village make their livings on fish and other seafood farming. Each household owns at least one fish cage to hold Garrupa and Sea Bass. When it is time to harvest the fish- each household brings their fish to the chief's house and he brings it to the mainland for sale. 

The fishing village was different than I expected. I'm glad we had the chance to tour around. There is a museum to look at and learn more about the culture and way of life- which was really informative. I  also loved looking at the school they had set up there. Many of the houses have t.v.s and other modern appliances. 

I loved the way the houses looked on the water with the limestone islands behind them. It was a beautiful village to look around. 

All in all- it was a nice addition to our tour. Plus, our tours give a little extra income into the fishing village. There is an oyster farm and pearl shop and a gift store for you to look around and buy trinkets. It is also encouraged that you tip your tour guide, so that also helps a bit. 

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Vung Vieng fishing village. 

Have a wonderful week!