Here we are with just two and a half more days on board the Celebrity Millenium before we disembark in Hong Kong for a few days of on land tourist travels like Hong Kong Disneyland and a trip to Macau but that will be for another post.
I am current seated once again in Cafe al Bacio after having half a day of touring around the old city of Halong Bay and before we head off for our final dinner at speciality restaurant QSine tonight.
This cruise has been a revelation, as I mentioned before my previous cruises have been disasters for me because of sea sickness but up to this time this has not been an issue and I have enjoyed every minute of my time both on board and the times we have ventured off the ship.
Since my last post we have had more sailing days and a trip to Hoi An and have spent the past two days tendered in Halong Bay, the most amazing UNESCO listed wonder of the world, which it truly is.
But first we had much more dining, drinking, cementing friendships with our fellow Pied Piper cruisers and also others along the way. We also signed up and did a great cooking class in the other speciality restaurant, the Olympic. This was a three hour extravaganza of creating two wonderful dishes and then being shown how to prepare two other dishes and then to be served it all for lunch.
There were 9 of us in the group and as it turned out all Australians and it was a great crew. We turned up and were suitably outfitted in chef hats and aprons and escorted into the kitchen where we made smoked salmon and crab parfait and halibut cooked in baking paper and garnished with a fine julienne of vegetables and fresh herbs.
We were then taken through the process of making mushroom and morel mushroom risotto and then how to prepare a chocolate and a grand marnier soufflé. Sitting at one large table we were served a choice of wines and our prepared dishes as well as the risotto and then a chocolate soufflé and a grand marnier soufflé to top it all off.
It was a delightful way to spend and afternoon at sea and gave us all some great tips for preparing these dishes at home. We also purchased the celebrity cruises cook book that is filled with many of these recipes and just added another facet to this great afternoons entertainment. Then it was back to the stateroom for a nap before getting ready to head to our usual pre dinner haunt the Martini Bar for cocktails before dinner.
Hoi An was as we remembered it and so much more…filled with great tailors, great local art, clothes, shoes, leather and some wonderful restaurants as well. But it has grown so much there were parts of it, since our last trip 6 years ago, that had changed with lots of building having taken place and it at least doubling in size.
We did however have two specific things that we wanted to do here – to find one of our favorite restaurants the Mermaid so that we could all once again indulge in their amazing pork stuffed squid and then to visit the tailor who hade made clothes for us on our last visit. Both were located in the same place and the Mermaid was exactly as we remembered and the pork stuffed squid was a true delight. It was soft, succulent, delectable and whilst we have loved our on board cries food it was so delightful to have some real traditional Vietnamese food.
Thao the tailor was still in the same spot just across the road from the Mermaid and had some wonderful fabrics and designs to chose from as I really wanted a long coat made for our upcoming winter but as you can imagine for me it needed to be something a little different and I found just the design that I wanted and after taking measurements and make some changes to it to suit my sensibility with how I wanted it the deal was done and I selected a charcoal cashmere fabric and we hit the road, knowing the Thao would complete it and send it home to me in Perth the next day as we were not in town long enough to do a proper fitting.
Being again in Hoi An bought back some amazing memories from our last trip there with Karen and Ken six years ago Andre all agreed that we would all love to do another trip back and with Jetstar now flying into Danang it was easier to get to this part of Vietnam than ever before….so who knows it may be sooner rather than later that we head back!
And now to Halong Bay and the wonder and delight of it! Being with the Pied Piper group, drinks package issues now a distant memory, has had some real benefits and not just the chance to connect and make some great friends along the way but we were invited onto the heli pad on the front of the ship with about 40 other people to experience the sail into Halong Bay and even though there was lots of mist and fog around it was still never the less a most wonderful experience.
We have been here before but the beauty and spectacular wonder of Halong Bay once again was breath taking and it was great to share it with people in our group who had never been here before.
I think that is where I will end this post as there is much more to tell including another great meal in Halong Bay at a trip adviser restaurant that we did last night and another review of our meal tonight at QSine.
So as always, watch this space as there is more to come!