Tag Archives: history

Ho Chi Minh or Saigon?


It doesn’t matter what name you choose  to call it, Ho Chi Minh is a BIG city!

Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City

It covers an area of over 2,000sq. kms, and is made up of about 24 districts, with District 1 and District 3 being the most popular for tourists. These two areas have the most sights, museums, eateries, bars, etc.

I loved Saigon (I choose to call it by its former name, don’t ask why, I just do)!  It somehow felt like an “Asian London”  if that makes any sense!  The size, the new with the old, the way it welcomes visitors and makes you feel at home.  Although it is an extremely busy metropolis I felt totally comfortable wandering the streets from one tourist site to another. Of course, crossing the road was a feat in itself!  Luckily there are no drunken westerners on motorbikes to contend with like in Bali, just locals who have the dodging and weaving down to a fine art!

Saigon has many beautiful buildings, one being the Reunification Palace which is open to the public and well worth a couple of hours of your time.  For those of us old enough to remember, it is where the tank broke through the gates and thus signalled the end of the war in 1976.  The Palace has been kept really well and down in the basement you can see the  “war rooms” as it was back during the war. It’s a must for anyone interested in the history of the Vietnam War.

Reunification Palace
Reunification Palace

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We found Saigon very easy to navigate and really enjoyed wandering around each day. The people are far less “reserved” than those in the northern city of Hanoi.  Our favourite place of course had to be where the street food was in District 1,  Ben Thanh Market.

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BBQ Grill stall

food marketWe ate there every day, no matter what the time, it was a place to sit and chill with great food and cold beer. Can’t wait to go back in November and take my friend!

There are so many stalls serving different types of food, not all Vietnamese but Indian, Korean, French and I wish I could stay there long enough to try them all!

Food Saigon
Typical dish cost about $2 !

The markets are all undercover and next to the food is the retail market.  If you can’t find what you’re looking to buy here,  it doesn’t exist! market There are clothes, shoes, bags, luggage, kitchen ware, watches, jewellery, gadgets just about anything you can think of. Haggling with the sellers is huge fun, they expect it and if you do it well there are bargains to be had! Just have a figure in mind and stick to it.  Be prepared to walk away if they won’t agree – they’ll eventually give in!

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Why Norfolk Island?


When we said we were going to Norfolk Island people either asked “where’s that?”  or “why there?”

Well apart from the fact we like going to places little known and especially small islands (Norfolk is about 8x5kms) I had found out I actually had a connection there.  I’m not sure if it still holds true, but when we went there the rule was that to be able to live on Norfolk you had to have ancestry there.mutiny on the bounty

Fletcher Christian led the mutiny on the “Bounty” and ejected  Captain Bligh and those loyal to him from the ship. Christian and eight mutineers, one being John Adams, along with 18 Tahitians lived on Pitcairn Island and made it their home for almost 20 years.

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I have ancestry there.  A distant (very distant) maternal uncle was John Adams.

John_Adams_(mutineer)
John Adams

A Cockney orphan, had been brought up in the poorhouse, and joined the Bounty under the name of Alexander Smith.   In Pitcairn, Adams filled his days with Bible reading and drinking spirits distilled from the juices of the ti-tree root.   He turned religious and took upon himself the task of educating children.

By the 1850’s Pitcairn had out grown their tiny island and Queen Victoria agreed to relocate the islanders to Norfolk Island. 193 men, woman and children arrived to Norfolk on 8 June 1856. The settling of the Pitcairners on Norfolk Island marked a complete break from the island’s convict past, establishing new patterns of life.

So there you have it – my reason for wanting to visit Norfolk Island!

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adamsgrave
John Adams Grave on Pitcairn Island

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A Haunting in Chagford


It was by chance that we happened on the little town of Chagford one cold and rainy evening………

Sounds like the beginning of a scary story eh?  It wasn’t exactly scary, but it was interesting, and my husband did say he wasn’t keen to stay another night!

We stayed at The Three Crowns, which was once an old manor house belonging to Sir John Whyddon,   before the hotel had it’s refurbishment,  and it was, for us, the quintessential piece of English history.  Built in the thirteenth century,  with big open fireplaces, oak beams and narrow winding stone steps to the bedrooms, The Three Crowns had a real sense of history.

three crowns inn
Three Crowns Inn

Travelling through Dartmoor can be pretty but can also be pretty spooky!

If you’ve ever been to this part of England, you’ll know that you don’t really want to be driving at night on the moors.

Even though it was mid-summer, the moors are cold and wet and often covered in mist.

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Dartmoor, Devon, England

After checking in we dumped our bags in our room, (The Sidney Godolphin Room) and took a few photos admiring the four poster bed and beautiful portrait of the cavalier behind a comfy winged-back chair.  Then we went downstairs to the bar for dinner, a few drinks, and a chat with the locals. That’s when it started to get interesting………

bed chagford inn
Four poster bed Three Crowns Inn

A woman who used to work there but had since moved away,  was planning to come and celebrate her next birthday there and asked the manager to book her a room.  He winked at the other barman and said  “Yes you can have the Godolphin Room”   To which the woman quickly snapped back and said  “No thanks – that’s haunted!”

I looked at my husband in horror and he laughed, saying they were just winding us up and it was fine. He was a non-believer in things that go bump in the night.  I said was…..

So after a few drinks and laughs we decided to call it a night and head up to our room. We said goodnight to the bar staff, who both said goodnight back, with the added phrase “take care”.  Is it normal in England to remind people to take care when retiring for the night?  How much trouble can you get into when going to sleep?

Not really being a pair of scardy-cats and relaxed by the drinks, we both fell asleep quite quickly.

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I woke in the night because I had that sensation that some-one was watching me, c’mon, you all know what that feels like!   I just lay there unable to go back to sleep for ages,  I thought I had heard creaking footsteps walking around the bed.  There was of course no-one else in the room except my husband sound asleep next to me.  Or so I thought….

Well, he was next to me, but he too was awake, having had the same “somebody watching me”  feeling and also hearing the creaky floorboards!

Fireplace Chagford
Fireplace in the bar at Three Crowns Inn, Chagford

Before going down for breakfast the next morning, I noticed the painting of Sidney Godolphin on the wall  was hanging a bit wonky,  but neither of us could remember if it was like that all the time, was it our imaginations just getting the better of us?

We told the staff about our night visitor, real or imagined, and they casually remarked, “Oh, again?”

We later found out that it was in the stone porch entrance that young Sidney Godolphin, aged 32, Cavalier and poet, and described as ‘one of the four wheels of Charles 1sts wain,’ was killed during a skirmish with the Roundheads in 1642.  He died on one of the stone seats in the sides of the porch.

When we returned to Australia and had our photos developed,  there was the one of Rick in the winged armchair with the painting behind him, and yes, you guessed it – it was straight!

Believe what you will!!!   Would I stay there again?  Most certainly!!

Would you?   If you don’t believe me, maybe you should try for yourself!

Portrait chagford
You can just see the painting, and yes it is straight!

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Chagford itself is a beautiful market town, they used to have wild pony sales, and neighbouring village Tavistock still hosts the annual Goose Fair!

pepperpot
Pepperpot building, market square, Chagford

Sitting opposite The Three Crowns is the church St Michael of Archangel, built in the 15th Century,  with some parts dating back as early as the 13th Century.  This church was also the place where Mary Wydden was about to marry when she was murdered by a jilted admirer.

church chagford
St Michael of Archangel, Chagford

So maybe The Three Crowns has two nightly visitors?   I dare you to visit and stay in the Sidney Godolphin Room !!

 

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The moors, beautiful by day

Chagford isn’t the least bit touristy I couldn’t find any little tacky something to bring home, so all we have is photos and memories.

Ahhh  but what memories!!

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Oldest Pub in Britain?


This post by Stephen Liddell is well worth a read!  Click the link and enjoy his blog – you won’t regret it!

This time last week I was giving a lovely guided tour to a charming couple to the old Roman city of St Albans which as it happens is just 5 miles from my house and an hour out of central London. We visited some of the sights which I might post on next time but […]

via Ye Olde Fighting Cock – The Oldest Pub in Britain? — Stephen Liddell