ROMANTIC COMEDY DRAMA. DIRECTED, WRITTEN & STARRING GEORGE BAZ & SAM FOZ.

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Vietnam started perfectly. We whizzed through the visa office and passport control, and were greeted by a taxi driver with my name spelled incorrectly who text on TWO phones simultaneously while he drove us to the guesthouse.

After a good nights sleep we were up for an early explore. It was also a bonus that almost every guesthouse in Vietnam includes a standard breakfast of egg / omelette and French stick.

Hanoi, for tourists, centres around a legendary lake and an old quarter full of all sorts of temples and different architectural styles of shop houses.

It was way more touristy than we had imagined. Possible even more so than Thailand. However, the city centre was beautiful and full of things to look at.

We found a couple of good restaurants that did awesome food and we were set.

On our first dine out in an actual restaurant we met a Chinese expat called Forrest (after Forrest Gump). He was a really nice guy and had been living in the city for a short time so wanted to show us all the sites. He was a little on edge though because, in true Sam and George style, the day we arrived Vietnam hit the headlines because china were kicking off in the South China Sea and there were riots near Ho Chi Minh City.
We met him for coffee on a few occasions and he took us for one of the worse meals I have ever eaten at a chicken noodle shop.

We visited the temple on the lake and learned the story of the golden turtle and the returned sword (a king got a magic sword from the lake and, after repelling the Chinese, returned the sword to the legendary giant guardian turtle of the lake). The rest of our time was spent looking round shops, and escaping the 40+ degree heat in cafés.

We liked to get up early, get an amazing Vietnamese coffee at the side of the road (whilst sat on a tiny stool) and then walk around the lake, watching all the characters that come out to do lots of fitness training at the waters edge and walk their tiny, tiny dogs.

We also visited a prison museum, the Vietnam women’s museum and the hanoi water puppet show. The museums were really interesting - obviously the country has an very sad, action packed past, that is hard not to notice when you’re visiting. It’s probably the fact that it was all still happening in very recent living memory.

After 5 days of acclimatising to the city we booked a trip by train up to Sapa, an old French hill station right in the north, near the Chinese boarder. After that we would be back for a few more days in Hanoi to explore more.

And so, after a 10 day stop off featuring the birthday party of the century, posting some belongings, and our Vietnam visas being approved, the flight was booked. We spent our last day relaxing at the Desa Park City Club (swish!) then it was a short flight to Hanoi, Vietnam.

And so, after a 10 day stop off featuring the birthday party of the century, posting some belongings, and our Vietnam visas being approved, the flight was booked. We spent our last day relaxing at the Desa Park City Club (swish!) then it was a short flight to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Before and after. Visa photo for India followed by the visa photo for Vietnam. 

The best part, after the lady took our passport photos she coloured us in using Microsoft paint. She mainly just reduced my hair by painting it white. If you look on my left shoulder you can see a chunk that she decided to take out of it. No one knows why

Before and after. Visa photo for India followed by the visa photo for Vietnam.

The best part, after the lady took our passport photos she coloured us in using Microsoft paint. She mainly just reduced my hair by painting it white. If you look on my left shoulder you can see a chunk that she decided to take out of it. No one knows why

The rest of the mall / supermarket / pet shop time in KL.
We walked past the pet shop everyday and obviously had to stop and have a look… It was pretty grim. Lots of the locals and some of the ex pats have pets and this old school style of ‘doggie in the window’ pet shop is still all the rage in Asia. They sold everything from Sugar Gliders to Alsatians and had a pampering section in the back for pooches. Dog fashion is a serious business amongst affluent Asian society.
Some weird stuff you could buy in the international supermarket.
And a weird anime / manga shop in the mall. The MJ statue was creepy and the girls statues all had removable clothes?!? The kids dolls George mentioned before were about as sexual as the toys / statues for the older, weirder men-kids.
The comic book toy shop was obviously great. George made a new team of Avengers.

Found this in Malaysian Hamley’s while trying to find a birthday present for Sophie. 

Really wanted it for myself. Best toy ever. 

I was however infuriated walking round the shop by two things:

ONE the distinction between girl and boy toys. There is a clear divide between the pink and blue sections in the shop. The pink section contains glittery boxes emblazoned with pretty little girls playing with dolls and household appliances. Whereas the blue section, the ones where the advertising shows boys assertively pointing a finger down the camera lens, sells things like science sets, electric helicopters and anything remotely interesting. Not only this, but the dolls are so sexualised. Wearing outfits that wouldn’t look out of place on Miley Cyrus. It’s incredible, and shocking, that people actually buy this crap for their children. Setting kids up for a life dependent on their gender. Disgusting. 

TWO: Hamely’s play list involves not only rap songs full of swearing but also alarming tracks about aggressive sexual intercourse which involve a LOT of heavy panting

Found this in Malaysian Hamley’s while trying to find a birthday present for Sophie.

Really wanted it for myself. Best toy ever.

I was however infuriated walking round the shop by two things:

ONE the distinction between girl and boy toys. There is a clear divide between the pink and blue sections in the shop. The pink section contains glittery boxes emblazoned with pretty little girls playing with dolls and household appliances. Whereas the blue section, the ones where the advertising shows boys assertively pointing a finger down the camera lens, sells things like science sets, electric helicopters and anything remotely interesting. Not only this, but the dolls are so sexualised. Wearing outfits that wouldn’t look out of place on Miley Cyrus. It’s incredible, and shocking, that people actually buy this crap for their children. Setting kids up for a life dependent on their gender. Disgusting.

TWO: Hamely’s play list involves not only rap songs full of swearing but also alarming tracks about aggressive sexual intercourse which involve a LOT of heavy panting

… and how the cake actually looked

… and how the cake actually looked

How the cake should have looked…

How the cake should have looked…

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Pit stop, back at our ex-pat home.

The highlight of the visit was Sophie’s seventh birthday. And we were given the task of making the cake.

As Sophie and Holly own over 50 barbies, and love anything remotely pink and barbie related, the birthday party had a pink barbie theme - and the cake needed to match.

After spending some time looking at insanely intricate barbie cakes on the internet. We were starting to get a little worried by the challenge.

Instead of going for a perfectly iced beautiful ball gown we decided to do one better…

We made a mars bar cake and then decorated the top with chocolate and pretty much anything else we could lay our hands on (you don’t get the same level of ingredient choice in Malaysia - as you do from the baking isle in Waitrose).

The cake went down well, the excessive amounts of sugar sent the kids a little wild, but it was all part of the fun. There was pass the parcel which did induce a few tears, swimming in the pool, decorating your own bedroom door placard - involving pink paint and lots of glitter, musical statues - a disaster - and finally singing along to the theme tune from Frozen - which the kids pretended to one another they were too cool to enjoy (but they all secretly loved the most).

The child that stood out as being the most interesting and memorable was a girl called Freya who was actually nuts. Freya had hair like goldilocks and a mouth like a fog horn - she spent the majority of the day dancing, while laying on the floor shaking and making high pitched shrieking noises. It’s hard to describe, but Sam and I found her absolutely hilarious. Unlike the rest of the kids. They spent the afternoon trying to keep as far away from her as possible.

After the kids had gone to bed we finished off the untouched cheese and pineapple on sticks. Actually, I did. Sam just had a bit of jelly and ice cream.

Hopefully no more kids party’s for a while. Ideally, never ever again

Minutes before we had to check out of the hostel we saw this beast swimming along the river. In the words of Steve Irwin, rest his soul, ‘It [was a] big one’. We got right above it while it was in the water but then a boat and another monitor appeared and it was off. Trying to get good photos of them was very hard they are extremely fast, in and out of water.

Dragons and serpents were our main source of amusement in Melaka.

One evening we watched a python, not far from three meters in length, glide down the river and then scooch up a drain pipe. Sadly the poor bugger had lost the tip of it’s tail. And so with every scooch it made up the pipe, a jet of water squirted out of it’s tail end.

The video is of a water monitor. These dragonesque creatures dominate the waters of pretty much every SouthEast-Asian river, however this one was just wandering around in the drain. Drains in Asia run alongside the road. 90% of the time they are not covered, meaning you can see actual shit pobbing along beside you. And on this day. A water monitor too, lucky us!