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Quynh's Choice Tours

Your question is why not J’s choice? Answer is the motorbike pages!

 

I live and work in Vientiane, happily. The job that I enjoy makes my life in Laos more meaningful. My day starts with early workout, followed by office work (not boring at all because I receive tour request to different part of the South East Asia every day). I enjoy cooking, so cook lunch and dinner for my husband are not considered work in my busy schedule, but nice break between emails! I have a small garden and many cats to play with when I feel stressful. Flower arrangement and house decoration are my endless joy. I told Jim if I have more time later in my life, I want to be a landscaper and house decoration designer. When I need a real break from work (and from Jim!), travel is always on my list to consider. I am going to let you know where I would go and what I would do.

My choices may change as I get older. I’ll keep you updated.


Bhutan !  Bhutan !! Bhutan!!!

My inspection tour of Bhutan was the trip of a Lifetime and I'm very happy to include it here on my Choice Tours!  Quynh's Perfect Bhutan Tour  -  This trip is very similar to the one I did in June, 2012 and my full tour blog is up for you to read as well! 

I loved it there and am ready to go back again!!!


Visit the Mekong Delta

My first time traveling in Vietnam was in the summer of 2003, after one year working in my first job! I dreamt to visit my own country for the first time and the money I saved made my dream come true. So I planned for the trip with what I knew back then and did not tell my parents until I got the open bus ticket booked. They were very concerned because they did not like the idea of a young girl traveling alone, though they could not stop me. I learned much as I traveled around the country from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, continued to the coastal line of Hue, Hoi An and Nha Trang, through Da Lat in the Central Highland and down to Saigon with a visit to Mekong Delta. I enjoyed the food variety, local dialects, changes of landscape and the Mekong Delta impressed me the most. Now that I live in upper Mekong River and had chances to travel along this river all the way from Golden Triangle, I even more appreciated the exciting life that the river had brought to the Mekong Delta region in Vietnam – fishing, floating markets, fruit orchards, criss-crossed cannels along peaceful villages. I felt that when The Mekong entered Vietnam, it became livelier and would like to share my idea on a short trip!

Day 1: Saigon to Mekong Delta with overnight onboard a private boat (one cabin!)
Day 2: Explore the Delta visiting floating markets, fruit orchards, crisscrossed cannels along peaceful villages

Day 3: Continue to visit the region and overnight with a local family

Day 4: Back to Saigon.


Actually, you can continue to Phnom Penh (Cambodia) by boat from the Mekong Delta!

Cooking Classes - With Quynh in my kitchen!

I love cooking and cook at home almost every day and consider myself pretty good at Asian food (Vietnamese, Laos, Thai, Korean and Japanese) and some Western food.

I am interested in sharing my cooking with people over weekends, just once a week (either Saturday or Sunday). I have a full time job, so only weekend works for me, plus that the best time for people who live and work in town to join, My idea is to run a monthly course – once a week and 4 times per months. I love cooking, so would be happy to share with other people. Each class is followed by theme food, for example

November
1st Saturday: What dishes can you make with pumpkin? Soup, salad, stir fired…
2nd Saturday: Variety of spring roll, fresh and deep fried with rice paper, steam with cabbage or fried eggs….(pork, chicken, fish, vegetable)
3rd Saturday: What dishes can you make with morning glory? Soup, salad, stir fired…
4th Saturday: Variety of rice (steam with different ingredient, stir fried with different ingredient

We plan ahead and people know what to expect for the coming courses. It’s not just about me sharing my cooking experience with housewives in Vientiane, but also them to share with their classmate of their favorite and we choose one person a week to perform their favorite…It’s not just about cooking, but gather together kind of time. Single ladies, gentlemen are also welcome if they are interested.

It’s my recent idea and take sometime to make it happen. You are also more than welcome to join if you are around!

 

Oudomxai and Phongsaly Getaway!

I know you would ask why Oudomxai and Phonsaly! I did it and I would do it again and again. Phongsaly remind me of Sapa where I met Jim. I love the old town, stairs up and down Every step I walk is one step back in time and I could not stop myself calling Jim and tell him how beautiful it is as I strolled through the town’s backstreets and alleys with interesting old Phu Noi (similar to Tibetan) and Chinese brick-and-wood architecture. I stopped for a beer at a small family shop on terrace, called Jim to tell him the next place I want to live is Phongsaly. I can’t deny the fact that food is not good but I still love the place. Maybe I should open a restaurant there! I love the local market where very simple products are sold, most of them are collected from jungles and river. The hotel owner arranged a 4x4 to transfer me to Hatsa for the boat ride to Muang Khua. A hell of downhill drive! It was pretty foggy that morning but I still saw hill covered with tea plantation, pine trees and squirrels running cross the road. I had choices – slow boat or speed boat. I took speed boat. While waiting for more passengers, I had a little friend and she liked my stuffed animal (I brought a little cat with me). I gave it to her as her farther saw it. He came over and did not stop saying “Khop Chai Deu”. Boat man gave each of us a helmet and we arrived to Muang Khua by noon. The little boat flew over water most the time. I’ll take slow boat next time. I was amazed by how he could navigate through some rocky parts. Both sides of the Nam Ou are mountains covered by jungles. Continued by boat down the Nam Ou to Nong Khiaw - the little town with lime-stone mountain backdrop – from Nong Khiaw, drive to Luang Prabang to catch a afternoon flight home.

Day 1: Fly Vientiane to Phongsaly (very unpredictable flight schedule due to its unpredictable weather!)

Day 2: Spend all day to walk around this little town.

Day 3: Travel by road to Hatsa (a lovely drive through mountain and jungle, you may see squirrel!), jump on a slow boat to sail down the Nam Ou River to Muang Khua.

Day 4:  Continue down the Nam Ou to Nong Khaiw spending some time in Muang Ngoi.

Day 5: Travel by road to Luang Prabang and fly home.

 


Hidden Charm of Nam Khan River!

As much as I like downtown Luang Prabang, I would rather spend my time on Nam Khan River, just slightly out of town. It’s not just another river of Laos! The back road is perfect for cycling (dirt bike for Jim!) to Shangri-Lao. This classic explorer camp is the first luxury camp in Laos. I would spend the rest of my afternoon swimming in a luxury Spa pool and Jacuzzi and enjoying the stunning view of the Nam Khan River and Namno mountain chain from my terrace. Next day, I spend time with elephants, walk the ‘Trail of Falls’ or “Huay Sae”, is a natural stream coming down from the mountain, feeding the famous Tad Sae Waterfall. Along the stream grows natural, primary vegetation and many waterfalls, swim at Tad Sea Waterfall and spend my second night at Zen Nam Khan Resort. The name represents itself. My last day would be just to laze around the resort – Japanese spa, ecological pool, skype chat with Jim in the middle of the jungle

 

Day 1: Fly Vientiane to Luang Prabang and mountain bike to Shangri-Lao.

Day 2: Spend my day to learn about this incredible animal – Explore the Namkhan River - and sail down the Nam Khan to Zen Nam Khan Resort.

Day 3: Laze around Zen Nam Khan Resort. Travel by road back to Luang Prabang and fly home.

 

Flowers of Bhutan!

Needless to say, Bhutan and flowers – my heaven! You don’t need to do anything, just to be there is a gift.  For larger images of the flowers below, have a look at the Gallery Photos we have for Bhutan.  I've also updated my pages with my own trip to Bhutan - have a look!  Quynh in Bhutan!

       

       


Private cruise in Halong Bay!

I’ve been to Halong Bay several times. First time was with my Mother in 1992. We took a local bus and it was to me like a very long drive. Believe or not, it was my very first holiday and it was a reward of my Mother’s job. There were no overnight junks that I remember, but few boats for rent to see the bay. We stayed in a government guesthouse. Later on, when I came back with out my Mother (I paid for the trip with my own money), Halong was much developed, but nothing compared to what it is now. I still don’t like the drive between Hanoi and Halong, but a private junk to less travelled area of the bay for my extended family is something I want to do. Sea kayak is something I want to do with my brother. I may add a night or two in nearby Bai Tu Long Bay where we can visit our relatives. Bai Tu Long is beautiful itself, you don’t need relatives to visit the place!

 

Day 1: Drive to Halong, board a private junk and cruise to less travelled area of the Bay

Day 2: Back to Halong and drive to Bai Tu Long, spend time with our relatives

Day 3: Drive back to Hanoi

 

Issan Escape

This, I want to do with Jim on motorbike! I know most people would skip Issan when they travel Thailand. Do you want to go back in time and see how Luang Prabang look like some decades ago? That feeling would come to you when you visit Chiang Khan, a very small town on the Mekong River. It’s unlike many other Thai towns, quiet narrow street, old traditional wooden house, friendly people…Stay at one of the riverside guesthouses and enjoy a beautiful sunrise over the Mekong. The ride along the Mekong is fantastic on both sides. I also like the park right cross the river from my house.

 

Day 1: Ride to Loei/Botanical Park, Phu Luang National Park

Day 2: Phu Pha Lom Forest Park, Chiang Khan!

Day 3: Slow ride along road # 211 to Nong Khai, lunch in Sangkhom - home to Vientiane!


 

Fur Therapy and Floating Market!

I love cats, big or small, full tail or tailless…doesn’t matter. Fur therapy works well to me though I did not like cats before (thanks to Jim). If I need a break from…my cats, but still want to feel like them around, I fly to Bangkok and immediately drive to Kanchanabury – home to Tiger Temple – where I can play with big cats. Kanchanabury has more to offer. A visit to River Kwai – where story became visual – can be combined. Back to Bangkok for the night even though I don’t particularly like the city (too much to handle for a small town girl), but I do it so I can visit Tha Kha Floating Market early the next morning before I fly home where my little tigers are waiting. You may hear more of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, but I prefer Tha Kha Floating Market as it is more authentic and not touristy. I’ve done a lot of river trips and visited many authentic markets from mountain to river. This is not the same – a contrast to chaotic Bangkok.

 

Day 1: Fly to Bangkok and drive to Tiger Temple (Kanchanabury)

Day 2: All day with the big cats and a visit to the River Kwai before driving back to Bangkok

Day 3: Tha Kha Floating market – Fly home


 

Ho Chi Minh Trail revisit (for my Father’s dream)

It took me a while to convince my Father to visit us in Laos. He finally came last May. It was his first oversea travel since he walked Ho Chi Minh Trail some 40 years ago. He told me lots of stories about this trail. He was on a special mission to make a report on medical inventory along the trail. His journey started in Bo Trach (Quang Binh Province, Vietnam – southern end of Northern Vietnam right before the Quang Tri DMZ that divided the country to North and South), walked through Khammuane, Savanakhet, Salavan, Sekong, Attapeu (southern provinces of Laos) and ended in Stung Treng, Kratie (Northern Provinces of Cambodia). It took 6 months of his life to walk the trail - no map – no GPS – no good shoes, 1 year based in Stung Treng and over 6 months to walk back. It was between 1970 and 1972. Those 2 years took away many of his dreams, but he told me if he had choices, he would still do it despite the hardship that he had experienced. He lost friends, but gained new friends. He was away from my Mother (as girlfriend back then, she was with a surgery team based in Con Cuong – Nghe An Province, Vietnam) during those years, but they are now still together after all of those years.

 

More than once, Jim said he would like to come along if we ever do it. 40 years ago, my Father never though he would have an American fellow on the trail... And this time, he will travel with a passport!

 

Day 1: Hanoi – Quang Binh by overnight train

Day 2: Quang Binh – Day trip to Bo Trach (Phong Nha - Ke Bang Caves)

Day 3: Quang Binh – Quang Tri (DMZ, Vinh Moc Tunnel)

Day 3: Quang Tri – Lao Bao (Lao – Viet border) – Ban Dong – Savanakhet

Day 4: Savanakhet – Salavan

Day 5: Salavan - Bolaven Plateau

Day 6: Bolaven Plateau – Sekong – Attapeu (Paam)

Day 7: Attapeu – 4000 Island

Day 8: 4000 Island – Khonaphapheng Waterfall - Stung Treng (Cambodia)

Day 9: Stung Treng - Kratie

Day 10: Kratie – Siem Reap

Day 11: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples (especially Bakheng Hill is where his brother spent one year of his life during Khmer Rouge regime to liberate Cambodia)

Day 12: Siem Reap - Hanoi

 

Jim's Additional...

I know Quynh pretty well and am adding the following little things.


Hanoi
Morning Pho (noodle soup) or late night.A great dinner in Korea!

Strolling down shoe street in Hanoi for just a "look".

Street food, pretty much anywhere!


Vientiane

Evening walks along the Mekong River at sunset.

Textile browsing and the Textile Museum.

Food street and some fresh made Papaya Salad


Luang Prabang
Massage, either foot or whole body!

Strolling the night market.
Dinner at Coconut Garden.

Breakfast at Villa Phathana


Chiang Mai
Queen's Botanical Gardens.

Sunday market and the street food!

Pandas at the Chiang Mai Zoo.


Bangkok
Emporium - all day long.

Floating Market, slow style.


Phuket
The beach around Ban Nai Thon

Fresh seafood anywhere!