Part II - dswphoto
Day 6.

The plan for day 6 was to go scuba diving at Chàm Islands, a ~1 hour boat ride offshore. After breakfast at the resort, we were picked up at 8:30am in a mini-van for the short drive down to the harbour, ready to board the boat for a day of scuba diving.

On the top deck getting a briefing for the day ahead by one of the dive instructors as we head off to the islands.


With my dive instructor/guide for the day, Anton from Italy, on the boat ride to our first dive site. We were split into groups of 5-6 according to dive ability/experience.


Another boat full of snorkellers at our first dive site, at Hon Tai, part of the Chàm Islands.


Trying out my new Gopro camera again. Rianda had never dived before and was doing a discover scuba dive and was a little nervous! My first dive was in a 2 meter deep swimming pool so was quite impressed by how brave she was doing hers in the open sea.


In the water ready to begin the first dive.


Jalanna from Florida, my dive buddy in our group.


Our group with dive guide Anton ready to do some underwater exploring.


The dive was only down to a maximum ~15 meters, so plenty of light still visible despite being overcast.


A black saddleback clownfish. I had bought a cheap, base model Gopro ($150) and my first time using it underwater. For the cheap price I had quite low expectations but it performed really well.


The clownfish were very inquisitive and weren't afraid to get close to the camera.


A couple of very shy crayfish.


Some of the other guys had brought along their Gopro's too.


Close-up of a brilliant blue starfish.


A couple of Pink Skunk Clownfish chilling out in their anemone home.


For our second dive, we moved on to another Island, Hon Dai.


Jumping in!


Some more inquisitive clownfish.


Chàm Islands are part of Cu Lao Cham Marine Park, recognised as a global 'Biosphere Reserve' by UNESCO in 2009.


One of these guys got close enough to have a nibble on my finger!


Again only a shallow dive at ~14 metres maximum depth.


A reclusive Lion fish covered in venomous thorns. First time I had seen one of these in the wild.


With the shallow depth we managed to last 55 minutes on the second dive with still plenty of air left over.


Hiding in the coral.


A spiky, colourful Sea urchin.


Hundreds and thousands.


Doing a safety stop at the end of our second and final dive of the day.


We then went to the main island for lunch and a bit of relaxation in the afternoon.


And a delicious lunch. Only $82 for the hotel pickup/dropoff, two dives and gear, boat and lunch so was great value.


At the beach.


Taking it easy after a fun day of diving.


Arriving back on the mainland at just after 5pm after a great dive day at the Chàm Islands.



Day 7.

Still very much in relaxing and holiday mode at the resort, but I mustered the energy to head into town with the ladies while they got a dose of shopping therapy.


Enjoying the easy going atmosphere in the old town.


Tea.


Old Dog.


Fruit baskets.


Getting a caffeine fix at a café in the old town.


And a banana pancake too.


Back at the resort and a couple of kittens had made their home in the front of someone's room.


Some very nice Pyramid cake at the resort café for afternoon tea.


And Chocolate Log too.


And more fun in the resort pool!


In the evening we had dinner at the beach front restaurant at the resort.


Where they had a Italian buffet night. Everything from snapper and lasagne to tiramasu and banana ice cream.



Day 8.

After a lazy morning at the resort, we headed off in the afternoon into Hoi An to enjoy some cooking lessons of traditional Vietnamese cuisine at Gioan cooking school.


We first went to the local markets to source some fresh herbs, spices and vegetables for our afternoon of cooking.


An old Vietnam War era bunker we spotted on our walk back to the cooking school.


Our instructor for the day showing us how to prepare the lemongrass. She was quite fun and a little eccentric, referring to the food hammer we used to crush the garlic as the 'boyfriend crush'.


Preparing the stock for our first dish, Phở.


Zara adding the stock powder to the cooked beef bones.


Our Phở stock with other ingredients of sugar, ginger, star anise, onion and shallots ready for the long, slow stewing.


Grated cucumber and carrot for our second dish, fresh spring roll. Along with salt, sugar and vinegar, we then squeezed it in cloth to remove excess water.


Cooking the peeled shrimps for the spring rolls.


And after wrapping up in moist rice paper, the finished spring roll ready to eat with dipping sauce we had prepared (crushed chili, crushed garlic, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce). It tasted as good as it looks!


Dad being taught how to test the temperature of the frying pan oil with the chopsticks.


And frying the sliced pork and shrimp for our third dish, bánh xèo or rice pancake.


Peyton adding the mixture of rice flour, tumeric and water to the frying pan, then sprinkling on some bean sprouts.


And the finished bánh xèo ready to eat.


Boiling the rice noodles for the Phở.


And after adding the stock and marinated meat, our deliciois Beef Phở.


Frying the chicken after marinating it in stock powder, sugar, sesame oil and chunky lemongrass for our last dish.


And after mixing in some chilli and lemongrass paste. Was a great afternoon cooking and eating some very tasty Vietnamese cuisine.


And pulling some gnarly faces back at the resort!


Dinner at the hotel with a tasty cheese burger. I then said a final farewell to my family before the early tomorrow morning for our journey back home .



Day 9.

My last breakfast buffet in a while so decided to make the most of it!


Back at Da Nang International Airport (DAD) for our 9:40am flight to Hong Kong.


Checking in.


At the international gates where we spent the last of our Vietnamese dong on some last minute souvenirs.


Our Dragonair A320 at the gate.


Just after departure over the city of Da Nang.


Light meal of dim sum and some fruit, although I could only eat half of it after the big breakfast earlier.


Flying over the blue water of the South China Sea.


And on descent into HKG.


We parked up at a remote gate before an airport bus whisked us away to immigration.


The queue for immigration was quite long but moved very quickly. We then put our bags into luggage storage and hopped on the Airport Express train for the 25 minute ride into the city.


And outside Hong Kong Central Station.


We then walked to Sheung Wan. Outside the many dried seafood shops on Des Voeux Road West.


All about you.


Corner Shop.


Getting some pork dumplings for $HK4 each.


Possession Street, where the British Flag was first planted in 1841.


A popular place to grab weekend lunch.


Paying respects.


Puppies on Tai Ping Shan Street.


We then stopped for a much needed caffeine fix.


Sheung Wan is known as a bit of a 'hipster' enclave, hence the eclectic interior of the café.


Mural.


Inside Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road.


Incense coils hanging from the ceiling.


Idol.


Prayers.


The many colours and smoky haze from the burning incense made the place feel quite ethereal.


Angelic.


We then walked down to Lascar Row / Cat Street and wandered through the bazaar.


Maoism.


Calligraphy.


Analogue.


Crossing.


Blue. We then made our way back to Central and down to the ferry piers.


And caught the Star Ferry over Victoria Harbour to Kowloon. The 484m tall Hong Kong International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong's tallest building, to the left.


News.


We then walked up Nathan Road, the main thoroughfare in Kowloon.


Puss & Boots.


We then walked through the Temple Street Markets


Mickey.


Kimono's.


Hong Kong.


No Discounts.


Popstick.


After starting to get a bit hungry we stopped for dinner at Temple Spice Crab.


And had a big helping of Roast Duck.


With mouth watering scallops...


...and their signature spicy crab!


Jordan Road.


Bus Stop.


Punter.


Street food. We then started making our way south again.


Down on the subway to catch the train from Jordan to Tsim Sha Tsui.


Only $HK2.8 for the short journey.


Tsim Sha Tsui with the famous Peninsula Hotel down the street middle left.


We then walked down to the Kowloon Public Pier to watch the dazzling Symphony of Lights show across on Hong Kong Island.


Was a great view of this famous city with 47 buildings all lit up in amazing splendour.


Catching the Star Ferry back to Hong Kong Island.


Back on Hong Kong Island with the Hong Kong Observation Wheel top right.


Enjoying some cheesecake and coffee at Pret a Manger with our last Hong Kong dollars. An interesting currency in that it is issued by three commercial banks (Bank of China, HSBC and Standard Chartered) under the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, each with their own designs, rather than from a single Central Bank as such.


And back at Hong Kong Airport. It was my my first time visiting Hong Kong and a longer return trip is now definitely on my travel wishlist!


And about to catch the final flight home to Dubai after an amazing and unforgettable nine days!

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