Read this: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City
by Erik Larson

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”
– Daniel H. Burnham

“I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing.”
– H. H. Holmes

So begins Erik Larson’s account of two extraordinary men and the event of the century that tied their stories together. Husband and I were channel flicking a few weeks ago and came across a documentary on America’s first serial killer. We’re both a little macabre and enjoy a good doco, so we started watching; an hour later, we were glued to the screen, intermittently Googling details mentioned to check their legitimacy. My online hunt led me to this book, which I was mighty excited to start reading.

In a nutshell, Larson’s book covers the Chicago’s World’s Fair (or World’s Columbian Exposition) held in 1893 held officially to mark the 400th anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus, and unofficially to one-up Paris on their stunning World’s Fair held in 1889 (which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille) and stick it to New York who didn’t think a city like Chicago had the ability to do it justice. The Fair is one of three “characters” in my mind; the other two were architect Daniel Burnham, the man who was behind the design and construction of the Fair (no small feat considering it covered an area of almost 700 acres with almost 200 buildings custom built for it), and H. H. Holmes, the man who used the excitement and lure of the Fair to help him kill at least nine people, but the actual number is suspected to be quite a bit higher.

In Larson’s own words:
“Beneath the gore and smoke and loam, this book is about the evanescence of life, and why some men choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible, others in the manufacture of sorrow. In the end it is a story of the ineluctable conflict between good and evil, daylight and darkness, the White City and the Black.”

The book follows the city of Chicago, Burnham and Holmes through the years preceding, during and after the World’s Fair. We see the White City of the Fair come together under the watchful eye of Daniel Burnham, and we see how Holmes uses it to his advantage. While Burnham is employing talented artists and craftsmen, Holmes is luring vulnerable young women to Chicago and killing them in his “castle,” a structure he had built for use as a hotel for the guests that would flock to Chicago for the fair, but which was also equipped with special features like gas pipes that only he could control, sound-proof chambers, and custom built oven that was not used to bake bread in.

“The Chicago Times-Herald took the broad view and said of Holmes: ‘He is a prodigy of wickedness, a human demon, a being so unthinkable that no novelist would dare to invent such a character. The story, too, tends to illustrate the end of the century.’ “

 

And the legacies these three legends left behind?

Holmes was hanged in 1896 after being found guilty of the murders of Benjamin Pitezel and his daughters Alice and Nellie. While some claim he was America’s first real serial killer with over 200 kills, the exact number will never be known for certain. Larson writes that “At the very least he killed nine.”

Burnham‘s Fair was a raving success, the buildings swept visitors off their feet, and went on to design many more buildings, including the Flatiron in New York City. He passes away in Heidelberg, Germany in 1912 and was laid to rest in Chicago’s Graceland cemetery.

And the World’s Fair set the standard for every other fair to come; Walt Disney was most likely inspired by the Fair, given his father helped build it. L. Frank Baum’s Oz was another dreamland likely informed by the White City. Every carnival since has had a Ferris Wheel, which was invented just for the Fair. Juicy Fruit and Pabst Blue Ribbon came into existence, and the Dewey Decimal System was introduced to the world, and Helen Keller was introduced to the man who invented her beloved Braille typewriter.

 

One of the best reads I’ve had this year, combining history with story telling in the most captivating possible way. I also love reading books that describe great cities as they used to be, and this painted the most vivid picture of “old” Chicago – I’m so much more excited to get back to this amazing city for a second visit now! And apparently in line for the Hollywood treatment, so pick up a copy and read the book first – it’s always better, anyway!

Bone Broth: what it is, how to make it & why I’m trying it

So, I’ve been drinking a cup of bone broth every afternoon for the past 17 days. And as odd as I thought the prescription of it was for my gut problems, my time spent investigating it on Google has informed me that its actually becomming a bit of a “thing” right now. There are dozens of articles and posts already swimming around out there from multiple perspectives/health issues, so I’m going to add my experiences and health perspective to the pile, too.

 

WHAT IS BONE BROTH?
Its exactly what it sounds like, actually. A broth made by simmering marrow bones in water for several hours (like, 12 hours minimum). While the health hipsters have only just climbed on board the broth train, my Italian family (and many more like mine) have been doing this for generations. Having mostly grown up in small towns and provinces around Italy, and not being particularly wealthy, my ancestors had to learn to use every single part of the animals they had to slaughter in order to feed their families, and that included the bones. As kids, we’d always get a bowl on mum or Nonna’s brodo when we were sick – the old-school, uncool, billion year old, Italian, original bone broth.

WHY IS IT A THING NOW?
Let me back track a little so I can answer that question properly…

I’ve been plagued with gut issues for around 5 years now, bounced back and forth from doctor to specialist and back again, trying everything that’s been suggested and prescribed to absolutely no avail.

A few weeks ago, at my wit’s end, I went to another appointment, this time with a naturopath specialising in gut issues. All I could tell her for certain was that in recent hospital tests, I had tested negative to coeliac and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), extremely positive to fructose malabsorption, and had a history of severe lactose intolerence as a baby.

Among several supplements that I was to try, I was also prescribed a modified GAPS diet for a few weeks, which for me, includes the following guidelines:
– no sugar or processed foods
– no gluten
– no grains
– no cow’s milk products
– bone broth, kefir and sauerkraut daily

As the name suggests (Gut And Psychology Syndrome), it’s now been well documented that there is a strong link between the gut and the mind, with a rather high incidence of people suffering from depression and anxiety also suffering from gut disorders. Exhibit A, me.

So back to the original question – why bone broth? It’s believed that the gelatin in the broth (that comes from those long simmered bones, particularly knuckles and joints) can be incredibly helpful in healing dodgy gut lining. It’ also said to help boost the immune system, which is great for those of us with gut issues, as our immune systems are generally not in prime condition. While there are certainly more studies needed to verify these claims of good, there are certainly no harmful side effects to drinking a cup of broth each day, and with the staggering numbers of people who swear by it and nothing to lose, I figured I’d give it a go – couldn’t make my current game of Russian Roulette every time I sit down to eat any worse!

HOW DO YOU MAKE IT?
How long is a piece of string? My investigations led me to a ridiculous amount of recipes, all with slight differences in ingredients and method, and all claiming to be the right way of doing it. I call bullshit and came up with my own recipe, combiming the plethora of online advice I found, what I remember from my childhood, and plain common sense. I will say though that this is a long process, with the broth simmering for at least 12 hours, soma slow cooker would be much easier and safer than a pot on the stove!

I did two versions, one beef and one chicken. I suspect the beef broth (made with marrow bones that the butcher sliced into smalled pieces for me and a few ox tail bones) was closer to what it’s “meant” to be like; once cooled, it formed a gelatinous mass with a nice layer of fat hardened over the top. The chicken one (made using the carcass of a roast chicken we ate for dinner) was a lot thinner – no jelly, no fat layer. They both tasted pretty good on their own, to my surprise (and relief), and would make great soup bases.

Beef Broth Recipe
– 1.5kg beef marrow bones, cut up by the butcher so the inner parts are exposed. Knuckles and joints are great, so is cartilage and fat and meat; use it all!
– 2 carrots
– 3 celery stalks
– 5 brown mushrooms
– 8 bay leaves
– 1.5 tsp turmeric
– 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Heat the oven to 220°C. Place the bones on an oven tray, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 30 minutes.

2. Take the bones out of the oven and place them into your slow cooker, along with all the other ingredients. Fill the slow cooker with enough water to cover the bones, set on low heat, put the lid on, and ignore it for 12 – 18 hours. I’ve been putting mine on before dinner and turning it off the next morning at breakfast time.

3. After it’s cooled a bit, I ladel my broth through a sieve into empty peanut butter jars to freeze. Some websites recommend glass jars, but I’m not willing to risk them in the freezer!

HOW DO YOU EAT/DRINK IT?
I’ve been taking my jars out of the freezer and putting them in the fridge to defrost slowly over 24-36 hours. Then, I take it to work in a travel mug, sprinkle a little salt in it, heat it up around mid afternoon in the microwave for 2 minutes or so, and sip it down!

It can be used as a great soup base if you’d rather incorporate it into a meal, and a lot of people also prefer to have it in the morning with their breakfast, but I like it in the afternoon when I tend to get the nibbles.

 

SO, HAS IT MADE ANY DIFFERENCE?
Honestly,  it’s hard to tell… one thing I have noticed though is that while I’ve been experiencing severe stomach pain and bloating most afternoons for a very long time now, I actually haven’t really had that while I’ve been on this GAPS diet, which has been wonderful! Whether it’s the bone broth though, or the probiotics, kefir, sauerkraut, gut relief supplement, foul tasting herbal elixir, or a combination of the lot, I don’t know. But I figure I’ll stick with it a little while longer!

Through my eyes: Faces of Hanoi

TGIF! Let’s go back to Vietnam for today…

We were walking through an utterly chaotic marketplace (think motorbikes, squealing children and rampant chickens all battling it out on the streets), and noticed these guys set up in the middle of it all. Cooking, eating and smoking, while I was fearing for my safety (motorbikes don’t really care whether they ride on the road or the footpath), they couldn’t have been more relaxed… They seemed to be having as much fun watching the chaos unfold around them as I was.
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I really didn’t see much graffiti or street art in Vietnam, so this caught my eye straight away. It was around lunch time, and there was a decent crowd gathered around the little plastic stools and baskets filled with herbs and assorted sauces. We stopped for a banh mi – how could we not?!
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While the night market was being set up by the hard working Vietnamese women (simultaneously swatting away cheeky children), the men called happy hour and gathered on corners for beers and a gossip session. Coming from a culture where the work is divided relatively evenly between the sexes, this was a big reminder to me that not all women are fortunate enough to not be expected to work, raise a family, cook, clean, and do whatever else needs to be done…
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This photo is not an uncommon sight on the streets of Hanoi. For the most part, it’s the women run the street food stalls, and when they’re not serving up something delicious, they’re either chatting animatedly with their companions, or staring off into space.  It’s hot, humid, and there are more motorbikes on the roads than you’d think possible, stirring up all sorts of dust and pollution. These women work hard in conditions that aren’t always comfortable. They’re pretty amazing 🙂img_7109

Women who travel alone are great; so are women who travel with their partners

Thank you guys!! I was stoked to have received such a positive response to my last blog post about spending time with yourself 🙂 But while I was putting it together and investigating more of the “Women Should Travel Alone” thing, I found something else that got to me a little, so I wanted to write a bit of a part 2 today…

Writing last week’s post, I came to realise that I really am in the minority. At 31 years old, I’m not settled down with kids and doing the family thing, nor am I a sassy, independent single lady ready to go out and take on the world alone. Instead, I’m somewhere in between; I married relatively young for my generation (a few weeks before my 25th birthday), and have had almost 13 happy years with my best friend. I obviously don’t identify with the single ladies, but I’m also not ready to “settle down” just yet. And I discovered that there really just isn’t much of a market for the “happily married, without kids, still up for adventure” women of the world!

I typed into Google “WHY WOMEN SHOULD TRAVEL” and found the following results over the first two or three pages:
– Why Women Should Never Should Never Stop Traveling Alone
– Why Women Should Keep Travelling Solo
– Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone At Least Once
– 15 Reasons Every Girl Should Travel Solo
– Solo Travel: Why Women Should Travel Alone
– Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone
– Why Woman Should Travel Alone
– Why All Women Should Travel Solo Once In Their Lives
– Why All Women Should Travel Solo
– Why Every Busy Woman Should Travel Alone
– 10 Reasons Why Women Should Travel Alone

Next, I tried “WHY WOMEN SHOULD TRAVEL WITH HUSBAND” and got…
– Why Women Should Holiday Alone
– How Travelling Alone Can Affect A Marriage
– Why I Travel Without My Husband
– Why Women Are Travelling Without Men
– Why Every Woman Should Travel On Her Own Before She’s 40
– Why I Travel Without My Husband
– No, I Do Not Need My Husand’s Permission To Travel Alone
– Is It Healthy For Couples To Travel Apart?
– Traveling Alone Benefits – Woman Travel Without Husband

Seeing a theme here? Like I said last week, I’m all for anything that helps women see that they’re not helpless little girls. Of course we can travel alone! And yes, it’s great – in fact, I highly recommend trying it! But at the same time, for the minority like me who fall somewhere in the middle of the SINGLE – FAMILY spectrum, travelling with your significant other can be every bit as rewarding, empowering and fun 🙂

So, for the other ladies out there who are in the same boat as me, who have and can travel alone, but who choose to travel with their significant other because they want to, maybe you can relate to my reasons for choosing to travel with my husband (which, coincidentally are many of the reasons a lot of the aforementioned articles recommend travelling alone…):

1. LESS NEGATIVE MENTAL HEALTH EFFECTS
My mental health struggles aren’t something I hide, so I’m not scared to say that travelling with depression and anxiety can be a big challenge. It certainly doesn’t stop me (in fact, I’m travelling more than ever, now!), but I find that I get a lot more out of my travels with my husband by my side. He’s my best friend, he understands the challenges I face, and he’s patient with me. Having someone who knows you inside out and is patient and understanding can make all the difference between working through an anxiety attack and enjoying the rest of the day, or letting it win and going back to your hotel with your tail between your legs.

2. MORE CONFIDENCE
Following on from that, not only am I more comfortable with him around, I am actually much more confident. I’m a classic introvert and am usually quite reserved, but I’ve also always had a very pronounced independent streak; if I’m not anxious on my travels, that comes out. It’s almost like having a security net around; I’m not scared to strike up a conversation with a stranger. I’m not scared to try my local language skills. I’m not fussed by walking into the café first and placing our order. I’m not worried about wandering off the main street and down an alley to get that photo. I can get out of my comfort zone without freaking out too much, and that brings out my confidence.

3. DO SOMETHING NEW
While we’re very similar in a lot of ways, we’re also very different, which means that we’ve both seen and done some amazing things we’d never have done on our own. I didn’t think I’d enjoy an NFL game in San Francisco that much or a visit to Westham United’s grounds, but they ended up being two of the best travel experiences I’ve had!

4. SAFETY
As much as I hate to say it, there is safety in numbers. We live in an increasingly scary world, and travelling solo (whether you’re male or female) inherently increases your risk.

5. INDEPENDENCE, TOGETHER
It may be a little different for us that other couples, because we are both very independent and like to have time alone, which means that even if we don’t both want to do the same thing when we’re travelling, it doesn’t matter. We’ll quite happily go to a sports bar so he can have a beer and watch a game while I sit there reading the new book I just picked up. Compromise isn’t always neither party getting what they want.

6. PHOTOS
Yes, it’s great to have someone to take photos of you when you’re travelling so you don’t have an album full of selfies, but the best thing about travelling with your significant other is that because they know you so well, they can capture you so perfectly. When someone who really loves you takes your photo while you’re doing something you love, especially without you knowing, they’re able to capture you as they see you, not as you ask them to while you’re posing. And it often reveals a lot about the things they love about you!

7. LEARN YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
You learn this travelling on your own, too, but I think it’s magnified when you travel with your significant other; they’re generally not afraid to point out when you’re doing a great job or letting the team down. Personally, I’ve learned through travelling with my husband and having him point it out that that planning and organising are big strengths of mine (which makes his life easier, because they’re his weaknesses), but an associated weakness is an initial freak out when flights are cancelled last minute or a hotel can’t find our reservation (whereas one of his strengths is keeping his cool and going with the flow).

8. STRENGTHEN YOUR BOND
Inevitably (hopefully). Every time you and your significant other are in a situation that isn’t your norm, you’ll be tested and given the chance to strengthen your bond. You hear about things like one partner getting sick, losing a rental property, or returning to full time study making or breaking relationships. And even then, you’re still going to have familiar surroundings or other people around. When you’re travelling, you’re thrown in the deep end with all the challenges that come with it. And not only will you only have each other to turn to and trust, you’re simultaneously stuck together basically 24/7. And that can often be a lot harder than travelling alone. So far (touch wood), we’ve come away from all of our travels stronger. We’ve had dramas and arguments on the way, but we’ve always come home more solid than when we left.

I’m hoping I’m not the only woman in this situation, so would love to hear from other childless women travelling with their husbands, and welcome you ladies to add your thoughts, too 🙂

Women, spend time with yourselves (instead of the “travel alone” thing)

ALONE. Separated from others. Exclusive of anyone or anything else. Having no one else present. On one’s own. Indicating that something is confirmed to the specified subject or recipient.

Every two or three months, I book a night or two of accommodation for one person in Warburton. Yes, I have a husband, a best friend, a sister who could accompany me, but I choose to take these trips without a companion. Why? Because I believe that it’s incredibly important for people to spend some time with themselves. Especially when those people are women. It’s important for men, too, but it really hit me that this really is still predominantly such a women’s issue when I was sitting in a café on the weekend waiting to order breakfast; I eventually called someone over to take my order, and he said “ohh, I just assumed you were waiting for someone.” That’s when I decided to write this post instead of another food review.

If, like me, you’re a lady who enjoys her travels, you’ll have no doubt read the myriad articles and blog posts out there titled “Why All Women Should Travel Alone” or one of its variations. You’ll be a better person if you can be more independent, they say.  You’ll meet so many new people that you’d never have had the change to meet if you were travelling with a companion. You’ll be forced right out of your comfort zone. You’ll be able to eat and drink and see and do whatever you want and no one can stop you!!! Oh, and you should definitely do this before you turn 30. Because apparently your years of excitement and adventure end and your carriage will turn back into a pumpkin then.


These articles aren’t all bad; I’m all for anything that encourages women to take control of their lives, but I think there is a HUGE difference between “travelling alone” and “spending time with yourself.” 

As a textbook introvert who suffers from depression and anxiety, I actually really enjoy having my husband with me when I travel. It’s not that I can’t travel alone (I have) or that I don’t enjoy it (I did) or that I got nothing out of it (I did) or that I’m helplessly reliant on him (I’m most certainly not); it’s that he actually really is my best friend and I have way more fun when I’m sharing my adventures with him. The reason we’ve worked so well for almost 13 years is that he encourages my natural tendency to be independent. I’m just as capable of speaking to a stranger in a foreign country with him by my side. And forcing an anxious introvert out of her comfort zone without backup isn’t always a great idea! So I really don’t think “travelling alone” is all that relevant or important.

Some other articles propagate the idea of travelling alone in order to feel more freedom, to increase your confidence, to become more self-reliant and to better understand yourself. Those are all brilliant things for any lady to have at her disposal, but I don’t think they come from “travelling alone;” I think you’ll find they come from spending time with yourself. Go back to the definitions of the word “alone” at the start of the post. I read that as being isolated and cut off, maybe even from yourself. When I take my little solo trips, I don’t see them as taking time to be alone, I see them as taking time to be with myself. I meditate. I reflect on the last few weeks or months. I try to understand how I’ve come to be where I am right now. I set some goals for myself, treat myself to a massage, a riverside walk where I say hello to everyone I pass, a trip to an antique shop where I chat with the gentleman behind the counter.

Yeah, I’m taking these trips without a companion, but I don’t feel “alone,” separated or exclusive to anything. I’m spending time with me. Instead of ignoring the niggling feeling of “not enough-ness” that drives so many people to travel (thinking that if they ignore those scary feelings and just escape, they’ll magically find some answers), I’m learning to make friends with it. Instead of shoving it aside while I take a selfie under the Eiffel Tower and post it to Instagram with an “I-don’t-need-no-man-to-take-me-to-Paris” caption, I’m sitting down to a pot of tea and a jam-smothered scone with it and trying to work out how I can let it go on its way without me.


You don’t need to travel the world alone to grow as a person, ladies. You just need to spend a little time with YOU 🙂

Top 10 Things To Do in Hanoi

1. Shop at the Dong Xuan Weekend Night Market

Where? Dong Xuan and Hang Chieu Streets, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? Fantastic street food, crazy-cheap shopping, and the bat-sh#t crazy atmosphere that makes Asian street markets so much fun!
How long will you need? Get there around 7pm, and stay until you’re shopped out.
Cost? Everything is pretty cheap, but be prepared to barter so you’re not getting ripped off.
Read more:
– Dong Xuan Night Market, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

2. Visit the “Hanoi Hilton” – Hoa Lo Prison

Where? 1 Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? The prison was originally built by the French in the 1880s to imprison Vietnamese political prisoners, but when the French eventually left Vietnam in 1954 after their defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the prison was taken over by the North Vietnamese Army who used it to house, interrogate and torture American prisoners of war. It was the American prisoners who sarcastically nicknames the prison the “Hanoi Hilton,” in honour of the horrible conditions they faced in there. While it is obviously well known that the Americans suffered just as horribly to the Vietnamese as the Vietnamese did to the French, the exhibits in the museum focus mainly on the torment suffered by the Vietnamese under French control. And they are truly horrific.
How long will you need? 1-2 hours.
Cost? Around AUD$1.50 per person
Read more:
– Hoa Lo Prison – the “Hanoi Hilton”

 

3. Stroll the through beautiful grounds of the Temple of Literature

Where? 58 Quốc Tử Giám, Văn Miếu, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? The Temple of Literature in Hanoi is dedicated to Confucius , and was the site of Vietnam’s first university, dating back to 1076. Back then, only those of noble birth were admitted, but the mid-1400s brought about a new age, where gifted students from around the country were allowed. Now, it’s a stunning public space where you’ll walk around with a slack jaw and constant camera clicking…
How long will you need? 2 hours
Cost? Around AUD$1.20 per person
Read more:
– Photo essay: The Temple of Literature, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

4. Ignore the overcautious and pretentious travelers and eat street food!

Why go? It’s not dirty or gross, it’s not going to make you sick, it’s not something to turn your nose up at. The food being made by the sweet little old ladies on the back of a motorbike cart is some of the best food in the city, so drop the ego and get eating!
Cost? It’s cheap – the spread about cost us about AUD$6.00 each, and we got nowhere near finishing it!
Read more:
– Eating the city: Hanoi, Vietnam

 

5. Eat ice cream and people watch by the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake

Where? Literally in the middle of the city, you can’t miss it.
Why go? Hoan Kiem Lake is the centre of the city, and the place where so many social events are held; at any time of the day or night, you’ll see people gathering for a picnic, to study, to practice tai chi, or just for a bit of a gossip session. When the heat starts to get to you, grab an ice cream, park yourself in the shade of the trees that circle the lake, and just take it all in…
How long will you need? As long as you want 🙂
Cost? Ice cream is pretty cheap, and the view is free!
Read more:
– Hoan Kiem Lake & Tortoise Tower, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

6. Get educated on the Vietnamese point of view at the Vietnam Military History Museum

Where? 28A Điện Biên Phủ, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? The grounds are piled with discarded planes and bomb shells, the buildings full of photos and more pieces of history. It’s a sombre atmosphere, and you can’t help feeling enormous respect for this small but courageous nation of underdogs. While you could never understand what they have been through, you start to understand just why they’re so fiercely proud and patriotic, and it’s a great way to take in a serious history lesson.
How long will you need? We were there for a few hours.
Cost? Around AUD$1.20 per person
Read more:
The Vietnam Military History Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

7. Take a day trip out to Ha Long Bay

Why go? It’s not hard to see why Ha Long Bay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. The bay includes, I believe, almost 2000 islands and islets, and is just breathtakingly beautiful, especially when you’re floating through it on a boat, without a single care in the world…
How long will you need? All day long for a day trip, but if you have a few nights to spare, you can spend a few nights on the water.
Cost? We took a day trip with Intrepid, which was amazing – cost around AUD$120.00 per person (though I believe that’s done up a little now), and worth every cent.
Read more:
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
– Thiên Cung Cave, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

 

8. Indulge in one of the city’s favourite dishes, bún chà

Where? Literally everywhere from the street corners to the markets.
Why go? Vermicelli noodles. Meat. Peanuts. Spring onion. And a delicious sauce to pour over the top. Like you need any more convincing!
Cost? You can get a bowl for a few dollars almost anywhere in the city!
Read more:
– Eat here: Bún Chà Nem Cua Bê, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

9. Take in the patriotism and national pride at the Hi Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum

http://www.baotanghochiminh.vn/tabid/528/default.aspx
Where? 19 Ngách 158/193 Ngọc Hà, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Why go? Ho Chi Minh (or Uncle Ho, to the Vietnamese) fought for Vietnamese independence, bringing the North and South together under one rule. He was a popular man, and his mausoleum brings in hundreds of visitors every day, mostly locals actually, paying their respects. But the tourists come in by the bus load too, often making their way on to the museum, like I did. The museum is quite big, and incredibly interesting – it actually makes history interesting, for those of you who aren’t history nerds like me 🙂
How long will you need? 2-3 hours.
Cost? Around AUD$1.00 per person
Read more:
– Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum & Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam

 

10. Finish the day with a drink up on Café Nola’s umbrella-covered rooftop

Where? 89 Mã Mây, Quan Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Why go? Rooftop bar. Great cocktails at cheap prices. Delicious food to nibble on. And they have the cutest collection of umbrellas dangling above you. Best way ever to finish a big day in Hanoi!
How long will you need? Spend a long afternoon there, trust me 🙂
Cost? Cheap enough that I don’t remember!
Read more:
Eat (& drink!) here: Nola, Hanoi, Vietnam

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories – launch time!

Hi guys,

Just a quick post to apologise for the radio silence last week and this week; I’ve been working hard to get my little side project ready to go, and I’m excited to let you know that Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories has officially launched!

We’re going to be releasing a new chapter every Sunday, so make yourself a cup of tea or hot chocolate, curl up on the couch, and enjoy the first chapter 🙂

If you enjoy reading, hopefully you’ll consider contributing your story, too. If you have any questions about how it all works, you’ll hopefully find the answers on our FAQ page, and when you’re ready to tell your story, just click along to the Submissions page!

A huge thank you to everyone who’s supported this project so far – I hope it’ll find it’s wings and take off, and be around to share many extraordinary stories for a long time to come 🙂