Round The World With Grandad

Grandma’s Travel Map

Grandma has been to: United Arab Emirates, Antigua and Barbuda, Albania, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Aruba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, People’s Republic of China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Egypt, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Gambia, Greece, Hong Kong, Croatia, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Isle of Man, India, Iceland, Italy, Jordan, Japan, Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Korea, Laos, Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka, Lithuania, Latvia, Morocco, Moldova, Montenegro, Madagascar, Myanmar, Malta, Mexico, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Serbia, Russia, Sweden, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Senegal, Sint Maarten, Swaziland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Tanzania, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Vatican, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Vietnam, South Africa.
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You’re doing What! at Your Age!

Someone actually said that to JP last week. Its the first time but have people been thinking it for years? All he’d done was sit on a train for a very long time. Is there an age limit on that? True it was a long way from home- Siberia in fact and for a very long time – days on end between our stop off points but he wasn’t climbing a mountain or swimming the channel, just sitting down.

When I’d got over being indignant I wondered what the aged were supposed to do gardening?  knitting? stamp collecting?



fantasy gardengate

My fantasy garden gate

Peoples Expectations

The person who said this was a highly educated middle aged man. What will he do when he retires- be bored I’m guessing. Surely retirement is the ideal opportunity to do the things work and family responsibilities stopped you doing when you were younger. Some people love being retired and see it as a good chance to wind down and relax. I still haven’t found out what you are supposed to do all day. But I do know if I ever say” I don’t know how I found time to go to work” I’ll need shooting!

I do garden – its hard work and in my opinion not the best thing for elderly arthritic ladies. I do it because I like gardens not gardening. If I could afford a gardener I’d have one and just potter around cutting roses to put in my trug.

Got carried away there but what a brilliant thought.



I haven’t graduated to knitting yet.

but I don’t think I’ll be good at it.     crocheting

I can crochet but that only takes one needle.

The co-ordination required to use two is probably beyond me.

As for stamp collecting everyone my age did it as a child.

I remember Helveta or Swiss stamps were my favourite along with Magyar Posta

so I don’t need to go back to that.





So what to do?

 The obvious answer is more of what I’ve enjoyed doing for years and top of the list is travel. I have been lucky enough to have lots of time of to travel over the last ten years but being retired allows you enough time for the extra long journeys that have always been on the list.

A couple of months travelling around America, going to Australia the long slow way with no long flights and most recently the Trans Siberian express and on to Japan and China.

These are the journeys of the gap year for the young but the good thing about getting older is that you don’t care as much about what other people think and you don’t have to pretend to be cool.

So we do these things trundling along with our suitcases often surrounded by eighteen year olds with impossibly large rucksacks.

old map

Long may this continue.

Ho Chi Minh City

The city was named Ho Chi Minh in 1976 after reunification to honour their leader but is still often called Saigon. Its big, busy, full of motor bikes and chaotic. Learning to cross the road here is an art. Basically you have to keep your nerve and just go for it. They are quite good at missing you. Continue reading

Another capital, Hanoi

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. Its a French colonial city. The food is amazing and the city is full of handicraft shops with beautiful silk items. The cushions and handbags are an especially good buy (and easy to pack)!

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

You have to join a long queue to visit Ho Chi Minh and it must be taken seriously. No photographs and a serious expression are the rule. The guards make sure all the restrictions are obeyed. His embalmed body is in a glass case and dimly lit. You can’t take photos. Ho Chi Minh was Vietnam’s most popular leader and when he died in 1969 he was embalmed in secret using Russian experts. Every October he goes to Russia to be “renovated”.

Temple of Literature

This was built in 1070 as a university and dedicated to Confucius. At first only aristocrats were admitted. There are five courtyards, two are beautifully landscaped. One contains the huge Well of Heavenly Clarity. Then there’s the  Sage courtyard containing a house of ceremonies and a statue of Confucius. The last courtyard has a huge bell and a drum.

Before important exams students still visit to pray for good results. Then they go back for graduation photos.

The War Museum

The Hoa Lo Prison museum was originally built by the French for political prisoners. During the Vietnam war it was called the Hanoi Hilton by the captured US soldiers.

Dong Xuan Market

The old quarter is the best place to wander round and where the markets are. The Dong Xuan Market is a  four storey communist style building. It contains everything you could ever want to buy. Downstairs there is food, flowers and a pet market. Then upstairs T shirts, handbags, clothes, and anything else you can think of all at very cheap prices.

Or more fun, the streets outside.