Sunday, February 16, 2014

The tag-along wife....a new way of life.




I returned home to Vietnam last week with a new status. In a matter of days, I went from "empty nester" to "tag-along" wife.

Mr. H travels frequently for work. I rarely had the chance to join him over the years with children at home but my new found freedom has put a new spin on life. I have been scrutinising his itinerary these past few days..looking for travel opportunities and found a few.

My promise to Mr. H is to travel sight unseen..business is business. He has his agenda and I have mine. Unfortunately, my first trip out of the gate did not go as planned.

Last week, I  joined the tail end of his business trip to explore the new InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in Danang, Vietnam. It has been on my hit list ever since I wrote about it here.

It was a one hour flight from Saigon...easy. I was told to look for a driver holding a sign who would escort me to the resort... I thought it would be easy.

I arrived to flurry of signs but none bearing my name or the name of the hotel. One woman was convinced I was a Mrs. Neil...and that I was unaware of the fact. I passed. I did spot one sign in the distance, scratched on a piece of paper which simply said "Jeanne". I thought it was odd that it did not have my last name but..I have learned, when in Vietnam, you go with the flow. I approached the man holding the sign, said I was "Jeanne" and asked if he was going to the InterContinental resort..he nodded and said "Yes". He then lead me to the curbside to wait while he brought around the car.  While he did, I sent Mr. H a text to say I found my driver, was not certain where I would end up but was hoping for the best.



The car arrived...

Now..this is when some people might have thought it strange that a luxury resort like the InterContinental would send a banged up car in need of repair to transport guests. I guess I am not like most people. But to be safe, I asked again if he was going to the InterContinental resort and he nodded, saying "Yes". I had no reason to doubt him...he was emphatic.

The lack of seat belts was a concern but I persevered. We sped off at lightening speed with the horn blasting away at every possible intrusion. Ten minutes into the ride we took a hard turn around a corner and as we did..my door went flying past me. I grabbed it, closed it again and asked one more time if we were going to the InterContinental resort..he said "yes".  Another ten minutes and the drivers phone rang..he answered and then passed it to me. His manager was on the line, wanting to know my destination..I said the InterContinental resort..there was silence and then several questions which I did not understand. We both hung up. I had a bad feeling.

On the road to the InterContinental with the Goddess of Mercy statue in the distance.

Within a few minutes Mr. H's PA, Quynh, called me. She was waiting at the hotel for me to check in and wondered if something happened. By this point, I knew something was amiss and passed my phone to the driver. The tone of his voice spoke volumes. He passed back the phone and Quynh told me I was in the wrong car. The driver did not speak English and was transporting me to a hotel in the opposite direction of where I wanted to be. There was another "Jeanne" waiting at the airport.

He pulled over, the phone went back and forth between myself and the driver for what seemed an eternity. Once the phone banter was over, he got out, hailed a cab and quickly transferred me and my luggage into the cab before driving off with horn blazing.

I looked at the cab driver, he looked at me. I said 'InterContinental?" He said "yes". Quynh suggested she speak to him on the phone to confirm, I thought it was a great idea. In the end, my thirty minute drive from the airport to the resort took two hours. By the time I arrived, everyone knew about it..a flurry of apologies ensued. I never did find out what happened to the hotel driver..I was just glad to be there.

As for the InterContinental...it did not disappoint, even in the midst of monsoon like winds which howled through our room on my first night. 




The next morning...I wandered up and over, in and around the hotel and was captivated by it's mystical charm. Bad weather aside, I knew that when the sun shined and the winds softened, it would be a wonderful spot to spend a few days. I am forever the optimist..and felt it here.  Especially after spending a few hours in the spa..which was worth every minute!


The hotel is set in the Son Tra Peninsula, a secluded haven along the foreshore of the South China Sea in Danang. They say the famed architect Bill Bensley "has woven his magic" throughout every space into a place "Where Myth Meets Luxury". It is clear that he has done just that.  I have never experience anything like it..where "traditional Vietnamese design meets modern architectural flair". 

What fascinated me most were the statues of monkeys at ever turn. They are everywhere...and I mean everywhere. They appear to honour the rare red face monkeys that live in the lush national park that surrounds the resort. I was told that if you awake early in the morning, you might seem them in the trees. No surprise that this area is referred to as "mythical Monkey Mountain".





There are many design features in this resort that are truly unforgettable...the colours used throughout are wild and imaginative. Alice in Wonderland meets Versace was one of my passing thoughts.



My photos do not capture the magic of this resort. To fully appreciate it, you need to view the video.







I can not say my first jaunt as a tag-along wife was a quiet affair. Word travelled fast about my adventure from the airport to the hotel. It was clear that Mrs. H was on the premises. So much for travelling sight unseen.




I am hoping for one more try this week..to Hong Kong. 
It is familiar territory..I have a good feeling about this one.
Wish me luck!

PS.
Thinking of travelling to Danang?
If so, be sure to visit Hoi An.
Past posts...
My past travels to Hoi An...
A Weekend in Hoi An

If you are interested in staying at 
InterContinental Danang 
click here

Photos by Jeanne Henriques

57 comments:

  1. What an adventure...at least more of an adventure than every day life brings to you in your world travels. The place looks gorgeous. I loved the description of Alice in Wonderland meets Versace.

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    1. Thank you Sarah! It was the first thing that came to mind...Alice in Wonderland meets Versace. I just had to go with it. ;)

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  2. Oooh, this sounds like a plan.
    Isn't it delicious how every stage of life is a new adventure?
    Have fun!
    xoxo

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    1. Agree Pamela...I think "adventure" is the operative word from here on out. ;)

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  3. LOVE the story!Especially,the door flying open!Sounds like you are on a new adventures for certain!HOW GRAND and Hong Kong being your next destination…….I was there once a long time ago but can remember it as clear as daylight!It was NOTHING to what I had imagined.I bought my MOTHER a watch………she still wears it!We went to an island…….MCCOW??Had tea at the old GRAND HOTEL…….name escapes me!The old world with the new modern skyscrapers…….was fascinating to me.Then again I was 20 years old!

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    1. Thank you Elizabeth...I am expecting Hong Kong to be a bit calmer. I have much better luck with my English there. ;)

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  4. Oh Jeanny, if your story wouldn't be so nerve-racking it could be a comedy. But you know In Asia they never
    say a "no". But don't let discourage your adventurous plans to join Mr.H on his business trips. Have a better
    welcome in HKG

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    1. I shall Rena..and you know, I forgot about the use of the word "yes" for everything. I am wiser now. ;)

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  5. One of the first things I learned when I arrived in Vietnam was that "Yes", especially when accompanied by a smile, was code for "I haven't the foggiest notion what you are saying to me." I think this resort was being constructed when I drove by in 2010 on my way to Hoi An. I'm going to share the hotel's video on some of the Vietnam veteran groups I'm on. Veterans who remember Son Tra (Monkey) Mountain in 1968 will be astounded by what it has become...and that, in my opinion, is a very good thing.

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    1. Agree Ann...a very good thing. There are two small towers, remnants of the US troops in that area of Danang. Other than that...you would never know. It is a quiet haven today.. ;)

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  6. Oh Jeanne, you did very well to remain calm, I might have been hysterical after an hour in that taxi had passed!! And yes, so much for slipping in quietly!

    The hotel looks & sounds wonderful though, quite the experience Xx

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    1. I think if I had been in any other country, especially for the first time, I would have reacted differently Simone..more like what you described. If there is a will, there is a way...mine just happened to be the long way! ;)

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  7. A little unnerving to be traipsing off to the other side of the island, but maybe fun to have survived:). And sounds like your husband's assistant did her job well in recovering you. That resort is fascinating - looks to be courting Asian travelers as much or even more than Western, no? Glorious photos, as always.

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    1. Yes Lisa, I would say it is more geared towards Asian travelers. Westerners who are only used to travelling to Western style hotels would have to go with an open mind. Many would but I can think of a few who would struggle...especially if you happen to be on the very tall side. ;)

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  8. What an adventure you're had. But all's well that ends well. The resort is beautiful. I love the photos of the monsoon. I'm still wishing for storms but it feels like spring here already.

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    1. Spring is in the air here as well Loree..flowers are popping open everywhere. I love this time of year in Vietnam. ;)

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  9. loved the video + what an adventure you had + go on each trip you can. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  10. What a wonderful story-teller you are Jeanne. I had to smile at your airport experience, it's the kind of mix-up that has my name written on it. I'm so glad it all worked out. Looks like you and I are destined to be empty nesters with dash of adventure...:)

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    1. I think we will both need the adventure Leslie...essential to keeping sane! ;)

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  11. I needed a good laugh! What a wonderful adventure:-)

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  12. Your adventure can certainly be told to your children when your family is gathered together NH, and also for your journal. I think it is great that you love to travel and look at experiences as fortunate opportunities.

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    1. I love the way you put that Kathleen..looking at experiencs as fortunate opportunites, how true! ;)

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  13. Leslie in Portland, OregonFebruary 17, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    The video paints a portrait of an ethereal place. Did you have a bed-with-net on your deck? And that golden sand...beautiful! As Ann above alluded to, "Danang" has a very terrible connotation for those Americans who lived through the Vietnam War. It's strange to see that an American corporation has set up shop at one of its gorgeous beaches. (Also strange to me in another way, as I used to stay in Intercontinental hotels around the world when Intercontinental Hotels was a division of Pan Am and I was a Pan Am crew member.) Looking forward, as always, to hearing about more of your adventures!

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    1. Hi Leslie...the net was needed this trip. In fact, the resort is owned by a Vietnamese company and managed by the InterContinental. It is geared more towards the Asian market than Western. Either way, it is worth a visit. I am sure you have some amazing stories as a Pan Am crew member, I would love to hear them on day. ;)

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  14. Always an adventure Jeanne! It looks like a beautiful place!

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    1. The clouds started to break as we left Stephanie...I wished I had just one more day.. ;)

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  15. The description of your trip from the airport had me laughing and your photos are beautiful. I wonder if the other Jeanne had an adventure to equal yours.
    Enjoy Hong Kong. I enjoyed many an afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel.

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    1. I wondered the same Kyle..I hope it did not take her just as long to arrive to her final destination. On my last trip to Hong Kong I had afternoon tea at the Four Seasons...I am hoping to repeat it! ;)

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  16. What an adventure indeed! A little scary but, glad to hear you finally got there safely. Looks beautiful. Good to hear that you got to spend a few hours at the spa too! Hope your trip to HK runs more smoothly for you.

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    1. Hi Rita...I can tell you that thoughts of Gaia ran through my mind as I made the journey. It was so much easier from Coolangatta to Brooklet! ;)

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  17. You handled your driver mishap so bravely. I would have been so scared. But to show calmness and braveness were the best option in that situation. The Intercontinental Resort magnificently showcase Vietnamese architecture and culture. The beach looks so inviting. This Resort reminds me of our stay at the Shangri-la Boracay Resort in the Philippines. Looking forward to your Hong Kong adventures.

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    1. I just missed out on a trip to the Philippines Pamela. I have never been and have added it to my list. I have heard wonderful things about the islands. ;)

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  18. What a beautiful place Jeanne - the Asian hotels are often amazing - I recall the Four Seasons in Chiang Mai, Thailand as the most gorgeous place I've ever stayed! I've also been driven along that coast at Danang on the way to Hoi An - quite a stunning area and I'd love to go back.

    Go everywhere you can………..nothing like traveling to the world's fabulous places.
    thanks for sharing all this - loved the video.

    Mary

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    1. Hi Mary...I have heard great things about the Four Seasons in Chiang Mai..another one for the travel bucket list! I hope to take your advice...I know that one day, the Expat Express will come to an end. Until then.."toot, toot"..I aim to make the most of it! ;)

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  19. It seems the old adage, "all's well that ends well". And, doesn't a day at the spa make everything better? Love reading about your adventures. Bonnie

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    1. Thank you Bonnie...and yes..a day at the spa makes everything seem better, no doubt about it! ;)

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  20. That is really amazingly beautiful! My best friends brother who is a chef is in Cambodia and the photos he send are really amazing too. I think ring a tag along wife would be pretty fun. Hong Kong sounds lovely!!!

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    1. Week two and looking better and better Donna! ;)

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  21. Now that was an adventure! So pleased you reached the InterContinental safely! It certainly looks a magical glamorous hotel with something exciting around every corner. Looking forward to hearing all about Hong Kong next.

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    1. Off tomorrow Victoria...to a much cooler climate in Hong Kong. Looking forward to it! ';)

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  22. How lucky you are to be able to enjoy these wonderful adventures -- and lucky you arrived to that lovely hotel in one piece! I shudder to think what might have happened. Enjoy Hong Kong.

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    1. Thank you Teri...am counting my blessings. ;)

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  23. What a great adventure, and you handled it so calmly!! It looks like an amazing place. The colors and shapes are wild! Alice in Wonderland meets Versace describes it perfectly. You're so lucky to be able to tag along like this. Your pictures are glorious.

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    1. Thank you Jennifer...I have to thank my iPhone as well. ;)

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  24. Jeanne

    So fun that you know have time to tag along. It is a different life once all are off to college. My daughter commented once how she was so surprised that we adjusted so well after she left. I think she was kind of insulted!!

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    1. Ha! I have had something along the same lines Cindy...very funny! ;)

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  25. I'm delighted you & Mr H will be able to spend a little more time together Jeanne. Unfortunately I can't do the same with MOTH - I'd end up sitting in the truck trying to find a space amongst the flotsam & jetsam of a Tradie's life - discarded Iced Coffee cartons, empty meat pie wrappers, old betting slips from the TAB, an old chainsaw etc.
    M xx

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    1. Gotta love that MOTH of yours Millie! He knows how to live! xx

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  26. A magnificent modern version of Alice in Wonderland. The discovery of being lost and almost a tourist's way of finding unvisited places and scary. But it ended well fortunately.

    The hotel is an amazing place.

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    1. Edgar...it did end well and I am so glad that it did!

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  27. Beautifully handled Jeanne, you're one very calm lady...I'm glad the hotel was magical and the Spa came at just right the time ;)
    Happy Weekend xx

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  28. Loved hearing about your adventure. Thanks for sharing your fabulous photos of this incredible place!

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  29. Oh dear Jeanne
    What an adventure. Glad you got to the InterContinental. On the positive side, if there is one, you will have cocktail stories for years to come. I cracked up laughing when I saw the image of the battered up magic wagon.
    I should not laugh but it just hit a funny bone. I can just hear Mr H teasing you on future trips. Careful you might get a tee shirt with "My Name is Jeanne H, not any old Jean)

    Helenx

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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. Just a few words or a
few paragraphs, no matter. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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