Vietnam ArtFoodCulture Experience

w/Alena Kudriashova ”My Squiggles”

February 17-27th 2020

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Fully hosted and guided 10 night/11 day ArtFoodCulture Experience in Central Vietnam

February 17th-27th 2020 with Anna Barnes and Guest Artist Alena Kudriashova (@mysquiggles).

This Retreat is for everyone of any sex, age, race, religion or walk of life that would like to experience slow responsible travel with like minds. The emphasis is on living, rejuvenating (or starting) your creative life.

We focus on Art, Food and Culture.


Your host Anna Barnes (founder of ArtFoodCulture, long term traveller to Hoi An, chef and artist) has built a network of contacts over the years that delight in giving our Retreat guests special attention. We go off the tourist trail to experience locations, activities and food that only a local can. Focus is on Creativity, Food and Culture in Central Vietnam.


Alena Kudriashova of @mysquiggles fame is your Art Tutor for the Retreat. Each morning we will venture out with Alena and Anna to participate in carefully curated experiences so we can enjoy the town, people and culture. From this we gather our inspiration for an on location sketching session led by Alena. Alena believes that a sketchbook provides a wonderful place to keep records of places, events, people, the weather and smells. She will teach you how to capture your meaningful moments by weaving them into the lines of every sketch. You will delight in the process as we complete our sketches on location.


The streetfood represents its people. The streetfood represents its culture.

We eat the freshest and best local food in Hoi An. The local food is time based, which means food stalls “pop up” and serve local seasonal dishes until all sold out. Vendors specialise in serving one dish only, and over generations, have mastered them to perfection. Anna has had years of experience in Central Vietnam, and has narrowed it down to the best local fare for her guests to enjoy. She was a chef for 30 years and holds a food safety certificate, so is able to spot the most delicious eateries on offer. She has sketched the food & vendors and developed relationships with them. Anna looks forward to introducing you to them.


The best part of an ArtFoodCulture Retreat is about connecting with the culture. The people of Central Vietnam have a fascinating history, a delightful way of life and always a warm friendly smile for visitors. Learn to see what we experience, experience what we see, participate in hands on activities, and connect with the people and their lives to further develop empathy and a rich satisfaction during our time spent in Vietnam.

Anna has spent much of her life learning about cultures other than her own, from 22 pen pals as a child (snail mail), a degree in Social Anthropology, and now a massive book collection on Vietnamese culture, she will delight in helping you access a deeper understanding of another culture. Anna’s good friend Ha My will be our tour guide, she has her Masters Degree in Central Vietnamese culture, so you’re set!


You will be staying in a brand new modern locally owned and run 4 star riverside hotel with pool, easy walking distance to the UNESCO Heritage town of Hoi An. The Hotel has air conditioning, flat screen TV’s, unlimited free wifi, clean new luxury linen with thick mattresses, a pool, massage/spa service, mini gym, bicycles for hire and a 24hr reception desk.

We visit an Ethnic Minority village (one of 54 in Vietnam). Experience the fascinating hospitality, culture and nature of the Co Tu people. A village of just 315 people whose lives are ruled by the seasons just as they have been for time immemorial. Traditional agriculture, especially the cultivation of sticky rice and vegetables dominate local life. The ancient practice of weaving can be seen everywhere, from the sturdy yet decorative clothing to buildings woven in a way that resists the very elements themselves. The largest and most decorative of these are the Guol and Moong houses. In the middle of the village common a totem pole stands as a silent witness to harvest festivals, marriages and funerals. We enjoy overnight accomodation in bungalows (with ensuite) located directly inside the village.


Our last night is on My Khe Beach (China Beach) in Danang, easy access to your final airport departure. The fifth largest city in Vietnam, and a testament to the rapidly growing economy of Vietnam, you will experience a delicious and relaxing last night here.


Small group maximum 8 guests. This will ensure you will receive plenty of personal tuition during the sessions.

10 nights accommodation -8 nights in a Riverside Hotel (4 star, locally owned) with pool. 1 night in a Bungalow in an authentic village (with ensuite). 1 night in a Hotel (4 star) in Danang.

Fully hosted by Anna Barnes of ArtFoodCulture

10 breakfasts

7 lunches accompanied by Anna and Alena

8 dinners (street food, market vendors and restaurants) accompanied by Anna and Alena

8 x 3hr Workshops/sketching sessions led by Alena Kudriashova @mysquiggles (sometimes broken into a couple of shorter sessions a day)

An Alena Kudriashova Designed Sketchbook to use during the Retreat (and keep)

Entry ticket to The Ancient Town w/ guided tours

Co Tu Ethnic Village 2 day, 1 night stay, with local foods, traditional dancing, weaving demo and jungle trek

Private bus trip to Mi Son the historic Cham ruins

Cooking Class and Basket Boat rides at a private Eco Fish and Herb Farm with Linh.

Organic Herb Gardens, Rice Paper making, Farm excursion and Seafood lunch

Guided Market Tours, buy fresh flowers and tropical fruits

Bicycle hire (bring your own helmet, or buy one on location and donate when you leave)

Drinking Water will be made available. Please bring your own stainless steel refillable bottle. Say NO to straws and plastic bags.

Not included:

International airfares


Travel insurance

Some meals

Beverages- alcohol and imported soft drinks 

Extra activities and tours around Hoi An organised at your own cost

Personal expenses, laundry, minibar, tips, airport transfers etc.

Anything not mentioned in the Included list

Daily Schedule*

6:30am Bicycle ride to Market (or breakfast poolside in the hotel)

9:30am Daily activity including Sketching session (Visit UNESCO town, Mi Son, Markets, Herb Gardens, Cooking Classes, Villages etc)

12pm Lunch

2pm Free time.

6pm Dinner

*Subject to change, some days you are free for dinner, or lunch and one full day is free (ask for itinerary)


Your Host

Anna Barnes founder of Art Food Culture is a long time traveller to Vietnam. She has a Masters in Design Science, specialising in 3D Animation from The University of Sydney (being awarded the Dean's Honour Award) and a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts and Social Anthropology, specialising in South East Asian Studies. Anna was the Executive Chef of Sydneys "Best Specialty Restaurant" winner and has worked over 25 years in Sydney restaurants, working with specialty cuisines, and creating authentic cultural menus. She was the owner of "Fiasco and Debacle", Sydneys largest artisan cafe cake manufacturer for 8 years. She has implemented and delivered cooking classes, held workshops, been a cooking demonstrator, facilitated "Artist Way" groups, and has worked for Team Building companies. She currently leads Creative Retreats in Vietnam and teaches Nature Journalling in The Blue Mountains. Her passion is to help people connect, transform, recover and thrive through art, food and culture. She is an artist, a mother, traveller and a naturalist and lives in The Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia with her family. 

Your Art Tutor

Alena Kudriashova

Alena Kudriashova, is an architect and an urban sketcher from Russia, currently based in Singapore. She brings her sketchbook wherever she travels, documenting places and things happening to her. In the modern world where we are overwhelmed by vast amounts of information, where snapping a picture has become so easy, she felt the necessity to create something that will help her remember things that happened to her.

A sketchbook provides exactly that, keeping a record of places, events, people, and even weather and smells. All of it is woven into the lines of every sketch, making it the most secure place for keeping memories.

Her sketches are bursting with stories. Each page has a variety of vignettes, motifs & designs, and found objects from the places she visits. Alena will show us how to practice “extreme sketching”. We will go out on location everyday and capture the moments and experiences that have personal meaning to us whilst immersing ourselves in the delightful culture of Hoi An. This is a sketch stool free event. We will be sketching on the move, or sitting on the little red plastic stools of Vietnam in a market somewhere, interacting with the locals…

More about Alena Here

Alena’s Instagram Here

Anna has asked Alena to be the principle sketch tutor for this trip because of her strong style and capable approach. She has confidence and energy that transposes well on her sketchbook pages. She has previously captured the essence of Vietnam beautifully on a solo trip, and is highly experienced with sketching SE Asian locations. She joined Anna’s Art Food Culture Retreat in March 2019 as a guest, and a bond between Anna and Alena was instantly formed. She understands well, the energy and vibrancy of this culture, and Anna was beyond impressed with her abilities as not only an artist but as a teacher in this sensory challenging environment. Anna looks forward to working with Alena as they make a great team! Alena also runs workshops and classes in her home city of Singapore.

See Alena’s Vietnam Sketchbook Here

Your Sketching Tutor Alena Kudriashova,  on location.

Please email Anna for a more comprehensive itinerary if you like!

Love the sound of this Experience and want to sign up? Please read ArtFoodCulture’s Terms & Conditions first. We need to make sure you are fit, able and willing, so as to ensure you are on the right trip and fully enjoy your Experience. Read the Terms & Conditions and have some queries? Please email me about anything at all.


Read the Terms & Conditions and can’t wait to have the Experience you have been looking for with the people you can’t wait to meet in the most exciting place you can bear? Then head on over to the Bookings page. We can’t wait to meet you. Central Vietnam is an awesome place and you are going to love it.


Small Group Maximum of 8 Guests

AUD$3,900 per person (plus $400 single supplement if travelling solo).

All prices in Australian Dollars. To see what it will cost approximately in your own currency you can use any online conversion site. Try Remember that currencies are in constant fluctuation.