Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vietnam Day Four and Five: Ancient Town-Hue

One a sleeping bas, we traveled for 14 hours to the ancient town named Hue. When you get there, you will find that its way different from Hanoi.

This place is very pleasantly calm. Less traffic, smiling faces along street, and hospitality services from the hawkers and shopkeepers.

We made a deal with the hostel keeper, and they give us a motorbike tour that feature all the tourist attractions follow our time.

First, we got to the citadel. It was once the castle of the king. Much similiar to China, we have to past through a city wall and then we were like entering a time channel way back to past and saw all these ancient buildings. This place is preserved well with all these ancient surrounding still stands vivified.

They are the tour guides that bring us around the town.
They have been serving us very well, one of the guides speaks good english and i dont have any hard time to understand what he trying to say and he basically tell me his experience about this place where he was born.

This pagoda has a nice temple inside. The environment is very peaceful. There are some monks staying inside and visitors are free to pay a visit inside this place.

Soon, they brought us deep into some village to see the normal villagers' routine.
Some places produced incense, Vietnamese hat, drawings etc.

Further deep to the rural area, there lies the king's graveyard. Its very amazing inside and it is a perfect spot for photo shooting. Our great appetite of self portrait photography has been fulfilled in that place.

At last, we have our last destination in a hill side beside the perfume river. There are some leftover Americans bunker at there. According to our guide, this was once a strategic zone for American Troopers.

Lastly, we all sang two songs together while walking down the hill. Our guide sang Vietnamese version of " Ai Pia Zai Eh Nyia", i sang the original Hokkien version. But at least we shared the same melody.

Before i end, i would like to recommend this restaurant in Hue. Its called the Stop and Go restaurant. This place serves great meals and the shop keeper is very kind and helpful.

The next day, we made a bicycle tour and we cycling around the city and enjoyed every breath and view in this ancient town.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Vietnam Day Three: Wandering in Hanoi City

Noon, we got back from Halong Bay, We ve got one day to spend in Hanoi before leaving to another city. It is recommended to stay near to Hoan Kiem Lake if you are first time to Hanoi and trying to get the best out of it. Hoan Kiem Lake is a very beautiful scene at night, besides you may wander around old quarter or go to watch Water Puppet Show. In the morning, you can go for a jog around the lake and enjoy the calming scenery of lake view in the middle of a busy city.

I got myself a typical vietnamese style hostel within walking distance away from Hoan Kiem Lake. Its very convenient to me to go around city and wander in old quarter and get back easily.

In the next morning, i woke up in the Hanoi Guesthouse. Good Morning, Hanoi. Its kinda fresh everyday for me in Vietnam because Malaysia time is one hour later than Vietnam's. Hence, i woke up at 7am every day in Malaysia, but in Vietnam, the same sun position in the day but the clock ticks at 6 am. I feel that if you wake up 6am and the sky is bright. It is a very good start for the day.

My friend and i walk around the streets, we found out the best thing in the morning is get a good break fast. Along the street, we uses body language to got the followings as our breakfast. It was a superb meal.

Vietnam coffee is especially good. You pay around RM3 for 40 percent of the glass like shown. But, every drop of coffee is the essence. It is more satisfying than drinking a big glass of Nescafe in Malaysia.

It is also cool if you have an morning exercise in front of the lake like me.

We ve got to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. You dont have to rush there. We thought it will be full of people and the opening session is short. 8am to 11 am. However, as we got there around 10.15am, we still manage to get and get out before 11am. It is just a place where they store Uncle Ho body in some sorta oil to preserve. You must wear quite appropriate, walking in silently and you must have the respectful face as you pass by the guards. They looked quite serious about this in this kinda place.

We walked in and see the preserved body of Uncle Ho in a transparent tank of oil. I feel eerie in that space. Next, we went to the war museum. Probably you can see all of the planes and tanks in guide book. However, if you got time, pay a visit wont harm much. I got up to the tower like the reflected in the mirror below. There was an old man climbing up when i got to the top of the tower. He talked to me in Vietnamese. I told him i don't understand what he says, but he seems don't understand what am i talking as well. Due to his perseverance, he insist to tell me his story. I roughly got what he says: " I was a soldier during vietnam war, i fight for the North."
bla bla bla. Then we even sing in front of me. Probably the war song, i guess. I thank him for his performance in a friendly manner, and i respect him as an old man who experienced the worst moment of his lifetime during war.

Here is one of the scene i found it interesting but i feel very worry for that technician trying to tie a bulk of cables.

Lastly, before i depart, i seriously recommend this kinda dessert in Hanoi which i love very much. You can get this in old quarter, along a street among 50 streets. Good Luck.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Vietnam Day Two: Halong Dangerous

This day was my most anticipated day in my Vietnam trip. I am about to go to Halong Bay. This place is the place i fall in love at the first sight.Thousands of island in this bay is a natural miracle. It was a breath taking scenery. My eyes kept opened all the time to capture all the sights in my brain. Every scene is a beauty in my mind. Wish to come back here again with someone i loved to share this scene together.

I was sitting at the Vietnam junk with other tourists heading to stalactite caves. I was eager to seek any shapes that formed by stalactites. However, i can only recognized all those ghost faces like long noses, long chin, big mouth faces. I listened to a Chinese tour guide of a tour for Chinese tourists then i manage to find some lady sitting on a rock shape, buddha shape...etc

At the evening, the junk stopped in the middle of the bay for us to swim and kayak. I chose to kayak first due to limited canoe available and i want to do it first.

After that, i made a "incredible leap" to the sea.

Recalling back, i would say it was a leap to death.

My somersault posture was completely wrong and i hit my chest hardly with the surface of water. Ouch!

Actually that time was around 5.30pm, it was nearly the time for sunset and current is flowing rapidly. I swam happily for a moment. Just before i decided to go onboard, my friend was having a trouble swimming towards the junk. I swam towards him trying to save him but i dont how to rescue people in swimming. At least, i gave him a hold for buoyancy. After that, both of us unable to swim towards the junk. I was nearly drowned too because my friend got his leg cramped and start drowning. I sensed danger. We are dying if we drowned.

The Vietnamese guide and ship crew were not alert of our danger, also a canoe granny refused to save us when i shouted for help. I calmed my friend down to stay relaxed. What we have to do is try to float. My friend did a great job by floating himself. I am telling myself, i am not gonna to give up, stay float to stay alive.

When the other tourist noticed our situation, what they did were also just watching us from the junk, none of them dared to jump down to rescue. Even the ship crew could only threw the float circle but seemed helpless for us.

Fortunately, a fisherman came towards us. We got rescued on board. I owed him a big thank you.

The traumatic feeling gone after i got up to the ship. I appreciated my life even more. Every breath i take in now is a blessing. Halong gave me a close to death experience.

"You may challenge the mountain but never underestimate the sea"