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Friday, March 20, 2015

Tràng An - the UNESCO World's Heritage Site in Ninh Bình

Before Tết, I got a suggestion to accompany some friends to travel along Vietnam by car, during Tết, starting from Sài Gòn up to Quảng Ninh (North Vietnam). I was very excited, surely, a big "Yes" from me! My friend's purpose was to climb up the Yên Tử mountain, but to me - just to see Vietnam along its beautiful coasts.
When the departure date approached, most of them quietly disappeared. The only one guy left and I called him "the leader" because he was a key person behind the trip, even if no one goes, he had to go anyway, due to his inner religious commitment - to climb up to some famous "Chùa Đồng" (Copper Pagoda) on the top of the Yên Tử mountain. And he kept doing this for almost 10 years.

                        Tràng An - one of my destinations in the North during this Tết.

Friday, March 13, 2015

My first trip to Sapa (2nd part)

I was born in Sài Gòn, so I simply thought Sapa could be, by some how, similar to Đà Lạt - a famous highland town in South of Vietnam. Đà Lạt renowned for its flowers, water falls, hills with pine trees, foggy lakes. It was a favourite romantic honeymoon place for many people in South for many years but not now. Anyway, I was totally wrong! Sapa was much more impressive. Sapa probably didn't have those "romantic factors" like Đà Lạt but, instead, I found Sapa majestic, haughty Kingdom in cloud.

                     Sapa in my eyes was much more majestic, haughty...Kingdom 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My first trip to Sapa (1st part)

Sapa - to me the name itself more than enough to attract the attention from the travellers. The only place in Vietnam where we could experience the snow, the real snow! I first heard of this town when Victoria Hotel launched their luxury Oriental Express connecting Hanoi with Sapa. At that time I'd love to try but due to different reasons, my plan to escape to this mountain-town in cloud, like in fairytale always failed...until few days ago. After visiting Halong Bay (I will review later!) we went back to Hà Nội and I made a quick decision this time with a friend, we both booked a 2-night tour to Sapa - one night in train, one night at the Sapa Summit Hotel and back to Hanoi by bus-bed, saving another night in train.

                     Sapa in March always in a thick fog from morning till late afternoon...

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Rice noodles with snails in Hà Nội (Bún ốc cô Thêm)

It's surely one of the most famous places for this popular traditional rice noodles with snails in Hà Nội, it's simply called "Bún ốc cô Thêm" in Hàng Chai, located in small, short alley between hàng Rưoi and Hàng Cót. Living in Sài Gòn, I'm quite familiar with this kind of dish, but I would love to taste it in Hà Nội where the cuisine is way famous for their delicate authenticity.

            "Bún ốc Cô Thêm" - Thêm is a name of this lady-owner, inherited this business from her mother.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

All roads lead to Rome - my last destination

Finally I arrived to Rome! My last destination after almost a month travel around France by train and visiting some places in Italy, before heading to the Roman Empire! All roads lead to Rome!
While still in Verona I got a problem with my flight back home with Air France. Pilot strike. I can't wait or extend my stay in Rome so I decided to get a new ticket from Rome back to Saigon via Bangkok with Thai Airways.
Later I got 300 USD as compensation from Vietnam Airlines (as I bought the ticket from this site) while I paid 500 USD for a new ticket. I also contact AIA for the insurance (if any!) but upset with their so unprofessional service. Anyway I got to stay in Rome for one more day. No problem at all and much better than if I fly back to Paris (because of my original connecting flight Paris - Saigon) and I have no idea how long I had to wait.

                           A painting on a wall along Tiber river, near to Castle Sant's Angelo 

Friday, February 20, 2015

The first day of the Year of the Goat and its stories...

The first three days of the Lunar New Year are the most important in mind of many Vietnamese. There was even a guide what Don'ts or Dos during these days - not only to avoid a bad luck but also to bring a good luck back home in the future. Some rules sound reasonable like not to argue, not to break something...but some - funny, like not to sweep the floor (as it means to brush a good luck or money away from home).

Anyway to me the moment between the old year and the new year is the most sacred. When we prepare the offerings to see the old year off and to welcome the new year in, we call this moment "Giao Thừa". Its a beginning of the first day of the New Year.

                       The traditional ritual for offerings to the New Year Eve. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Flower Festival in Tao Đàn Park in 2015

Another Lunar New Year is coming, Year of Goat. This year there was a real big mess in Sài Gòn due to the mega construction site right in the heart of the city, so the usual annual Flower Street moved to another place. To be honest I didn't find it, the Flower Street, interesting, as every year they repeat almost the same concept, the same display ideas...Anyway let's wait until next year, when we have our very first New Square, the new pedestrian quarter, right in the centre of Saigon.

                      This little cute girl was confusing - to look at his daddy's camera or at mine...

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