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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The amazing journey to the world's largest cave - Hang Sơn Đoòng - Part I - The preparation.

Just one day left before my departure to one of the most famous spots in Vietnam - hang Sơn Đoòng.  I really really feel excited and can't wait to take part in this life-time expedition. I first heard about this cave, its discovery in 2010, I still remember some online competition to create the best name for a cave in this mysterious prehistoric caving network of over 150 caves. I don't know which name was chosen finally!

I made a quick decision when I called a guy at Oxalis - the only tour agent in Phong Nha, authorised by the local authorities to organise different trekking tours in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. For certain reasons the  number of visitors to Sơn Đoòng cave is limited within 224 persons per year, and there is no tour during the flooding season from September to January, so that's why the demand is huge and always mostly fully booked.

                                                                                                               Photography by Carsten Peter
              Mist sweeps past the hills of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, its 330 square miles 
             set  aside in 2001 to protect one of Asia's largest cave systems. 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Twelve Midwives - a comedy on stage, a wish in life...

If going to see a play can be compared with going out to dine, we always prefer a good place with a fine dinning experience, we should also find a nice theatre with an interesting play. But I doubt Saigon could offer generously that to us.
It's hard to remember when was my first time in Saigon's theatre. Long, long ago. Over the past decade, the theatre life here changed a lot - more activities, more freedom. These days people seems prefer the comedy, easy laugh. Very popular stand-up comedy here, we call it "tấu hài". Maybe I'm from another generation, so it's not funny for me to see "tấu hài" these days, I still can laugh but this laugh is far from good.

Tonight I'm going with a big fan of play, my nephew, to see a famous "The Twelve Midwives" (12 Bà Mụ). According to him, it's not easy to get tickets to this show.

             Young fan posed in front of the official poster of "The 12 Midwives" 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sweets from my mother's hometown

As tradition, whenever we travel somewhere, we always get something back home for friends, for loved ones. Sometime we give something to someone with a message, if you have a friend who loves to exaggerate all kinds of stories, I may suggest you to give him or her "bánh nổ", i.e "explosion cake". "Nổ" (i.e explosion) in Vietnamese still jokingly means "exaggerate". I'm kidding.

By the way, bánh nổ is a speciality from my mother's hometown - Quảng Ngãi. I remember if someone coming from Quảng Ngãi, visiting my mom, after they left, I surely found few packs of bánh nổ in our living table.

                 Bánh nổ - "explosion cake" - a speciality from Quảng Ngãi.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Year later - living in the countryside - Part 2

Year ago I went to my friend's dacha ( I love this Russian word, i.e a holiday home in the countryside). His dacha located in a huge area, next to the sea-like lake...If last year I was very much surprised of what has been done here in my friend's place, it was just a magic to turn an abandoned "jungle"of cashew nut trees into a farm. Last year we spent two nights in a tiny old house, but we did enjoy fishing, exploring the forest, the mango farm in the neighbourhood. Today when I come back, it's not a surprise, it's something much stronger, like a speechless, indescribable impression because I'm visiting a paradise...

                   This time I stayed in a villa with a nice view of the lake...  
   

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dragon fruit - a fruit from the fairy tale!

Snow White and 7 Dwarfs - my all-time favourite fairy tale, and from my mother's stories - she used to play "Blanche Neige" in her old-time school, I always wait with excitement for any movie version based on this story. Not long ago I saw "Mirror, Mirror" with Julia Roberts on HBO. I suddenly noticed one detail - the "dragon fruit" was one of the ingredients for the Queen's potion. I still saw this fruit in another Hollywood fairy-tale movie. So a sudden idea crossed my mind - why don't we talk about this "fairy tale" dragon fruit?

                 Red dragon fruit but to us the name "Thanh Long" means blue dragon! 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Hawaii - the helicopter tour and the hiking in the Volcanoes National Park - Part 2

We, a group of 5, stayed few days in Waikoloa, two among us went for the Mauna Kea observatory, up in the mountain, very cold and it's interesting to know that Hawaii is one of few best places in the world to observe the stars, the galaxy. Me and another colleague went for diving, it was not a real diving but we were able to see the underwater world by lying on the life vest, face down, the water was crystal clear, so everything in the water was terribly beautiful in our eyes, honestly I had a kind of fear, feeling that my feet touching those coral reefs, colourful sea creatures.

Next day we moved to Hilo, the "biggest small town" in another side of the island for the helicopter tour. Hilo located at the foot of the two volcanoes and overlooking the spectacular Hilo Bay. Days before we all decided to book a tour to get up close with the active lava flows. We were patiently waiting hours at the terminal until we got the confirmation that our helicopter could take off. It was very boring terminal, almost empty, no activities.

                   Hilo -"biggest small town" in Big Island with Kilauea volcano in the background.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Hawaii - Waikoloa and my walk down into the Waipio Valley - Part I

Every journey to a new destination is always special, it will leave in my heart with some feelings that I keep for long. I've never been to Hawaii before. In 2009, when I first joined a small group of individual investors, some member suggested to celebrate the new business marriage by a trip to this Paradise - Hawaii. Everyone excitingly agreed, rushed to prepare for the trip, but no one predict what could be the end of that union. It was a long sad story!
Today sharing with you about my trip to Hawaii, my pain, my sadness already healed, those people who accompanied me in this trip seemed disappeared forever, without any track.

                   The view from the street to the apartment where I stayed in Waikoloa...

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