Saturday, October 21, 2017

Vietnam: Halong Bay & Sapa

Vietnam is an interesting country, full of motorbikes, with motorbikes ferrying the whole family of four, sometimes all without helmet.

Everytime I go, at least one local will ask "Are you Vietnamese?" in either English or Vietnamese.
Many Vietnamese tell me I look Vietnamese.. and I am not sure whether this is a good thing or not, to look local in their country. Maybe I should learn Vietnamese to get by and not stop at just "Xin Chào" (Hello) and "cảm ơn" (Thank you).

And I realised this (Applicable to Laos and Cambodia too) :
You have to say "Discount" and "How much"? when bargaining because these two are basically the only words they understand besides the English numbers.. "Cheaper" does not work..

And if you want to call them, u can call them "Madame" by pronouncing it in the French way.. not "Madam" in the British or Singaporean way.. "auntie" doesn't work also..


Food in Vietnamese is of course tasty and delicious.. and this time I have to go to Halong Bay and Sapa, which I missed the last time.

These two places are really touristy, but that's the must-go for tourists and besides, I'm a tourist :)

Halong Bay:




I spent two days one night on the Junk boat.. which was ok... I think the best thing there is

1. The beautiful sunset


2. Enjoying delicious Vietnamese coffee while relaxing and admiring the peaceful scenery




















And then we head on to Sapa..
It was an 8 hours overnight train which was rather shaky and noisy.. it would be advisable to wear a pair of ear plugs..
Beds were relatively clean but toilets were not.. it depends on your luck..

And in Sapa we have to trek the 12km muddy paddy fields which were made worse when it was raining.. the tour guide brought a bunch of Hmong local ladies to help us.. and after the end of the trip, they wanted us to help them back by purchasing something from them at an exorbitant price.. I bought a small pouch at $12sgd. Wah..  but I am thankful for them for helping me through the rough and unstable muddy soil and waters..



Sapa is really beautiful but touristy at the same time.. I can see that they depend highly on the tourism industry as the rice only harvest once a year.. and is only enough to feed the people in Sapa..




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Laos: Travelling in Luang Prabang

Getting to Luang Prabang is easy.. there are two ways to get there from Singapore
1. Silk Air
2. Air Asia (Transit in KL)

We chose Air Asia...
We also ordered their famed Nasi Lemak ($4 + a drink if you order it online).




It was better than many airline's food but the real Nasi Lemak is much nicer of course :D

To get from Luang Prabang (LPB) airport to the city is easy.
You just have to queue at the airport booth for a shared airport taxi (50,000 KIP for 3 people) and they will take you to your hotel.

You can change USD to Laos KIP at the airport too.
The rate was 1 USD to 8200 KIP which was about the same rate as the rate in the city.


There are many solo travelers in Luang Prabang..
I said "Hi" to a few random travelers.. (pls dont be afraid if I said Hi randomly to u)



- there was a Japanese girl who worked in Singapore but traveled to LPB because her colleague said it was a beautiful place.. I didnt even dare to travel to Laos alone.. she is really brave..

- there was this China girl who spoke to me to warn me about the weird monk demanding money at Mount Phousi.. haha.. she thought I was from China too.. didn't know my Chinese is so good.

- there was this Thai girl who worked in Marriott in Chiang Mai... She told me that Thai and Laotian is very similar.. they can almost understand each other..



6 things to do in Luang Prabang

1. The Kuang Si Waterfalls
Many taxi drivers offer to take tourists to the waterfall for a fare. I chose to follow my guesthouse's ride - 50,000 kip per person. Entrance to the waterfall is 2000 kip.
Waterfall is quite beautiful and it's the main attraction.




2. Sunset at Mount Phousi
Sunset at Mount Phousi is a must-see. It costs 20,000 kip to enter, and one have to climb up a long flight of stairs to the top. Heard from a fellow traveller to be careful of a monk asking for money there. Nevertheless you can see beautiful sunset there.



3. Sunset at Mekong River
This is also a great place to see sunset.



4. Crossing the bamboo bridge
You can do this if you have time. 5,000 kip to cross over but once you get to the other side, there is nothing much to see and do. Nevertheless, the bamboo bridge is only around during non rainy seasons.



5. Night Market
The night market is a great place to get gifts for your friends/family back home. Lots of stuff where you can negotiate with the seller. It starts at 6pm.

6. Alms giving ceremony
Starts at around 6am, tourists will buy food from the street vendor, sit at one of the stools along the street and place the food into the monk's container as they walk passed. As I observe, almost 99% who participated in this ceremony are tourists.

There are many tours in Luang Prabang to choose from. You can just arrive and choose one that meets your budget when you are there.




Have fun!! :)))


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Yangon: Shwedagon pagoda

A UNESCO Heritage, the most revered place in Myanmar.. it's the Shwedagon Pagoda, where the locals enter for free while foreigners paid about US$8 for entrance.

I went in May, which is probably the worst time to go, when temperatures soar  up to 41 degrees celcius. The best time to visit is of course is at night, when the temperature is cooler, and the temple with thousands of diamonds and rubies shone brightly at night.


Welcome to the Shwedagon Pagoda at night! 


Locals praying... it's a grand place


Long flight of stairs... which you have to climb depending on which entrance u enter

Volunteer sweepers sweeping the floor, helping to keep the pagoda clean


Getting to pagoda is easy, just flag a taxi and they will take you there. There are many taxis around  pagoda to get you back to your hotel too. Remember to bargain with the taxi driver! :-)

People in Yangon generally can speak English.. no problems getting around... but I hope their transportation can be improved...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Vietnam: Hoi An


Hoi an is totally a different city in Vietnam. 
We reached Hoi An via the Danang international airport - and taking a cab to Hoi An old town for about $18 USD. 

If you reach in the evening, you will be greeted by a river full of lighted paper lanterns - where each lantern holds the hopes and wishes of individuals.  



Spot these two kids selling lanterns.. 


Hoi An is a city full of rice fields, and other plantations. You can give it a try in planting when you join one of the eco-tours available. It is not an easy feat.




We also took part in a bus tour to My Son. Pronounced as Mi Sern, it is similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but at a smaller scale. Many of the temples were destroyed during the war.


 The fourth incomplete pillar on the right symbolizes the fact that humans are not 100% perfect. It also gives opportunities for the next generation to improve and do better than before.. to always strive for continual improvement.


When you are in Hoi An, you have to eat cao lau  (Cao lầu) , a dish which can only be found in Hoi An. It's delicious!!! It's made up of mint leaves, pork and thick noodles. Taste reminds me of the duck noodles in Singapore. Haha.



Hoi An is a city easily explored by bicycle or motorcycle... delicious food and beautiful city :-)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tokyo

Tokyo is really awesome. The walking pace really increased and to the highest at the Shibuya crossing o.O Lots of shopping to be done and lots of place to go :D 



In Shinjuku, there is a street where budding singers perform and sing. Most of the shoppers just walked past not paying any attention to them,  but the singers were persistent and continued to sing hoping some day they will make it big. In some of their eyes u can see the unrelenting persistence..

In all of them lies a dream and they have the courage to pursue it.


Yokohama

Yokohama is famous for the Chinatown as well as the ferris wheel. Be sure to try the Gyoza which was awesome! Much better than the ones I had in Tokyo. If you want to drink beer, try the All Malt Beer below. It is one of the best! 

Yokohama is a happy place because they have Happy Lawson!!! :D


Once in Yokohama,  the walking pace of the people is getting faster, much faster than those in Izu and Hakone. There's Ippudo in the shopping mall near the station at I must say it is better than the Ippudo in Singapore haha. Oh and there's Ichiran too! :D

Izu and Shimoda

From Hakone, we went to Izu and Shimoda. JR line again. As Izu and Shimoda are not cities, not many people can speak English. 

What do u do when u enter the izakaya with no English menu?
Just order - Yakitori... u will never go wrong..

The waitress was very friendly and spoke to us using sign languages.
She recommended chicken wings and grilled beef tongue.. just imagine how this was communicated using sign languages... 

Izu is very beautiful and food is very delicious ahhh..


At the Izu Kogen station, you can get to soak your feet at the public hot spring. I think it is interesting. 
Be sure to enjoy the hot spring if you come here  :)