The Wandering Continues...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

May Holiday Part 3 - on the way home

I guess I must post this before it is too long overdue! :-(

Ha Long is located about 3 hours drive from Hanoi. The road and traffic is not so friendly (more small road than highways) but the scenaries along the road are beautiful.

Ha Long is very beautiful and natural and I would strongly recommend to take the 2 days/1 night boat trip. Many people are worry about the boat but it turned out to be a stable boat.

Our boat name was Santa Maria cruiser arranged by the hotel in Hanoi. The food served was very good but the room is just ok for a one night sleep. It's clean but not that sophisticated. Anyway you will not stay in the room the whole day. The boat has a nice sundeck where we hanged out most of the time. My dad was so connected to the nature that he always went to sundeck whenever he had the chances.

The travel agent has a program set for us. They will arrange when you have to have breakfast/lunch/dinner and they also took us to kayak trip. In the beginning I was not that sure about kayaking but ended up enjoying it alot. There is also a designated place where you can swim in the bay which is good after some hours kayaking. The next day we went to the caves to see many stone formations but for us it is not that interesting as this is very normal tourist places that you'll find in China.

The only downpoint was the night. They parked the boat in a quite bay together with many other junk boats. However 2 junk boats decided to make a karaoke contest night and that was just hillarious but yet terrible to hear that loud music and (many times!) not synchronize lyrics. I must strongly suggest that they forbid karaoke to better enjoy the nature. It's not very often we can sit under the sky and enjoying nothing but the sounds of wilderness!

But all in all, I still vote for Halong bay to be one of the 7th Wonder of Natural World!

I will also not post extra about Hong Kong and Macau. It's heaven for shoppers and gamblers as everyone knows it, but just in case you want to see other side of Hong Kong then just take a train ride to Lantau Island (about 30 minutes train ride) and you can see the giant Tian Tan buddha. It was a nice city break especially for the men and they can worry less about their credit card bill for a day! :-)

Enjoy the photos;

Create Your Own

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, June 01, 2008

May Holiday Part 2 - Hanoi, Vietnam

After Siem Reap we flew to Hanoi where the hotel’s driver had waited for us at the airport. We read traveler’s reviews prior to the trip and a lot of travelers have suggested us to use the available airport transfer from the hotel as there were many cases where the taxi driver took them to a different hotel (belong to the driver’s friend) and after an hour long drive from the airport to the city, you ended up staying at that hotel and paying more expensive hotel rate.

Our hotel is located directly in the old quarter which gave us easy access to the tourists’ areas. I met some other tourists and they all have heard about our hotel and the professional service that the hotel staffs provided to the tourists. If you plan to visit Hanoi, I will recommend you to stay at Hanoi Elegance Hotel. They have 3 locations and we stayed at their second hotel.

The downside of the hotel is because of the location in the old quarter, it can be very noisy at night. But the truth, the city is very noisy! There are thousands of motorbikes running around the city everyday and they sure know how to use the honk. I grew up in Jakarta where the traffic is also very bad. Currently I live also in Shanghai where it is also not the perfect example, but never have I heard louder traffic noise as it is in Hanoi. Sometimes I think they just make it as a competition on who is the loudest!

Hanoi is recommended for a day walking tour. Start your trip early to visit the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum (last admission is at 10 am) where you can see the embalmed body of the famous liberation hero of Viet Nam. From there you can continue walking through the presidential palace garden, the two ex-houses of Ho Chi Minh and finish in the one-pillar Pagoda.

As the story of Vietnam War fascinates us a lot, we decided to continue the trip to Hoa Lo Prison or also well known as the “Hanoi Hilton” where the Vietnamese kept the American war prisoners. Among them is the US Senator John McCain (currently running for President from Republican party). McCain was captured and held as Prisoner of War when his plane was shot down by the Vietnamese.

However, the history of Hoa Lo Prison is actually due back to the time of French invasion in Viet Nam. The prison was called as Maison Centrale and used to prison and torture many of Vietnamese political leaders. I went to the prison and I can still see the French Guillotine where they used to behead the Vietnamese prisoners.

After spending some time in the Prison, we headed back to our hotel and on the way we made a stop at the Cathedral and the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of Hanoi. Then we walked around the old quarter, did some souvenirs shopping and just relax for the night as we had to wake up early to catch the bus to Ha Long Bay.

Create Your Own

Labels: , , , , , , ,