LifeStyleBreak: Vietnam - time to leave, time to sum up

 

A brief summary of our gateway to Asia

Taking advantage of the excess free time spent on the bus to Laos, we decide to briefly summarize our stay in Vietnam. We spent 16 days here traveling from south to north. This was our gateway to Asia, a place on Earth completely unknown to us. This is where we felt the “real” heat for the first time, being here at the end of the monsoon season. It's hard to imagine what the temperature is in the dry season. We have experienced tropical downpours that flood the streets knee-deep in a few hours. We saw and visited Buddhist temples and Pagodas previously known from television, in which there is an amazing and relaxing atmosphere. In the end, we saw a country that most people associate with war and movies on this subject. A country that turned out to be completely different. Very developed, with large cities dominated by skyscrapers. With not too bad roads, which do not differ much from some European countries. And you have to remember that Vietnam was bombed for several years, and it happened quite recently.

You can see that as a nation they have great potential and are going in the right direction. And the people? It is the society that paints the image of the country. When you think about a country, one of your first thoughts is its people. The Vietnamese are very nice and kind. Not once did we feel uncomfortable. Always willing to help and advise, even in spite of the language barrier that quickly disappears after switching to "sign" signals. They give the impression of being happy and enjoying life. Nobody is in a hurry here, they often sit outside their houses drinking their tea or coffee, chatting and watching the life going on around them. They seem to enjoy life by taking it as it is. This is an immensely valuable quality that many people miss.

Will we miss this amazing country, with beautiful nature, amazing culture, wonderful monuments, smiling people and delicious food? Definitely YES! We would love to come back here if there is such an opportunity, and we believe that someday there will be...

 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

 

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Pho soup, Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Looking for accommodation

Lang Biang Peak

Streets of Saigon (HCMC)

Linh An Pagoda, Vietnam

Viola and a boy at Linh An Pagoda, Vietnam

Buddhist pagoda near Da Lat, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Lu Hao, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Lu Hao, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

LifeStyleBreak: Cat Ba, the green island

An island covered with a blanket of nature

We wake up on the ship before 6:00 am. The plan is to watch the sunrise above Ha Long Bay, which is said to be very impressive. Unfortunately, we are not able to experience this. Clouds still cover the bay. At 7:00 am a boat arrives to take us to the ship to Cat Ba Island. We are the only ones going there, as the rest of our trip returns to Ha Long City today. Breakfast is waiting for us on the boat. The transport to the ship was supposed to take 20 minutes, but our skipper could not find his destination and it all took an hour. Thanks to this, we could enjoy the views of the rock giants rising out of the water.

After reaching the island, they pack us on the bus and go to the local national park for trekking. From the very beginning, the nature of the island is noticeable. Everywhere is green, hilly terrain, in one word wonderful. After reaching the gates of the park, we start our march to one of the peaks. It is not high, just over 200 meters. The trail goes through the jungles, and the terrain is steep from the very first meters. We are at the top after about 30 minutes. But it doesn't stop there. There is a thirty meter tower from which we admire the amazing view of the island. The sun, which wanted to show up for some time, adds charm. At the top of the tower there is a platform built of several planks separated from each other. Our legs soften a bit, which adds additional emotions to this place.

After returning from the park, we go to check into the hotel and have lunch. After that, we have a choice of beaches or a trip to the Island of Monkeys. We choose the island on which we pass a floating village. People live there in very primitive houses, set on wooden platforms with barrels attached to the bottom. It all floats on the water. This is the first time we see something like this. Amazing view. We wonder if these people live there because of duress or choice. Would they be happier living in a crowded city poisoned by civilization? The Island of Monkeys isn't too big. There is a beach surrounded by rocky hills. We would not be each other if we had not used the opportunity to climb one of them. The decision was a bull's eye. At the top, a breathtaking view of the bay was waiting for us.

Having been on the island for almost an hour, we haven't noticed a single monkey that gives the island its name. After climbing, we take a canoe and relax in the waters of the bay. A few minutes before the end of our stay on the island, some monkeys miraculously jumped out of the trees. They rushed straight to the beach bar, emptying the soda cans and bottles that people had left behind. A crowd of onlookers gathered around them, giving them food and taking pictures. Somehow, the whole situation with monkeys did not suit us. We suppose everything is arranged and the monkeys have been released from the cages. It is sad to watch what a man has not come up with to earn money. Poor little monkeys. We do not approve of such ideas, although we took the photos as well 😉 In conclusion, it is worth going to the island for the views from the hill and canoeing in a beautiful scenery.

Tomorrow we are going back to Hanoi, from where we start our 27-hour trip to Laos. Time spent in Vietnam is about to end. We will miss this country for sure, but the time for summary will come soon ...

 

“Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.” – Asian Proverb

 

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Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

Monkey Island, Vietnam

LifeStyleBreak: Ha Long, the bay of the descending dragon

Already in Hanoi

Today was supposed to be our rest day… Exactly, supposed to be! Because how can you rest if you run around the city all day? We have to plan and organize the next few days. As we are already in the north of Vietnam, we got to think about our next destination: Laos. The first step is to get a visa at the embassy, which was located more than two kilometers from our hotel. So after breakfast, we run to take care of it. It turned out that for an extra $5 it will be ready today. It cost us a total of $25 per person, whereas if you let a hotel do it for you, it would be $50 per person. So it pays to do things yourself.

After returning to the hotel we try to solve another dilemma, which is how and which way to get over to Laos. We find a travel agency, and buy a ticket for the bus, which will take us to Luang Prabang in Laos. The trip will take 27 hours. It is the option that best suits us. At 3:00 pm we go to pick up our passports running again on foot. It turned out that we got a visa for two months, valid from now. We could not take care of this any simpler than that 🙂 On the way back from the embassy, we visit the city. We read reviews that the city of Hanoi is not very interesting, and we somewhat agree. We walk along the lake, which is located in the city center. After a meal, we walk around the Old Quarter, a neighborhood in which we stay.

And why are we going to Laos on Monday, which is in 3 days, you may ask. Well, because for the next three days we planned a trip to the most famous attraction of Vietnam: the Ha Long Bay. We cannot wait to get there and really relax.

 

Ha Long Bay

To this day, we remember the moment when we first saw photos of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. It was a moment full of amazement and admiration for this natural beauty. Now, a few years later, we are sitting on a bus, which takes us to Ha Long City, the place next to Ha Long Bay. We are very excited: within a few hours we will see the place about which we dreamed for so long. Even after a short, three-hour sleep the night before, we do not feel tired, and our eyes are wide open.

Ha Long, in the local language means "where the dragon descends into the sea". There is a legend about it: One day, the gods sent down from the heavens to the earth dragon that fought to defend people against evil. During this visit, it saw the bay… It got so attracted to its beauty and charm, it made the dragon decide to stay here and never go back to the heavens. As for the real facts, the bay "covers an area of 1500 km ², which is about 1900 scattered rocky islands and islets. Most of the islands are in the form of limestone pillars emerging high above the surface of the water. Limestone substrate promotes the formation of numerous caves and grottos. The rainforest here has a high diversity of plant and animal worlds. In 1994 UNESCO placed it on its list of World Heritage Sites".

After arriving at the port, we take care of necessary formalities. There are a lot of tourists here, which does not surprise us. Our three-day tour consists of one night on the boat, and one in the hotel on the island of Cat Ba. After arranging tickets we are transported to our boat that is waiting for us with a welcome drink. We get a double cabin, quite good-looking. Then a meal with Vietnamese specialties awaits us. The first impression of the visit to the bay is very positive. The weather is not cooperating with clouds obscuring the beautiful views, but huge rock formations emerging from the mists can easily be seen. We are not discouraged by the lack of blue sky and after a meal, we go onto the roof of the ship to admire the scenery around us.

We go to explore another cave known as "Surprising", which is located on one of the islands. Although a few days ago we visited the huge and fabulous Paradise Cave, we love this one just as much. We visit the three main chambers, from the smallest to the largest, by going through narrow passages. Stalactites and stalagmites formations are so fancy, with a bit of imagination, you can see animals and other creatures. Ceiling looks very interesting, formed by water for thousands, or maybe millions of years. After visiting the cave, we have a bit of time for kayaking. It is short, only a half-hour, due to the approaching twilight. We kayak around one of the islands, encountering another cave!

After a pleasantly spent afternoon, we return to our ship. Moments later, a delicious dinner is served. After the meal we go again to the roof of the ship to enjoy the peace and tranquility of this amazing place on Earth. Tomorrow we are visiting Cat Ba Island, where more attractions await us...

 

“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.” – Chuck Thompson

 

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Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

LifeStyleBreak: Ha Long Bay on the rice fields

Tam Coc

 

The bus from Dong Hoi to Ninh Binh arrives more than an hour late. In addition, it is fully loaded, with people lying even on the floor. We sit right next to the toilet. At the beginning it is not too bad, but after some time the toilet begins to smell terribly and we cannot sleep at all. If that is not enough, our driver did not stop in our town, where we wanted to get off. We realized it when arriving in the capital city of Hanoi, 100km away from our destination. When we get off the bus, we go to the office hoping this can be somehow fixed. We are offered, apparently at a lower price, a one-day trip to Ninh Binh, a place that is on our itinerary, so we agree to the proposal.

With this trip we are able to visit a place, which was not on our list: Lu Hao was the capital of Vietnam in 968-1009 during the reign of the Dinh and Le Dynasty. Although there are only a few small temples to see, the surrounding scenery of the place is simply magical. We move on. We eat a small meal to gather strength for the next point of our trip, which is the true reason we wanted to come here.

Tam Coc, known also as "Ha Long in rice fields," is the big famous rock formation scattered across rice fields. To admire it, we take a boat. Boats are for two passengers and a person that rows using, clearly, their own muscle strength. What muscles you ask? You probably think of arm muscles. It turns out that the local rowers use legs! And they are very skilled at it.

After getting on the boat, we begin to go between the previously mentioned rock formations. The water is so clear that you can see vegetation growing on the bottom. With today’s heat, it would be great to jump into the water. We go alongside giant limestone, which shows what nature and time does. It is called a karst process, i.e. geological formation shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, such as limestone. At this time, there are a lot of boats here, but it does not bother us to enjoy this moment. Along the way we pass local people wading in the water. We guess they’re looking for snails. They use nets attached to a triangular structure, and immerse it and then take it out of the water. We sail ahead. We notice water flowing underneath rock formations, creating something in the form of a tunnel, through which it flows. It is so low that sometimes we have to lean so as not to bump our heads. We have a new appreciation as to what powerful force and element water is. All this attraction takes over an hour. An hour of greatly spent time, during which we speak to each other very little, as everyone was absorbed in thoughts about this beautiful place.

After reaching the shore, we pack up for the bus and return to Hanoi. On receipt of the luggage, we decide to find a hotel. After a few minutes, we find the Hanoi Old Town hotel, which is run by an Englishman and his Vietnamese wife. The hotel is not in our price range, but Damien gives us a discount. The room is very spacious with a balcony, air conditioning, fridge, large TV and a computer with internet! We decide to stay here, telling ourselves that from time to time you have to spoil yourself 😉 After a quick shower we go to town to eat something, and then come back to our room and enjoy a well-deserved rest.

 

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

 

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Lu Hao, Vietnam

Lu Hao, Vietnam

Lu Hao, Vietnam

Lu Hao, Vietnam

Lu Hao, Vietnam

Lu Hao, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Lu Hao, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

Tam Coc, Vietnam

LifeStyleBreak: The beauty of nature hidden underground

Paradise Cave

 

When we get up in the morning, most of our roommates are gone, and it is only 7:00 in the morning. We also get up quickly, excited about the day ahead. For breakfast we eat leftovers from yesterday, which we consume at the balcony. The view of the city turned out to be fantastic. We saw a wide river over which a long bridge ran, roads in very good condition, sidewalks decorated with greenery and most importantly, finally clear sky! We are in a seaside city, but we will not have the opportunity to check its value, as we came here for another purpose.

Dong Hoi is a city located 55 kilometers from Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. This is another object in Vietnam, this time a nature one, from the UNESCO World Heritage List. The subject of protection are primary tropical forests in which 751 species of plants and 381 species of animals have been found. There are also the oldest limestone mountains of Asia with numerous caves and underground rivers, mostly unexplored.

Our goal is to visit one of the caves. You can choose from Phong Nha cave, which is 55! kilometers long. For visitors, only the first kilometer is made available, which is overcome by boat, as in most of the cave flows a river. The second is the Paradise Cave, which lies 20 kilometers away. It was discovered quite recently and made available to visitors only in 2011. We decide on the latter, which according to the guide, is less commercial than the first one, and lies deeper in the national park. To get there, we rent a motorbike from our hotel and set off. We have a small map to help, drawn by a lady from the reception. After leaving the city, we are going on the highway, which is in good condition, and the trip goes very well. On the horizon you can already see the limestone mountains, “approaching” us with every kilometer. We also pass rice fields, unfortunately they are not as beautiful as they probably are at the time of flowering, but they also have their charm. When the mountains are already close to us, a huge sign appears on one of the rock walls informing us that we are entering the park. From here, we still have about 20 kilometers. Along the way, passing through a small village, we pass by children returning from school. Almost each of them greets us with the famous "hello". The surroundings are so beautiful that we slow down from time to time to enjoy these amazing views. We have never seen such mountain formations before. They grow suddenly from a flat terrain, and in most cases they are so overgrown that it looks like someone covers them with a carpet of greenery. No piece of rock breaks through this rug. After about 30 minutes we reach our destination.

Paradise Cave is considered the largest dry cave in the world. It was discovered by British researchers in 2009. Its length reaches 35 kilometers and, as in the previous one, tourists can visit only the first kilometer. We get to the parking lot, and very exited  run to the ticket office. To our satisfaction there are only a few tourists. We also notice that everything is quite nicely organized here. The car park is located about 1.5 kilometers from the cave. We can get there by special vehicles, or take a walk among wild areas. Of course, we choose to walk, which takes us several minutes. Then we overcome 500 stairs up, exactly counted by Viola, leading to the cave. Already standing a few meters from the entrance, you can feel a cool breeze coming from the underground.

The entrance, which is a small hole in the mountain's wall, begins with a wooden staircase, which leads downwards. The cooler air is more and more noticeable, giving clear relief. We descend below, daylight is almost gone, fortunately the stairs are lighted up so that you can see where to take the steps. Turning backwards, you can see the entrance to the cave, getting smaller with each step. After a few seconds the underground world appears in front of our eyes, difficult to describe in words. It feels like being on a different planet. The first view is a huge hall, several dozen meters tall and over a hundred meters wide, filled with shiny stalactites and glass-like pillars and stalagmites. Approaching closer, we gaze at amazing stalactite formations, wondering about the power and beauty of nature. Further path leads to the next chambers, huge and amazing. In each of them you can see similar, but also eye-catching miracles. An amazing feeling had to accompany the explorers of this cave, entering and exploring a previously unknown world, filled with darkness at that time. This shows how little we know about our planet. It is also confirmed by the fact that this year a new scorpion species was discovered in Paradise Cave.

Our trip continues until the end of the corridors and tunnels open to tourists, unable to enjoy the sight. Coming back we climb the stairs to the exit, turning our heads every now and then, casting our last glances at this magical world. Coming to the surface, heat hits us again. To the parking lot, to the surprised staff, we also go on foot. We stop at the restaurant for dinner and set off on the way back. We choose a route that allows us to discover more areas of the park. It was a very good decision. The scenery around us is so spectacular that from time to time we stop and just look around. One would like to stay here longer, but we have to move on. Along the way, we meet a couple that we met in a hotel, and we come back together.

We reach the city just before sunset. This time of the year, darkness falls here very quickly. It's already dark before 6:00 pm. At the hotel, from which we checked out in the morning, we collect our luggage and use the shower. We really like the fact that even after check-out, the guest is still welcome and treated well. Around 8:00 pm we go to the transport office, from where a bus will take us to the next town of Ninh Binh. As it turned out later, the bus will arrive more than an hour late, funding us a sleepless night ...

 

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

 

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Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park, Vietnam

LifeStyleBreak: The former capital of Vietnam

The  City  of  Hue

The city of Hue is referred to as the intellectual, cultural and spiritual heart of Vietnam. Palaces and pagodas, tombs and temples, culture and history are just a few things that describe this town, another Vietnamese UNESCO World Heritage Site. It functioned as the capital of the country until 1945. During the Vietnam War, it was repeatedly destroyed by both sides, as it was on the border between the north and the south. The city is very extensive. The Perfume River flows through it. Our first goal for today is located on its other bank. We rent bikes, which give us yet another perspective and dimension on travelling.

The Citadel dominates over the city - palace, which owes its fame to its magnificent royal past. Construction started in 1804 and was completed around 1833, making it one of the largest imperial mansions in Asia. The Citadel was protected by a number of fortifications. The headquarter of the imperial family was located behind the ramparts forming the heart of the Citadel, also known as the Forbidden City. Only members of the family and the service of the Emperor could dwell here. Today it is open to the public. Unfortunately, a large part of the building was destroyed during the Vietnam War. However, palaces and buildings that have been restored are making a great impression on us. You can also see a video, an animation showing the reconstruction of the Forbidden City. It shows how beautiful and impressive it once was.

There is also a corner dedicated to Polish architects led by Kazimierz Kwiatkowski, who had a very large contribution to the reconstruction and maintenance work of the monuments. It is worth mentioning that this project was co-financed by the Polish government.

Our next goal is the Thien Mu Pagoda, 4 kilometers along the river. At the entrance to the pagoda stands a 21-meter tower consisting of seven floors. The surroundings are equally impressive: beautiful gardens and a temple where prayers are held. Also you can see monks absorbed in their daily chores in the garden. The pagoda itself is situated right by the river, with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

Even though we come back to the hotel during rush hour, cycling is safe and very enjoyable. After a quick shower we go to the city to find some more specialties. We find the Mandarin Cafe. Mr. Cu, the owner, welcomes guests in the doorway. He is a photographer with a passion and decorates the restaurant’s walls with his work. While waiting for the meal, he shows us an album with his pictures. They depict life and nature of Vietnam. They are really beautiful. The food in the restaurant is equally good and at affordable prices. We highly recommend this place. When leaving, the host makes sure that everything was OK and he hands us his photograph converted into a postcard.

 

Time  to  move  on

The next day. We start slowly. On our list is only one place to visit, another pagoda. Today we also leave Hue. The bus is at 4:30 pm, which means we have plenty of time to relax.

After breakfast, we check out the room, leave the backpacks at the front desk and head to discover another pagoda. This walk takes us about an hour. Dieu De Pagoda National is not as astonishing. I do not think it is set to be visited by tourists. The interior one could only see through the glass door, but hey – not all have to be for show.

On the way back we observe how local life goes on. We pass the market, on which probably you can buy everything 😉 We get a few small things and go back to the hotel. After 4:00 pm, the bus takes us to another bus stop, from where we will travel to the town of Dong Hoi. The bus arrives about an hour late and after considerable confusion during loading luggage, we finally take seats.

Travelling passes calmly, although it seems the driver forgot to let us get off in the city center. We are forced to take a taxi, as we have no idea where we are, and it is late too. We pull up to the hotel and luckily get a space in an 8-person room. We exchange information with our roommates and slowly go to sleep. We are very excited, as tomorrow we are going to visit a very spectacular place!

 

“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark

 

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Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

LifeStyleBreak: Let’s get lost again

Another  day  in  Hoi  An

Another day, another early start. We take advantage of every moment spent here. Time to relax will come later. We get up at 6:00 am, eat breakfast, pack backpacks and leave for the city again. We buy a breakfast buffet for only $2 per person – we fill our stomachs for at least half a day 🙂 The reason to get up so early is that we want to immerse again in the absolutely amazing atmosphere of Hoi An, as well as we need to use up our tickets to the monuments. We do not have much time, because we have a bus to catch at 1:30 pm to go to the next place of our trip.

A bit of sightseeing in Hoi An: There are about twenty fee based sites and historic buildings. You buy a ticket for 120 thousand dong that allows you to visit five locations. For us, the most interesting places are temples and pagodas. The Covered Japanese Bridge can be visited in the evening when there’s no more ticket control. Old houses with manual production of various items can be interesting. We visited one in which hand-embroidered tablecloths are made - we are certain some people would like it. There are street artistic performances, which sadly we can’t experience due to the bad weather.

We use the remaining two tickets to visit the city museum and another temple, a temple of the Chinese province of Fujitu. Even though we visited several of these temples already, the atmosphere and beautiful decor make us come back. After a few hours we go back to the hotel to pick up luggage and check out. While surfing the internet, we find this little gem, which we nearly missed. It turns out, here in Hoi An, there is a monument of Kazimierz Kwiatkowski, a Polish architect and conservator of monuments. He led the historical monuments renovation efforts in Vietnam from 1981 until his death in 1997. He is considered here to be the dignitary that saved the historic complex before the liquidation and contributed to the overall success of the city. His main accomplishment was the inclusion of Hoi An in the register of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Unfortunately, it's time to leave Hoi An, a must see place on every traveler list! While travelling to Hue, our next stop, we pass the fairy tale like mountains with plenty of rivers and waterfalls. We climb the serpentine mountain roads, where in the distance you can see the coast and ocean. Despite bad weather, nature is still magnificent. We often mention in our blog the natural beauty of Vietnam. We do our best to show you how beautiful it is, and you can look at it for many hours, yet we realize it is indescribable; there are simply no words to describe it…

 

“Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind.” – Seneca

 

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My Son, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

My Son, Vietnam

LifeStyleBreak: Ruins of Hindu temples

Ruins of My Son

Today we visit another historical place from the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. My Son is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa. It was also a kingdom, and one of the holiest site of Cham people. The temples are dedicated to the worship of the god Shiva, known under various local names, the most important of which is "Bhadresvara”. Originally, we planned to ride a scooter to this place, but the weather made us take an organized trip by bus. Disadvantages of such trips came out already at the beginning, as the bus arrived more than half an hour late. We decided this will not spoil our trip and we stayed in a good and optimistic mood.

The Chams was a population inhabiting this area from the 4th to the 13th century AD. My Son was the longest functioning city in the Mekong region. Situated in the valley, surrounded by hills covered with lush vegetation, the remaining temples are ruins mainly due to American bombings during the Vietnam War.

Visiting the ruins of My Son will long stay in our memory. It is a place where you can see how people lived a dozen centuries ago. When we were exploring, tropical rain fell, which was very refreshing and built this unique mystic atmosphere.

For people who plan visiting this place – go by yourself, do not book an organized trip. The best time to visit is early morning hours, to avoid the crowd of tourists intruding into every photo frame. Travelling in a group, we have only 1.30 hours to visit, what with such a large area is insufficient.

We go back to Hoi An by boat on the river Thu Bon, stopping on an island famous for its hand-made wood products. We use the rest of the day to wander the city. In Hoi An you can walk for hours admiring beautiful buildings. Sometimes we find ourselves passing once again the same street, realizing it only after some time  – there are so many details to pay attention to. Despite the late hours, we are visiting the market in the hope that yet we will find our friend, who serves delicious food (we call her our Vietnamese mother 😉 ) To our delight her stand is still open. Our hostess greets us with open arms. Once again, she gives us local specialities. This time it is a bowl of noodles, meat and fresh herbs. As usual, she fills any empty space on the plate. From the next stand, we try freshly made, right before our eyes - mango smoothie. At the end we get to enjoy a tasty spicy crab. Vietnamese cuisine is famous for its flavors around the world, as we have seen in person.

 

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles”. – Tim Cahill

 

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