A day in Hue

Hi all!

Happy Chinese New Year! We watched Monkey King 2 yesterday at Shaw IMAX at Waterway Point and it was good! Anyway, I thought I would share with you my last post from my trip to Vietnam last year! Similar to the day trip to Hoi An, we rented the same car and driver, but this time it was a little pricier (USD 95) because Hue was further away from Danang. We made a pit-stop at Hải Vân pass, a twisting road up the mountains. The mist rising from the sea made this route a scenic beauty and I literally feel like I was up in the sky.

Of course being funny people, we happily just went to one corner to snap some pictures of the scenery and then hopped back onto the car, not realising we actually have not even went to the other corner to see the pass.

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So, my aunt who was seating on the front seat was made to take the picture of the pass below for all of us from the car. Lol, seriously.

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Just look at the mist that clouds the road, it really does feel like you’re flying (but on land), hehe!

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Once we (or well the driver) manoeuvred us out of the mountains, we hit the windy road and lined on both sides were padi fields, so pretty. Along the way, I was preparing to wind down the window to snap a picture when suddenly a loud bang was heard from the back of the car in the area I was seated. So naturally, I was stunned and it turned out the cow, which the driver initially swerved to avoid, happily decided to backtrack his path and bang into our car. Luckily both cow and car was okay, although it was interesting enough to note that the driver went to check if his car was okay while I turned to see if the cow was okay. Haha, priorities.

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First stop in Hue was the Imperial Citadel (adults: 150.000/pax). Of course, you could buy combined tickets for the citadel and the tombs (price varies) if you know which tombs you would be visiting. But because we were unsure of the tombs we would be going, we ended up buying individual tickets for all the places of interest we visited.

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The Ngọ Môn gate has a central door and the yellow roof represents the door which the emperor would enter from, while the doors on either side, with green roofs, were for animals (e.g.: horses) or soldiers.

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Once you enter, you’ll have a grand view of the Dien Thai Hao palace where court ceremonies were held.

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Naturally, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take close shot of the horse roaming on the palace grounds. Perhaps it’s the grand (a lot of times) child of an imperial horse, :).

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Part of the palace grounds that was burnt down during the war.

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I love the intricate inscriptions on the roof tiles. They also had them in different colors.

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After the palace, we headed to Thiên Mụ pagoda (also called Linh Mụ pagoda), where we roam about for a short while before heading to lunch. Our entourage simply couldn’t leave the place without taking a shot of the pagoda and the four pillars at its entrance. But we had to wait for a terribly long time for this two friends to finished taking their posed shots (think finger at the tip of pagoda) -.- The pagoda was also facing the perfume river, which made for a nice view except that it was noon and the light was super harsh for photo-taking.

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We then had lunch in one of the restaurant along the street where the Tu Duc tomb is located. Entry to the tomb was at 100.000/pax. But a section of the tomb was still undergoing reconstruction work and the area itself was pretty small. So it was not really worth the price tag. At the same entrance fee, I would suggest you visit Khai Dinh tomb instead if time and budget are limited.

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We managed to wiggle ourselves in 30 minutes before the Khai Dinh tomb closed but I decided to snap a picture of the cow feeding just outside the tomb. Haha, I then rushed in like a mad woman to capture the tomb and the setting sun on film before the guard started to lock up the ground.

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Just look at how ornately decorated the interior of the tomb!

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Sunset shots from the tomb ground before we headed back to Danang. This post marks the end of my trip to Vietnam in December 2015, and till the next time, bye!

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A day in Hoi An

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Hi all!

If you’re in Vietnam, I would highly recommend a day trip out to Hoi An. It’s a beautiful place and indisputably my favourite place in this trip. Arranging a day trip out to Hoi An may be a bit challenging unless you’re renting a scooter to drive, because the rates for a car offered at my hotel was about USD 70-ish/pax, but after looking around the internet, we got a good deal at about USD 75 for an entire day in a 6-seater sedan for all 4 of us.

On the way out to Hoi An, we stopped by marble mountain, where we got our ticket for the elevator up (one-way VND 15,ooo/pax) at the counter there. It’s a peaceful ground and you’ll have a panoramic view of Danang and be able to explore the various cave entrances scattered throughout the mountain and the temples built atop.

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The Huyen Khong Buddhist grotto, which was carved into the walls of the marble mountain in a cave. It was quite slippery and very dark, and this was the best picture I could grab of the magnificent structure.

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After climbing to the peak in the mountain, and the climb up the steps was killer, haha, you’ll be able to witness the beautiful coastal view of Danang.

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After leaving the cooling weather up the mountains, we were the recipients of the warm weather (wearing jeans was a wrong decision by the way), we drove pass padi fields where we headed to Mỹ Sơn, a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples that were an UNESCO world heritage site (entrance fee: VND 150,000/pax for international visitors -.-).
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It was hot and we were pretty hungry when we arrived at Mỹ Sơn at the height of the sun. But it was a convenient route along the way to Hoi An , so we just had to suck it up, lol. The place actually reminded my of something like the smaller temples around Angkor Wat. But many of the temples were destroyed during the Vietnam War and some of them are undergoing construction or their restoration works pretty much remained stagnant. We actually saw a temple supposedly undergoing restoration works but were covered entirely in cobwebs. It’s quite sad that such historical structures are left to collect dust.

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The influx of Chinese tourists just as were leaving, lucky us.

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Finally, lunch at Hoi An!!!! We tried many of their local specialty food this time round. Below is Cau Lau, a pork and noodle dish, which was pretty good. Simple but nice. Or maybe I was just too hungry, haha.

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Banh xeo, a Vietnamese styled crepe, where you wrap the rice paper about egg, vegetables, they gave us kimchi (o.o, fusion dish?). Okay, but nothing too impressive. Another dish my aunts and uncle tried (I’m allergic to shrimps) was the white rose, a wanton shrimp dish and they said it was good. But I wouldn’t know, hehe.

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Exiting from the back of the restaurant to head to the old ancient town.

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Old school barber…

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And we got lost trying to find the old town… -.- It turned out it was just in the opposite direction only.

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Entrance to the old town (VND 120,000/pax), just as the sun was getting ready to set. The only sad thing was the people were keeping puppies so they could sell them to be cook as dog meat 😦
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I was stupefied when the old man below just started slipping off his slippers and nimbly climbed over the railings to get to his boat. Like wow, it’s interesting how fit and flexible the older folks still are in Hoi An. IMG_1868

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Another funny person who climbed onto the top of the roof railing just to grab a picture. Twice in a day, false alarms of people attempting suicide. -.-

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Oh this is good, a pot of either warm black sesame desert or some tofu and corn mix desert. Inexpensive, nice though slightly sweet,  I would highly recommend this!

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After exiting the ancient old town of Hoi An, we could not leave the place without trying out their chicken rice, which came highly recommended from my uncle’s colleague who is a Vietnamese. So stopped by a famous shop frequented by the locals based on the recommendation of our server at the restaurant where we had our lunch, we packed away their chicken rice, where we had at feast in our hotel room. The only thing I didn’t really like was that their chicken has far too much skin not enough meat. But I guess it was kampung chicken, so that was to be expected. Other than that, the chicken rice (called com ga) and the salad we bought from the shop below was tasty and refreshing 🙂

Till the next post, bye!

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A day in Danang

Hi all!

I hope the year has started well for you guys, since mine has definitely not been going well. That aside, I’ll share with you my day in Danang, last December. We flew into Danang from Ho Chi Minh on Vietnam Airlines, which was pretty affordable. The third capital of Vietnam that was situated between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, Danang is a beach-site city, not infiltrated with large tourist crowds yet. Furthermore, it is a good place central base if you plan to head for a day trip to Hoi An or Hue.

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After we had settled in, we quickly took a cab out to the city (since we stayed nearer the beach area) for lunch. Funnily enough, we ended up having the same taxi driver bringing us around the area for the rest of the evening. Lunch was a fantastic serving of royal herbal chicken soup that went fantastically with the rice. I thought it was quite interesting that the rice in Danang is served in this claypot like bowl, such that there’s bit of a crispy rice at the side. It’s abit like claypot rice in Singapore but without the charred rice bottom. They also had this Vietnamese tea that was awesome, it had a slight subtle taste of lotus that was not overpowering at all and superbly tasty. Our subsequent attempts at Vietnamese tea in the different areas we went to, did not taste the same. I think the taste was just unique to this restaurant. Le sigh…

Side note: We did attempt to find our way back to this restaurant on Christmas Eve, but to no avail. A 10 minute car journey turned into an hour traffic jam and the restaurant was closed by the time we got there. And let me tell you, we had a struggle trying to remember the name of the place for a long time since none of us took a picture of the restaurant the first time round -.-

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After lunch, we headed to the Lady Buddha, a temple located at the top of a hill. It was pretty cooling here in Danang, perhaps because the area is located close to the sea. We also arrived in time to catch the sunset!

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Putting up this picture, because I thought it was pretty interesting how the dog was showing its ass at me just as my Uncle knelt down to take a picture of the structure. Haha.

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As you drive down the hill, you’ll come across this scenic view of the Man Thai village.

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Coracles, or traditional fishing boats, are still utilised by the locals to ferry people and to cast their fishing nets into the sea.

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Returning ashore, all in a good day’s work!

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As the night falls, we made a pit-stop along the express way to bask in the chilly air as we attempt to grab a picture of the constantly changing colors on the dragon bridge.

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Here are some bokeh-ish shots which I thought were quite pretty, strangely enough…

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Supper/dinner, haha depending on how you look at it, was at a random seafood restaurant near our hotel. Here we have the chopped up fresh scallops, steamed crap and lala (a type of clam, I think).

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We ended the day by heading to the rooftop bar atop our hotel, where we had a wonderful view of the city lights! Cheers!

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Our attempt at catching the sunrise, early the morning before we took our flight back to Ho Chi Minh. Haha, we did actually stayed in Danang for more than 2D1N, but the rest of the time we were pretty much of to Hoi An or Hue for the entire day. So I’ve decided to compile the travel visit to Danang into a single post this time around!

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After our failed attempt at catching the sunrise because it decided to hide behind the clouds, we rented bikes from our hotel, and took a leisurely morning cycle all the way until Man Thai fishing village. It was a good way to explore the area as you had the freedom to stop as and when you liked.

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Some freshly caught (and skinned) seafood by the locals, we were debating what the creature below was. Our current opinion is its a seal (because of the whiskers), but what do you all think? Do people in Vietnam actually eat seals?

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Here’s some cute little green-eyed squids

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A lady rinsing the fishes caught in muddy water and laying them out along the entire stretch of road in the sun to dry. We also saw people laying out shrimps to dry as well…

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A pretty shell laying on the beach

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And my first time seeing a sand coin! The had piles of sand coins on the beach, which were essentially the “rubbish” from their attempt at fishing in the sea.

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The scenic view along the beach

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A morning view of the beach from our rooftop bar once more after we ended our short cycling trip! Here’s showing how densely populated the buildings are!

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And this was my only good pho meal this time round to Vietnam :(. I had it from Big Bowl (a franchise restaurant in Vietnam I believe) at the Danang airport! If you have the chance, try out their baguette and their pho! Their baguette was unbelievably warm, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside! But this may not be sold (and taste may differ) according to the branches, so no promises!

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Till the next post, bye!