15 January 2017

Hanoi, Vietnam

Always an exciting part of travel is trying lots of different foods and local cuisine, so here is a round up of what I have tried so far.
Have already tried a variety of noodle dishes, with bun bo nam bo (dry rice noodles with beef, herbs and peanuts) being very tasty. Here is a mi ga (egg noodles with chicken in broth) with a side of goi cuon (fresh spring rolls).
There are lots of pork dishes, here I had crispy pork with rice noodles, not sure of the exact vietnamese name for the dish though. Many local places selling barbecue pork sticks in the streets too, which can be a bargain and great snack.
A local friend took me to try some excellent street food the other night, with us having nem lui. Nem lui is pork cooked on sticks with lettuce, fresh herbs, pineapple, carrots, rice noodles, rice paper. You then assemble yourself into rolls in the rice paper before dipping into a sauce and eating! The final photo then shows the hundreds of sweets and chocolates I found onsale down a side street, which are popular for the upcoming vietnamese new years holiday of Tet.

Hanoi, Vietnam

It has been a busy week since my arrival to Vietnam. The weather at first was consistent drizzle, but since it cleared up I have been able to see alot in and around Hanoi.
I have been staying in the Old Quarter part of the the city with many sights within walking distance. One of the first places I visited was the Temple of Literature; dating back to 1070; it is the site of the first university in Vietnam. Emperor Ly Thanh Thon founded the temple, here is the main entrance gate, then inside a shrine to Confucious (Khong Tu).
Near the Old Quarter was Hao Lo prison, built by the French in 1890, it was used to contain many political prisoners who were fighting for Vietnamese independence. It was also later used to house American prisoners of war in the 1960s. I then learnt a great deal more about Vietnam's recent history in the Ho Chi Minh museum. Ho Chi Minh (bringer of light) was the Vietnamese communist revolutionary leader who became president.
In amongst the busy lanes of the Old Quarter was this quiet temple, with mini manderin trees in front. A short walk from this is the Hoan Kiem lake, with the Ngoc Son (temple of the jade mountain) set in the middle of the lake.
A bus ride further across Hanoi was the Museum of Ethnology, with information on all of Vietnam's ethnic minorities, outside are examples of traditional houses. Shown here is a typical village long house with its high sloping roof.

8 January 2017

Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram), Tamil Nadu, India

After relaxing in Goa for 6 weeks, it was finally time to move on. So on thursday I caught the weekly Goa to Chennai express train across the country.  I then took a local bus a couple hours south down the coast to Mahabalipuram for the weekend.
As I had visited the town before it was a relaxing weekend, roaming around the hillside to see the lighthouse and lots of locals climbing steps to see this old monument.
Definitely one of my favourite foods in India has to be the paratha, a type of bread flaky on top yet stretchy inside, here it is with a tasty local chicken curry, from a local dhaba (restaurant).
The rest of the weekend I had time to see the beach and fishing boats, as well as visiting the crocodile bank conservation centre/zoo.  At the centre they look after an impressive range of crocodiles, alligators and gharial, with them breeding some species.
That brought to an end my time in India for this trip, catching the bus back towards Chennai to fly to Vietnam (via Bangkok) on monday night, where I will be for the next 2 months starting in Hanoi. 

16 December 2016

Gokarna, Karnataka, India

This week I had a couple of days trip out from Goa, on the train down into Karnataka, to Gokarna. Gokarna itself is a small town with a few hindi temples, the main attraction for travellers being the lovely beaches found south of the town. I did visit several years ago, and not too much had changed, this time I stayed on Kudle beach, where cheap beach shack accomodation is still available.
A slightly further walk south, over the rocks and headland is Om beach, here it was still pretty peaceful and good for sunbathing.
The photos first show Kudle beach, followed by different views of Om beach.

11 December 2016

Canacona, Goa, India

So currently residing in Palolem, spending time on the beach and in the beach side restaurants.  This week I hired a mountain bike to get out and around the Cancacona area of south Goa.
My first stop was 8km north of Palolem is the lovely long beach of Agonda, quiet with lovely water for swimming.
A good cycle over 10km south from Palolem is Talpona beach.  To get there it was a wind along a back road, inland to this small bridge, before crossing the river and following it back along to the coast.

The nearest village to Palolem is Chaudi, I visited the market at the weekend to pick up some fruit and see the variety of freshly caught fish on sale too.