4 March 2017

Sukhothai, Thailand

After a couple of days in Bangkok and seeing a friend, I came up north to Sukhothai. The ancient capital of Thailand dates back to the 13th century, and although the weather is well on the hot side currently, it was still interesting to walk around the large area of old town dotted with numerous temples and ruins.

27 February 2017

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

So my time to Vietnam came to an end in Ho Chi Minh City. Its an expanse of modern metropolis these days, and it was great to see the contrasts between new and old, starting here with the old central post office building still in excellent condition. This is followed by the Notre Dame Cathedral against modern offices in the background. After this a nightscape looking across the city from a trendy rooftop bar location.
Had some excellent Vietnamese food in my last few days, including these colourful spring rolls with the rice rolls pigmented using different vegetables, they looked good and tasted good.
My final afternoon as I walked the streets I spotted the 3A alternative art area with impressive street art.  Vietnam has been a fascinating country and I hope to return soon.

23 February 2017

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Enjoyed seeing the beach and having some hot weather at the beach in Mui Ne.  The beach itself is very long (nearly 20km) with resorts all the way along the road that runs next to the beach.
I enjoyed sitting on the beach watching the kite surfing though one day, and the following day took a basic bus tour to see nearby sand dunes. A good stop was the fishing village harbour, before sun set over the dunes.
A local dish I had not tried was banh xeo or rice pancakes packed with beansprouts and some beef. Here they were served with a bowl of sauce sauce for dipping and salad.
Now on to my final stop in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City!

20 February 2017

Dalat, Vietnam

Dalat is set in the southwest highlands of Vietnam. It was a very scenic, if abit bumpy, bus ride up into the hills from Nha Trang.
Spent the few days here relaxing with some friends. One day we took a pleasant boat ride across Tuyem Lam Lake to see the surrounding forest. Once there this group of many cheerful locals invited us to their weekend lunch picnic, so had fun here meeting and talking.
The night market was a very popular place at the weekend, packed with visitors. There was all kinds of souvenirs and clothes for sale, aswell as many foods such as vietnamese pizza on offer. Drinking hot milk also seemed popular at the market stalls.
A more abstract sight to visit in Dalat is the Hang Nga Crazy House. An ongoing creation of winding high bridges and stairs link different theme designed rooms. It was quite maze like and took quite some time to explore.

16 February 2017

Nha Trang, Vietnam

As I continue south in Vietnam the weather has improved. Which was good as I was staying in the beach city of Nha Trang for a few days. Whilst the middle stretch of beach is heavily populated with tourists, at either end the sand becomes quieter, with a good spot found for sunbathing here.
A popular sight in the north of the city are the Po Nagar Cham towers, built in brick between the 8th to 12th centuries. These are still used for worship today by many buddhists.
Walking around the city (to get away from the western and touristy eateries found near the numerous hotels and beach), there was a wide variety of local food. I found bò né to be an excellent brunch meal. This photo may not convey how tasty it was, but it is beef on a sizzling hot plate with eggs and some sausage served with a decent sized baguette, all for cheap price, brilliant.
Another local dish I went to hunt down and sample was nem nuong. First shown as the grilled minced pork, fried snacks, range of salad and herbs, with chilli sauce. These are then assembled onto rice paper to make your own rolls.

11 February 2017

Ganh Da Dia, Vietnam

I stopped in Tuy Hoa over the weekend, as a base to go and see Ganh Da Di (Ghênh Đá Đîa in Vietnamese), about 30 km up the coast.
It was a interesting ride up the coast passing by villages and rice fields. The rocks at Ganh Da Dia are an excellent example of columnar jointing in Basalt. The column shapes, often hexagonal, are formed when the lava was forced to cool very quickly by coming into contact with water, it is a great sight as thousands of these columns sre visible in the sea and on the edge of the coast.
This province of Vietnam does not see too many tourists, as you can see by this lovely but empty beach, though it was abit too windy for sitting on the beach this day.

8 February 2017

Hue, Vietnam

Hue is the old capital of the Nguyen emperors, which is situated next to the Perfume river. The highlight of the city itself is the Citadel, built from 1804 onwards and surrounded by an impressive moat.
Here is the entrance inside the emperial enclosure looking towards the Thai Hoa palace, and one of the other many grand entrance gates.
The inner area of the citadel was only for the emperor and his family and was known as the forbidden purple city. Sadly much of it was destroyed during the war, but here there has been some restoration of what remains.
Outside of Hue set in the countryside are tombs dedicated to the various emperors. I had a great time going to visit these around the countryside on a bike.  The Minh Mang tomb is set in the forest and surrounded by a lake giving it a truly calm and picturesque surrounding.
The last stop on my tour was to the tomb of Khai Dinh. Here is his bronze statue in a colourful setting inside the tomb.

3 February 2017

Hoi An, Vietnam

The old town of Hoi An is a very pleasant place to visit, however with Têt (Vietnamese new year) recently its been very busy, as many people visited around the old town. In particular to see were the numerous old temples, also a lantern festival was on for the occasion lighting up the old streets.  Here is some of the best shots of Hoi An.

2 February 2017

Food in Danang & Hoi An, Vietnam

The food in central Vietnam differs from the north or south, and I have had tasty meals in Danang and Hoi An over the last week.
Hoi An has cheap local eats and pleasant restaurants in the old town, where I really enjoyed this Banh xeo thit nuong, or crispy pancakes, fried pork with salad herbs and rice paper to make rolls with.
An old lady made me this fried wonton with chicken for lunch, where the filling is ontop of the fried crispy wonton.
Only found in Hoi An are Cao Lâo, a type of noodle made with water from a certain well in Hoi An town. They are thicker than normal rice noodles and more chewy due to the way they are made.
This next dish of Banh cuon, is a more common dish found all over. This time it had more flavour then previous times, with lettuce, herbs and crispy onions on. The string like topping is made from pork somehow and I think is known as ruoc.
Finally a tasty version of Bún măm, a dry rice noodle meal consisting of pork, fish sauce, chilli and herbs to be mixed in with the noodles.

28 January 2017

Da Nang, Vietnam

The city of Da Nang is much more spacious and spread out compared to Hanoi, and it is where I stayed for Têt or Vietnamese new years.  Locals decorate their homes and streets with plenty of fairy lights and also decorate blossom trees or small orange trees (perhaps similar to decorating christmas trees).  The most impressive were the lights along the river and of the dragon bridge, which on a saturday night even breathes fire!
On new years day I visited the Linh Ung temple and giant lady buddha. Hundreds of Vietnamese were busy visiting the temple, as they go to pray, get luck and make wishes at the temple at the start of the new year.
The area of My Khe beach, on the eastern side of the city, was where I stayed. It was pretty quiet due to many shops and restaurants closing for Têt, but the beach had clean sand and good views.

25 January 2017

Tam Côc & Tràng An, Ninh Bìn, Vietnam

Whilst I stopped in the city of Ninh Bin, the sights to see are outside of the city in the surrounding countryside.
It was still a little cool but that made for easy cycling on the way to Tam Côc.  Tam Côc forms an impressive landscape due to its flooded karst system of limestone hills and caves, around the hills are numerous old temples and pagodas to visit too.  The caves at Hang Múa give the most impressive view by climbing the 500 or so stairs to the top of the hill.
Nearby is Tràng An which is part of the same landscape, and many more scenic areas to cycle around. I also visited the ancient capital of Hoa Lu to see the old temples.  The next part of my Vietnam trip is in the central area of the country, with an overnight train ride taking me down the coast.