Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Temple of Literature

It was a walking morning for us.  My colleague was longing for a bottle of water (almost up to obsession), I guess she failed to notice some of the sights.  I was very excited to go to the temple of literature to pay tribute to my first love -- academia.

Indeed, the Temple of Literature stood out as a place of learning and growth.  I was very impressed by the landmarks installed to pay tribute to the doctors of education a few centuries, way before our generations.

One of the gates: Open Sesame!

Those carved wood is just anywhere

one can find your corner anywhere

Paying tribute to Confucius

In honor of the PhDs in that time...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Awesome One Pillar Pagoda

After walking around Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, we headed off to get our cameras. One can simply breathe into the photogenic sights all over the compound.

I was also very excited to pay tribute to an architectural landmark called One Pillar Pagoda. At first, I thought it was just another overhyped touristic area where goods are alternatively sold. I wasn't prepared that locals flock to the place to actually pray there!

Despite the throngs of tourists, the place is well-maintained and the place kept to its solemn atmosphere. Also, the guidebooks were correct in saying that it truly is an architectural landmark.

And by the way, I only spent around 15,000 dong for entry and some drinks.  

Monday, 10 September 2012

Facelifting Penang

I've been to Penang, Malaysia many times.  However, it was my June visit that I truly acted like a tourist.  In most of my visits then, I was like a raging bull that tackled my meetings and my visits and of course, my favorite food.  Then off I went.

Georgetown is a UNESCO heritage site.  It reeks of traditions and history.  And because of this, some buildings were a bit run down.  In Penang, the government did its best to conserve Georgetown.  Not only that, they managed to integrate arts in the pathways.  Here are some evidences.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Backpacking Maldives

It is true.  In just one glance, the seas of Maldives blends into several colors of blue and green.

It is also a fact that it is a pricey place.

Another fact to add is that you can see nothing much of Maldives in Male.  But the the different sea colors can drown you into ecstasy.  But nah, it is prohibited to show off your priced swimming gears.

Here are some tips to survive Male.
1.  Couchsurfing.  Although it is not so common out there, you can actually try your best.  This can save much.
2.  Visit during low season.  This gives you more mobility.
3.  When traveling South Asia, include it in the itinerary.  As it is a honeymoon place, it is prohibitively expensive to go straight to Maldives from wherever you are.  However, going to Male from Colombo or any city in India is very reasonable.
4.  Survive immigration.  Dress respectably (not too shabbily) at the airport.  You can breeze through it with a smile or undergo much questions regarding your capacity to holiday in that lovely isle.
5.  Respect the place.  Please observe the dress code.  Showing of 'flesh' may be tolerated to some extent but not much when you're a lone traveler.
6.  Leave porky and spirits behind.  In order not to catch much attention and controversies, don't take pork products and alcohol with you. 
7.  Replenish supplies before boarding the plane.  Maldives is expensive.  Especially if you traveled in South Asia for sometime, you get a shock to the high price of goods.  Also, the products are limited.  If you are fussy with a particular type of shampoo or bar of soap, secure one before boarding the plane.
8.  Take canned goods or food with you.  If you get lucky, you can barter it with a good hangout or acquaintance.  You get lucky to be cool.

Happy trip everyone!

Them Artisans

What spiced up Hanoi is not just its spicy foods and its beguiling sites.  What added zest to the land is its arts.  The beauty of the place inspired everyone to unleash the arts in them.  This did not only become a source of income for the artists but it has also become a national pride for them.  

As an art lover, my only word to top it all is PURE HARD WORK.


Where are the men artists?

Concentration and focus

the finished artworks are seen in the background

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Caving at Ha Long

While preparing for my 3-day trip to Hanoi, the most I could do was decide the choice places to go.  I spent most of my time looking for the correct footwear.  Why?  I was scared to encounter an unnecessary accident in negotiating the 'famous' cave in Ha Long.  It took me two agonizing days to search and look for the right footwear.

So I reached Ha Long Bay ever ready to tackle any type of cave with a no slip formula.  However, I found out that the cave we went to was too friendly and I was just preparing for the 'worstest' scenario.  Still, it was a good cave that we were into.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Ha Long Rocks

Either way you read the title of this blog.  You may understand this in many ways.  But truly, Ha Long Bay is  a standout.

I detest the mass tourism of the area.  The unimaginable ecological impact brought to the place is way too much.  For example, the water is so murky.  I never thought of taking a dip in those waters. 

But the rock formations is another topic.  Hands down, it was what I came in for.  And for whatever criticisms I can talk about the place, the rock formations is still a winner.

Elsewhere, in those cliffs, you get a glimpse of the towering gods.

rock formation inside a cave.

colorful stalactites

I looked up looking for something great and got rewarded with something way much greater.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM: prohibitively exciting

Friends said that it is in the must-go list.  The guidebook put it on the top list.  I almost veered away from the normal route.  I’ve been to the Ho Chi Minh Museum in Saigon and I thought since I’ve been to one, there is no need to go elsewhere.  However, I was indeed happy that I didn’t skip this route.

I can’t give a detailed photograph of the museum as my camera was taken in custody. This gave me more focus to breathe into the experience and remember everything.  

I can’t forget the long line.  The queue was impossibly long at 8:00 AM.  The locals and the foreigners were there, fully observing the dress code!  Although the line was long, people were much disciplined.  The presence of the museum guards (must be military) also subdued the atmosphere.  They were very much in command that there glance or frown made one stand on the line on a hushed tone.  (Yeah, I did the same! J)
Stepping into the mausoleum was just very quick.  However, the atmosphere was very solemn.  He was indeed revered as the father of the nation.  I’ve seen a local shed a tear and lowered her head with a bow at the mere sight of the body of Uncle Ho.  I was also kept silent looking into how he managed to inspire Vietnam to fight against the colonizers and made one great country humble.

I wonder if my country would also ever produce one leader that would ever rally us to a change beyond our own personal interests.

A friend 'smuggled' her i-phone into the mausoleum.  This is the only photo she prohibitively took.  It was the Presidential Palace that we took and not the mausoleum though...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Hanoi Drinks

Tops in my list are the fresh fruit juices.  I can't get enough of them

All of the fruits displayed here are convertible to juices :-)

Another shift to cold coffee and dilmah tea

it still looks like cocktail

A generous mojito

how adventurous can you be?  pick your choice...

I can't get enough of the drinks in Hanoi.  The beer is available anywhere.  But since I resolved to cut down on my spirits, I zero my choice to the fruit juices.  In just any corner, you can have them as fresh as it can be.

In one of the evenings in Hanoi, we went to City View Cafe.  The mojito in the picture is prepared by the bartenders there.  They are too generous on the alcohol.  You get your money's worth...

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Candid Holidaying

What does one normally do on a holiday?  Do nothing? Or, cramp the things that has not been done for a long time?  Honestly, resting or relaxing is relative.

I took some photos of friends while on 'holiday'...  And the following will best answer the things they normally do...


looking into strange captions

taking poses

soaking into the character of the place

communing with nature

take photos

less touristic jamming areas


The Blue Mansion

One of the must-visit sites in Penang, Malaysia is the Blue Mansion.  Located just at the center of Georgetown is this amazingly blue-painted mansion of superior heritage and stories to tell.  One needs to come in one of the four guided tour schedules in a day to know more about the place.  The guides display love of the place and guards the area (no photos inside) like it were theirs.  Here are some photos of the place.

A vigilant personnel (he sees to it that no one clicks photos inside the mansion)

The guardhouse

First section of the house

the bikes

Ching, trying out a pose

my colleagues in their final pose

the 'upstairs'

the door

the guide explained about feng shui.  i was half listening

the gate

enjoying the bluish background