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Archive for May, 2016

Hanoi, June 2015. The boiling weather with temperature at 39-40 degree Celsius with concrete roads and dusty air of the city made us dizzy. We needed a fresh and tranquility place to cool our heads. So said so done, we packed and went.

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Departuring from Hanoi at 7am, our car took us through crowded roads, through suburban districts headed to Hoa Binh province. After 3 hours crawling up and down winding small roads, there was a beautiful valley with some cottages hiding out in the hills surrounded by fields. Mai Chau welcomed us with amazing blue sky, yellow sunshine and the fresh smell of green rice fields and trees. Indochina travel Vietnam

Breaking Ban Lac (Lac Village), we decided to choose a homestay for our group for 4 days and 3 nights staying in Mai Chau. One tip for who want to enjoy the perfect trip in summer: choose the homestay which has room with available conditioner. There are always some good hotels and motels you can choose, but we preferred a homestay so we can live near the local people and of course, save our cost significantly. Because we wanted our tour combined activities and relaxing, we decided to do activities in the afternoon and spend our mornings freely.

After checking in, we had a good lunch with steam rice, fresh vegetables and chicken. We took a rest, then walked to the climbing site. The rock we intended to conquer is not too craggy but vertical, for some of us who were amateur and even never done rock climbing before, it was really a worthy risk to try. Equipped by special shoes, helmets and climbing harness linked with our trainer by rope, challenge was accepted. First steps were difficult, but then when we knew the rules: we had to be independent and combine maturity using power of arms and knees, it became easier. In the middle of the way, I almost gave up because I thought there was no way to continue. Supported by my professional trainer, I had to stretch my body and finally got over the challenge.  The feeling of standing on top of the rock seeing the valley under your feet is so amazing and unforgettable.

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Hungry to death after climbing, we came back to our homestay. The smell of marinated pork BBQ on heat from charcoal completely seduced us. As soon as we finished showering, dinner was ready to serve. Pork was tender marinated perfectly with special spices of Thai people. Dipping in sauce and we felt so lucky having delicious dinner like that.

After leisure time in the hut of our homestay, we took a walk to discover the village. It was so quiet and peaceful that we could listen to our steps on the soil and cracking of leaves, under the silver light of the natural moon. Buying a cup of sugar cane juice on the way back with the price was as half as Hanoi, we spent our night so deeply in the homestay.

Waking up next morning by the songs made of birds, I made some brilliant pictures of flowers near the stream next to our homestay. My friend who was very careless dropping his 8 short-sighted diopter glasses in the stream, couldn’t see clearly. Fortunately, there was a Thai man who was the best diver (he was called the fish killer in the village), so kind helping us to find the glasses and required nothing from us. We can’t describe our respectful and thankful for that naivete local people.

In the afternoon,we drove about 20 minutes to the Hoa Binh lake. We really had a kayak competition and it was so fun. At 4pm, we moved to nearby hotel, swimming in the pool and had sauna services of the hotel. We decided to have dinner at the hotel. The menu was diverse with many traditional special Thai dishes. Then we came back to our homestay to join the campfire. We surrounded around the fire, sang and danced cheerfully. I found some interesting people there, exchanged our contacts and I am still keeping in touch with some of them up to now.

 

In the next afternoon, we went fishing in a small pond of a local family. Our group had caught much fish but we let the baby ones go, and finally we could keep 3 of the fish with us. Back to homestay by electricity car, we had chance to go round the peaceful village one more time. Our chef helped us to prepare the deep fried fish with sweet and sour sauce.  We had our last dinner with the fish we caught and stir fry water morning glory. No bees, no honey, no work, no money- we were so proud of ourselves!

Next day, after lunch we said goodbye to Mai Chau, the beautiful scenery and very friendly and warm hearted people. It was hard to farewell, but we knew we would come back here in nearest day. Thanks for everything you reserved us, Mai Chau!

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It’s time to know more about this island to experience all the beauty and unique things on this island. Make sure that you don’t miss anything when you get there.

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The stunning sunset in Dinh Cau Temple

First thing is Dinh Cau Temple, a part shrine and part lighthouse and it is perched on top of rocks at the mouth of the Duong Dong river. To reach to the top of Dinh Cau Temple, you need to climb 29 winding stone steps and the result is worth. This place is one of the best places on the island to capture a gorgeous sunset and the area surrounding. Find yourself a plastic chair, order sugar cane juice and your afternoon is perfect! Indochina Travel Vietnam

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Local fish sauce factory in Phu Quoc.

Fish sauce is an iconic in Vietnamese cuisine, which you will find in most of dishes in Vietnam so don’t forget to tour a traditional fish sauce factory in Phu Quoc. The fish sauce of Phu Quoc is famous and has been used all over Vietnam as one of the best sauce. Their unique method deliver an unique aromatic sauce that has been granted the status of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in the European Union!

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Pepper plantation – a main product on the island

Also, you can visit the pepper plantation, another famous product in Phu Quoc and the Simson Wine Factory for the most popular wine on the island. The wine is medium, not too strong and very good for health. You can try Simson syrup instead if you don’t want to take the wine.

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Sao Beach could be the most beautiful beach in Vietnam!

Our next place must be the beach. As a heaven for swimming, you can find many beautiful beaches in this island. Such as Long Beach – the most popular, Dinh Cau Beach – an busy urban beach, Bai Dai beach – a places of many luxury resorts… However, the most beautiful beach would be Sao Beach. White sand, warm turquoise and a gentle breeze blowing on your neck. This is possibly the best beach in Vietnam.

Finally, Phu Quoc is best discovered on a motorbike. The road are well paved and there is hardly any traffic. Discover the unique ecosystem, find an abandoned beach, see wild monkeys jumping from tree to tree… and many other wild things. Unlike other part in Vietnam, you can easy to rent a motorbike without a huge deposit or anything else.

There are many other places for you to discover, like Phu Quoc Prison, Suoi Tranh complex, Duong Dong market… but let save them there and wait until you arrive in this island. You won’t be regret to spend 3 to 4 days in there.

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Ho Chi Minh City is a popular travel destination, famous for its colonial charm and buzzing city life.  With most tourists centred in District 1, branching into Districts 3 and 2, and others all the way down in District 5, it’s easy to forget there is a western side to Ho Chi Minh City. Tours Indochina Vietnam

If you have visited all the greatest landmarks and must-sees of Saigon and wonder where should you go next? As the city spreads west of downtown, the residential areas are almost exclusively Vietnamese, and English is not spoken as often. The pavements, if there are any, are crowded with “banh mi” stands, parked motorbikes and “xe om” drivers awaiting their next ride. Streets are lined with the usual cafés, women’s clothing shops and mobile phone stores, but the businesses are more densely packed together.

In these neighborhoods, you’ll find a few gems that you won’t encounter anywhere else in the city. Take District 10. It sits smack in the middle of the city limits and is known to locals as the sports centre of Ho Chi Minh City. But to the adventurous culture vulture, there are some all-city-calibre activities hiding within.

FITO Museum (41 Hoang Du Khuong, Dis.10)

The Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine, or the FITO Museum, is a deceptive name, as it presents much more than medicine. It is also an art and architecture museum. FITO Museum is run by Fito Pharma, a company specializing in natural medicine. While visiting, you’ll encounter some of their self-promotion, but on the whole, the trip is an educational experience. You’ll learn how older Vietnamese medicine was influenced by Chinese medicine thousands of years ago. Together, these two disciplines created what is now recognized as traditional Vietnamese medicine, a philosophy that centres on holistic and preventative measures to ensure health through medicinal plants and other natural remedies such as acupressure.

The museum is also an attractive space filled with beautiful artefacts — all objects of art. Walls and doors are made of intricately carved wood, many displays contain ornately decorated glazed pottery and porcelain vessels, and pearl inlay and red lacquer pictures depict moments in medical history.

FITO museum

FITO museum

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Ho Thi Ky Flower Market (Ho Thi Ky, Dis.10)

It is often said Saigon Vietnam no day and night, life is not working 24 hour break. This is true when one day hike to explore the night flower market in Saigon Vietnam. Even if you’re not in the market to buy, strolling along the narrow flower-lined alleys is a pleasure in itself. The flowers, from daisies to marigolds to orchids, come from Dalat and Hanoi and the alleys are worlds away from the bustling traffic of Saigon’s main road.

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If you have the energy for middle-of-the night shopping, one of the best markets is the flower market on Ho Thi Ky, nestled in the triangle between Ly Thai To and Hung Vuong. Along the narrow strip and in the alleys, you’ll find an assortment of freshly cut flowers — roses, lilies, orchids and chrysanthemums, for example — and brightly dyed ornamental grasses and pussy willow. The air is perfumed, and it seems like the full-spectrum of the rainbow is achieved.

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Bundles of flowers are ready for purchase, or you can get a pre-made flower arrangement. You’ll also find stands with ferns and baby’s breath among buckets of flowers, ready to make an on-the-spot bouquet. The market starts late. At 11pm, delivery trucks still creep among the people and the dogs. Some merchants have their stands set up, while most are still putting together displays. Go after midnight. Flowers are sold all night and into the morning. They’re much cheaper than elsewhere in the city, too.

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China Town (Dis 5)

The District 5 of Ho Chi Minh City, more popularly known as Cho Lon, is the city’s Chinatown. Unfortunately, it is decidedly less Chinese than it used to be due to the anti-Chinese campaign in the late 70’s when many fled the country. Saigon’s District 5 is home to the largest market in Vietnam, a deluxe shopping mall and charming Chinese pagodas such as Nghia An Hoi Quan, Tam Son Hoi Quan, Thien Hau and Khanh Van Nam Vien.

Cho Lon literally means ‘big market’ and you’ll discover that with a shopping trek to Binh Tay Market, the country’s largest. Make sure to bring your camera as there are many distinctive temples in the area. Pagodas of note include Nghia An Hoi Quan, Tam Son Hoi Quan, Thien Hau and Khanh Van Nam Vien.. District 5, or Saigon’s Chinatown, occupies an area of 4 square km on the west bank of the Saigon River.

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Temple at China Town in Saigon

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Enjoy your journey.

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