Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Thaipusam Celebration 2017 is Coming

Malaysia is full of festivity, Chinese New Year celebration is still on going and Thaipusam is around the corner. And what more do we ask we shall celebrate these festivals together in the Year of the Rooster.

I had a chance to join a group study visit to Batu Caves to learn more of Thaipusam celebration and its significance. 

Below is a clip I took during the visit. Happy Thaipusam!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 6 A Day Trip to Hue

A few days back we booked for a day tour to Hue and our van came exactly at 7.30am to our villa and then it came to My Khe Beach to pick another 6 more tourists for the tour. Our tourist guide was a charming and soft spoken girl we could apprehend her English though half the the time she was speaking Vietnamese. A Japanese tourist was assisted by his local friends.
We were stopped at Lang Co Beach and visited a pearl outlets. A chance to learn a bit of Vietnamese pearls. We did not take the scenic Van Hai Pass over the range but we used the Van Hai Tunnel instead. It is the longest tunnel in Southeast Asia with a distance of 6.3km.
Our first touristic spot was Emperor Khai Dinh graveyard and it is not an ordinary graveyard but a huge one. It could be a palace instead of a tomb and it is located up a hill near Hue.
The main entrance of the 12th King of Nguyen Dynasty's tomb with large dragons welcoming visitors. From the tourist guide's commentary this King Khai Dinh doesn't seem to be a popular King. Apparently he have taxed the people a lot and build this grand tomb for himself and it took 11 years to complete it. 
The middle portion before ascending to the main tomb site.
The design of this structure is basically a mixture of Oriental and European touches as the French had a great influence in it, in fact the Emperor's was sort of under its payroll.
Jo together with the 12 bodyguards of the King.
A sketch of the mausoleum on the hill slope.
Next spot was Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue, it has 7 storey and is the highest religion building in Vietnam sitting at the nothern bank of River Perfume.
Back then the 1st Nguyen Lord came to the site one day and heard a prophecy that a great person would come to this hill and build a temple to pray for the prosperity of the country. Hence it was the order of him to build this pagoda.
The pagoda has gone through many events of destruction during the American war. Luckily it is still existing after going through through renovation and restoration. It is now an icon of Hue. A must visit site of Hue.


There is an exhibit of an old car in which a monk by the name of Thich Quang Duc rode from his temple to Saigon on June 11, 1963. He stepped out of the car in an intersection, sat down in the lotus position, and burned himself to death in protest against the regime's violations of religious freedom.

Looking down towards the River Perfume.

5 Vietnamese and 1 Japanese were among us in the day trip. Some of them worked in Johor Bahru before and had the chance to practice their Bahasa Malaysia. It was nice meeting these friendly people and let's have our lunch.

I like the lunch very much, it was sumptuous and delicious.

Phouc Thanh Garden Restaurant located at Pham Ngu Lao Street, Hue (GPS : 16.469338, 107.594502) is a popular and great place to eat.
A little shopping at an outlet as per the tour itinerary, we got to know some of Vietnamese produce and mostly dried food stuffs.
Samples of tidbits as food tasting before engaging ourselves in the purchase.
Hue Imperial Palace was the last visit of the itinerary.
Here we were at the walled palace within the citadel of Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. We started the tour from the South Gate or the Meridian Gate which is the main gate.
The Flag Tower of the citadel could be seen from far as you are approaching the palace and it is also facing the South Gate.
Walking through the Gate of Supreme Harmony into the Imperial Court.
Striking red coloured tall doors at the palace, I like this big red corner. There are still many old buildings at the rear and there are still room for further restoration. Inscripted by UNESCO in 1993. 

The bronze vessels at the palace, some treat them as wishing vessels by putting coins into them and some said the water are supposed to use when there is fire. Anyway these 17th century items are one of the main features in the palace.
Hien Nhon Gate is the east entrance to the forbidden city used by the members of the elite group or men only. It is made finished up of porcelain pieces and restored during King Khai Dinh's time. We took this exit and that was bye bye to Hue Imperial Palace.
That was it, a day in Hue seeing some of its touristic spots and a little knowledge of this ancient city called Hue. And off we went back to Danang where we will be flying back to Kuala Lumpur on the following day.
A Video clip of our trip

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Day 5 - Good Bye Hoi An & It's Back to Da Nang

After two nights at Long Life Hotel we have to bade goodbye to Hoi An, the water has entered into the hotel at the reception. Our boat came right into the reception lobby and took us out off the flood. 
The roads of Hoi An have turned into little Venice 
At last we were out of the flood and a car was waiting for us to take us back to Da Nang, we simply could not cycle back to Da Nang as the rain was pretty heavy.
Pushing our bicycles to the awaiting car.
The car that belongs to Long Life Hotel and our next destination was Con Market they called it Cho Con.
The name sounds frightening "Con" and my thought was to stay away from buying anything from here especially when there is a language barrier. But I guess it wasn't the case. Con Market is the largest wholesale market in the central of Vietnam selling a variety of stuffs.
Instead of going straight to Con Market we visited a shopping mall that houses our Malaysian "Parkson" for a brief shelter and light refreshment.
Then we visited Con Market looking for some interesting local food.
Our bikes tucked at this empty corner while we searched for food and they were not blocking anybody.
I was happy to see this section of the market I pick a stall selling Vietnamese spring rolls with skewered meat (that look like satay).
Next to the spring roll stall is this lovely lady selling beef noodle and Jo enjoyed her bowl of beef noodle.
The yummy beef noodle at Con Market Food Court.
Dinner was at Lotte Mart where we rode from the villa. A a hot plate of squids and porridge at the food court. Nothing fancy but good enough for a decent meal. We were looking forward for the destination to Hue and see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Day 4 - Hoi An when it is flooded.

I woke in the morning hoping that the water level will subside but instead the condition got worsen. The water had entered into the verendah. And there goes our plan of islets hopping with our bicycles.
We took a boat out to a drier area of Hoi An and the boat fare has been consistent with their charges 50,000 Dong per person per trip. The morning remained wet with stronger wind and intermittent drizzle. 
I guessed almost all the houses along the river banks were flooded just like Long Life Hotel, the boatman changed his decision to stop at Japanese Bridge probably it was crowded or the current was too strong and we had to go a little farther at another road for our disembarkation.
We had a chance to witness a funeral procession, I have never seen such a colourful Chinese funeral before the people were wearing traditional Chinese costume in the procession.
Hokkien (it is spelt as Phuc Kien in Hoi An) Assembly Hall one of the 5 prominent assembly halls in Hoi An. It houses the Goddess of Ocean Thean Hou.
Hoi An Old Market, the rear was flooded but it was still busy and crowded with people in the morning.
The food looks very tempting and how I wish I could have the appetite to eat at the moment.

Little did I know that I have to pay for entrance fee into this ancient town then I realised the same for Georgetown of Penang where a similar fee for UNESCO listed places found in the bill when I was in Penang couple of months back. Only after paying the fee I managed to get a copy of the town map.
Entrance fee or rather contribution for UNESCO The World Heritage the Ancient Town of Hoi An which comes with five entrance passes and costing 120,000 Dong per person.
One of the many old houses we visited and I could not remember this one.
A memorial relief of Polish architect Kazimierz Kwiatkowsky, who lived in Viet Nam for 16 years and helped popularise the ancient town of Hoi An.
This small covered bridge is an icon of Hoi An. A bridge was first constructed in the 1590s by the Japanese community to link them with the Chinese community at the opposite side of the water.
There were a few mobile stalls selling banana and prawn fritters. Between Malaysian prawn fritter and Vietnamese's, I prefer our Malaysian cucur udang.
Our second round food savouring at this shop, the pricing is all attractive and obviously it was crowded, sharing table is common. The food wise is good though in a smaller portion.
It was time to go back to the hotel for a rest. Our original was to cycle to the islets of this charming country side but due to the flood we were unable to do it this time. Actually we were not allowed to board the boat at that time, I guess it was considered dangerous as the water level was pretty high. Our boat operators had some argument with the Police then they lead us to this narrow lane to board the boat where we secretly rowed off.