Enjoy the Vietnamese kitchen: Hanoi Delights and Discover old temples: Hue Impressions

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cu Lao Cham - Cham Island

See the location on Hoi An Google Map

View from Cua Dai, picture by Duyanh Pham

Coral reefs and sandy bays: Cham island is said to be like Thailand thirty years ago. A ferry runs daily (at 7.30 am) from Hoi An public pier to the island. There is also a hidrofoil from Da Nang now. Cu Lao Cham is a group of eight islands. The largest, Hon Lao, is inhabited. It counts eight bays on the west side and cliffs ands caves on the east. Tan Hiep is the bigger village on the islands, Bai Huong a smaller one. Read a story in Saigon Times about Cham Island. See a picture of Quan Am Pagoda.

Bai Lang, picture by Duyanh Pham

The island, picture by karmapolice


Karmawaters: Thia company organizes homestays in Bai Huong,its operating from Cua Dai beach, four kilometres from Hoi An.

Viet Y Guesthouse:

Pagoda on Cu Lao Cham:

Picture by Hanoi Mark

Bai Ong, picture by Duyanh Pham

Picture by Verbeke

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Son - what remained of Champa

See the location on Hoi An Google Map

Picture by karma-police

In a jungle valley around 50 km from Hoi An you find a around 200 squaremetres wide place with ruins from the time, when My Son was the religious centre of the kingdom of Champa (from the second to the thirteenth century). "Through commercial and religious contacts with India, the Champa kingdom quickly developed a strong affinity for Indian culture, borrowing Hinduism and the Sanskrit alphabet, as well as Indian architectural and artistic tastes", writes orientalarchitecture.com. The Cham are also known for the brick towers they left in the south of Vietnam. In Da Nang you find the museum of Cham sculpture. American bombing during the Vietnam war has destroyed a lot of the structures in My Son. See also the video by Unesco World Heritage and read, what Patrizia Zolese wrote about the City of the Cham and their history. Have also a look at the Virtual Museum of Cham Architecture.
In Hoi an you can book tours to My Son, either by Minibus or also partially by boat.

Picture by Namho

Picture by Namho

Picture by missnae

Picture by missnae

Picture by Namho

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

China Beach between Da Nang and Hoi An

See the locations on Da Nang Google Map

My Khe Beach, picture by Binh

Endless white sand between Da Nang and Hoi An: this is China Beach, 30 km long and famous, because US-troops landed here in the Seventies. "Though China Beach initially avoided the development that other beaches like Nha Trang undertook after Vietnam opened its doors to tourism, it's now looking to become the country's next big beach" points travelfish.org to a lot of construction work for hotel chains, that's going on. After the war China Beach got famous by surfers, who discovered it first. In 1997 Furama was opened, Vietnams first luxury resort, as Ron Gluckman described in Wall Street Journal. What is importamt to know: The beach has a strong undertow, so you have to be careful, when you go swimming.

The locals have different names for parts of this beach:

My Khe Beach:

In the north of China Beach, it has become a suburb of Da Nang.

A fisher at My Khe Beach, picture by hamadryades

My Khe Beach, picture by wickedrice

My An Beach:

See a picture by Maverick.

Furama Resort:

Picture by garfnikon

Look out from the balcony, picture by John Carter

Picture by Ha Thu Trang

Picture by Guido

Picture by Chadi

Non Nuoc Beach:

Picture bei JonasPhoto

Hoa's Place: 215/14 Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street. A guesthouse, sandwiched between Furama Resort in the north and Sandy Beach in the south according to travelfish.org. Very good review, also on facebook.com. "Basic to be fair", but great place for meeting people, say the reviews on tripadvisor.com. Read what Bill Ervin writes.

Hoa's Place

View of the beach from Hoa's Place, pictures by Dirty Pierre

Sandy Beach Resort:

Picture by Dwayne

Picture by Deadly Tedly

Marble Mountains - Ngu Hanh Son:

Picture by ethan.crowley

Five mountains, caves and pagodas: Between My An Beach and Non Nuoc Beach you discover the five marble mountains. Emperor Gia Long named them Ngu Hanh Son and gave each one the name of one of the five elements: Kim Son (metal of gold), Moc Son (wood), Thuy Son (water), Hoa Son (fire), and Tho Son (earth). Thuy Son with three peeks is the highest. Stone steps lead to Tam Thai Pagoda where Phat Di Lac is worshipped. And there are four caves: Linh Nham Grotto, Van Thong Grotto, Tang Chon Grotto and Huyen Khong Grotto. In Dong Hai village close to Thuy Son the locals carve statues, jewelry and art work from stone in more than 300 houses along the street. Read more on Vietnam-Beauty.com and find background about the stone-carving on vietnamnet.vn. See also a< gallery by danang.gov.vn

Overview: The mountains and the caves:

Picture by TTVo

Climb up to Thuy Son:

Picture by TTVo

Entrance to Tam Thai Pagoda:

Picture by TTVo

Picture by TTVo

The other mountains, seen from Thuy Son:

Picture by TTVo

Guards at the entrance of Huyen Cong Cave:

Picture by TTVo

At Linh Ung Pagoda:

Picture by BethM527

Cua Dai Beach:

The beach of Hoi An.

Cua Dai Beach, picture by marfis75

Picture by Tuabiht Rellahcs

The big development:

Next to Furama Resort China Beach has become a big construction site. Everybody is building residences and resorts:
Raffles Resort, opening 2011, with residences
Hyatt-Regency Residendes: See more details here.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bach Ma National Park: Have a view
and enjoy the nature

See the location on Hue Google Map

View from Bach Ma summit, picture by Cheryl and Rich

With steep mountains and dense forests this area is home to a wide variety of animals and plants. Bach Ma mountain peak lies 1450 m above sea level. Its the wettest place in Vietnam with around 9,800 mm rainfall each year, mainly between September and December. The flora of Bach Ma counts more than 2100 species - around one-fifth of the entire flora of Vietnam. The fauna counts around 1500 species. Highlights for bird-lovers among the around 330 species: Annam Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Crested Argus, Red-collared Woodpecker,Red-vented Barbet, Brown Hornbill, Blyth’s Kingfisher, Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo and Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler.

Visitors find interesting trails, often with a cement path and well signed:
The Pheasant trail (Tri Sao): It leads through tropical forest to the Pheasant waterfalls.
The Khe Su Village Garden Tour: A two-hours-guided tour to the village with around 50 houses, who live from cultivating fruits and vegetables.
The Rhododendron Trail (Do Quyen): Begins near the National Park Guesthouse. You go through sub-tropical forests. After two kilometres your arrive at the end of the Five Lakes Trail and on top of a waterfall falling down 300 metres. You can descend on 689 steps down to the bottom of the fall. But be careful: You have to climb back, because it's a dead end trail, as frommers.com notes. See picture by quangas and PhotoLinhBachMa.
The Five Lakes Trail (Thac Ngu Ho): Starts near the Bach Ma Morin Hotel. You descend and will follow a waterfall flowing down into five pools. See picture by quangas
The Summit Trail (Vong Hai Dai): You will find a pavilion with 360 degree view and see the landscape and the sea.

At Forest Protection Station 1 you may meet Truong Cam, the head of this station. "He can imitate the sounds of 70 different species, and understands their languages", noted Viet Nam News.

If you want to stay during the night, you find six guesthouses, two close to the Park entrance 3 kilometres from Cau Hai town on National Highway 1A and four near the summit: Bach Ma, Saola, Do Quyen and Kim Giao. There you find also hotels (Morin-Bach Ma, Cam Tu and Phong Lan) and a small campsite.

How to go to Bach Ma National Park? From Hue you take a tour or you go by yourself with a motorbike or a taxi to the Park headquarter, from where you get a transport to the summit.

There is a more detailed description about Bach Ma National park on the official homepage www.bachma.vnn.vn. More about the fauna and flora you can read on activetravelvietnam.com. And see sketches of the park. Tipps for birdwatching you find on birdlifeindochina.org
and orientalbirdclub.org

Do Quyen Waterfall, picture by Jani Kajala

Picture by Cheryl and Rich

See a picture of Do Quyen Waterfall by Thanh Le

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Lake Truoi and Pagoda

See the location on Hue Google Map

hồ Truồi - Lake Truoi, picture by Hung

The water of Lake Truoi is kept back by a dam constructed in 1996, that irrigates the farmland near Hue. On an island in Lake Truoi stands Truc Lam Bach Ma Pagoda, in 2006 built by the Vietnamese School of Zen Buddhism, Truc Lam Yen Tu (see blog by Landscape). You can only reach it by boat and then have to climb 172 steps to the monastery. You can hire boats on the shore to get anywhere on the lake. Read more by lookatvietnam.com. See a picture of the lake and the pagoda by anhdung88 and an album by Sky Up and the pagoda by nicolephoceen

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hue delights - reviews of restaurants

Find the locations on Hue Google Map.

Bun Bo Hue: Try this locale speciality! It is made from pork broth, beef and noodles and served with Vietnamese sate sauce, fresh herbs/mints and bean sprouts.

La Carambole: 19 Pham Ngu Lao. It was quite full, when this blogger ate there. But the French food was too oily. May be I should have tried the Hue specalities. The restaurant is owned by a French and his Vietnamese wife. Mixed reviews on tripadvisor.com

Picture marhas1

Ngoc Anh Restaurant: 5 Pham Ngu Lao.

Picture marhas1

Tropical Garden: 27 Chu Van An. Here I got excellent Vietnamese food. Traditional Vietnamese music every night. "As an appetizer, don't miss the grilled minced shrimp with sugar cane wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce: unique and delicious", notes frommers.com. Good reviews on tripadvisor.com.

Picture marhas1

Picture marhas1

Ushi: 42 Pham Ngu Lao. Local and Western kitchen. Read A Table for Two. Tweet This

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tours from Hue: Up the Huong Giang
(Perfume River)

See the locations on Hue Google Map

View of Huong Giang (Perfume River), picture by gemlyn77. The river got its name from flowers falling down into the river in autumn.

How do you choose the right tour operator in Hue? Travelfish.org suggests to do an individual tour: rent a motorbike (7 USD a day), a car with driver (40 USD) or a Minivan (60 USD). Good places to buy a tour seem to be Stop and go Cafe, Cafe on Thu Wheels, Mandarin Cafe and independent guides on Le Loi accross from La Residence Hotel.
Or you can charter your own dragon boat up the Huong Giang. You find the boats between the Truong Tien Bridge and the Century Hotel.

Dragon Boat, picture by Mimi_K

What you will see up the river? A boat tour can include Thien Mu Pagoda, Tu Duc Tomb, Hon Chen Temple, Khai Dinh Tomb and Minh Mang Tomb. Let's have a look what awaits you there:

Thien Mu - Pagoda of the Heavenly Lady:
According to a legend an old woman appeared on the hill and announced, a lord would build a Buddhist pagoda here. Lord Nguyen Hoang heard this and ordered the construction in 1601. The octagonal Phuoc Duyen Tower was erected in 1884. Read more.

Picture by ?

And a closer look:

Picture by ?

Van Mieu - the temple of letters: Built in 1808 by Gia long to dedicate to celebrated scholars of Confucianism. Read more.

Picture by Lưu Ly

Picture by ntt

Tu Duc Thomb:

Picture by JET

Picture by JET

Picture by cyborgwardt

Picture by cyborgwardt

Picture by vicguinda

Hon Chen Temple: It was built to honour Po Nagar, the Goddess of the Cham. The Vietnamese called her Ya Na (Heaven Goddess). The temple was reconstructed in 1886.

Picture by JET

Picture by ?

Picture by cyborgwardt

Bien Duc Thien An - Thien Duc Hermitage:: Founded in 1949 by the Thien Duc Hermits on Thien An hill, surrounded by a pine forrest and with the lakes Thuy Tien and Luu Ly. Read more.

Khai Dinh Tomb:

Picture by JET

Picture by cyborgwardt

Minh Mang Tomb:

Picture by jorgecab

Picture by JET

Picture by Amit

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