Gurun di Vietnam

There is desert in South East Asia region! Not Gurun (Desert in Malay Language) in Kedah, Malaysia but at Mui Ne in Vietnam. Unfortunately when we went there, it was raining the night before, hence the sand as in the picture.

The desert.

The desert.

We went there in July 2012 and stayed at Sea Links Beach Hotel at one of the bungalow. The hotel area is too huge and to go to the main building and beach we have to call the buggy and sometimes it took almost 15 minutes for the buggy to arrive.

In Mui Ne/Phan Tiet, other than the desert, another interesting thing I tried was mud bathing.

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Kota Lama Hue

Mak came to Saigon in June 2012 so we brought her to Hue. As usual we took Vietnam Airlines. We stayed at Pilgrimage Village, a boutique resort and spa. Through Agoda we got great deal for two connected spacious rooms. The place and staff were wonderful.

That night we went to Perfume River and took a boat. The boat cruised along the river and stopped for a while and there were four ladies singing locals song. It was not really pleasant experience because nothing was spectacular by the river and we were clueless as nobody explained to us in comprehensible language. Anyhow, we showed appreciation to the singers by applauding at every end of their song. Before we back, each of the passenger was given a floating lantern to be released to the river.

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The boat at Perfume River.

The next day we went to the Citadel, once was Hue Imperial City. The main gate is majestic. This place was central governments headquarter and where the Nguyen dynasty families lived. It has been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.

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Part of the main gate.

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The main gate in drawing.

Mak enjoyed the royalty exhibits and amazed with the details on the royalty clothes. We explored a bit the place but it was too hot and dry.

We went to different locations and visited several tombs. They were bit tired, so Mak, wifey and my son waited in the car while I continued until the last tomb. Wifey said she had too much oriental for that day. I went alone to the last one which was Tomb of Khai Dinh; it’s located at a steep hill. Out of all tombs, this is the most beautiful with the details ornaments and wonderful greenery view.

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Relics at the Khai Dinh Tomb.

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Khai Dinh Tomb with statue of himself.

 That afternoon we had spa at the hotel. I took turn with wifey to babysit our son. That was first time I had whole body spa together with Mak and she seemed to enjoy it. Wifey had it later for facial spa. Relatively to Vietnam standard, the spas were pricier but we were satisfied.

Ke Pulau Phu Quoc

Sao beach at Phu Quoc was the best beach we have seen so far in Vietnam. It is not far from the hotel we stayed.

Sao Beach

Sao Beach.

We went there in late April 2012 by Vietnam Airlines and stayed at Long Beach Resort. The resort manager is a Malaysian which he welcomed us during check in. We like the village style of the resort.

Long Beach Resort.

Long Beach Resort.

Through the hotel, we took a tour which includes snorkeling, fishing, a stop at Pearl shop and the best part was Sao Beach.

Nearby there is night market which there are plenty of seafood. That was my first time I had sea urchin and it was great.

The night market.

The night market.

Seafood!

Seafood!

Pergi ke Da Nang

It was wrong time when we visited Da Nang. It was early December 2011. It was wet, the sea was rough and the temperature was relatively cold.

Nevertheless we managed to visit gorgeous Marble Mountain and Cham Museum.

Most of the time, we were relaxing at the hotel and were walking along the beach.

Even though Da Nang is located in the central of Vietnam, do check the weather condition before you go. If you are traveling from Malaysia, there is flight by Airasia from LCCT (as of this post).

The beach at Lifestyle Resort Danang.

The beach at Lifestyle Resort Da Nang. The sea was rough.

Santa at the chimney - the decoration at the resort.

Santa stuck at the chimney – the decoration at the resort.

Elevator at marble mountain but we took the steps.

Elevator at marble mountain but we took the steps.

View from top of Marble Mountain.

View from top of Marble Mountain.

View from top of Marble Mountain.

Long beach, another view from top of Marble Mountain.

Among exhibit at Cham Museum.

Among exhibit at Cham Museum.

Da Lat, Tanah Tinggi di Vietnam

Cameron Highland (in Perak, Malaysia) is always in our heart. We were hoping to see something similar at Da Lat, Vietnam. Da Lat has not much similarity with Cameron Highland but its uniqueness made the trip worthy.

We went there in end of December 2011 by Vietnam Airlines. We stayed at Saigon Dalat hotel, which was wonderful. The room was spacious and cheap.

As usual, halal food was not available.

Below were the places we’ve visited.

DAY 1: Cho Dalat (Market) and Linh Phuoc Pagoda

Selling Ducks at Cho Da Lat.

Selling Ducks at Cho Da Lat.

Linh Phuoc Pagoda.

Linh Phuoc Pagoda.

DAY 2: Datanla Falls, Truc Lam (with cable car), Bao Dai’s palace, Crazy House, Flowers Festival Exhibit

Crazy House.

Crazy House.

DAY 3: Cho Dalat and Flowers Festival Street Market

Of all the places, we enjoyed the Datanla Falls because of the manual roller coaster (there is brake). Sliding down to the fall was fun and exciting! From that fall, we took a cable car to get to another fall. Going up to the starting point, we used again the roller coaster. The falls was OK but the ride was fun.

View from our roller coaster.

View from our roller coaster at Datanla.

We were on the right time where there was Flowers Festival. The flowers, fruits, vegetables and plants were beautifully arranged in many creative ways.

Vegetables.

Vegetables, the hut too made of vegetables.

At Flowers Festival.

Tulips at Flowers Festival.

Makanan Vietnam yang Halal di Saigon!

Getting halal food in Saigon is not difficult. Many are available within Ben Thanh market area, making it convenient for the shoppers. But most of these foods are not cheap. The price can be easily similar or higher than those at food court, KLCC. Browsing through the menu, the foods sold are not authentic Vietnamese food; mostly are Malay (Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia) foods. It’s somehow beat the purpose for tourists who want to experience Vietnamese dishes.

The recommended place to go is local eating places. Unfortunately the location is not within walking distance from Ben Thanh market, you have to take Mai Linh or Vinasun taxi to get there. But the foods are cheap and authentic, made by Vietnamese Muslim. Below are the 4 eating places that provide halal food that you should try.

  1. Halal food stall, 191 Hai Ba Trung, District 3, HCMC. My favorite is Pho – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup and my wife likes Bo Kho. There are also Vietnamese version of laksa which are Bun Ca, Bun Bo and Bun Xa. The food are served at a low table, so you have to squat to sit. While eating, motorbikes and sometimes small lorry will pass the alley, so be careful if you have small kids.

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    Bo Kho in red, Pho in white soup.

  2. AA restaurant, 722 Truong Sa, District 3, HCMC. Com Tam – local broken rice with grilled beef, served with fish sauce is my usual dish. When we go there, we just sit and the food will be
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    Our usual com tam with some extras.

    served.  They know already our favorite, where we usually have extras as in the picture below.

  3. Behind Tran Hung Dao mosque, 459B Tran Hung Dao, District 1, HCMC. The shop located at an alley. The menu is similar with halal food at Hai Ba Trung.
  4. At Cholon Jamial Mosque, 641, Nguyen Trai, District 5, HCMC. Here there are more varieties.  We love the fish curry, beef salad and fried chicken. While waiting for the food, you may perform your prayer at the mosque.

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    The mosque at Nguyen Trai.

These are eating places that I have frequented to. There are several more eating places by Vietnamese Muslim in Saigon.

Hari Minggu di Ha Long Bay

We went to Ha Long Bay in November 2011 to celebrate my son’s birthday. From Saigon, we took Vietnam Airlines to Hai Phong instead of Hanoi as the airport is nearer to Ha Long Bay. Unless you plan to visit Hanoi, you may choose to start from there.

We stayed at Novotel and the room was spacious, nice and facing the sea with the Ha Long Bay outcrop as background. The staffs were wonderful. During our son’s birthday dinner, they joined and sang birthday song to him and we were treated with complimentary medium size chocolate cake.

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Room View.

Halal food is not easily available, so we brought some instant noodles, bread and canned food. We also dined in by having vegetarian and seafood menu.

Exploring the outcrop was wonderful. Since it was reasonably cheap, we had a junk [boat] and a tour guide just for us through the hotel. The junk trip covered numbers of stops including Cat Ba Island, Sut Song cave and a stop at an island with beaches.

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The junk.

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Scenery at Ha Long Bay.

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Sunset View on the way back.

Nearby, there is night market where we bought some souvenirs and had coffee at Trung Nguyen Café. The goods sold at the market are nothing much different with the ones at Saigon.

As told by our tourist guide, we also went to Tuan Chau Island. We were hoping to watch dolphin and seal performance but was informed by the ticketing lady it was postponed to the next hour. While waiting for that, we strolled at that park which has nothing much to see except several world landmarks miniature. The next hour when we came, the ticketing lady again said it’s postponed to the next hour.  Probably this is culture of Vietnamese where they feel it is impolite to say no. So we decided not to wait and went back to hotel.

Overall, Ha Long Bay is beautiful place. Indulge yourself with the nature, only.