Tag archives for Vietnam
“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.”
– Francis Bacon
I fell in love with Southeast Asia after reading “The Beach” and “The Tesseract”, both by Alex Garland. Both novels weren’t part of the reading list, which was quite unfortunate. I could compose an essay in an hour or two, but it didn’t matter. The chance to travel to that part of the world came.
I was excited with my trip, along with my course-mates. I dreamed of a Robinson Crusoe moment in a desert isle, but the closest thing to that was Ha Long Bay. Colin, one of my three travel buddies in this trip, remembered our module on Ian Fleming and James Bond. We did went to Andaman Sea, where “The Man with the Golden Gun” was shot, but that would be another tale.
What was it about Southeast Asia that the likes of Graham Greene have used as backdrop for their novels? It was different from what I’ve seen here at home, or the continent for that matter, but that wasn’t the reason. It would be the destinations, but there was more. In other words, it was anything but dull. It was also unique.
Below were my five must-see places:
1. Wat Rong Khun (Chiang Rai, Thailand)
Designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, this temple war arguably the main attraction in northern Thailand. Compared to the other monastery temples (wat), White Temple was unconventional, which drew lots of tourists. I would recommend spending half an hour looking at the wall paintings, a mixture of Buddhist images and pop culture. So imagine the likes of Harry Potter in the presence of Buddha’s solemn face, which seemed quite awkward at first. Eventually, I warmed up to it.
2. The terraced fields of Sa Pa, Vietnam
This town in northern Vietnam couldn’t be in a better location, as locals would be greeted with the panorama of Phan-Xi-Pǎng (Fansipan), the highest peak in Vietnam, every morning. It looked splendid on a sunny afternoon, but the countless terraces were the ones that tourists shouldn’t passed up. It would take a day or two for trekking, which might not be enough. Several ethnic groups lived there, and my interaction with them was priceless. Be warned that souvenir shops were ubiquitous in the village of Cat Cat, and the some of the locals were too persistent (in selling their items).
3. Angkor Thom (Siem Reap, Cambodia)
Not that Angkor Wat was unattractive, but Angkor Thom had an august appearance. One needed an imagination, as all that remained were ruins, which looked gorgeous from certain angles. The Bayon Temple was my favourite, its solemn faces good enough for a postcard.
4. The temples of Yogyakarta, Indonesia
One must go the distance in able to see the Buddhist and Hindu temples in Yogyakarta, located in central Java. Borobudur, a pyramid-like temple, was a sight to behold. The summit looked like a page from a fairy tale, where tens of bell-like structures were arranged circularly. Not far behind were Prambanan and Ratu Boko, more reminders of a mighty civilisation that once flourished in this part of Asia.
5. Ho Chi Minh
East meets West, past meets present. This former capital of Vietnam had many landmarks that revealed its storied past. I visited the French section twice, where one of Gustave Eiffel’s creations could be found. I was referring to the Post Office, its remarkable interior had an old map of Saigon.
Lee Smyth studied Film and Literature, had a stint in dissertation writing services, and did freelancing jobs in writing and proofreading. He would pursue a graduate degree next fall. Check out his blog and Twitter account.
Hi fellow travellers! I’m Ella West, and I guess I have one thing in common with you if you’ve chosen to read this post; I love to travel. I’ve visited a fair few places in my time, both pre and post children, so I thought I’d put together an article of tips on the little things that might be useful wherever you’re thinking of journeying to. I hope it’s useful!
1. Decent footwear
Make sure you have good quality footwear that you’ve worn in, because wherever you’re going, be it a short city break in Paris, or a month long trip travelling off the beaten track in China, the last thing you want is blisters and sores ruining the journey.
You need shoes that were made for walking to get the most out of places like this…
Ladies, I know we all love shoes, but I really do believe that sacrifices should be made in this area when it comes to foreign travel. Ditch the heels and go for comfortable, flat sandals for nights out. For a start, they weigh less and are much easier to pack in your luggage. Secondly, you can get really nice, dressy sandals anyway.
2. Mosquito Net (and repellent, and after-bite cream!)
This advice is maybe more relevant to some countries than others, but I would suggest you at least take a decent insect repellent, because those little buggers can be vicious and incessant!
My princess bed, that doubles up as a fortress.
When I went backpacking in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia last year, I took with me a net that could be fixed above the bed to prevent any nasty little creatures from getting in, and it worked. The only tricky thing was finding something to fix it to, but you can be creative; use light fixtures, picture hooks, window fixtures, anything.
3. A Poncho
I know they look geeky, but a poncho can be really useful and make you that little bit more comfortable when the weather turns. In Florida, there’s normally a downpour for a very short time in the afternoon, and Disney charge about £20 for one with Mickey Mouse on! I’ve experienced rainy seasons in North, Central and South America, and Asia, and believe me, you do not want to be left in soaking wet clothes all day.
They weigh next to nothing – pack one just in case!
4. A sarong and wrap for holy places
In lots of churches and holy places across the world it is a necessity to ensure your legs and shoulders are covered. Be it the Grand Palace in Bangkok or St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you don’t want to miss out on seeing something spectacular.
Don’t miss out on Michelangelo’s La Pieta in St, Peter’s Basilica, Rome
There are often street sellers hanging around to sell or hire ill-prepared tourists appropriate items of clothes, but save yourself some money and research the regulations before your visit.
5. A Side Bag and/or Money Belt
Wherever you go, be it a city in the UK or a rural village abroad, you have to be vigilant against theft. Theft happens everywhere unfortunately, but it can be absolutely devastating when it happens abroad and you’re helpless or vulnerable. Sometimes carrying a backpack or a rucksack is unavoidable, but I strongly urge you to invest in a small side bag for valuables – your money, passport, phone and camera. A side bag should fit nicely under your arm, therefore making it that little bit harder for someone to tamper with. Money belts are also incredibly useful, and can be worn quite easily underneath your t-shirt – a difficult place for opportunist thieves to aim for!
My husband took a trip to Barcelona earlier this year, or I should say, he tried to take a trip to Barcelona. He was going for a weekend to help cheer up his friend whose girlfriend had recently ended their relationship, but when he got to passport control in Spain, he found his passport had been pick-pocketed.
Result: he had to spend 24 hours in an airport cell until he could be put on a return flight the next day.
The moral of the story: be vigilant with valuables at all time (or, don’t go on holiday without your wife!).