Vietnam – Part 4 – Hanoi

Vietnam – Part 4 – Hanoi

Introduction Hanoi is one of my favorite cities in the world. As with the rest of Vietnam, it is young and beaming with energy, optimism and joie de vivre. While being a metropolis, it retains a small-town feel, especially in the Old Quarter. It is a beautiful city merging modern structures, tradition East Asian architecture and French neo-classical design… …and possessing huge parks, striking lakes and wide boulevards. The people are tough, having dislodged centuries of occupation, but also friendly and fun-loving. It was a special treat to be here once again. Our…continue reading →
Vietnam – Part 3 – Bai Tu Long Bay

Vietnam – Part 3 – Bai Tu Long Bay

Introduction I can’t remember how and when in my childhood when I associated strange, hump hills with Vietnam. However it impregnated my brain, this iconic impression was prominently remembered as the buttes of Monument Valley. It took me decades to finally see these incredible rock formations in the Vietnamese bays. I was afraid that the reality would not match my imagination. I was wrong. Reality won in Bai Tu Long Bay. Overview Most visitors tour Ha Long Bay, a place known by cultivated world travelers. It is an astonishing seascape. Bai Tu Long…continue reading →
Vietnam – Part 2 – Ba Be National Park

Vietnam – Part 2 – Ba Be National Park

Introduction We were slowly sailing by karst peaks on the Nang River. We occasionally saw someone walk through the dense forest. We passed through a dark grotto where we could hardly see our helmsman steering the boat with a long pole. After our boat was securely moored in the grotto, we walked under flying bats to the other end. In the silence and crisp air, I contemplated the natural beauty of Ba Be National Park. Ba Be National Park Vietnam established Ba Be National Park in 1992. The center of the park is…continue reading →
Vietnam – Part 1 – Sapa

Vietnam – Part 1 – Sapa

Introduction As we walked in the chilly air down a steep mountain path, we saw a panorama of formidable mountains with serpentine rice terraces. Our companions were Hmong women with bold earrings, checkered headwraps, richly embroidered indigo tunics, and bright purses with long shoulder straps. We chatted amiably about our families and homes in basic English, while they talked in an unintelligible language among themselves. Every few minutes, we saw other locals, young… …and old. This was our welcome to Sapa, Vietnam. Sapa Sapa is a town in photogenic mountains close to the…continue reading →
Luang Prabang – The Jewel of Laos

Luang Prabang – The Jewel of Laos

We are sitting in a French restaurant in a quiet locale enjoying a three-course meal with sumptuous wine. Outside, we hear chants from a centuries-old wooden temple. On the street, local residents easily mingle with backpackers and affluent visitors speaking a panoply of languages. Nearby is one of the longest rivers in the world with giant catfish, stingrays and dolphins. Across the river is a vast expanse of dense forest, mountains, limestone karst, waterfalls, and wild animals including bears, elephants and monkeys. This place is not an remote outpost from a bygone era…continue reading →