Friday, November 21, 2008

Hoan Kiem @ Nite

Took these on my last trip to Hoan Kiam Lake before bidding farewell to Hanoi.

This lake is also known as the "Lake of the Returned Sword".. by a giant turtle or the "Lake of the Restored Sword".

All the shots were take at dusk/nite and converted to sepia tone... 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bui Chu Phat Diem Church, North Vietnam

Phat Diem Cathedral is 130 kilometers South of Hanoi. A priest named Tran Luc built it between 1875 and 1899 

The Phat Diem Cathedral site encloses many Chapels built in oriental style. A lake leads to a kind of atrium called Phuong Dinh and to the Catherdral itself. The Catedral is surrounded by four Chapels, three artificial grottos and a stone Shrine 

On a tiny islet in the middle of the retangular lake recigns a tall white statue of Christ the King 

Phuong Dinh is an imposing stone structure 24 metres long, 17 metres wide and 25 metres high. Stone low relief are to be seen inside as well as outside. On it its top are hanging a big drum and a big bell weighing about two tons. It was cast a hundred years ago

The Cathedral is 74 metres long and 21 metres wide. It has four roofs resting on six ranks of wood pillars. The two middle ranks have 16 pillars each eleven metres high, 2.35m in circumference. Each of them is the trunk of a single tree. The high altar was cut in a single block of stone (3 metres long, 90 centimetres large and 80 centimetres high) and carved on its three sides. The back of the high altar is made of chiselled wocdworks lacquered and gilt

On both sides of the Cathedral four Chapels mount the guard of honour. Each one has a different style. At the far end rise three stone grottos, the most beautiful of them is that of Our Lady of Lourdes. Finally, on the North-West corner of the site rises the jewel of the whole complex: it is popularly called the Stone Chapel because all its carts are made of stone: walls, columns, beams, windows and towers 

Phat Diem Cathedral through the ups and downs of a hundred years of its existence has always been welcoming worshippers and visitors from the world all over.

Tam Coc, Halong Bay on Land, North Vietnam

More in the Album Tam Coc

"Tam Coc means three caves, which takes about two hours driving from Hanoi (110 km) to the South.Tam Coc is an awesome site of giant limestone karst formations jutting out of the rice paddies that surround the Ngo Dong River about 9km southwest of Ninh Binh, North Vietnam. It is often labelled "The Halong Bay of the rice paddies," in reference to similiar karst formations that rise out of the South China Sea at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. The name Tam Coc means "Three Caves." 

As you are rowed down the Ngo Dong River by the famous leg rowers of Tam Coc, you pass through three enormous caves that provide a brief respite from the intense summer sun. It takes approximately three hours to go up and down the river and along the way, you witness local fisherfolk, village life along the river and, of course, the striking limestone karst formations that Tam Coc is famous for."

Walkies Around Ciputra, Hanoi

Set off with my camera in the wee hours of a beautiful sunny morning and capture some of the local life around Ciptura, Internation City of Hanoi.


Rains in Hanoi

Due to some monsoon typhoon which resulted in major flooding around the city, we were not spared too. Some shots of the flooding around Ciputra area.

1. Flooded Construction Site 

2. Wet Wet tennis court

4. Flooded squatter area. Knee deep in muddy water

5. Strong Winds

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

North Vietnam Tour: Day 3: Trekking in Sapa

Woke up at 8am, had breakfast downstairs in Bamboo Hotel, check out and waited for Huang to come. We set off for the 11km+ hike down to Lao Chai, village of the Black H'mongs.

Huang our guide.

It was a cloudy and foggy day to hike. Unless you like shooting into a blank wall of grey opportunities of the beautiful mountain scenaries and rice paddy terrace were not that many. We got like small windows of opportunity to quickly grab a few shots before the fog obscure our view again.

There was a few of Black H'mongs whom accompanied us for our little dandy hike to the village.

For most of the day, this is how the typical conversation with the locals here...who accompanied and "helped" us throughout our journey.


"What's your name?"

"Where you from?"

"Ahh Mah-layseee..." - repeat to her freinds 

etc. etc... until we stop our destination.. which they asked to buy their wares for their assistant through out the journey.

There was even one old granny that followed Ju all the way from our Lunch Stop to Ta Van. 

We bought a few stuff from them to show our appreciation and they really did help out at time at the paddy fields etc.

Here are some nice shot of the trekkers (Oi.. Tom.. I am making you a "diep-chai" star here....where are the pretty shots of me in your Canon? hee hee hee..)

We also went to Ta Van. This is the village where all the homestay "hotels" are located. Looks impressive and nice. Must really come back here one of these days, during summer time.

Got back to the Hotel at around 3pm. Guide was kind enough to arrange a room for us to freshen up and take a shower before getting on the bus to Lao Cai for dinner and a train back to Hanoi.

Reached Hanoi at 5:30am tired by had a great time.

Some more model shots.... ;)

Monday, November 3, 2008

North Vietnam tour: Day 2: Walk About in Bac Ha and Sapa

Day 2 started off with a tour of the Bac Ha market after breakfast. 
This is a weekly Sunday market were mostly locals and some Flowery H'mong selling their stuff. Can see that it is already a tourist market as opening price were absolutely ridicously high. Bargining is a norm, with rate of 50% to 60% cut is possible. A short walk from the hotel we were staying in. Here you have your normal sections of dry, wet, souvernior, live stock, clothes, bags, food etc. sections. Spend only a good couple of hours there and then it off to Sapa as it was quite the same as what we saw yesterday.

Road condition was worst that the last time on the journey to Sapa via Lao Cai. Probably due to the rain. Port holes and mud patches everywhere. Stop at Lao Cai for lunch. Reached Sapa sometime around 3pm as it was a 45 minute drive away from Lao Cai. Really foggy and raining. The tour guide went home after checking us in at Bamboo Hotel and left us with a free and easy afternoon. 

Rested and we went out for a little walk in the town. Didn't really manage to explore the whole town as it started to really pissed down after a while. Abandon the idea, and parked outselves at a local diner for a few hours before we set out back to the Hotel. 

What can I say about Sapa, this is nice little colorful tourist town which Sapa H'mong peddling their wares whever we go. I suspect we miss many sights ... it is definately worth visiting again.

Here's a few shot of Tom and Ju having a bit of fun at the verendah of Bamboo Hotel.