Archive | October, 2012

Trang An restaurant

29 Oct

After cruising around Trang An for a few hours in our boats we were decidedly peckish when we finally pulled into port.

Thankfully the Trang An attraction has its own restaurant. It is a classy affair and as such a little pricey, but hey the scenery is beautiful so I wanted to compliment it with a beautiful meal.

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I had chicken & sweetcorn soup along with grilled goat, a local speciality! The soup was ok, if a bit bland, but the goat – wow! – it arrived still sizzling and spitting on a boiling hot tray, accompanied with a delicious satay sauce that had a hint of chilli in.

You could t fault the presentation, but whilst tasty, the goat was a bit fatty/tough at times. I’d still recommend it though.

Very good shit.

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Bai Dinh temple and Pagoda, Vietnam

29 Oct

As we sped down the deserted highways we watched as the Bai Dinh pagoda slowly emerged and towered over the landscape for kilometres around.
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The building itself, although huge and spectacular, is still being built (and is set for completion in 2017)!! Yet that doesn’t diminish it’s imposing nature, as in it’s half built state it looks like Saruman’s tower in LOTR.

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Besides the pagoda (also the worlds tallest when completed) is a giant temple complex; it is literally huge, stretching from the top of the hill all the way to a man made lake. It must be a few kilometres long; crazy.

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Inside, it is easily the best temple I have seen in SE Asia, even edging out the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Everything is epic; from its 3 huge Buddhas…

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To its giant heron statues…

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…to the thousands of Buddhas embedded into the wall!!!

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This place is fucking ridiculous in every sense. It is in the middle of nowhere and obscenely huge, god knows what it will be like when it is finally completed. I’m going to have to return to Ninh Binh in 5 years just to experience, what will be, the best temple complex in SE Asia.

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Trang An, Nin Binh – Vietnam

29 Oct

They don’t call Trang An the ‘Halong Bay of the rice fields’ for any old reason. The place is incredible, with dramatic peaks of limestone karst erupting out of the landscape, dwarfing the tiny boats we cruised about in.

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We were paddled around in small boats by an amiable oarsman, who, to prevent fatigue, alternated paddling between his hands and his feet (like this…)

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The beauty of the landscape was matched only by the serenity of our boat trip; we were the only visitors present and there was a pleasant lack of noise (we’re used to insect humming everywhere!)

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We paddled through several caves that had been hollowed through the peaks by water. They were far more claustrophobic than Konglor but just as fun. Although hunching yourself into a boat to avoid hitting your head can be uncomfortable!

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If

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This place will swell with tourists in the coming years so I’m glad we visited before it becomes too saturated.

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Family Bakery, Cat Ba Island

28 Oct

I’m pretty sure the employees weren’t a family, but the bacon sandwiches and pastries were banging!

Amongst my food I stuffed in a Raisin Bomb (my name) or a Drygraphs (their name), which was tasty!

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Very good shit.

Hang Quân Y (secret Vietnamese war hospital)

28 Oct

Whilst exploring Cat Ba on our motorbikes we stopped at Hang Quân Y, a Vietnamese war hospital hidden in the mountains of Cat Ba.
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It is a very surreal and creepy place to explore, even with a guide, and is single handedly the most echoey place I’ve ever been in. I managed to creep everyone out by putting on a deep voice and rumbling ‘who awakes me from my slumber…?’
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We had to explore with head torches so the pictures aren’t the best, but here is the shower/washroom:
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Whilst this is the swimming pool – which sits at the back of the cinema room…fucking luxury hospital!
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Next to the pool is the ‘training area’, which is the name for some natural shapes which force you to crawl then stand, crawl then stand – so: watch a film, have a work out and then have a soak!
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Our guide told us it took 3 years to build the whole thing, which is really impressive when you see it in person as the logistics of it are crazy; finding the cave, planning the layout, constructing it, all whilst the Vietnam war is going on around you…mad!20121028-222345.jpg
Here is the back exit…

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…which leads to a nice grotto! (a balcony as well?! Goddamn!)

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Panoramas of Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

28 Oct

We’ve currently retreated to Ninh Binh on the mainland due to a level 3 typhoon having blown in, but here are some panoramas from Cat Ba island (modern Jurassic Park! Amazing)

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It’s crazy how many landscapes are hidden on one island!

Highland Bakery, Sa Pa

25 Oct

Some Dutch friends bought me these delicious chocolate and apple tarts for my birthday two days ago:

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Needless to say I went back for more! Lovely thick pastry and dense chocolate, almost liquidy/truffley, fucking amazing!

Excellent shit!