Monday, November 23, 2015

Overslept Ancient Town in Dong Van Rock Plateau

Used to be a busting border town in Dong Van plateau (Ha Giang province), but now Pho Bang is sunk into oblivion. It has seemingly overslept for a few decades.


In a journey to Ha Giang that travelers desire to find authentic tastes, they won’t miss Pho Bang. Dong Van district has two ancient towns of Dong Van and Pho Bang, in which Pho Bang’s population is about 500 Chinese people alternate with Hmong ethnics.   

Way to the overslept town

17 km from Yen Minh town, way to the town features tortuous slopes with radiant grounds of buckwheat flowers and wild marigold along 4C highway and on foot of sharp, soaring mountains.

There is a T-junction with ahead way to Sung La and the left turn to Pho Bang. Commonly, travelers will move straightly from Quan Ba – Yen Minh to Sung La – Lung Cu – Dong Van town and skip Pho Bang 5km away from the T-intersection. Owning to being sequestered and inconvenient to reach, so hard to see strange guests in this town except several curious Vietnamese backpackers. That’s why it’s dubbed as an overslept town.

The T-junction to Pho Bang is a cloudy road dipping into dense fog in winter. On the foot of towering, pointed hills, adjoining soil houses like in fairyland stand silently and peacefully in Sung La valley.

If departing from Dong Van old quarters to go up to Pho Bang, travelers will take a nearly 20km craggy route of passes, protruding with one side is deep chasms and the other side is high mountains covered with leaden, rugged rocks. Corn farms are green in a startled way due to occupation of rock and rarity of soil.


 A hot-spot of trading formerly

This border town, geographically not distant, especially road to here is not difficult, but image of a hectic place, a stinging, hot-spot several decades ago, when opium and drug occupied Pho Bang as a hub, was gone far away; just a peaceful town left.

Formerly, Pho Bang was an administrative – economic – social center of Dong Van district. However, after the district was moved deeply interior barely 20km, Pho Bang has become an overslept woman among mountains and forests.

Also a frontier ward but Pho Bang is located deeply inside inland than Lung Cu flag pole and Dong Van town. However, it’s at a higher altitudes, so the climate is colder with a freezing winter as snowy as in Sapa and Mau Son.

Cross Sung La – the sole “rain navel” of the water-lacked, grey-rocked Dong Van district - then overcome another out-of-the-way jungle stage, Pho Bang suddenly appears halfway. It is the scarce valley in this area, because if you stop on roadside, look before and behind, turn left then right, you just only find vast, superb mountains at all four sides. If someone misses a roll of hand grip, they can get right to hedges bordered between Vietnam and the neighbor country China.


Portrait of the overslept town

Lost in Pho Bang, it brings feeling like in a big film studio with setting of olden days. The town includes traditional houses with moss ying-yang roofs and damp, dark yellow soil walls.

Pho Bang only remains sparely two quite deserted streets with about one hundred ancient roof-tops, aged above 100. It’s inhabited mainly by Chinese people alternative to Hmong tribe, but this is not enough to change sad and still appearance of this mountain town.  Colors of time cover all corners. In front of each houses, there is a couple of Chinese parallel sentences having changed colors. A few grocery stores are opened to sell essential things behind square windows while some aged, wooden shut-doors are always dormant.

Life in the town passes slowly and monotonously, a calm, simple life among a solitary highland. Some women sit in front to pick up vegetables, chop wood, sew or embroider. Some elders on chair fondle back of lazy cats. Some garrulous children plays marble shooting game. Street sides becomes yards to dry corns and soybeans, which are hang fully on every rooftop. Cloud drifts through streets. When twilight falls, the weather is colder, the streets quickly sinks into ethereal fog. All the town just wakes up suddenly on backward rotating markets, which is hold every 6-day from morning to noon.



More information: 
  • Pho Bang is dubbed as the "valley of roses" thanks to brilliant, picturesque rose fields spreading along slopes around the ward.
  • It features many stunning sights of peach, plum, pear blossoms and also buckwheat flowers like many other areas in Ha Giang.
  • Way to Pho Bang border gate is really scenic by untouched rock mountains.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Land of Free Storks and Little Cormorants

Some motorboats get deeply into the forest that makes flocks of birds perching on tree branches clap wings then soar on high, creating a lively picture in Tram Chim national park, Dong Thap province, southern Vietnam.
Tram Chim national park 1

Tram Chim national park, the first Ramsar area in Mekong delta has an area of 7,000 ha, keeping an important role in the map of the world’s biological diversity. When Mekong delta is in flood season, flocks of birds in turns immigrate. 

There remains some still stay to spy out and seek out food grounds, resting places and good habitat to call their flock back. In spring, flocks of birds will return here to reside and search for food.

Tram Chim national park 2

When motorboats move deeply into the cajuput jungle, birds hearing sound in a passive way immediately soar on high.

With the aim of sustainable tourism development, the administration of Dong Thap province, Management Board of Tram Chim national park, World Wide Fund and Coca-Cola Vietnam company coordinated and deployed the project “Preserving biological diversity & developing ecological tourism based on community” in Tram Chim with total investment budget of nearly 1.2 million USD.

The project helps to protect rare birds, improve the management of hydrology and water lever adjustment, nourish aqua species and recover vegetation.

Tram Chim national park 3

Birds perching on branches of tree are really equanimous. If sitting on boat drifting slowly, it is easy to see nests of birds built all over places. According to statistics of WWF, surrounding the Tram Chim area there are about 12,000 Asian openbill storks, over 10,000 oriental darters, above 1,500 little cormorants and 6,000 little egrets inhabiting and reproducing.

Tram Chim national park 4

Tram Chim national park of Dong Thap province is anticipated that it will become a special attraction in the flood season. In 2014, there is about 60,000 tourists traveling to Tram Chim, increasing 4 times compared to the number of 2013. Above 200 households living around Tram Chim are also permitted to exploit and use the resources in a reasonable way in the flood season. This will grow averagely by 1,460,000 VND per month in income of each household.

Tram Chim national park 5

It is predicted that the Dong Thap tourism festival will take place from 25th to 27th September in the national park with the theme: “Tram Chim in flood season”.

Tram Chim national park 6

“The project “Preserving biological diversity, developing ecological tourism based on community” has implemented smoothly and acquired results as expectation. Hoping that the management and conservation of Tram Chim continue to be maintained in order to keep firmly the appellation “Ramsar” and become an experience or a lesson for other wetlands in Mekong Delta.” said Mr. Hoang Quoc Viet, the coordinator of the project by WWF.

Tram Chim national park 7

About the reason of choosing Tram Chim national park to preserve and invest, Mr. Nguyen Khoa My, the Director of Communications and External Relations of Coca-Cola Vietnam company notified: “In Vietnam, there are a lot of national parks, but this area has influenced evidently by climate change because it is located right in the basin of Mekong river. Therefore, pursuing this project will help to save ecological environment, giving back the best natural status quo for the residents and rare animals so as that they can return to reside.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Motorcycling – Cushiest Way to Explore Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia - the land of motorbikes and scooters! Small motors nimbly, smoothly move on streets. In spite of Luang Prabang, Ho Chi Minh city or Chiang Mai, it is easy to ride a motorbike around streets and even small lanes, reveal indigenous cultural features in a peculiar way.

Having low cost and compact design, easy to control, motorbike become the most common mean of transport in Southeast Asia countries. Motorbikes appear everywhere, every corner, used by both locals and foreign travelers for transfer. 

Moving by motorbike is truly flexible and convenient to explore cities, villages, fields or coastal areas. In addition, by traveling in the way of native residents, you will obtain authentically local experiences. On two wheels, it is possible to drive to ways and corners you want, stopping at anytime and anywhere to snap unique moments or take interesting conversations with locals. One day on a motorbike threading over the most hidden parts will bring fascinating experiences during your journey. 

So, when traveling in an area in Southeast Asia, you can select a motorbike as a companion and simply go. This lists below will show you some ideas for Southeast Asia discovery on motorbike. 

Yogyakarta – Indonesia

So many travelers reach Yogyakarta only to contemplate sunrise in Borobudur – the greatest Buddhism monument in Indonesia. However, many other hidden parts in this area you may not know and desire to discover. Yogyakarta city seems to be a typical slice of Indonesia with endless rice paddies, rustic villages and meandering road systems. 

You can visit this famous Hindu temple, Prambanan, as crossing over Kaliurang town, lying on the foot of the volcano Merapi. Scenery of this place can be beyond very much your imagination. Except the traffic jam in the entrance of the town, remaining things are all smooth.

Yogyakarta motorcycling

Luang Prabang – Laos

Do you want to ride around appealing streets in this ancient city? Just simple, walk to a motorbike rental shop, take one and ride. Luang Prabang is a peaceful city with lovely 2-story blocks of dwellings, quaint small houses, colorful tuk tuks and long queues of monks walking moderately on bare foot to beg for alms in the quite atmosphere. Perhaps you will be excited as encountering an old temple quite Chinese in style. Bring along a map if it is necessary for you.

Getting out of this safe and sound city toward surrounding areas, more challenges are waiting travelers to conquer. You can head to Kuang Si and Tad Sae, two superb, emerald waterfalls. The roads are relatively convenient. Passing over jungles, many beautiful landscapes will disclose.  

Luang Prabang motorcycling

Ho Chi Minh city - Vietnam 

Traffic in Vietnam always make a deep impression on any oversea traveler first time stepping on this country. Amazing. Incredible. Thousands of motors moving smoothly in narrow space among disorderly whistling noise; and patience of residents in traffic jam are unforgettable images. 

You can take a Saigon Vespa tour to get around the city. Classic but graceful Vespa scooters will take travelers to discover incredible street food, to original bars, restaurants and lovely hidden streets. This is a great way that helps you find less well-known places and enjoy real local cuisine. If you are impossible to ride, you can sit in the rear position and comfortably sightsee streets. 

Saigon Vespa tour

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is located in a highland of Thailand so this city has a natural beauty actually mind-blowing. The region is dominated by forests, strawberry fields, rivers, streams and many other ecological sites.

You can trek 14.5 km to reach the mountain top and visit the sacred Wat Phra That temple – one of the most renowned spots in the city. However, paying attention that you can encounter the traffic congestion, especially at the end of the day.

Or, you can liberate and ride motorbike to visit historic places in the central Chiang Mai city. Let reach Buddhism pagodas built since the city newly established (about 700 years ago). If it is hot, you can take some breaks, rest, enjoy the “pad Thai” dish then continue your journey.

Motorcycling Chiang Mai
 Photo: Peanuts or Pretzels

Sumatra, Indonesia

If having scanty time, you can get to Maninjau – the lake formed from the crater of the former volcano in Sumata, Indonesia. Around the lake is small fishing villages, rice fields, schools and mosques. Here, you are never stuck in traffic. 

Koh Lanta, Thailand 

Koh Lanta is an island district in Thailand. Not famous like Koh Phi Phi or Phuket, but it is an ideal destination for excursions by scooters or motorbikes. On the island, though the way is just only 26 km long, you still can have a lot of awesome experiences: local life, fabulous scenery and traffic. 

Almost the streets have pavements, safe and not crowded. Spend all your day to contemplate the stunning beach like paradise or visit the old quarter, where retains memories of the island. You can admire traditional houses lying near the sea, nice cafĂ© and peaceful space. 

motorcycling Koh Lanta

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nha Trang Sea Festival 2015 lures 150,000 visitors

Nha Trang Sea Festival 2015 concluded on July 14th 2015  in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa after an eventful week, luring nearly 150,000 Vietnamese and foreign visitors. 
Nha Trang Sea Festival 2015 1

Every two years, Nha Trang Sea Festival takes place for a whole week in around June in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province. This is a colorful and dynamic sea festival which honors natural beauty of Nha Trang – the charming city overlooking the sea. The first Nha Trang Sea Festival was held in 2003 when Nha Trang Beach was proclaimed as a member of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World.

Nha Trang Sea Festival 2015 2

Nha Trang Sea Festival 2015 7

Nha Trang Sea Festival 2015 4

Coming to Nha Trang at the time of festival, visitors will be in a bustling and exciting ambiance of various Vietnamese cultural and recreational events. This year, through the festival themed “Peace and Creativity”, the organisation board aimed to call on the community to do their utmost to protect national sovereignty, preserve the maritime environment and promote the value of the sea and islands, he mentioned. 

Nha Trang Sea Festival 2015 3

Nha Trang Sea Festival 2015 5

Nha Trang Sea Festival 2015 6

With early 60 festive, cultural and sport activities throughout the week introducing the unique culture of Khanh Hoa, honouring the beauty of the sea and islands that play a significant role in local life, Nha Trang – Khanh Hoa Sea Festival 2015 is expected to bring interesting experiences of Vietnamese culture for international and domestic visitors; at the same time to be a good opportunity for Khanh Hoa Province to expand exchange, cooperation, cultural promotion and tourism development.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The best time to enjoy stunning Sapa rice terraces

Sapa rice terrace 1

Along with Muong Hoa Valley, Tram Ton Pass, Silver Waterfall and O Quy Ho Pass, Sapa's rice terrace field also plays an important reason for million of tourist arrivals to this upland, creates the best image of the North West area. Considered as one of the most beautiful rice terraces worldwide, it can be at the top of your bucket list if you intend to trip to Sapa since it is definitely worth you a visit.

It is said that rice terraces are the most beautiful when it has just started the crop at which it begins the rain season or when the whole fields are green or when they are all ripe with the silky yellow coverage.

Sapa rice terrace 2

However, at any time, this destination always looks terrific and so are its rice terraces. Since May to July, it is time that Muong Hoa Valley is blooming with lots of colorful flowers in a wide range of various beauties and when the rice terraces are full of water at which you can contemplate one of the best scenery ever that the terraces are twinkle and attractive with the reflection of the sunshine on the fields’ surface. 

Sapa rice terrace 3

Sapa rice terrace 4

It is definitely worth visiting as you cannot find anywhere else in other place out of Sapa and its splendid Muong Hoa and of course, superb rice terraces. 

Then the whole fields of rice terraces turn into silky yellow when it is in September and to October, the special signal of the harvest time. 

Sapa rice terrace 5

Obviously, travelers can visit Sapa’s rice terraced fields in any time of the year since the terraces look like a big mirror reflecting the sunbeam in spring, attract lots of travelers with its green spread like a splendid carpet of the nature in summer, while they turn into gold carpet when the harvest time comes in the late autumn as well as the superb and pristine beauty as it is in winter, in which it is covered with fog or sometimes with snow, creating the best-ever picture of the rice fields in winter that you may have never seen before.
Photo source: Internet