Thursday, September 30, 2010
Bike Dalat, Vietnam
Monday, September 27, 2010
Active travel refers to an approach to travel and transport that focuses on physical activity (walking and cycling) as opposed to motorized and carbon-dependent means. Doing so would have the multiple benefits of increasing levels of physical fitness and reducing rates of overweight and obesity, whilst reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and consequent Carbon emissions.
Why ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) focuses on active travel? Global climate change due to fossil fuel usage and the continued increase in obesity and overweight are amongst the most serious health and environmental problems the world is currently facing. A shift towards active travel is being increasingly presented as an effective approach to tackling both these challenges. ATA makes strong recommendations that promoting and facilitating cycling, walking, trekking and kayaking should become key components of an integrated anti-obesity strategy, as this would represent "...physical activity incorporated into the fabric of everyday life."
Studies have shown that the recent global increase in levels of overweight and obesity are in large part due to the decrease in physical activity by children and adults. Partly this is explicable through an increase in more sedentary forms of leisure (TV, video games) but to a large extent low levels of walking, cycling, trekking and kayaking are also implicated.
In response to this, in UK, Public Health and environmental had campaigns to advocate for stronger policies and practices that promote active travel, and make cycling and walking safer and more attractive. The intention being that these modes could in many instances replace car usage for everyday journeys to school, shops, public services etc. To facilitate this would require local planning and highway authorities to invest in ensuring safe routes are available to these destinations especially in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (danger from other road traffic is frequently cited as the primary reason for not cycling.) In many areas in Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia, the current focus of development for cycle, trek and kayak provision are on isolated leisure trails, resulting in highly fragmented cycle routes and pavements/sidewalks, which do not link effectively to everyday destinations.
Actions on Active Travel
ATA have studied the itineraries in local areas for Active Travel which helps travelers have habits to increase in walking and cycling after holidays as well as effective response to the steadily increasing problem of overweight and obesity, and also help reduce carbon emissions.
Recommend some itineraries
- Sapa trekking & homestay
- West to East biking exploration
- Kayaking Halong bay
Friday, September 24, 2010
As the food basket of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta covers an immense area winding its way over 3000 mi. from Tibet through Cambodia to Vietnam’s Peninsula, where it spills into the South China Sea. It is marvelously fertile, and views here are all related to riverside life, orchards, rice paddies and any food-related small industry. From snakes swimming in whisky to coconut candy, everything here reflects the flavors of Vietnamese culture.
The floating markets in the Mekong highlight the shape of life here, where people live, shop, sell and eat from and in their vessels and homes on the water. Getting to the area involves a lot of boat/bus/ferry/foot combinations, but its well worth the effort. We arrived from Saigon on our 3-day trip, which included Can Tho and Vinh Long.
The journey down was a long, hobbling, creaking bus ride, passing paddy fields and other fields with every variety of food being grown here. We stopped for lunch in Vinh Long. We walked around the “land” market of local shops with their goods set up in baskets on the street, where all kinds of colors and scents greeted our senses. A small motor launch took us along a peaceful tributary (away from the madding crowd of the main river) where each bend brought a new surprise and gorgeous scenery before we reached the home of a local farmer for lunch.
We arrived in vibrant Can Tho, the delta’s largest city, in the late afternoon and spent the time exploring this busy and lively port city. We rose the next morning at 4 am in raw anticipation. The day on the river begins at the crack of dawn and floating markets are held every morning from about 5 am till noon. We got into a small motor boat and made our way up the river to our first “stop” – the Phung Hiep market, the largest of the floating markets, located at the crossroads of 7 major canals.
The picture that greeted us was like laundry hanging out to dry. A maze of hundreds of sampans spread out on the busy river, hoisting samples of their wares on towering bamboo poles, to be seen from a distance. Coconuts, melons, mangoes, a heap of turtles, snakes, vegetables, fish, urns and vases and so much more all piled high on the vessels.
A beehive of activity where traders snapped up everything by the bushels to resell at local markets; where smaller merchants weaved their way between larger boats and suddenly, a spectacle of pineapples or cabbage flying through the air between vendor and shopper. In between, floating restaurants, floating bars, floating gas stations and many other floating shops winding deftly between the boats. The lively, near –frenzied pace here was an unmatched view into local culture.
We made our way to land for an afternoon cycling trip through the quiet lanes near Can Tho, biking through small villages and beautiful countryside, and in spite of the language barrier, meeting some very pleasant and friendly people.
Early the next morning, we visited the Cai Rang floating market for a second taste of this experience. Primarily a produce market, it is always busy, bearing all the characteristics of local life. After the market, we visited some small home industries where villagers made everything from coconut candies to rice paper. We ended our trip with a trek through lush orchards and bee farms. The highlight of the afternoon was a visit to the Dong Nam snake farm, where over 20 varieties of venomous snakes are used in drinks and food for medicinal purposes – some soaked in large flasks of whisky!
The Mekong Delta, with its hustle-bustle, its genuine locals, its overgrown streams and great scenery, and above all, its characteristic floating markets is one of the most fascinating parts of this fascinating country and a springboard for getting to know Vietnamese culture and its people up close.
Recommendations for traveling in Mekong Delta, Vietnam:
Thursday, September 23, 2010
One of the most enriching countries in the world,Vietnam is an absolute assault on the senses. This is a country which offers highly rewarding adventure travel, active vacations and cultural immersion in a wonderfully exotic way of life.
Blessed with captivating cities, lush soaring mountains, over 1500 km of coastline with white sandy beaches, and home to colonial palaces, pagodas, tombs and temples and hill-tribe peoples, Vietnam is an adventure waiting to be discovered.
Hanoi and the North
Hanoi, a blend of Indochinese and French influences and Vietnam’s capital, is one of the loveliest cities in Asia. Teeming with lakes and monuments, an Old Town with narrow streets crammed with artisans’ shops, and a French Quarter characterized by beautiful colonial buildings, it is a city to explore on foot.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
In Vietnam, Têt-Trung-Thu (tet-troong-thoo) or the Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most popular family holidays. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.
Vietnamese families plan their activities around their children on this special day. In a Vietnamese folklore, parents were working so hard to prepare for the harvest that they left the children playing by themselves. To make up for lost time, parents would use the Mid-Autumn festival as an opportunity to show their love and appreciation for their children.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Da Nang, Vietnam doesn't have the history of Hue, nor the charm of Hoi An. What it does have are pristine beaches, cool mountain hideaways and the relaxation that comes with being away from most other tourists - and most of the people whose job it is to bug the other tourists - as well as beachside restaurants.
One clam is never enough. Two, not even close. They make their way to the table in a steaming bowl, the scent of lemon grass and sea salt summonsing the drool of any diner within a 10-metre radius. They're plonked in front of you, swimming in a pool of cloudy liquid, the steam quickly whipped away by Da Nang's ocean breeze.
"You have one first," says Ngo, reaching into the bowl and picking up three of the open shells, shoving them in front of me. There's a pause as I eye my prey.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Once upon a time, in a village near a big river in Dalat, there was a young couple who were deeply in love.