Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PU HU nature reserve

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA and GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit in Vietnam) working together in a survey of responsible tourism project in Pu Hu Nature Reserve, Thanh hoa province, Vietnam. 

The survey trip will be held in middle of December, 2011 by ATA team with support of GIZ Vietnam. ATA inspection team will spend about 3 days to scan this area, evaluating the suitable activities for a tourist site. This activity is a part of project “Protection of the forest and wildlife” implemented by GIZ Vietnam, under the management of Forest Protection Department of Thanh Hoa Province.

Pu Hu Nature Reserve is situated in the North-West of Thanh Hoa Province. It has a big diversity of plants and animals with 508 plant species and 266 animals species. It also has a role in protecting the catchment of the Ma river. The inhabitants of the nature reserve and buffer zone belong to the Thai, Hmong, Dao and Kinh ethnic groups.

The tourist will discover illegal cutting of trees, hunting and other illegal activities in the forest. Their movement in the forest will help to keep these illegal activities under control and is therefore very important!

As Mr. Georg Kloeble, Senior Advisor Natural Recource Management of GIZ said “Pu Hu is very rugged and mountainous and might be demanding on the fitness of the participants! Rainforest, it might be misty and wet. I myself was only one time in there, hiking for one day! It was fantastic!”

After the trip, ATA inspection team is going to propose interesting activities, suitable routes which would make Pu Hu nature reserve to be a tourist site. ATA also works with GIZ Vietnam to run and manage the potential trip tours here to complete one of the most important parts of project.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Active Travel Asia announced the prizes for the contest “Indochina in Your Eyes”!

First word Active Travel Asia sent to you to joint our competition “Indochina in yours eyes” most sincere thanks!

“Indochina in yours eyes” contest lasted over 2 months (1st Sep 2011 to 20th Nov 2011) and ends on 20 Nov 2011. Organizing Committee has received many entries with unique ideas, deeply felt and very sincere, especially from customers love traveling and traveled to Indochina in a lifetime.

Now is the time to honor the winner. The winner is the person who has the amount of LIKE ranked highest on our facebook page plus 2 travel news sites. It meant that many people had read and liked your story.

The highest prize of the contest “Indochina in your eyes” is Yasmine Khater with entry "South to North Vietnam : An Unforgettable Experience".

The prize is a 3 day 2 night tour costing from 700$ - 1000$ for 2 persons. The winner can choose one of out door activities including Trekking, Cycling, Motorcycling, and Kayaking in wide areas of Indochina plus interesting gifts. 

• Kayaking Halong Bay
• Trekking Sapa and homestay
• Mai Chau Trekking
• Motorcycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail
• Biking Angkor Wat

Besides the highest prize, to encourage the writers ATA awards 3 incentive prizes for the entry which had the amount of “Like” followed by the highest:

Andrew Faulks with entry “Pol Pot’s Clipper”
Raelene Kwong with entry “An expedition to Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave – what could go wrong?”
Manasi Subramaniam with entry “How Saigon Feels”

The incentive prize is a full day city tour for 2 persons. Besides, you will get some extra values as below:

• a couple of sleeping bags by fabric filter.
• a couple of T-shirts with ATA logo.
• 2 water puppet tickets
• lunch included
• 1 hour Cyclo (Xich Lo) around old quarter.

All the prizes will be available in 2 years from the day of award announcement (Nov 30th, 2011.)

Active Travel Asia thank all of your contest whether your felt and shared were not high rank but your sharing for ATA is the most precious. All good thoughts of you for Indochina and ATA will be the core values which always lead to ATA.

Please thank most respectfully to you, wish you good luck and congratulations again!

Please refer any questions about the award to us at:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vietnam - A cultural feast

I envisioned hiking to remote villages to find mountain hill tribes; people living in indigenous villages, untouched by outside influences.

Instead, as we pulled into Sapa, in the northern part of Vietnam, a group of Black Hmong women gathered on the side of the road as our shuttle pulled into the center of town. A welcoming committee, perhaps?

As the van came to a stop, my jaw dropped as the entire group charged at our vehicle screaming “You buy from me!”

This was not the authentic

Friday, November 18, 2011

Entry for the Contest "Indochina in your eyes"!

How Saigon Feels

Saigon feels like an old movie song - the kind that hums loudly, often obnoxiously, in the background, but makes its absence sorely felt during the rare silences.

It starts sort off sort of clumsily - mostly percussion and pipes attempting to begin with a bang - when the city drops you into an ocean of familiarity with its heat, its dust, its traffic and its absurd electrical lines and telephone poles running all over the city in all sorts of directions, constantly getting in the way of any possible view of any possible skyline. It doesn't just look like Asia - it feels comfortingly like Asia.

A high-pitched melody takes over - nauseating at first with its shrillness, but stubborn in its refusal to waver in pitch. Its notes, warbling undramatically, tease you into the city's underbelly - matchbox apartments, gorgeous colonial villas, roadside barbecues and pretty French cafes, all on the same stretch, entirely unaware, or perhaps uncaring, of the incongruity they are bathed in. The melody slows down - pitch unchanged, although you're used to its intensity by this point - to allow you to take it all in, but only long enough for you to take it all in.

Before you're ready, the pipes begin to blare incessantly, and you are jolted into the honking of city traffic. You find yourself surrounded by scooters and motorbikes - they come at you from all directions, each helmet more colourful than the last, and swerve graciously to avoid contact with you, helmets bobbing in acknowledgement of your mostly insignificant presence in their lives. As you wonder at how everything around you appears constantly to be on the move, you are jostled on to the pavement, where the elderly Vietnamese have drawn up red plastic chairs right outside their houses to sit and watch the world go by. There is no newspaper or paperback in their hands that redeems their voyeurism. They are as unabashedly curious about the tourists that go by as the tourists are about this odd, odd city.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Entry for the Contest "Indochina in your eyes"!

Indochina adventures, from the sacred to the mundane

Angkor Wat, a modern odyssey

Pedalling into the sun’s glare, the sound of laughing children flutters in my ears. Through a modern adventure I witness the historic epic of people’s lives intertwined with the past, striving to survive amongst the ancient ruins and modern riches of Cambodia’s prime time attraction, the temples of Angkor Wat. Hidden amongst the stones and structures are stories of power and love: Angkor Wat’s historic legends are sculpted into etchings which cover every surface of its walls and lattices.

Energised and inspired by our historic wanderings by day, our evenings in Siem Reap enchant us with the discovery of local artwork based on quintessentially Cambodian and Indochinese motifs. Here, the essence of life is concentrated into images of wise monks traversing the countryside in orange robes, village life and eternal rice paddies. We enjoy ultra-modern evening venues, providing an oasis of calm and reflection amidst the bustling town city. There is more to see in Cambodia than I could possibly do justice to in my few short trips, and from Angkor Wat we head to the capital city. Phnom Penh’s vibrancy always astounds, and I like to contemplate the evening activity on the central square where the older generations take refuge from the trials and torments of their day to stretch, relax and exercise together, creating a collective consciousness that one can only imagine should foster peace and collaboration. Feeling the calm and joys of the elderly, of families, of the occasional mother and daughter flicking a badminton racket, keeps me mesmerised for hours; happy to remain here and delay having to contemplate the array of options waiting to tantalise my palate in Phnom Penh’s multiple dining options.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ha Long Bay is New Wonder of Nature

Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, announced the New7WondersFoundation on November 12 after the first count of global voting ended a day earlier.

Halong Bay, Vietnam
In alphabetical order, the seven winners are the Amazon, Ha Long Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo, Puerto Princesa Underground River and Table Mountain.

The New7Wonders of Nature campaign have been carried out over the past four years, starting with more than 440 locations from about 220 countries.

The New7Wonders of Nature have been chosen from the 28 finalist candidates, according to Bernard Weber, founding president of Switzerland-based New7Wonders Foundation.

According to the foundation, the results are provisional and based on the first tally of votes. The votes still need to be checked, validated and independently verified.

Once the voting validation process is complete, in early 2012, New7Wonders will then work with the confirmed winners to organize the official inauguration events.

The foundation also noted that it is possible that one or more of the provisional winners will not be confirmed during the validation process. New7Wonders will issue a media update if that occurs.

“When the New7Wonders of Nature are confirmed, they will join the man-made New 7 Wonders of the World in becoming part of global memory for humankind forever,” Weber said.

Ha Long Bay is located in the northern province of Quang Ninh. It features thousands of limestone karsts and isles of various sizes and shapes. The bay has a 120-kilometer long coastline and is approximately 1,553 square kilometers in size, with 1969 islets.

Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Others support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks.

Another feature of Ha Long Bay is its abundance of lakes inside the limestone islands. For example, Dau Be island has six enclosed lakes. All these island lakes occupy drowned dolines within fengcong karst.

Source: thanhniennews

Monday, November 14, 2011

Entry for the Contest "Indochina in your eyes"!

Viet Nam in My Eyes

“Let’s spend our vacation in ("XXX"). !” I said to my friends. That was more than 2 years ago.

“It’s better to go to Viet Nam,” said one of my friends.

“Viet Nam?” I replied. “That sounds great.”

I’m one who often reacts based on merely instincts. Beside of one two movies with the settings of Viet Nam, I barely knew about Viet Nam. Yet, I replied ‘That sounds great.’ and I meant it. So I went to Periplus and bought Insight Guides Vietnam. I read the articles, look at the photographs. Right away I knew I had to go to Vietnam.

The funny thing is that before my friends who suggested Viet Nam did go to Viet Nam, I had already traveled twice to Viet Nam. I traveled another four times after that.

Let’s see. Ho Chi Minh City, checked. A tight budget traveler I am, so far it’s Air Asia I have to rely on. Flying with Air Asia from Jakarta to Viet Nam means I have to set foot on Ho Chi Minh City, whether I would like it or not. September 23rd 2009 was the first time I did so. Being brought up in a more Western oriented culture, I embraced the French atmosphere in Ho Chi Minh City immediately. Drinking coffee on a terrace under open air, is for me a time to call life beautiful. Standing in front of old (but well preserved) European-looking buildings without needing to go as far as Europe, is for me a time to call budget luxury. Savoring on steaks and pizzas that taste more European than the ones in my country but with two-thirds the price, is for me a time to call a trip mine. I hate to spend too much money on food, you know.

Since I was a kid, Dad had unconsciously brought me up to celebrate life’s best moments by walking. In the evening he would wake me up and take me for a walk, out of our lane, to the river, up to the railway, and then back home. When I already entered school, on holidays we would take longer paths and walk home, just the two of us. When I was in Junior High School, after every end of semester, we would celebrate by walking to our favorite restaurant. Uhm, it wasn’t really a restaurant, actually.

In Ho Chi Minh City, I could continue to celebrate life’s best moments my way. The sidewalks were broad and clean. Furthermore, very unlike in the capitol city of my country, I less had to worry of stumbling. Not even a bit do I regret Air Asia for making this route: Jakarta – Ho Chi Minh City a.k.a. Sai Gon.

Next, Ha Noi, checked. Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi to me looked like 2 different countries. The first time I came to Ha Noi, I lodged in Old Street area. I nearly forgot that I was on vacation. Motorcycles roamed in and out the alleyways. It’s just like where I came from. To make matters worse, almost if not all, of them were Hondas. That’s the brand of the company I’m currently working for. How can I call Ha Noi a vacation?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vietnam: gems of the north

Vietnam is increasingly becoming a popular destination for travellers each year. Its large chaotic cities are popular stop-offs for young travellers, and a great place to spend a few days. However, it can be nice to get away from the hustle and bustle, and northern Vietnam boasts fantastic scenery for those able to pull themselves away from the captivating capital of Hanoi.

Northern Vietnam boasts fantastic scenery

Hanoi is a bustling city, riddled with motorcycles, bright lights, and street vendors; it can be hard to keep up with. There is much to see in and around the city and plenty of culture to absorb in the ancient architecture which is dotted throughout the vibrant city.