Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vietnam Mid-Autumn Children's Festival

Mid-Autumn Children's Festival or Tet Trung Thu is a wonderful time to visit Vietnam. The festivities last for several days and there is singing and shouting. Children wear masks, parade happily in the streets and bang their drums. Parents buy lanterns and toys for their children and prepare their favorite dishes. Special cakes are made and exchanged, and fruits are plentiful.

The festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, the day of the first full moon closest to the autumn equinox when the moon is at its fullest. The autumn equinox always falls on September 23. This year, the Children's Festival will occur on September 30. At the spring and autumn equinoxes the duration of day and night is equal and the sun appears directly overhead at noon at the equator. After September 23 the days become shorter and the nights grow longer.

During the Children's Mid-Autumn Festival, although the moon is then at its greatest

Vietnam in top 10 cycle routes recommended by National Geographic

The road from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam is recently listed as one of the best cycle routes in the world by the National Geographic. 

The prestigious National Geographic travel guide, Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips, cataloguing the most famous and lesser known trips of a lifetime picked the World’s Top 10 bike trails on the planet, chosen for their beauty, length and excitement.

According to this list, Vietnam ranked fifth in the list, follow by Canada, Chile and Australia. It is described as suitable for who want to mix the bikes and beaches. Traveler will be passing through the 746 mile- (1,200 kilometer) route, between the country’s two biggest cities, taking along vast stretches of sandy coastline; it’s no picnic, as road surfaces vary considerably and there are many natural obstacles like the Hai Van Pass, the historical division point between North and South Vietnam. 

Recommended cycling tour by Active Travel Asia

With 8 Years of local travel Expert’s experience, Active Travel Asia (ATA) has a

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vietnamese girl travels to 25 countries with US$700

With only $700 in her pocket, Khanh Huyen traveled to 25 countries in Asia and Africa. In two years of travelling, the Hanoi girls learned how to cook many dishes, row, hike, act in films and write. After graduating from the high school for gifted students of the National University of Hanoi, Nguyen Thi Khanh Huyen decided to work immediately without studying at college.

When Huyen was tired of work her job in Malaysia, she flashed the idea to travel to some countries. However, the trip lasted for two years, taking her to 25 countries.

"When I was young, I used to say to my mum that I wanted to travel around the world. At that time she only smiled and though that I told a joke. I also thought that was my outburst and I could not do it. But it is amazing that I had such a long journey," Huyen said.

In May 2010, Huyen left Malaysia to some countries in Asia and Africa. She stayed in India for four months, then three months in Nepal 3, another three months in Israel.

In two years travelling over different lands, Huyen always looked for ways to save money for the trip. As a member of the Couch Surfing network in the world (sharing accommodations), Huyen was provided with free accommodations in the countries she visited by other members of the Couch Surfing network. They also helped her integrate into local communities to learn about their lives and culture.

Huyen was also willing to sleep at bus stops, on the street, and on the beach as long as they gave her the sense of security. She even slept in police stations several times.

"Once I slept on the beach of the Red Sea (Israel). The weather was very hot during the day but it was very cold at night. I had to wear all of my clothes in my backpack but I was still cold. In Nepal, I had to sleep at police stations several times. I had to be very patient to explain for local people that I was traveling. Perhaps I looked naïve so they had compassion for me," Huyen said with a smile.

She regularly walked, for up to 40-50km a day, or hitched a ride because according to Huyen "hitchhiking is very simple. I stood on the road to catch people for a ride."

Once she hitchhiked a truck in Ethiopia and overslept in the car. The car took her 200km over her scheduled destination. The driver dropped Huyen in a strange city that she had never heard of its name. But Huyen found out that this was a very interesting place after a few days discovering the city.

She traveled from one place to the other. When she was out of cash, she found a job to do. In India, she starred as a popular actor and played in commercial ads. In Nepal, she participated in organizing parties for a club. She wrote for a website in Israel, worked in a casino in Tanzania...

Huyen said that these jobs did not require in-depth knowledge, just a vivacious, dynamic, bold person. These simple works were paid for the hour, immediately, so she still had time to explore destinations.

"Each passing day I had different memories and different experiences. In two years, I learned many things which are as important as the knowledge that I learnt for 12 years at the school," Huyen said.

She said she learned many things such as designing websites, making a film in India, Buddhism in Tibet, rowing, hiking cooking dishes from different countries, making jewelry from recycled materials and others.

Travelling alone but Huyen never fell sad because she could quickly make friends with local people.

"When I was sad, I went to the market to find local people to get acquainted with them. I never stayed in hotels. I always tried to stay with local people," Huyen said.

On a bus in the evening in India, a young man invited Huyen to stay with his family for one night. But Huyen stayed there for a week and learned how to cook Indian cuisines learned about the culture, customs of Indian people. The family presented her gifts when she left.

In her journey, Huyen met accidents and risks. She had a motorcycle accident, causing leg fracture and she had to stay in Nepal for a month to care for the injury. She experienced persistent illness in the winter in the Himalayas. She was snatched, pick-pocketed and was nearly kidnapped.

At the border of Kenya and Somalia in the evening, a group of young people pressed a knife to her neck and robbed her backpack. Although she chased after them and shouted for help, people around did not help her. At that time, she fell helpless, resentment, and very alone.

"The trip really helped me mature. Situations taught me how to live independently, comfortably, strengthened my adaptability and endurance. I have become bolder and stronger after the journey," Huyen said.

Talking about her experience in preparing for the journey, Huyen said that the most important thing is preparing a good health and anticipate any circumstance that can happen on the road.

When she returned home with sunburned skin, ragged hair, her mother was poignant, but she assured about her daughter's self-reliance.

"Vietnam youngsters were wrapped carefully by their families so they are disadvantaged compared to their friends in other countries in the world. In many countries, young people are always facilitated by their families to travel," Huyen said.

Huyen plans to visit South America for a year. She is also building a tourism portal, wishing to turn it into a Lonely Planet site for the Vietnamese. She is also about to release a book that she wrote about her experience in the journey.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The 9 Best Things To Do In Vietnam

Vietnam is one of my favorite places in Asia. So much history, so much natural beauty, and the Vietnamese people themselves are renowned for their graciousness and good cheer. They harbor no resentment toward Americans despite a decade of bombings during the war. In fact they hold us in the highest favor - increasingly consuming our globalized bounty of pop culture - and welcome Americans with open arms.

A hopeful current is buzzing throughout much of the country, and it's a thrill to watch the chaos and order play out their yin and yang amidst honking horns, noodle stands, crumbling colonial remnants and high-rises. Here is my list of the nine best things to do in Vietnam.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hoang Su Phi's terraced fields turned yellow now

Hoang Su Phi’s terraced fields will be recognized as a national relic. On these days, terraced fields have turned yellow.

Terraced fields are a popular cultivated form in Southeast Asian countries like VietnamLaosThailandPhilippinesIndonesia and some southern provinces of China.
In Vietnam, a terraced field is the production form of many ethnic groups in northern mountainous region like La Chi, Ha Nhi, Mong, Dao or Nung.
In Ha Giang province, terraced fields are mainly located in western districts. Researchers said that terraced fields appeared in Hoang Su Phi several centuries ago.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Where and how to meet minorities in Southeast Asia

Minority cultures in Southeast Asia are often time capsules of earlier lifestyles that have escaped the full force of globalisation’s effects. Consequently, they are a highlight for travellers to the region who want to get a sense of a country’s past…as it collides with the present.
But how do you ensure that while visiting, you don’t cause unintended damage or offence? 

The Cham people originally occupied the kingdom of Champa in southcentral Vietnam and their beautiful brick towers dot the landscape from Danang to Phan Rang. Victims of a historical squeeze between Cambodia and Vietnam, their territory was eventually annexed by the expansionist Vietnamese. Originally Hindu, they converted to Islam in the 16th and 17th centuries and many migrated south to Cambodia. Today there are small numbers of Cham in Vietnam and as many as half a million in Cambodia, all of whom continue to practise a flexible form of Islam. Over the centuries, there has been considerable intermarriage between Cham and Malay traders.