A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Thang Long Citadel

overcast 22 °C

Vietnam has lots of similarities in comparison to its northern neighbour, China due to the close geographical location between the two countries as well as the historical events that took place many years ago. As such, there are many influence that can be seen so closely related between Vietnam and China including the costumes, food, culture, political structures, religious belief and family customs. One of the most important and significant political structures that was being so closely associated between these 2 countries was the imperial dynasties that ruled the country over a period of time. These dynastic period has cast such great impact on the history of China and to lesser extent Vietnam, that it is very important for the government of the day in both countries preserved the buildings and structures such as royal palaces, artefacts and antiques from the imperial dynasties era. Not only these historical structures and items were invaluable for purpose of providing the insights and knowledge on the history of the country, they also served as source of tourism products where visitors could come and visit as well as gained further in-depths information on how these historic place, buildings, structures, artefacts and antiques have shaped the history background of Vietnam. In China, the Forbidden City which highlights the Imperial Palace has been such an iconic landmark that Beijing, the capital of China is Forbidden City and Forbidden City is Beijing so much so that if there was no Forbidden City, there was no Beijing or even China entirely.

DSCN1726

DSCN1726


One of the side entrance to Thang Long Citadel

DSCN1725

DSCN1725

DSCN1732

DSCN1732


Lenin statue park opposite the Flag Tower, Hanoi

As for Vietnam, though its imperial dynasties structures and era were not that well known as compared to that of China, it is still worth to note that the the country had gone through several period of dynastic era which include the successful attempts to fight off the dominations of China's imperial dynasties. One of the most significant historical Vietnamese royal dynasty structures that were being preserved was the Imperial Citadel in Hue province in central Vietnam. There were also several royal tombs of the Vietnamese dynasties that were preserved within Hue as well. In Hanoi, there was a Imperial Palace, named Thang Long Citadel that was only being revealed to the public and foreign visitors quite recently.

DSCN1720

DSCN1720


The Flag Tower

THE MAIN GATE @ THANG LONG CITADEL
DSCN1740

DSCN1740

DSCN1742

DSCN1742

This imperial citadel's structure has most parts of its palace buildings lost and what can be seen now and particularly the most and only impressive parts in the eyes of the visitors would be the main entrance wall and gates, which overlooks a large and wide open field. Adjacent to Thang Long Citadel was what known as the Flag Tower, which also housed the Military Museum within the same area. As I walked further inside from the main gate of the palace, there was a 2 storey colonial style building in rectangular shape, which actually displays many important artefacts and antiques from Vietnam's imperial dynasties periods. There was also a very old single storey building nearby which also being used as an exhibition hall.

THE IMPRESSIVE MAIN GATE OF THANG LONG CITADEL
DSCN1752

DSCN1752

DSCN1751

DSCN1751

DSCN1749

DSCN1749

DSCN1747

DSCN1747

Further inside from these exhibition halls at the end of the palace ground, was the Princess Pagoda, which was a built during the Nguyen Dynasty to accommodate the concubines. These pagoda has 3 levels and has been damaged before it was restored during the French colonial period. In 1998, excavation works on the grounds around the pagoda found many relics during the several dynasties that rule Vietnam. There were artefacts and porcelains found.

THE EXHIBITION HALL BUILDINGS @ THANG LONG CITADEL & SOME ARTEFACTS ON DISPLAY
DSCN1764

DSCN1764

DSCN1768

DSCN1768

DSCN1759

DSCN1759

DSCN1760

DSCN1760

DSCN1761

DSCN1761

THE PRINCESS PAGODA @ THANG LONG CITADEL
DSCN1775

DSCN1775

DSCN1776

DSCN1776

DSCN1779

DSCN1779

The most surprising findings while touring Thang Long Citadel was the D67 Building and D67 Bunker which were located close to each other. The D67 Building is a single storey house constructed as a Headquarters of Vietnam's People Army. The house was converted to a large meeting room complete with long table and chairs arranged as well as name of each of the military's generals and respective heads. This meeting room was used by Vietnam's People Army during the revolution period in fighting the colonisation of America. The D67 Bunker was actually a secret military operational room during Vietnam War period, which has staircase leading to the underground area which has several rooms. There were also doors to access to each of the rooms which also acted as additional security or preventive equipment from easy penetration by the enemies. The rooms include a meeting room, equipment room as well as communication room. There were also military and telecommunication items being displayed in some of the rooms within the D67 Bunker. The D67 Bunker was built to be bomb proof, with thick layer of walls and fitted with metal doors.

D67 BUILDING
DSCN1785

DSCN1785

DSCN1783

DSCN1783

DSCN1784

DSCN1784

DSCN1782

DSCN1782

D67 BUNKER
DSCN1786

DSCN1786

DSCN1787

DSCN1787

DSCN1789

DSCN1789

DSCN1790

DSCN1790

DSCN1796

DSCN1796

DSCN1797

DSCN1797

DSCN1799

DSCN1799

Overall, the visit to Thang Long Citadel was a little disappointed because expectation was that, this could be another impressive imperial citadel just like the one in Hue. Nevertheless, it was still an exciting excursion and to gain some knowledge about some other history informations such as the D67 Building and Bunker.

DSCN1806

DSCN1806


The upper level of the Thang Long Citadel main gate

DSCN1805

DSCN1805

DSCN1741

DSCN1741


The main gate of Thang Long Citadel that overlooks an open field and the Flag Tower

Posted by kidd27 20:52 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Heaven's Gate, Sapa

overcast 17 °C

Many people travel to Sapa to trek its beautiful and stunning mountains, visiting the various hill tribes villages as well as to experience the ethnic hill tribes home stays. There were also some wonderful and awesome waterfalls in Sapa that will captured the hearts of nature lovers on how such gift of nature were not short of within this mountainous region of Northern Vietnam that borders just next to China. In summary, Sapa is a province that provides everything a traveller would want to enjoy which include the great nature's wonders such as the serene mountains and marvellous waterfalls, interesting hill tribes communities and their ethnic products which these were also derived from natural resources such as herbs, teas, nuts and their skills in producing hill tribes clothing and kitchenwares. Sapa town in itself has so much of its special characters which distanced itself from any other towns in Vietnam. This town at various points look so much of a European country's town with some of its buildings such as hotels were designed to look in such a way that they resembled a foreign-like structure. I am not sure how this blends into Sapa during the summer season as I was here at this time of the year which weather was chilly with thick mist coupled with rains and winds. But as I read, due to its mountainous geography, this town do experience all 4 weather "seasons" at anytime of the year, cold during the early morning, spring after sunrise, summer during afternoon and winter cold again during night time. The most notable parts of Sapa town were the Sapa Church, Sapa Square and the Sapa Lake areas. Its worthwhile to spend some time to walk around Sapa town to check out these areas and other nooks and corners of it as they offer a rewarding photography efforts with the nice and awesome structures and natural beauty surrounding Sapa town. Within the town, there were also dozens of restaurants that served hotpots as well as barbecue meats, which were inexpensive and taste good too. Also, there were few cafes that you can go for a fix of the aromatic traditional Vietnamese dripping coffee, relax and chill out.

DSCN1500

DSCN1500


Sapa Church

DSCN1503

DSCN1503


Sapa Square

DSCN1497

DSCN1497

DSCN1521

DSCN1521


European inspired hotel architecture at Sapa town

DSCN1520

DSCN1520

DSCN1515

DSCN1515


Sapa Lake

DSCN1511

DSCN1511


Relax and enjoy Vietnamese dripping coffee at Sapa town

DSCN1490

DSCN1490

DSCN1284

DSCN1284


Barbecue meat are popular among travellers to Sapa

Other than trekking mountains and visiting hill tribes villages, there were also few other activities that can be done in Sapa such as venturing into waterfall adventures within the Heaven's Gate. The tour can be done by hiring a "taxi" which usually being a minivan and can be arranged with the hotel or any of the tour agency in Sapa town. It can also be done privately with a cost of just the taxi hiring to transport you around at approximately VND 400,000 to visit 2 major waterfalls as well as to the Tram Ton Pass which overlooks the stunning view of the Lai Chau Valley. Lai Chau is another province within the Northern Vietnam region and Lai Chai Valley is located between Sapa and Lai Chau. The waterfalls that dotted the road within the Tram Ton pass in this Heaven's Gate tour were the Silver Waterfall known as Thac Bac and the Love Waterfall known as Thac Tinh Yeu. The tour took about 3 hours to complete.

THE MARVELLOUS VALLEY VIEW WHILE RETURNING FROM THE HEAVEN"S GATE TOUR TO SAPA TOWN
DSCN1470

DSCN1470

DSCN1472

DSCN1472

The Silver Waterfall was situated close to the road shoulder, therefore requiring minimal trekking other than to climb up the staircase which has several base levels. The final base has a bridge that connects from one side to the other, which was the entrance hike up side to the exit hike down side. The waterfall was located on a steep mountain and have few levels of very awesome and amazing falls with water gushing down intensely from each of the mountain edges. From afar, the waterfall can be seen pouring down from the mountain, creating one of the most distinguished natural wonders that can be captured by one's eyes and the camera. There were some traders just opposite the waterfall on the ground level which include sale of teas, nuts, herbs, knives and hill tribes accessories.

THE SILVER WATERFALL LANDSCAPES, VIEW FROM ABOVE THE BASE OF THE EDGE OF THE WATERFALL & ITEMS SOLD WITHIN THE WATERFALL AREA
DSCN1307

DSCN1307

DSCN1311

DSCN1311

DSCN1370

DSCN1370

DSCN1321

DSCN1321

DSCN1328

DSCN1328

DSCN1333

DSCN1333

DSCN1345

DSCN1345

DSCN1349

DSCN1349

DSCN1351

DSCN1351

DSCN1354

DSCN1354

DSCN1379

DSCN1379

DSCN1380

DSCN1380

DSCN1381

DSCN1381

DSCN1386

DSCN1386

The Love Waterfall was one of the quite challenging exploration because to access to this waterfall, it requires about 30 minutes of trekking along the forest and creek to reach the waterfall. It can be exhaustive walk but the effort will not gone down the drain. Its truly worth all the energy to trek the trails to see and witness by your own eyes how beautiful this nature's masterpiece could be. The Love Waterfall natural landscape was rather different from that of Spring Waterfall as here, there were no multi-layered edges and as such, the water can be seen gushing down just from one side of the mountain. Once reaching the stream area, the Love Waterfall was thought to be rather near but yet, it was still quite a distance away with more efforts required to climbed up the narrow and hilly pathways. The conditions will turned out to be rather difficult during the wet and cold season as the pathways can be slippery and muddy, so be well prepared. Nevertheless, as just mentioned, the sweat and challenges were well worth it to check out this stunning natural wonders.

THE PATHWAYS, FOREST AND CREEK WHILE TREKKING TO LOVE WATERFALL
DSCN1387

DSCN1387

DSCN1388

DSCN1388

DSCN1395

DSCN1395

DSCN1402

DSCN1402

DSCN1409

DSCN1409

DSCN1415

DSCN1415

DSCN1418

DSCN1418

DSCN1425

DSCN1425

DSCN1428

DSCN1428

DSCN1449

DSCN1449

DSCN1454

DSCN1454

The most unfortunate thing during this Heaven's Gate tour was the inability to view the Lai Chau Valley at the Tram Ton Pass due to the heavy mist but there's always another opportunity to experience that the next visit. The Thac Bac and Thac Tinh Yeu tour however has made up for the day and were indeed a satisfying and fulfilling adventures after another interesting and marvellous trekking at Cat Cat Village.

Posted by kidd27 08:37 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Bai Dinh Pagoda and Trang An

The Gems of Ninh Binh Province

overcast

Hanoi is a capital of Vietnam strategically located in the north of Vietnam, not only due to its proximity with China but the city is also easily connected to various provinces in Northern Vietnam that offers some of the most spectacular natural landscapes. Halong Bay was listed under the UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most visited place by travellers to Vietnam all due to the reputation of being one of the selected natural wonders in the world. In fact, if you visited Vietnam but missed out on a day tour out of Hanoi to get a glimpse of Halong Bay that would be tantamount to being not having visited Vietnam! There of course have been many nice and wonderful things said about Halong Bay since this is a UNESCO recognised area as world's unique landscapes but in fact, greater Hanoi has more to offer than just Halong Bay. Tam Coc is another great natural landscapes that Northern Vietnam has to offer to visitors, which was dubbed as the inland Halong Bay. Tam Coc literally means three caves has very similar landscapes structures as that of Halong Bay but the limestone or the karst hills were naturally developed on lakes rather than the sea. Tam Coc was located in Ninh Binh province close to Hanoi and normally a tour here would include visit to the Hoa Lu province, the ancient city of Vietnam which main highlights to access to the temple of one of the ancient Vietnamese king, Dinh Tien Hoang. I visited Hoa Lu an Tam Coc back in early 2010, in which after a visit to the Dinh Tien Hoang Temple, cycled with fellow tour individuals and couples to Tam Coc. The view surrounding the areas between the 2 locations can be summed up simply as breathtaking. Tam Coc was blessed with yet another fabulous landscapes and in my opinion was much more astounding in comparison to Halong Bay. Cruising along the lakes on the backdrop of the karst hills brought one so close to the nature and the air and view were so fresh and incredible.

DSCN0601

DSCN0601


The huge concourse at Bai Dinh Pagoda

DSCN0600

DSCN0600


The signboard that marks the name of Bai Dinh Pagoda at the concourse area

DSCN0599

DSCN0599


The main entrance gate to Bai Dinh Pagoda. On the background is the almost completed multi-storey pagoda structure

DSCN0604

DSCN0604


The entrance gate to Bai Dinh Pagoda

SAMPAN CRUISE AT TRANG AN
DSCN0676

DSCN0676

DSCN0777

DSCN0777

DSCN0801

DSCN0801

In Ninh Binh province, such karst hills landscapes were abundant and not only specifically in Tam Coc but in surrounding areas including Trang An (pronounced as Chang An). This trip to Hanoi, I had the opportunity to visit Trang An, which offers very similar natural landscapes experience as that in Tam Coc but yet, this tour was a total different eye opening experience that brought visitors through a sampan cruise on a massive lake surrounded by multiple limestone hills. What was different between Tam Coc and Trang An? Trang An sampan cruise will bring visitors through 9 caves throughout the journey while admiring the natural scenery while Tam Coc was more of open sampan cruise but offers much spectacular view and beautiful landscapes. The caves located in Trang An offers some of the most remarkable tour experience and brought my mind back to my visit to Trang province in Thailand when touring the Le Khaokob cave and the Konglor cave in Thakhek, Laos.

DSCN0678

DSCN0678

DSCN0723

DSCN0723

DSCN0727

DSCN0727

DSCN0744

DSCN0744

DSCN0779

DSCN0779

DSCN0792

DSCN0792

DSCN0750

DSCN0750

DSCN0762

DSCN0762

DSCN0782

DSCN0782

DSCN0806

DSCN0806

DSCN0793

DSCN0793

DSCN0781

DSCN0781

DSCN0788

DSCN0788

Included in the Trang An tour is the Bai Dinh Pagoda, which is a sprawling temple or shrine dedicated to the Goddess of Kuan In, Lord Buddha and the notable Vietnamese monks whom had contributed greatly in religion education within Vietnam. Bai Dinh Pagoda complex was a massive shrine, grand as well as majestic to describe the structure in totality. It resembles a huge citadel and makes one feel like touring a royal palace when visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda. The pagoda boundary starts with an extensive concourse which overlook a grand entrance gate and wall, which structures were mostly made from wood. The doors and the windows of the entrance gate and walls were built with very strong traditional and ancient Vietnamese architectures. On the frontage of the main gate was the huge structures of the shrine guard Lords. On the left and right of main entrance gate there was a see through straight and long walkways, which also formed the main entrance wall from the outside. Walking through this walkways will lead visitors through multiple monks sculptures with name embedded on each of them. These monks were noted to had contributed greatly in developing religious awareness in Vietnam, in particular Northern Vietnam. Continuing the walk from the main gate entrance, passing through the many sculptures of monks and Buddha figurines on the wall, visitors will arrived at a mid-sized lake. From here, there are staircase to walk up to the main Bai Dinh Pagoda shrine. The walk finally brought visitors to the ultimate shrine building which houses the golden Lord Buddha sculpture, a Kuan In sculpture and few other combination sculptures of notable monk, lords and guards. From outside the shrine, a multiple storey pagoda can be seen here which has yet to be completed. Trang and and Bai Dinh Pagoda tours offers great tour experience while visiting Hanoi and definitely worth the time and money spent.

THE SPRAWLING BAI DINH PAGODA IN NINH BINH
DSCN0603

DSCN0603

DSCN0609

DSCN0609

DSCN0608

DSCN0608

DSCN0607

DSCN0607

DSCN0611

DSCN0611

DSCN0612

DSCN0612

DSCN0613

DSCN0613

DSCN0614

DSCN0614

DSCN0617

DSCN0617

DSCN0618

DSCN0618

DSCN0638

DSCN0638

DSCN0621

DSCN0621

DSCN0648

DSCN0648

DSCN0623

DSCN0623

DSCN0656

DSCN0656

DSCN0657

DSCN0657

DSCN0660

DSCN0660

DSCN0645

DSCN0645

Posted by kidd27 05:54 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 8 of 8) « Page 1 [2]