Monday, November 16, 2015

One-day tour visiting Chuong Village and Tram Pagoda

How to come to Chuong Village and Tram Pagoda

Located more than 30 kilometers far from the center of Hanoi, Chuong Village – a small on the side of Duong River, administratively belongs to Phuong Trung Commune, Thanh Oai District, Hanoi City. From Hanoi, tourists should follow Six Route to Hoa Binh and turn left at Ba La fork on the same road to Huong Pagoda. Passing Kim Bai Town 2 kilometers, tourists are going to another fork and Chuong Village will be on the right.

Nowadays, the fair of Nón Market (the time people gather together to buy and sell conical leaf hats) is the most suitable time for tourists to visit Chuong Village. The market is often hold on 4th, 10th, 14th, 20th and 24th days of the month following the Lunar Calendar.  All kind of conical leaf hats and the materials to make the hat will be exchanged, sold and bought there. Gathering on the side of communal house (đình làng), the market still preserves many traditional features of Vietnamese villages in daily life.

Discovering the beauty of Nón Market, tourists should drop in small stores selling conical leaf hats, take some photos and enjoy the atmosphere of a market in the countryside. After that, going around the village to enjoy peaceful scenery and visiting some local families are recommended activities. Tourists can understand how to make a conical leaf hat and listen to stories about difficulties in daily life and how to come over of residents in the village. It is truly difficult but they can fight to improve their life.

Beside to conical leaf hat, there is another special hat named "Quai Thao" hat. This is one kind of Vietnamese traditional hat and popular under feudatory dynasties of Vietnam. Nowadays, this kind of hat is only used on presentations of singing "Quan ho" (a type of folk music in Northern Delta, most popular in Bac Giang and Bac Ninh province) and festivals.

In the afternoon, visitors can have lunch at the market with Bun oc or traditional cakes of Vietnamese suburn areas. It is advisable for tourist to bring food from city since there is limited food choice for them in this countryside area.

Tram Pagoda

It normally takes haft of a day to visit Chuong village, so after lunch, following side of Day River to Chuc Son Town, tourists will come to Tram Pagoda. Built in the early of 16th century by a gifted general. Tram Pagoda is an ancient pagoda lying at the root of Tu Tram Son Mountain.

This pagoda is the beautiful mixture between north pagoda architecture and the natural mountains and cave. Visiting this sightseeing to enjoy the beauty of scenery, tourists should come deeply into the cave with Buddhist rock statues and climb to the top of Tu Tram Mountain to enjoy the overall spacious scenery of the Hanoi West.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ben Tre province’s food

When you visit Ben Tre, you not only visit the hick – special type of traveling of Ben Tre, but also enjoy many kind of food that you should not ignore.

Squeeze Banana: Near Truc Giang lake (famous destination of Ben Tre’ pupils). Banana is squeezed and grill; and eat with coconut juice. This is not integrant bananas, that is the squeezed banana between two cutting boards. The best way to eat this type of food is take it right after grilled with warm coconut juice. They sell from noon until evening but normally sold out early. You must get there early, and eat them right there.

Banh canh bot xat: typical food of western area. This is made by rice flour, cook with duck and ginger sauce. The rice flour will be molded as personal way. However, it is a little bit hard to find the seller because they often peddle, but you can ask local people because they know seller’s route.

Grapefruit Che: it is located in Nguyen Hue street, near Dong Khoi preschool, from afternoon until evening. Although there are many Che shop in Ho Chi Minh city but you will never find any shop as delicious as there. Che is sweet and it is only 10000VND per cup

Com Tam: May be a lot of people think that nothing makes it special. If you have a chance to visit Ben tre, you should not ignore this kind of food. This one is better than in Saigon. Com Tam of Ben Tre is real, that means Com Tam is harder to cook than rice. Pork is choped thinly; it is so thin that you can look through. You can add chicken, quail eggs, cucumbers, tomato, .. All are for a nutritious meal. You can buy it many where. Most of them are very nice. But we recommend you to buy it at Com Tam Chi near Industrial and Commercial bank or backside of the pool in the morning.

Grilled cord: The most famous shop is near Golden Ant Bridge. There is a great place with a lot of eaters. They sell from afternoon until 9PM

Moreover,  there are some more kind of food such as heated beef, Grilled beef with wild betel leaf, Hoi cake near Ben Tre School

You can go to Ben Tre market, they are not too expensive, reasonable price and fresh.

In order to drink coffee, you can go to Ham Luong hotel or Viet-Aus hotel or Lo Moi street

Pate Noodles (center of city, only some shops) , you should try once

Coconut mouse is one kind of popular food. There are many way to cook food from coconut mouse: grill, bake, curry, but the best one is bake in rice cooker. It is so amazing to try it with chily-pepper-salt. The best place is coconut garden, you can hunt the coconut mouse for cooking as well as earn money as mouse hunter by garden owners.

Monday, September 7, 2015

What to eat in Hue

Hue has always attracted many visitors by its peace and beauty. This small city gives you the feeling like you are lost in an ancient land with tombs and temples. Besides the majestic architecture, Hue also offers tourists a unique culinary culture. Don’t know why the cuisine here appeals to me right at the first time. I’m sure that everyone whoever visits Hue would ‘fall in love’ with one of the food here. Below are my own feelings about the food and restaurants here.

There are numerous types of cake here such as bèo cake, steamed shrimp rice cake or tapioca pudding, etc. Bèo cake with its small shape looks like a Japanese water fern. The cake is made of rice flour with shrimps filled inside and often served with sweet sauce. Ingredients needed to make steamed shrimp rice cake are almost the same as bèo cake. The only difference is that it is wrapped in banana leaves before being steamed. Tapioca pudding is made of cassava and filled with shrimps and stew pork. You can steam it with the banana leaves or remove them before steaming. In the past, Hue’s people used to welcome guests with these 3 types of cakes. But now, they tend to invite their guests to go to the restaurants to taste these cakes.

Bun bo Hue is a really popular dish and has been known by many travelers around the world. This dish is the perfect combination of many ingredients. The smell of bun bo Hue is the mixture of bone broth, citronella, lemon, onion along with fish sauce smell. What’s special is that it is the medium restaurants that are famous for the quality. Bun restaurants on Nguyen Du streets often start selling in the evening. Sometimes you have to wait for an hour to have a chance to enjoy bun bo Hue on this street. But trust me, it’s really worth waiting. The other restaurants also famous for bun bo Hue are ‘mu Rot’ restaurant located behind Dieu De pagoda and ‘Le’restaurant on Dien Bien Phu street.

Khoái cake is among the most popular types of cakes in Hue. The cake is made of rice flour and filled with fried shrimps, meat and mushrooms. This cake is often served with banana and vegetables. It is the dipping sauce that makes Khoai cakes in one restaurant differs from the others.

If you don’t have much time to discover all of the places popular for each type of Hue cakes, you can just catch a taxi to Thao Nhi district, which is 7 kilometers away from Hue. This place offers all of the types of cakes mentioned above. Besides enjoying Hue signature dishes, tourists can also relax in ‘Nhà rường’, a type of traditional house in Hue which is sophisticatedly constructed.

Also, remember to try royal meal, an original dish, which impresses not only the locals but also foreign travelers. You will get to choose from 8 to 10 from hundreds of typical dishes in Hue. Some dishes that have to be mentioned are peacock – shaped spring rolls, phonix spring rolls and Hue cakes. Royal desserts have to be Tinh Tam lotus seed sweet soup. Royal meal represents not only the cooking talents of Hue’s people but also the art of decorating food. More interestingly, guests will get to wear the costumes of King and Queen while enjoying royal meal.

Almost all the restaurants selling banh cuon and fried meat in Hue are located on Kim Long Street. From my view, banh cuon and fried meat sold in these restaurants are all delicious and stunning. But the most famous one is the one named Huyen Anh.

Those famous water fern cake restaurants are located on Nguyen Hue streets, the recommended restaurants are ‘Ba Do’ restaurant on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street and ‘Mu Cai’ restaurant which is famous for tapioca cakes is located at the end of Chi Lang Street.

If you love sweet food, you should totally visit ‘Hem’ sweet soup restaurant on Hung Vuong Street or ‘Che Sao; on Phan Boi Chau St. Just a piece of advice, you should not visit those royal sweet soup shops since they will serve you a really big cup and the soup is too sweet.

 ‘Khoai’ cake is quite the same as ‘xeo’ cake in the South of Vietnam. However, I am in favor of the former. I am totally ‘in love’ with the dipping sauce of this type of cake. In the restaurants, they won’t charge the any money for dipping sauce and raw vegetables. The most popular restaurants for selling ‘khoai’ cakes are ‘Lac Thien’ and the one on Dinh Tien Hoang street.

Restaurants mainly selling ‘banh canh’ are located on Pham Hong Thai Street.

Mussel rice restaurants: This food is preferred by most local people. There are 2 restaurants on Han Mac Tu Street. You may also want to visit one in Con Hen, after crossing the bridge, turn left and you will find it.

Also, there is a restaurant which mainly sells ‘bun bo’(which means beef vermicelli) on Nguyen Du St. The restaurant starts selling from 3pm. Trust me, it is really popular. The beef here is so fresh and delicious that can please even the most fastidious guests. I have to remind you that ‘bun bo’ here is really spicy. Whoever comes to Hue and want to try ‘bun bo’ should not miss this restaurant.

The best mussel rice restaurants are in Han Mac Tu St, but they do not serve the dish which is made of rice paper and mussels here. So you should visit Con Hen. If you tell you taxi driver that you want to visit a good restaurant in Con Hen, they would probably take you to Huong Xua restaurant. This restaurant offers nice view but the food is not really delicious while the price is too high. You can also enjoy mussel rice on Truong Dinh St or Cung An Dinh, etc.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Viet Hai village – Cat Ba

Viet Hai village situated between the sea acres, surrounded by high mountains and jungles of Cat Ba National Park, Cat Hai District. Very few people in the country visit here, but Viet Hai attracts many foreign tourists.

Trekking in Cat Ba national forest

Viet Hai still maintains primitive feature from ancient times. The Commune has only a dozen motorbikes. Thus any family having motorbike is considered as a well-off family in village. Considered as an isolated island, it is as safe as you can put your motorbike anywhere, any corner of road or even you leave the key on bike. No one would take it. Or your neighbor could borrow to run any time.  Houses are always open. The host can go out all day with no worry of thieve.  As a result, his neighbor could take or borrow anything in house. There are only 2 commune polices to do administrative work.  Viet Hai has completely no social vices.

Vietnam Hai is remote village, the poorest area of Cat Hai district. But the people here seem very satisfied with life. They shared together at nonprofit, enrichment knowledge of mountains and sea. Thanks to this lifestyle, more and more visitors come here. They had heard of this wasteland located between the World Biosphere Reserve, Cat Ba National Forest.

Cycling in Viet Hai

Viet Hai people are gradually quite responsive to access hospitality industry. The village decided to send a group of people to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City to apply for the village.  There is a travel company operating forest activities managed by local people. Also, some famers can do both field service and motorcycle taxi driver to visit the village.

House made by rice straw and soil

Several houses on stilt, eateries serving tourists also have recently opened. Foreign visitors come here after visiting the forest and taking rest in the shop. They also can order some meals from their own food, such as chicken feed, duck, vegetables...Many village elders or young people can be "tour guide" for visitors, the village elders have also picked out nearly a dozen men, local girls sent to Cat Ba to "improve" spoken English. Viet Hai people eagerly work in tourism industry with the dream of turning their village to a "tourist island" with unique features in the near future.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cu Lao Cham island

Cu Lao Cham is an archipelago which is 15 kilometers from Cửa Đại beach in Hoi An city. This place was recognized as the World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2009. Cu Lao Cham attracts numerous visitors each year due to its pristine beaches and stable travel services. If you have a chance to visit  Hue, Danang, Hoi An , don’t forget to spend one day enjoying the beauty of Cu Lao Cham.

You can travel to Cu Lao Cham on your own or on a one day package tour. If you have not much time, it is advisable for you to go on tour and if you wish to explore and relax, a two- day route on your own is a perfect suggestion for you.

When should we visit Cu Lao Cham?

The best time frame to visit Cu Lao Cham is probably from March to August each year. Warm sunlight and calm sea are the reasons why. In the other months of the year, the island is isolated and unreachable by boats due to storms.

If you want to discover religious culture of the residents here, you should choose to go when there is a festival such as Cau Ngu festival (April 3th – 4th according to Lunar calendar) or Gio To nghe Yen ceremony (March 9th – 10th according to Lunar calendar).

Camping on Cu Lao Cham island

Besides homestay, another option for you if going on a big group is camping. Camping at Bai Ong, Bai Huong areas, you will be offered a lot of supporting services. But if you prefer an open space, Bai Bim and Bai Xep are the perfect places.

Camping at Bai Bim, you can contact Mr. Cữ to hire boats. He will show you Bãi Lê – a perfect place to camp. Give the bodyguards 200.000 Vnđ and you can camp and play freely.

If you wish to camp at Bai Xep, follow the concrete road on the right of Tàu bridge, along the cliff and you can find the trail leads to Bai Xep.

House museum of Cu Lao Cham beach

The first destination when you arrive on Cu Lao Cham pier is the House museum of Cu Lao Cham beach. You can learn about the history, customs and festival of the archipelago here.
Chăm ancient well.

The other name of the well is Xom Cam. The 200 – year old well is located 500 meters from Tien Sa Huynh relics (Bai Ong) and 300 meters from Bai Lang archaeological relics. The structure of the well is typic for the other Cham wells in Hoi An.

The residents in Bai Lang hamlet say that Xom Cam well is a source of water for people living here. The most special thing is that the well never runs out of water even if it is the driest season.

Hai Tang pagoda

Hai Tang pagoda is a religious architectural work which worships Buddha and divine. The pagoda meets the religious meets of the fishermen on the island and the merchants from other place. Mechants visit here to pray for business to prosper.

The pagoda was built in 1758 at the position which is 200 meters from the current one to the North. Afterwards, the pagoda was severely damaged by storm so to make it comfortable for worshipers, the pagoda was moved to the current location.

There is a myth associated with the pagoda. It is said that the pillars was made in the North and delivered to South by boat. But when arriving at Cu Lao Cham, the boat had to anchor near the shorelines because of the dark sky. The next day, the boat continued its journey but the sea suddenly goes wild. It is believed that all of these things were not just coincident and the pillars had to be left at Cu Lao Cham to build a pagoda.

Tan Hiep market

It would such a pity to travel to Cu Lao Cham without visiting Tan Hiep market. The market is located right at the port and offers a wide range of sea specialities and souvenirs. Tourists often buy one – sun – dried squid here.

Than Yen Sao shrine

Situated at Bai Huong, the Shrine was built in the early 19th century and dedicated to Than Yen Sao. Every year, on March 10th according to the Lunar calendar, the residents and those who rely on edible bird’s nests to earn a living come to the shrine to pray for prosperity.