Showing posts from November, 2012

Nha Trang, Vietnam - Transitions

National Geographic has condemned Nha Trang beaches in 2010 as suffering "over development without a watchful eye".  I could sense some of this as my fellow travellers and I walked along the main beach area (the Tran Phu coast), noticing continuing construction of major hotels along an otherwise clean and soft sand stretch with outer isles visible on the horizon.  The Tutukaka Coast of Northland in New Zealand, the northern coast of Mozambique, Broome in Western Australia and the southern coast of Sri Lanka were rated highly by Nat Geo in that survey (99 Top Coastal Destinations on
Above picture shows a view from the KFC joint in the tourist hub in Nha Trang, especially favoured by Russian visitors of all ages as the city has direct flight connections with Russia.  Not far from this corner is the Sailing Club.

A bird's eye view of Nha Trang city from a look out point (picture above) contrasts with …

Nha Trang, Vietnam - Halloween Dinner

The Sheraton at Nha Trang in south-eastern Vietnam set the scene for a celebratory buffet dinner on its first floor.  Staff wore Halloween themed masks, table settings had pumpkin covers for dining lights and even the napkins followed the tone in black and white.  The cook staff behind various corners and cooking displays were international.  Some items were meant for cooking according to your preferences, others were ready to be consumed and the choices were more than ample.

I was more than happy with my choice of freshly prepared gnocchi served in a  fabulous tomato-based sauce (photo above).  My other favourite was the sushi and sashimi (picture below) - delicate, precise and subtle in flavours.  Service was delightful from smiling and well trained staff.

Dragon fruit slices (bottom right in photo below) were part of chocolate fondue skewers. I am fond of the bananas in Vietnam - petite, tasty and wholesome.  Papayas, honeydew and strawberries contributed to an interesting platter…

Saigon Symphony

The early evening view from the top of the Rex Hotel (above), looking out across the main road to the revamped Hotel Caravelle.  The Rex Hotel was famously the site where American soldiers provided skewed press briefings around five o'clock each day and today it continues to thrive along the Nguyen Hue Boulevard in the city centre as both a lively day and night gathering spot.  The Caravelle Hotel, across the road at Lam Son Square, served its own distinction to attract hordes of diplomats and journalists during the sixties and early seventies - and when opened in 1959 at ten stories high, was the tallest building in this bustling metropolis.  Both the New Zealand and Australian Governments once maintained embassies here.
It is worth a visit to the renovated marbled roof top bar.

The colours are bright pink and do not fail to catch the eye of the passer by in District 3 - with arched windows and doorways, plus immaculate grilled iron work, this Catholic Cathedral has tall spires …

My Son, Central Vietnam

The grandeur and extent of Hindu based empires in south-east Asia  from long ago may be understated in the current make up of the countries that make up ASEAN today. Echoes and suggestions of this significant past influence can only be reminded to us when we visit Bagan in Burma, Ayuthaya in Thailand, Borobudur in Java and the Angkor Wat in Kampuchea.  My early history school books did mention about the Champa Kingdom that extended from the 4th to the 14th centuries AD throughout most of what is referred to as IndoChina in contemporary times. So with eagerness, I relished the opportunity to explore the collection of sizable ruins and remains of tower temples at My Son in Central Vietnam (south-west of Da Nang).  Sanskrit and Cham languages were heavily used in this hub of religious and political practice, with around seventy structures existing at the height of the power of the Champa Kingdom.  "My Son" in the Vietnamese language simply means "beautiful mountain".

Vietnam - Food Delights

Grilled corn cobs outside the Cu Ci Tunnels not far from Saigon.

The pho, unique from Vietnam, for the soup concoction, graced with rice noodles, aromatic herbs and chili cuts.

Breakfast tasty - egg omelette laden with ingredients of your choice and can include mushrooms, sausage bits, shallots and more.

Grilled meats, satay or skewer styled, here shown above held with wooden utensils, served at the Restaurant 96 in Ha Noi's bustling Old Quarter on a Wednesday evening in early November 2012.

A bird's eye view of street food in Hoi An, central Vietnam - sauces, greens and wraps accompany the ubiquitous grilled meat sticks.

The best Hainan-styled deep fried spring rolls as discovered at the Green Chili Restaurant in Hoi An's Old Quarter.  The owner spoke to us on his careful and dedicated approach to ensure a really crispy batter outside with a fulfilling tasty bite inside.

Above picture captures two women busily holding court in a road corner stall in Hue selling the favou…

Star View Restaurant, Georgetown - Penang

Duck slices served in a crusty edible cup holder, above, was an unusual creation I came across at the Star View Chinese Restaurant in the middle of Georgetown CBD not far from Burmah Road and next to the food court at the New World Park.  Petite and tasty, it served as an attractive bite-sized idea.  The Star View has been building up a reputation in Cantonese inspired dishes on the island of Penang and the challenge is to maintain the energy and reputation for discerning diners.  Mum and family members recently had lunch there on a quiet Saturday afternoon.

We chose traditional favourites like marinated pork ribs, looking red as they should be. What caught my eye initially was the so-called dry version of the stir fry broad rice noodles (hor fun in Cantonese).  I must say it tasted to me like fried char koay teow and yet it did not rise to the oomph of Penang's top hawker stir fry. Maybe I was too entrenched in the delights of the hor fun with a gravy laced with gooey egg and sm…