A Tale To Tell & Remember

I'm very much inspired by the words of Thomas L. Friedman in his book "The World Is Flat" which renders about the influence of bloggers in this new age. I want to keep the highest integrity and honesty in posting my words to the world. This blog act as a testimony to my alacrity of sharing information with the borderless world. Hope we can share a high regards of veracity and chivalry with this blog because that's why it is here. So help me God!

Visit Malaysia

Visit Malaysia
Malaysia Truly Asia

Monday, 10 November 2014

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The floating school over the Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap

The bus ride that we took from Siem Reap took us a lifetime. At first my initial plan was to take a boat ride over the Tonle Sap lake all the way from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. As ambitious and adventurous as it may sound, but after reading mostly bad reviews over the internet on such services rendered by the local boat services plus with our own not so good experienced at the floating village at the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap, I don't think any ferry services would be able to provide a proper, safe and comfortable long transportation from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. 

Teddy with one of the student at the floating school

The bus ride that we took was a transportation misery itself. I somehow forgot that Cambodia are yet to reach a stage of where public amenities such as proper road was a custom to its engineering community. It was challenging indeed and such a bumpy ride for us as foreigners that are so accustomed to a better road travelling.

The journey took us eight hours altogether but it gives me an opportunity to get a glimpse of the countryside in rural Cambodia. Through my observation, there's not much of a difference between Cambodian rural area with our village or kampung environment in Malaysia. The house architecture was almost similar, built on a high stilts maybe to prevent flooding and threats from wild animals. No wonder it was also called Kampong here. Every small town that we went through, there's a placard or political banners of the aspiring new opposition party and the assuring political manifesto from the government. Politics and democracy is very much alive here in Cambodia, which is a very good thing.

I can't help but notice that the scar of civil wars still marred the rural folks of Cambodia. Everywhere we stopped for a break, there will be man without legs walking on crutches. Mines does it's fine job for attrition and still continues to kill or incapacitated the innocent peoples of Cambodia. It's true of what they say and portrays in the television about the mines problem that was planted during the civil war in Cambodia. It still is a big problem here in Cambodia.

We're having fun on a Tuk Tuk
It'll be pretty hard for a travelers that are particular and fussy for a kosher or halal food here in the rural part of Cambodia. Everywhere we went they served pork and delicacies that we are not real accustomed with. It's was so much different with the Vietnamese food. We took a safe way to energized ourselves by eating just sweet bread and local fruits which are easy to find around.

But the surprising part is that, when we enter the outskirt of of Phnom Penh City, you can see a large part of the Islamic community here. Mosque are everywhere and kosher or halal food is very easy for you to find. I sensed the Muslim community in Phnom Penh is thriving. 

I have to admit it here that I don't fancy much of the Khmer or Cambodian food. It's not my type of delicacy. I thought that Vietnamese food was as similar to Cambodian based on geographical location and I do thought maybe Cambodian food might be better or as deliciously good as our previous experience in Hanoi, but I was wrong. Khmer food doesn't have any much to offer and their cooking a less spices than what we had in Malaysia. The only thing that captures my taste bud was amok fish and that's it.

We reached Phnom Penh around 5 o'clock in the evening. It was a very big and congested city. The type of city where I love to explore by walking. The heat was better than Siem Reap though. The similarity of this city and Kuala Lumpur is that it was built between the two rivers, an artery to the Gulf of Siam and fisheries or farms products from the Tonle Sap lake up north. When you built a city near water element, your city will never go wrong. It was a beautiful city indeed.

With friendly locals in front of the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh
Upon arriving at our last stop, we were greeted by Saphea Chan, a tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh. He was a friend of our taxi driver that we acquainted in Siem Reap. He's a great guy and a very honest man too. He can't really spoke English fluently, but he tried hard and most of the English that he picked up and speak with us was from the tourists that he taxied all of his life. And most of them were Americans, you can really tell by the slang/ dialects that he uttered and spoke. We straight away went to our hotel somewhere in the vicinity for a rest where Saphea recommended highly. The hotel was affordable, located at the safe district and clean.

Independence square in Phnom Penh

That night Saphea was our tourist guide. I told him that I want to experience a Cambodian life in Phnom Penh. He first brought us to the night market in the middle of the city. The food over here is better than Siem Reap and the peoples are real friendly. I notice that it is a custom over here when you bought food at the night market, you will find a spot to enjoy the food where they put a mat somewhere at a courtyard of the night market. You will then sit crossed legs with your friends on the mat and finish your food. It was really a very friendly environment. That's how they enjoy food at the night market in Phnom Penh.

Teddy at Choeung Ek Killing Fields
Saphea later brought us to see the city at night. We walked along the esplanade beside the river where the old city was built by the French. The view was majestic and it has this kind of fusion of a French architecture blended with a Buddhist culture. Our last walking destination was the Royal Palace. It was a beautiful night with fine weather. The custom here was for people to sit crossed leg and have good food in front of the Royal Palace on a mat while interact and socialize. We befriended locals and have a good chat with them about Phnom Penh. Saphea later brought us to the nearby Khamer restaurant where I enjoyed my Amok fish. The restaurant located near the esplanade overlooking the river. It was such a nice view. We had a good local food there and it was better than the Cambodian delicacies that they served in Siem Reap. After dinner we retire early to our hotel that night. I believe it was the long bus ride that took a toll on all of us and we were really tired.

Choeung Ek Killing Fields

Choeung Ek Killing Fields

The tree where the Pol Pot regime throws the babies over
The next morning we plan an early visit to see the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek. Saphea brought us with his tuk tuk and it's quite a distance from the city proper. I can't help but notice international tourist are everywhere on the roads. Most of the tourist that visited Cambodia are high end peoples mostly from Europe or America. You can really tell by the way that they look and how they carry themselves. But they do remain simple in this friendly heat. Mostly are looking for an experiential learning of the orients. The charms of the orients and Cambodia have plenty to offer. I do believe tourist grew fond of Cambodia over it's oriental attractions. It is so complex over here and you have to be here yourself to be able to appreciate it.

Teddy at Choeung Ek Killing Fields memorial
We reach the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek quite early, I think it was 10 o'clock in the morning. There's was a group of tourist from Germany that arrived earlier and we're the second group to be there. Later throngs of tourist starts to arrive at Choeung Ek. It was indeed a very popular destination.

Pictures speaks for itself

One of the mass graves

The environment was very somber and sad but at the same time was very peaceful. It was quiet too. They gave us an audio recorder which brief us and explain the history of the area. It does helps in explaining vividly of how the killing fields operated by the Pol Pot regime in the 70s. I think it was the most saddest place that I've ever visited of all my life. There is this feeling deep down inside you of how sorry you are over what happened there. And it could happen to anyone of us. I really do feel sorry for those who perished there. It sober to the soul listening to the audio and seeing yourself of how inhuman we can be to our common brothers. And the most perplexed facts is that of all the serenity of the Buddhist teachings that Cambodians were taught to embrace, such ruthless and brutal killings took place here during the Khmer Rouge era.

Teddy at Tuol Seng Genocide Museum

After our brief period at Choeung Ek, we left for the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum located at the heart of Phnom Penh. It was another sobering area of where Khmer Rouge tortured their own citizens without any sense at all. I can't share much of my experience or what I truly felt because I don't think people would understand. I feel sorry when looking at the photos of the victims that was tortured here. They doesn't know any better and never expected such things to happen to them. You have to be here to be able understand it. It's a sheer madness.

We're in front of the National Museum of Cambodia

We later adjourned to the National Museum of Cambodia. It was such a great place for art lovers. Too many artifacts and great Hinduism sculptures and handiwork of the ancient Khmer were in display and are in real fine detail. I love all the artifacts inside the museum. I wish I could spend more time to treasure it. There were so many things to see and every little details that needs to be pondered upon. The art were mostly from the Hinduism era of Cambodia. They do make a very good sculpture and statues back then. Mostly as an  offering to the Hinduism Gods or as a symbol of their religion.

We at the Central Market, Phnom Penh

After a quick visit to the National Museum of Cambodia, Saphea brought us for lunch at the Malaysian restaurant located near the Central Market in Phnom Penh. It is owned by a Malaysian and we met and have a quick chat with the owner himself. The food was Malaysian specialty indeed. It was quite sometimes for us that has been deprived of the Malaysian taste for almost a week. After lunch we went to the Central Market located nearby to see what it has to offer.
Teddy at the Central Market in Phnom Penh

It was a very big market indeed and you can find almost anything inside it. Certainly the kind of a place for those that loves to get a good quality bargain for a good price. After a quick shopping we straight away went to the airport for an evening fly back home.

It was such a good visit in Phnom Penh. I wish I could spend more time to explore the city. It has a lot to offer in terms of history and local culture. I'll definitely be back one day. Saphea and me maintain our good friendship and he asked me from time to time to visit him back again through the social network. Cambodia is a place for you to visit if you want to understand the complexities of the Asian eccentricity, vast complex culture and paradoxes of its political environment which you might never comprehend ever.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Teddy and Izzat at the gate of Angkor Thom

The carving of Apsara at Bayon Temple
I spend two days in Siem Reap, Cambodia at the early month of June 2014 for a holiday. My trip was designed so that I can have the opportunity to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and all of the ancient temples around Siem Reap/ Angkor Thom. I must say that the visit was one of my bucket lists since secondary school, moreover it was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and I’m very glad to have covered this one. To be in Siem Reap is an eye opener for me. I never been to this part of the world before and I didn't plan much for the visit merely just a free independent travelers exploring Cambodia. What amazes me was that in Siem Reap and the ancient Angkor district aka Angkor Thom in particular, you can see so many of the ancient temples built dedicated to the Hindu Gods. I thought there was just Angkor Wat here but I’m wrong, and these temples located scattered all over Siem Reap but still resemble the same image and architecture as if it was built by the same group of people, at the same period of time with modern precision and high dedication for their beliefs in Hindu Gods. The stark evidence is that I can simplify the ancient Khmer people do have class and pretty much civilized.

The gate of Angkor Thom
The carving of the temple walls just amazes you especially when you realize of how delicate the details of the stone carving depicting the daily life of the ancient Khmer thousands of years ago. Over here, you can clearly see and understand the Khmer cultures and their ancient life by seeing those wall carvings and stone statues. I can simplify that the ancient city of Angkor was a metropolis during its heyday by just visiting the surrounding temples within the ancient district. The architecture was modern and full of arts for ones to appreciates. The metaphor or best part of understanding about the ancient Khmer culture is that peoples those days celebrates a women's beauty by translated it into an incessant stones carving of the Khmer women's body art or the appreciations of women's beauty . This was done through Apsaras statues and stone carvings with complete details of their daily life even their pattern of the clothes that they used to wear those days. In Siem Reap, the ancient Khmer even built a dedicated temple for women's which I visited in Banteay Srei.

The statue of Jayavarman VII at the ancient bridge of Angkor Thom

Teddy touching the carving walls of the Bayon Temple

Teddy at Bayon Temple - at the back is the carving face of Jayavarman VII
The trip to Siem Reap was conducted with my close cousins. We went to Vietnam before and did discuss about the possibility of visiting Angkor Wat while we were there. The weather in Siem Reap was very hot and you can get sun burn if you are exposed too long under the sunlight here while you discover and exploring the ruins. Warm clothes are very accommodating if you're travelling in this part of the world. However we are also advised by our friend that if we planned for a close visit inside the temples, then a decent attire would be appropriate. Sun shades is a must! The cost of travelling in Cambodia especially in Siem Reap is still quite cheap and affordable. But I would advise if you`re planning for a tour around the Angkor districts then using the Tuk Tuk or auto rickshaw is suffice, because it is way more cheaper than for you to hire a taxi. Nevertheless if you`re looking for a luxury type of transportation, a 4x4 or a cab still is quite cheap for you to rent.

The carving walls of the ancient Angkor Thom complex

Teddy at the gate of Angkor Wat

Teddy in Angkor Wat
On our first day in Siem Reap we went straight away to visit the Bayon temple complex located within the Angkor Thom area. Our first encounter was the narrow gate and short ancient bridge entering the Angkor Thom. The gate was very nice and ancient looking with so many of Hindu God Hanuman statues greetings you along with the head stones of the King Jayavarman VII smiling stone face carvings. The statues and stone wall was carved in detailed finesse which to my view can't be duplicated in such an art by the modern people these days. The Bayon temple complexes were very huge with walled area. I notice there are also a vast pool area with fine detail of pool concept completes with stairs and modern designed for the it's banks. Every pool that we visited around the Angkor Thom temple complexes also just show of how important is the water element to the ancient Khmer peoples those days. At one area there was also an ancient bridge leading to the main palace structure that is still intact and you can still used the bridge today but the pool had already been dried up. There was a big pool that I visited as big as 10 Olympics swimming pools. I have a high respect for the Khmer architect and engineers those days. They tend to do perfect building complexes with fine art details of presentation even for the temple wall completes with decoration. And the structure last up to this day!

The magical carving walls of Angkor Wat
The main objective for my visit to Siem Reap was Angkor Wat. I must tell you that the Angkor Wat temple complexes were very huge. They built the complexes on a man made island and I can imagine during its heyday it must be very telling, state of the art and excellent building. To be at the Angkor Wat main gate looking inward was fantastic. Once again the detail of the carving and stones statues was mesmerizing. Not to mention the bridges connecting to the Angkor Wat Island was decorated with the Khmer ancient culture and Hinduism influence from the Ramayana and Mahabharata scripts. You can't help it but to touch the exquisite carvings. However it was very unfortunate to see that most of the Angkor Wat treasures especially the sidewalk carving and walls plus the ceiling all had been stolen by the tomb raider. Cambodia was marred by hundred years of war and instability which creates an opportunity for theft of the ancient arts and during the period of Angkor Wat abandonment, I must say locals probably would not hesitate to take home the stones carving and statues decorations and keep it for themselves. That is what we are missing in Angkor Wat these days. What I love most was the beautiful carving of the Apsaras around the complex. You can even tell how they dances during the ancient Khmer period. It was really beautiful.

Teddy at the main bridge of Angkor Wat complex
What amazes me the most was the detail of the wall carving at Angkor Wat which depicts the story from the ancient Hindu script Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was carved in such finesse and you can't help but be amazed by such detailed long depiction. The carving tells the stories of war fought by the ancient Khmer and the stories of how the earth was formed according to the Mahabharata scripts. You can clearly see how the ancient Khmer lives their daily life's those days through the wall carvings, what happens to the prisoner of war and the fantastic appreciation of women’s beauty. Unfortunately, most of the carving was also stolen by the tomb raiders including the ceiling carving. Such a tremendous lost to Cambodia and modern generation.

The sanskrit writing of the Banteay Srei entrance gate

Banteay Srei Temple

The ruins of Banteay Srei Temple

I think one of the most beautiful temple which I visited in Siem Reap was the Banteay Srei or the temple dedicated for women. The stone carving was more complex with much more detailed decoration which tells of how much ancient Khmer appreciates a women. The ancient Sanskrit words carved at the temple gates just awe you when you touches it. Its written in such a fine presentation as if it was carved out yesterday and you can clearly read the text (if you`re good in reading ancient Sanskrit). The colors of the Banteay Srei building was red brick different from many temples that I visited in Angkor Thom. This got to be the most beautiful temples that I've ever visited in Siem Reap. For all the temple structure, things that dumbfounded me was the way they built the temple rooms/ tower chambers. Like the one that I took below, you can see that the doors were built by a stone and shut closed as if they don't want anyone to enter the chamber. It was sealed as if it contains a treasures or some sort. Such a class the ancient peoples structures! I do notice at some temples that I went tomb raider managed to break the chamber room. I don't have any idea what do they found inside it, but I bet it is precious.

The ruins of Banteay Srei Temple
The Ta Prohm Temple made famous by the Lara Croft film

The main entrance to the Ta Prohm Temple

The ruins of Ta Prohm 
I also visited the Ta Prohm temple made famous by the Tomb Raider/ Lara Croft movie. Once again the temple complex was very huge located very far from Angkor Thom area, but this time in a forested area. The carving of the temple walls was the same, Hindu God elements and the beautiful Apsaras. But I was told that some of the building structures were made for libraries and domestic household use. The temple complex was so huge we even couldn't find ourselves to the main gate that came in before and took a round detour to the main gate. 
Inside of the Ta Prohm Temple complex

The decoration walls of the Angkor Thom complex

The carving of Apsara in Angkor Wat

Bayon Temple

The all seeing faces of Jayavarman VII at Bayon Temple
Later in the evening we went to the Tonle Sap lake and we spend our whole evening there. It was a boat tour and I don't really recommend people to visit the area unless you really want to see how Cambodians lives their life on a lake. The lake Tonle Sap is the main lifeline for majority of the Cambodians for their fish source. But I guess, nowadays the protein sources for the Cambodians have depleted fast and the lake itself was marred by pollution. Just like during Angkor heyday periods where the vast emerging populations just couldn't cope up with the their domestic demand which resulted the dwindling down of the Angkor era. Cambodians also don't go for sea fishing which makes the matter more worse. We saw the floating village and how Cambodians used the lake as their home based. They even have schools and clinics floating on the lake. But not much to see here except a dwindling society that seek refuge on land. On our third day in Siem Reap, we took a bus to Phnom Penh through the country side. I will share my experiences visiting Phnom Penh on my next posting.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Hanoi, Vietnam

Faiz, Hakim, me and Izzat in ancient capital Hoa Lu, Vietnam.
My trip to Vietnam went splendidly well. Overall the journey that I took from 14th to 18th February 2014 opened up my mind on a lot of things. They'd say the more you travel the more open your mind become and they'd also say some people need to travel to find home. I can't disagree with that, although I'm travelling instead to understand the true meaning of life. My destination this time was Hanoi, Vietnam and its worth every experience of it.

What do I really look upon before taking a journey. Is it because of the night life, good food, the attractions of the woman's or to experience the unique culture of a certain place? Life is all about of the above points (minus the women part). I did shared in my previous posting that I'm a historical buff. Every time whenever I plan for a trip, it is mostly due to the historical factor of a particular place that I wanted to see. That factor does contribute to the destination of my own choosing and Hanoi is the most perfect place of all. In this posting, I won't pen down of what I see but more on what I get and learnt from the journey that sum up on the larger perspective of life which I managed to understand or comprehend during the trip that I can also relate to my life.

Teddy in ancient Hoa Lu district
I've already saw the influence of the British in Malaya and the Spanish conquistador imposing Catholic culture to the peoples of the Philippines. Now I have the opportunity for a closer look on the French classy influence to the lifestyle of the Vietnamese and it is pretty obvious. I didn't really plan my trip to Hanoi and it does worries me at the first place as I merely book tickets and was hoping for a rain check on certain places that I should visits. I was betting that the Old Quarters itself was suffice for me to understand and learn about Vietnam. It went perfectly well for this trip when I brought along three of my cousins, Faiz, Izzat and Hakim just to experience the different world from Malaysia altogether. They were really happy about it and so am I.

We at the Lê Đại Hành temple
We at the Lê Đại Hành temple
We stayed at the hotels in the Old Quarters, Hanoi and the city is pretty unique. The ever presence of the French architecture are everywhere to be found as if the French never leave Vietnam. But the ever presence of the Communist beliefs and propaganda gobsmacked right in the middle of the Japanese factory products as we took our cab from the Noi Bai Airport clearly reminds me that Vietnam is a pragmatic country in transition. The country is undergoing a massive reconstruction in providing basic infrastructure to the peoples. Along the highway, you can see that Vietnam is a very ambitious country where everything are built in such a grand design. But the Old Quarters of where we went are very different from any other places I ever saw. The narrow winding street and the almost similar first name of the streets can just confuse you but at the same time makes you feel that you are in someplace different from home or any other in the world. And that is the experience that we're looking for!

We at the Old Quarters, Hanoi

Teddy in front of the old fort still in use by the Army at the Old Quarters, Hanoi
We spend our time walking from one point to another. We were well prepared with maps of the road names and junctions which really comes in handy. I love this experience of walking and finding the roads and direction of where we're heading. You can see the daily life of the Vietnamese peoples with their street foods offered in the street corridors and scooters moving around. It was a busy place jammed packed with peoples. I never see such a scenario before anywhere in the world not even in the overpopulated Manila. The peoples of Vietnam, their French influence architecture with Orient fusion and their daily lifestyle, foods and the ever presence of Vespa and scooters are tremendously simple and elegant for me. I just love it and it hits me perfectly. The Vietnamese womens are very trendy with fashionable jackets and scarves but yet practical in the cold weather. It's the simplicity of the Vietnamese life but yet elegant which reminds me of what life should be and which I would love to copy once I return home.

Teddy with the local womens in Tam Coc
I still remember the refreshing feeling when we first tasted the traditional food at the Old Quarters restaurant. This is what life and good food should be. A unification of a healthy diet and the simplicity of making the dishes. It's a wild, alien and addicted taste from a thousand years of food heritage unique to the culture of the Vietnamese and not an ounce of influence from the Chinese up north really baffles me. Vietnamese are proud of their own heritage and the classy French influence which I saw when we had dinner at the City View terrace coffee shop beside the Hoan Kiem Lake is a testament of how well the Vietnamese embraces the classy lifestyle of the French. I vowed to learn how to prepare a Vietnamese dishes when I return back to Malaysia.
Me on a sampan tour in Tam Coc
Vietnam is like any other Southeast Asian countries, a land full of mysticism. We were told that the main four sacred animals for the Vietnamese are 1) Phoenix, 2) Tortoise, 3) Dragon and 4) Unicorn. They symbolizes good fortune, long life and amalgamations of good life necessity. We visited the ancient city of Hoa Lu, supposed to be the first capital for the Vietnamese peoples. The terrain and landscape in Hoa Lu is out of this world. Full of caves and aqua agrarian related activities in a landlocked territory. The sampan trip that we took was really mesmerizing. You got to be there yourself to experience it. It was really splendid.

Bicycle trip in Tam Coc area

I did enjoy myself here
We also made a short bicycle trip in the interior part of Tam Coc visiting the villages and see the daily life of the peoples from a closer perspectives. We were briefed on the rituals part of the Vietnamese peoples in burying their dead by doing it in two phase. First they would bury the dead just for the bones to be cleared of the flesh and second they would bury the bones someplace else that would be the final resting place. This rituals are unique to the Vietnamese peoples only. The interior part of Tam Coc is like every other Asian village, calm and beautiful. I did enjoy the bicycle trip as I can observe the daily life of the Vietnamese people from close range.

Teddy in Tam Coc
The must visit place or one of the seven wonders of the world - Halong Bay, we were there. We spend one night on a junk and it was really a great experience. The Vietnamese called the Halong Bay as the Dragon in the sea while Tam Coc as the Dragon on a land. There are many caves island in Halong Bay, we spend the time exploring the caves, kayaking and cruising in the area. This is one in a lifetime experience. I got more than I bargain for, I made friends with travelling couples, individuals and groups that were on the Junk with us. I cherish more the conversation that I had with Brian from Sydney on the deck about life that night. It opened up my mind and my life perspectives on what and how our life should be. This is why I love to travel, you met peoples and you interact with them. That is the most precious experience of all. That's the best thing about travelling, you made friends and they share stories and experiences about life with you.

Cruising around Halong Bay in a boat
Kayaking and watching the sun set in Halong Bay

Me at Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
The best thing about Hanoi was exploring the old city by walking from one point to another. The garments and cloth linen related products are very cheap at the Old Quarters. You just need to haggle for a good price. The main problem was the language barrier. It's very hard to find Vietnamese that can speak English well. And note to travellers, you can't trust the taxi driver in Hanoi, there I said it. 

We visited the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum on our last day. It was quite an experience. I saw the body of the legendary former premier laying in a glass box. And he is still very influential to the Vietnamese even after almost 50 years he passed away. Communist beliefs is still very much alive. But what amazed me was when we visited his former residence that was turned into a museum. The man lived a simple life during his time, a necessity out of every action and everythings that he owned. And yes, he loves to read. This is probably the best learning experience that I can get from the trip. Life should be as beautiful, cultured and simple as Ho Chi Minh lives. He loves his country very much and Communism was merely a tools to unite Vietnam, at least that is from my perspective. I can understand the disappointment of the French felt when they lost Vietnam. You can cherish the country by only be at the Ho Chi Minh former residence, it was really beautiful.

We at the Hanoi Flag tower
Overall we spend five days in Vietnam and it has been a worthwhile experience. We saw the water puppet show near the Hoan Kiem Lake and it was splendid. It still amazed me how they can perform such a show without even getting wet from the waist up and the strings were not getting tangled after complex movements of the puppet. Not to mention the fireworks tricks and fire coming from under the water. It was really entertaining indeed. The only thing I regret was for not being able to explore more in Hanoi. We missed the Opera House and the "Hilton Prison" and some of the historical places that I would love to see. But I have no doubt that I will be back in Vietnam. This is a perfect place to visit and I would highly recommend it to all my family and friends.

On the Junk in Halong Bay

Me at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum complex
We had a nice dinner at the City View terrace cafe overlooking the streets of Hanoi

Faces of Tun Teddy

Faces of Tun Teddy