Sunday, September 25, 2016



Hanoi's time is an hour behind Malaysian time.  When we came downstairs for breakfast around 7 am., the meat seller and vegetables seller already up and ready for business(they are located just opposite the hotel).

No we did not have this for our breakfast, even though we would like too.  

Small dining space behind the reception and the kitchen is under the staircase!

Breakfast was included with the hotel and they served pho for breakfast too!  But I noticed that most of the items were sourced from outside the hotel maybe because the kitchen is so small.  

Banh Mi 25 just next to our hotel....  getting ready for business 

This Banh Mi did not disappoint us.... .... 

It was almost 2 hours drive to Ninh Binh province outside Hanoi to visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.  It was the ancient capital of old Vietnam under the Dinh Dynasty and the Le Dynasty,  a total of 41 years.

The lotus pond.. 

Notice the low roof of the temple..... this keeps the sun/heat out and the interior cool..  

We are "wilting" under the hot sun... and it was just 11am 

Concentrating on history of the first kings.... 
I hope I can remembered it right.  Briefly, the Dinh Dynasty started in 968 when the first king Dinh Bo Lin defeated the 12 warlords and form the Dinh Dynasty which ended in 980 when  it was ceded to the Le Dynasty.  Later it came under the China's Song Dynasty rule  until the French colonisation in 1900-1944 when the France extended their powers in Cambodia, Laos too, known as French Indochina until 1945. During the WWII, Vietnam also came under Japanese rule for a short period and when the war ended in 1945, Ho Chi Minh pushed for independence and after the August Revolution in 1945, the Republic of Vietnam was declared independence on 2/9/1945.  However it was divided into the North (under the communist influence) and South (under American) and the Vietnam Wars ended in 1975 with the North being victory.
Ho Chi Minh declared the Unification of Vietnam in 1976 in the Ba Dinh Square and till now it is a socialist government ie under one party rule only.        

Faded but still beautiful and intricate craftmanship 

the carving of the dragon on a single piece of granite. 

Excavation site.

After the blazing sun, we were glad to rest our feet and have our lunch in this air-con restaurant. 
Herbal Chicken soup

this hot pot of  lamb stew with pineapples and pho...very refreshing and delicious soup. 

There is a fish stew with black beans also delicious... but we really could not finished this big meal.

More suntanning.... we were going on these boats/rafts around the lake with its numerous karst caves.. Trang An Grottos,  a prelude of our trip to Halong Bay later.... 

clear water in some parts of the lake

High up among the mountainside, a temple 
Yes, that's the first  cave/tunnel  we are going into....

Inside it was dark (except some parts where it was lighted) and the ceiling of cave so low, we have to crouched,  in fact told to lie down on the boat when going under....

Amazing the way the lady managed to negotiate through the dark and sharp angles without damaging the boat

finally can see the light at the other end of the tunnel..... 

before wandering into another cave.... 

Yay, one item off bucket list.... well done...

It was a 2 hours cruise and in the end we "helped" the lady along, though she is an expert using her legs as well!!  

These rowers are actually farmers and during the free time while waiting for harvesting, they take turns to suppplement their income and each boat is allotted a number and you have to queue and wait for your turn and there are around 4000 boats in this area!  But the guide told that during the peak periods they get their turn at least once a week. So they truly deserved the extra tip which the guide requested to give them- only 100,000 dong. 

After this, we drove back to Hanoi for dinner at another nice restaurant. 

just a few photos of the dinner.

The guide waited patiently for us to finish before saying goodbye as he won't be going  with us tomorrow to Halong Bay.   By the way, there was a festive mood around the whole city... yes remember, it's their Independence Day tomorrow ie 2nd September! Long weekend holiday for them too.   


  1. I really enjoyed looking at the interesting photos of the hotel breakfast, Vietnamese food, Ancient sites and Caves!! So fun and luring me!

    Now it made me realise that people have been fighting since ancient times in Asia, China, Europe and everywhere. Today people are still fighting and there seems to be no end. Haiks...

  2. Go, go go... truly enjoyable for a long weekend.

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  4. The food looks quite good and the lotus pond is beautiful! :)

  5. The food looks quite good and the lotus pond is beautiful! :)