Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam

Hoa Lu, located in Truong Yen Thuong Village, was the 10th and 11th century capital of Vietnam before the capital city was changed to Hanoi. Located about 90km south of Hanoi and quite near to Tam Coc, it is a good place to stop on a day trip to Ninh Binh. Many of the original buildings have been destroyed, but parts of the ancient city still remain and include two temples in honor of former emperors who ruled from Hoa Lu. TheRead more

Bich Dong Pagoda, Ninh Binh

Built on Ngu Nhac Mountain very near to Tam Coc outside Ninh Binh is Bich Dong Pagoda, which dates back to 1428. It consists of two separate pagodas that are built in ascending order over four different levels. Like many Vietnamese temples and pagodas, the pagodas are built of wood and are surrounded by various stone structures that show centuries of weathering and vegetation growth. If you follow the path behind Thuong, the second pagoda, and up the stairs you will find yourself in anRead more

Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

Tam Coc in Ninh Binh, located about two hours south of Hanoi, is one of the most astonishingly beautiful places I have ever visited. The name refers to the three caves carved through the karst towers by the Ngo Dong River. To get to Tam Coc I hired a private driver for three persons for $70 to pick us up at my house at 6:00 a.m. The reason for the early start is that Tam Coc is an increasingly popular tourist destinationRead more

Hoa Lo Prison a.k.a. The Hanoi Hilton

This morning I headed out to see the notorious Hoa Lo Prison, which was sarcastically nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton by American POWs. I didn’t know before the visit that the prison was actually built and used by the French colonists to house Vietnamese nationalists who opposed the French colonization. Today the prison is a rather lovely spot: air conditioned, wel lit, flowered, and well maintained. But it is clear to see that long ago it would have been a manifestationRead more

Coloane Village, Macau

On the southern end of Taipa, the smaller of Macau’s two islands, is the village of Coloane, a quaint little fishing village marked by brightly painted and ivied houses. A walk through the village doesn’t take long, but with a camera in hand it is easy to spend a couple hours wandering through the narrow alleys and walkways to photograph everything in sight. Unfortunately by camera battery died within 40 minutes of arriving and my charger was forgotten in Hanoi.Read more

The streets of Macau.

Visiting Macau from Hong Kong is kind of a must-do it seems because of its convenience: an hour or so ride on a catamaran ferry and you’re there. But the question is, if you’re not gambling, is it worth it? The answer, in short, is yes, but don’t worry if you miss out. The first thing we noticed when we arrived in Macau is the influence of Portuguese colonialism. Signage is written in Portuguese. Announcements are made in Portuguese. And much ofRead more

Mui Wo and Cheung Sha, Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Our second morning in Hong Kong took us on a short ferry ride from the central piers to Discovery Bay on Lantau Island. After leaving the ferry and walking around for about three minutes we decided to move immediately on from the cookie-cutter, typical-western-high-class-suburban-strip-mallish bay called Discovery. And after a couple bus rides we found ourselves in Mui Wo, a little harbor town on the eastern end of Lantau Island. Mui Wo was certainly more interesting than Discovery Bay’s luxury.Read more

Tai O Village, Hong Kong

Located on the west side of Lantau Island and surrounded by mountains is the fishing village of Tai O, a former home to piracy and smuggling. The village is partially located on Lantau Island and Tai O Island, separated by a narrow river that is crossed in two places by footbridges. Typically thoughts of Hong Kong are dominated by the images of a modern metropolis. But within the territory of Hong Kong there are so many old, traditional villages stillRead more

Tian Tan Buddha | Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Tian Tan Buddha is one of the most famous tourist spots in Hong Kong, located in little Ngong Ping village, a tourist trap if ever there was one. Nothing could possibly denote the cultural significance of the statue and Po Lin Monastery better than pizza and kebab and t-shirt and souvenir shops. Although the Ngong Ping 360 cable car from Tung Chung tries its best. The Tian Tan Buddha was constructed in the early 1990s and is currently, at 34 meters, the secondRead more

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong a.k.a. How to Spend 2k in 5 days.

Chinese New Year has come and gone, and so has a chunk of my savings. Traveling during major holidays is always expensive and, generally speaking, staying at non-shite hotels in major cities is a bit pricy as well. Such was certainly the case last week in Hong Kong. Between elevated holiday plane ticket and hotel prices, and a little bit of shopping for new blue jeans, the expenses piled up quick. But hey, the food was good. I visited Hong Kong aboutRead more