Archive for ‘Asia’

December 16, 2018

Buon Ma Thuot ,Dak Lak province ,Vietnam, of course!

So back with my latest trip abroad, this one a short week but pack plenty in it. This time out of HCMC went out to a new area in my 4th trip to Vietnam in the last 8 years. I went to visit Buon Ma Thout  in the Dak Lak province and the major area of coffee plantation in Vietnam.

buon ma thuot

A bit on the place first: or a bit of history I like!

Buôn Ma Thuột is the capital city of Dak Lak province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The city is famous as the regional “capital of coffee ,which they show as the world. Buôn Ma Thuột is served by the small but practical Buon Ma Thuot airport. If you care by car it is 350 km from Ho Chi Minh city. However, by airplane is about 40 minutes and by car can be 10 hrs! so I am told by locals. We left late pm and arrived by night direct into eating and hotel.

buon Ma Thuot

buon ma thuot

ho chi minh city

In 1904 Dak Lak Province was established by the French and Buôn Ma Thuột was selected as the provincial administrative center. Buôn Ma Thuột was originally settled by the E De, but due to the incoming Viet settlement after the Vietnam war and the active acculturation policy, less than 15% are still mountain people. The place is historically relevant because it was the site of the last major confrontation between the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese armies back in March 1975.

There is a wonderful Lak Lake with much potential for walks, bikes, fishing, and water activities. On the shore of the lake there is June Village, where people live in thatched-roof houses on stilts.

Coffee is sold everywhere in town and you can buy whole coffee beans, ground coffee, even the ready-to-drink variety. The best place to buy coffee beans is at the intersection of Hoang Dieu and Phan Chu Trinh Streets. Trung Nguyen is considered as the ‘Coca-Cola’ of Vietnamese coffee and is sold in many places, but its main store is on Nguyen Tat Thanh Street. And the world museum is here and I drank traditional coffee and it is wonderful…

buon ma thuot

buon ma thuot

buon ma thuot

buon ma thuot

buon ma thuot

The Buon Ma Thuot , 7th annual Coffee Festival will be held on March 9 – 16, 2019. Vietnam is the second-largest coffee producer in the world, following Brazil. More here: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-coffee-producing-countries.html

OF course, we came here by Vietnam Airline, from HCMC taking only 40 minutes on time. I was picked up by driver upon arriving and went on a tour of the place. I had the opportunity to eat local dishes many done with ginseng as ingredient but as usual me forgot the name of the place just a photo to remember later maybe…

buon ma thuot

buon ma thuot

I did stayed at the nice 3 start Damsan Hotel. An old fashion house still in good condition and not far from the city center. We had an all you eat breakfast with traditional faire. This is in country Vietnam so you see it as it is no foreigners seen while there. The hotel has some info in English here: Damsan Hotel

buon ma thuot damsan hotel ent dec18

buon ma thuot damsan hotel lobby dec18

buon ma thuot damsan hotel pool deck dec18

Over to Dak Lak, on the lake there are breathtaking views and the lake is like a sea huge with depth in rainy season as of as much as 50 meters (165 feet). Temp was a nice 22C or about 72F. The best time to visit is now or November to February.

dak lak

dak lak

dak lak

dak lak

Just a layback ambiance in country with some nice folks made it all worthwhile and another spot of the world I can say was there. Those spots hard to remember them all, but I know it has been 81 countries so far !

A bit more to help you visit this area is here with Vietnam Online: Vietnam Online on Buon Ma Thout

Thank you for reading my blog and remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

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December 15, 2018

Another wonderful stay in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam of course!

So this is the take on my latest visit to Vietnam, an amazing recovery story of this war torn country ,wonderful sights and great friendly people. Always a pleasure to return and see old friends as well. The only sad part, it was another trip coming back empty without my dear late wife Martine...she would stayed very late waiting for me to return home.

I came back to Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon and still a district is call like it today). it was a short visit of five days as always here a business trip with some time to see other things in the city. It has been my 4th time to HCMC and Vietnam. Many souvenirs and good friends to last a lifetime; do not know when back but the memories will lingered as in all my travels.

As usual I landed in Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and was waited by a driver to take me to the office , work, and then to the hotel. The trip was flawless from home by car to Nantes Atlantique airport, then Paris CDG T2F transfer to T2E M direct to HCMC. Vietnam airline has won several awards recently and it shows, very good.

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

paris

paris

After the usual greetings with the now friends, I was taken to my hotel in district 1 , the main city center district. As usual , I came back to the Grand Saigon Hotel, very nice roofstop terrace bar ,swimming pool, and fitness center as well as walkable to many shops and restos in a nice area of which you can see the City Hall building nearby. The hotel webpage in English is here: Grand Saigon Hotel

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

As I came during the southeast Asia Suzuki Cup football.soccer competition and Vietnam was playing first the Philippines (was there last month) then advance to the final vs Malaysia, the away game ended 2X2 with many good plays by Vietnam, the crowds in the area were huge with many congregating near the hotel on an endless rows of motos and scooters and even cars flag waving.

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

 

While this was going on downstairs, I was upstairs at a nice bar with some friends from Hanoi staying there about. We saw the game and the celebration from the Gartenstadt Restaurant 34 Dong Khoi Street,  drinking my favorite Krombacher pilsner German beer I drink at home!!! We had not only the beers but an assortment of sausages and meat dishes as usual there too numerous to recall lol! The resto webpage is here in English: Gartenstadt Restaurant

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

Even after finishing late at the above resto I came back to the hotel passing some nice areas and still the celebration was continuing as Vietnam did a good job holding on to a tie. The resto is just around the corner from the hotel!

ho chi minh city

As I walked and drove in the city , I like to give some shots of this passing, including the still in renovation Cathedral and from my office there!

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

ho chi minh city

I left the city to visit another area and came back the last night to stayed at the Grand Saigon hotel. While here had my outing to Wayne’s Coffee shop near our office which is always a gathering point for us there. The Swedish chain is a bit behind posting on their site as this was open already right lol! More here: Waynes coffee in Ho Chi Minh City

ho chi minh city

Again before a private driver taken me back to the airport at HCMC, flight again on Air France direct to Paris CDG T2E K then transfer to T2F for the last flight home to Nantes Atlantique where my car was waiting. However, at Paris , there was a controller’s strike (did I said we are the champions!) and the flight was delayed from leaving at 21h30 we finally did it at 23h30! Finally ,by car ,reaching home by 02h (2am Sat).

ho chi minh city

In all, was a short pleasant visit full of memories that would not like to post or put photos here but it was memorable. Do not when will be the next time, but HCMC will be forever in my mind. Thank you all folks there.

Further anecdote, when arriving our plane was included the 7th million foreign visitor to the city this year!!! The webpage for the Tourist office of Vietnam is at Tourist office of Vietnam

Popular unofficial page on travel info in Vietnam and of course HCMC, Vietnam onlineVietnam Online on HCMC

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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November 26, 2018

The good times , sights and architecture beauty of the Philippines!

I will do this post on the bars and sights on my last trip there or my 4th overall to the Philippines. This one is on fun and architecture with mostly photos. Enjoy it!

I like to start with some night spots I went and truly enyoyed with locals.

At Cebu, (Mandaue city) we went to the Jump shot Sports Bar, a rather rocking place with a terrace overlooking the main street. Plenty of cheers good beers and friendly company. More here: Jump Shot Sports Bar

cebu

We had great fun here and another on the book for a return visit. Recommended.

Then, in Manila we went to the Road House Manila Bay,and it was rocking live with a good band and friendly nice service. The band was Spank Me Regor and was again very good indeed worth going back for them, very nice vocals music from the 80’s! The place official webpage is here: The Road House Manila Bay

manila

manila

manila

We were there by the harbor so there was a nice big wheel that remainded me of the one in Paris place de la concorde.

manila

I went up to Lemery in Isabela province for breathtaking views of Twin Lakes.

lemery

lemery

lemery

lemery

While passing by the nice fruit market of Tagaytay. 

Tagaytay

All on the road warrior I like and nice memories of the Philippines. As said, this was my fourth trip there and been to several islands, great memories, great friends and many souvenirs. Do not know when back but if long the memories will lingered forever. Thanks Philippines.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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November 25, 2018

My latest hotels in the Philippines!

And here I go with my latest escapes to the East, that is Asia and of course lovely Philippines. Let me do this post just on the hotels I patronized while visiting there this past week.

So having told you about the airports now comes the lodging and hotels are plenty in previous trips, and posted in my blog. This time tried all new hotels so my vocabulary of Filipino hotels is expanding lol!

I arrived after a long flight as usual lately to Cebu city in the island of Cebu, Philippines. My hotel here was a dandy connected to a Robinson’s shopping mall. This was the Summit Galleria Cebu hotel. The official webpage is here: Summit Galleria Hotel Cebu

Cebu

cebu

This was great as the rooms are spacious, and the indoor heated pool wonderful; the restaurant Providore. The Robinsons Galleria Cebu lifestyle complex, and Summit Galleria Cebu hotel offers a direct access to the Robinsons shopping mall occupying levels 4 to 14 of Robinsons Place Mall. A wonderful combination which I enjoyed very much! More on the mall here: Robinson Galleria Mall Cebu

While at Manila, I stayed at the Microtel by Wynham hotel another dandy property centrally located next to the biggest mall in the Philippines, Mall of Asia. The webpage is here: Microtel by Wynham Manila

manila

manila

Manila

manila

manila

Located in the Mall of Asia shopping complex in Manila. It features an outdoor swimming pool and restaurant. It is a 15-minute drive from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The mall provides a cinema as well as shops and restaurants.  Pasay district is a great choice for travellers interested in food, shopping for clothes and restaurants. And it was very convenient for a night out of live music nearby. Webpage for Mall of Asia here: SM Mall of Asia Manila

manila

While at Cauayan in Isabela province I stayed at a more modest hotel the Tapi traveler’s hotel. Huge executive room and bath thus, and a simple cafeteria restaurant with outdoor swimming pool. The main page of the hotel is here: Japi Travelers’ Hotel Cauayan

cauayan

cauayan

cauayan

cauayan

cauayan

Very nice friendly service here and a shuttle to the airport for free. The place is quiet fora relaxing stay over in your way to visit the caves which are very popular here even if I had no time to see them.

In all it was made easy because I was always with local people and moving by car so the experience will be different if independant travel was done. However, all recommended.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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November 25, 2018

The airports of the Philippines!

As I continue to post on the Philippines so I won’t forget lol! Let me tell you about the airports I have been lately in my travels there this past week.

I decided to do this trip in my blog by sections rather than the whole story. Bear with me trying to be creative lol!

My airport for the last few years have been the Nantes Atlantique normally call the Nantes airport even if it is in the city limits of Bouguenais in the department 44 of Loire Atlantique in the region of Pays de la Loire. Yes old Brittany and the closest major airport from me.

I needed to go earlier than usual due to the strike of the yellow jackets or gilets jaunes going on in France nowdays blocking the roads to ask the government to bring back the taxes on fuel/gasolines that are very high even by French standard ! The fight will be long and planning many days of demonstration road snail traffic and block of main roads. I left home by 4h to avoid the blocking which knew from social media was to begin at 6h, done deal easy in to my covered parking at Nantes!

A bit of history I like on it. The airport was done using lands near the castle of Bougon former castle fortress of the 9C at the origin of the village of Bouguenais. Fitted out from 1932, it welcomed in 1934-1935 a factory of the Breguet establishments. In 1939, the grass runway was replaced by a runway concrete of 900 m × 40 meters. During the occupation, the Nazis made a veritable camp with barracks, blockhouses, concrete bunkers. From there left the Luftwaffe bombers to bomb England. The Allies, measuring the strategic importance of the site, with the nearby aviation factory, bombarded the terrain in1943 and the factory was three-quarters destroyed and made inutilisable. At the end of the war, the French Air Force resumed possession of the land, which the Nazis had destroyed the infrastructure at the time of their retreat. In 1948-49, the land area is increased to about 300 hectares. The first commercial activities of the aerodrome appeared in 1951, with the construction of the first building (wooden), while the activities of tourism and test flights developed.

The airport has a terminal consisting of three main parts called Hall 1, 2, 3. A fourth part, Hall 4, was added with a lighter architecture, initially dedicated to the regional subsidiary of Air France, before hosting more generally regional flights with small modules as well as part of flights of Volotea. A gradual optimization of airport facilities starting from 2020, with a three-stage phase of work up to 2035, including the extension of the tramway to the airport. As a consequence of the abandon of the airport project of Notre Dames des Landes.

Is growing but still a wonderful small airport easy in and out and great parking facilities. From here most of the time fly out with Air France, sometimes HOP and less Vueling or Iberia. The webpage is at Aéroport Nantes Atlantique

Nantes

Nantes

Nantes

Nantes

Nantes

Nantes

And as I got earlier than usual here, had time to enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the nice le Grand Comptoir restaurant at second level by security entrance and gates. I had the menu du jour filet mignon in mushroom sauce with a glass of Cheverny red wine, and coffee just nice for 22€. More on the this and other restos in the airport here: Le Grand Comptoir at Nantes airport

 

Nantes

From here I fly all over even north to Amsterdam or south to Madrid for connections but most of the times to Paris CDG.  The landing here is always on Terminal 2 F from Nantes and going but this time needed to go to Terminal 2 A by bus, easy. As had used it before and plenty in my blog just you tell you is very easy but huge and can be overwhelming for new visitors or not used to big airports.  From Orly done flights out of the  Paris region. I have a post explaining it all.  More in my previous post here: To From Paris airports

Paris

Paris

And of course, had to have my Starbucks coffee in T2A before the passerelle photo above to my gate A37 and HKG.

Paris

 

Then, have a previous post on those connecting airports of mine for the last few years. This time went by Hong Kong again and very tight needed to ask assistance with Cathay Pacific airline which were wonderful to take me to the gate lol!

This is my previous post on the transit airports and HKG is there too. It is a nice airport mind you but as always in these tight budget travels the connection are very tight and no time to see much in them.  My transit airport as in HKG

hong kong

hong kong

hong kong

hong kong

I ,then continue into Cebu Mactan International airport, Philippines. Here I have been a couple times already so it was easy in addition to always been waited for, the trip back to the hotels is always by car and pleasant company.

Here is  my previous post on Cebu on my last trip there Jan18: Going HKG to Cebu Philippines

cebu

cebu

cebu

cebu

cebu

Well, this is not over as on a business trip which this was needed to see clients in other parts of the Philippines;so went back to Manila Nino Aquino International airport of which have previosly visited and it is a rather big nice airport with all facilities as well.  Here is my previous take on the trip and the Manila airport here: Another dandy in the East, Manila

manila

manila

Again, traveling in the island nation of the Philippines, went this time to a new airport that of Cauayan in the province of Isabela north of Manila. They tell me by bus or car is about 12-14 hrs from Manila but by plane was only 2! Again flying internally on Cebu Pacific airline which as routine was always late!  Cebu Pacific uses Airbus A319/A320 for its Manila-Cauayan-Manila route.The airport is very small and limited facilities just a big runway to accommodate island travel and visit the caves which are famous here and attract some tourists from abroad. The airport was recently reopen (nov 2nd) after suffering heavy damage from storm Rosita. The airport is best explained here Cauayan airport site info

Cauayan

cauayan

And the trip back was very loong and even more delays at Cauayan airport , the flight with Cebu Pacific was delayed 3 hours (the longest delay ever for me, there is always a first), been lucky in the past but….I needed to go thru Manila airport and from there Philippines airlines to Cebu airport ,where just stayed at the airport for the connection domestic to international and my flight back home!

So the return home was from Cebu airport passing again by Hong Kong airport this time with a bit more time no assistance needed but not enough time to look around yikes! and from HKG to Paris CDG T2A all using Cathay Pacific again, rather nice service and on time. At Paris CDG took again my Air France from T2F to Nantes arriving on time.

However, the gilets jaunes were and are still on strike. The leaving the airport was easy but just at the junction with the N165 roundabout the barriers were beginning to be put up for a block, just barely past them. Arriving by Vannes, the snail traffic blocks were going on by the city center exit ,however, took the direction Rennes N166 to go around my job and cut back into the smaller departamental roads and towns to avoid all blocks. The blocks were there there in Vannes all over and on the N165! Got home safe and sound and quick, you just need to know your alternative routes always. Cheers

By the way the gilets jaunes are right !Yes! and as a road warrior love my free roads of France especially in my dear Brittany! This is in Vannes from youtube video

 

Now be safe on the roads, and know more than a GPS lol! Hope you enjoy my latest round of airports and my latest on the Philippines, more to come soon. Enjoy your Sunday.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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September 14, 2018

The Reunification Hall or Palace, HCMC!

Coming back to my new frontier of Asia, and having visited Vietnam on several occassion and blog posts galore here, I like to bring you to one building that emcompassed the different periods in Vietnamese history.  Again ,I take you bak to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) or old Saigon and the Presidential palace or Reunification  Palace or Hall.

Now as said before Saigon is also a district in the city ,and you may hear many Vietnamese calling the city still Saigon; but it does not mean they oppose the current Communist system there. Simply a matter of traditions. Just a tip.

Now, I passed by several times and was enthusiastically by the locals about it, until one day , they asked if wanted to see it. Been in love with history , of course, told them yes. It was a very nice experience to now see what I have heard for many years.

Let me tell you a bit more about it ok.

The Palace of Reunification formerly known as the Palace of Independence or Palace of Norodom, is a historic building of Ho Chi Minh City.

hcmc

hcmc hcmc hcmc

In 1858, France launched an attack on Da Nang, starting its invasion of Vietnam. In 1867, France completed its conquest of southern Vietnam (Cochinchina), comprising the provinces of Bien Hoa, Gia Dinh, Dinh Tuong, Vinh Long, An Giang, and Ha Tien. To consolidate the newly established colony, in 1868,,the governor elect held a ceremony to lay the foundation stone of a new palace to replace the old wooden palace built in 1863. The new palace was built between 1868 and 1873 for the king of Cambodia Norodom Ier. The complex covered an area of 12 hectares, including  the palace with an 80-meter-wide façade, a guest-chamber capable of accommodating 800 people, with spacious gardens covered by green trees and a lawn. Most of the building materials were imported from France. From 1887 to 1945, all Governor-General of French Indochina used the palace as their residence and office.

In 1945, Japan defeated and replaced  France in French Indochina in a successful coup. Norodom Palace became the headquarters of Japanese colonial officials in Vietnam. In September 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces in WWII and France returned to Vietnam and Norodom Palace was restored to its position as the office of the French local governement.

In 1954, France surrendered to the Viet Minh after its defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. France agreed to sign the Geneva Accords and withdrew its troops from Vietnam. According to the accords, Vietnam would be divided pending general elections. The 17th parallel  would act as the temporary border until a vote based on universal suffrage was held to establish a unified Vietnamese government. North Vietnam was under the control of the Việt Minh communists, while South Vietnam was under the anti-communist State of Vietnam. Of course, wishful thinking this never happened as the North stay in power on their side and the South on theirs for many years afterwards.

In 1962, the Presidential palace was bombarded by two fighter jets manned by two lieutenants from the South Vietnamese Air force. They wanted to assassinate President Diem and put an end to his extremely unpopular policy. The bombing was a failure, but the building was heavily damaged. The president then gave the order to have it demolished and built in its place the present palace, according to the project of the Vietnamese architect Ngô Viết Thụ, the first winner of the Prix de Rome in 1955. The President, who was assassinated in a coup d’état in 1963, did not see the end of the work. The new palace was completed in 1966 and remained a presidential residence until April 1975.

The USA been heavily involved after the French left on the pretext of a UN resolution but more for the oils reserves along the Mekong Delta was finally defeated , leaving the country on the whims of the Viet Cong of NorthVietnam.  Their tanks came crashing in on the Presidential palace in 1975 to put an end to the divided country.

In November 1975, after the negotiation convention between the communist North Vietnam and their colleagues in South Vietnam was completed, the Provisional Revolutionary Government  renamed the palace Reunification Hall . As well as the new Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Offical Reunification palace webpage in English

Tourist office of Vietnam on the Reunification palace

Several pictures of the inside of Reunification palace to follow:

hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc hcmc

Hope you enjoy it and if visiting the city a must to see and understand better the conflict of wars in this country.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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September 10, 2018

The museums of Jakarta, TMII

Well now is time to go back to Asia,and specifically Indonesia, more so to Jakarta. This is a relativily new region for me , started coming here in 2012 and really enjoyed. I am planning to go back end of this year.

I came to Jakarta and stayed at a hotel just across from this museums and then came back for more. One of the highlights of the trip was to know about the culture of Indonesia, very varied. Anyway, I have written several posts on Indonesia in my blog but I will like to give you a bit more on the the museums of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah . There is public transportation to get you here but I was taken there by car.

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) or Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park is a culture-based recreational area located in East Jakarta. It has an area of about 250 acres (1 km2). The park is a synopsis of Indonesian culture, with virtually all aspects of daily life in Indonesia’s provinces encapsulated in separate pavilions with the collections of rumah adat as the example of Indonesian vernacular architecture, clothing, dances and traditions are all depicted impeccably. Apart from that, there is a lake with a miniature of the archipelago in the middle of it, cable cars, museums, Keong Emas Imax cinema, a theater called the Theatre of My Homeland (Theater Tanah Airku) and other recreational facilities which make TMII one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. Indeed.

jakarta

Since each Indonesian province maintains its own unique and distinct cultures, shelters, attire and dialects, TMII built a model of each of the houses from Indonesian provinces. TMII attempted not only to reconstruct the homes of the various provinces, but also to create a realistic model of the environment and shelters of the various people of Indonesia.

jakarta

The venues, which are situated around the main lake in a similar fashion to the different islands of the Indonesian archipelago, are thematically divided into six areas in respect to the main islands of Indonesia; Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Maluku and Papua. Each pavilions featured in typical vernacular Indonesian architecture of each provinces.

jakarta

jakarta

The religious buildings of several official faiths is meant to showcase the inter-faiths tolerance and religious harmony of Indonesia. The religious buildings are: Pangeran Diponegoro Mosque, Santa Catharina Catholic church, Haleluya Protestant church, Penataran Agung Kertabhumi Balinese Hindu temple, Arya Dwipa Arama Buddhist temple, Sasana Adirasa Pangeran Samber Nyawa, and Kong Miao Confucian temple.

jakarta

There are about ten gardens spread within TMII complex, but most are located primarily on the north and northeast side of the main lake which are: Orchid Garden, Medicinal herbs Garden, Cactus Garden, Jasmine Garden, Keong Emas (Golden Snail) Flower Garden, Fresh Water Aquarium, Bekisar (a type of rooster) Garden, Bird Park, Taman Ria Atmaja Park, stage and music performances, and Taman Budaya Tionghoa Indonesia, an Indonesian Chinese cultural park.

jakarta

Reptile Park in Komodo Zoological Museum compound. A fully grown Komodo dragon nicknamed Bima resides in the reptile park near the eastern gate, which you can pet and take pictures for a small fee.

Pusat peragaan Iptek or Science and Technology Display Centre is under coordination of Research and Technology Ministry. At the end of 2011 has 15 sites with about 300 science tools. The sites are Robotic, Electric and Magnet, Mechanics, Mathematics, etc.

There are fourteen museums at TMII, and these are:  Indonesia Museum , Purna Bhakti Pertiwi Museum, Soldier Museum, Indonesian stamps Museum, Pusaka (Heirloom) Museum, Transportation Museum, Museum Electricity & New Energy Museum, Telecommunication Museum, Penerangan Museum, Sports Museum, Asmat Museum, Komodo Indonesian Fauna Museum and Reptile Park, Insects Museum, Research & Technology Information Centre,Oil & Gas Museum, East Timor Museum (former East Timor province pavilion), Keong Emas (Golden Snail) Imax Theater, Tanah Airku Theater, and 4D Theater.

jakarta

jakarta

There are several monuments in the complex of TMII and these are: Kala Makara main gates , Flower clock, Tugu Api Pancasila, the main monument, an obelisk celebrating Pancasila, Baluwerti, a twin gate with relief of Indonesian history on its wall, Pendopo Agung Sasono Utomo (Grand Hall), the main building in Javanese Joglo style, Sasono Utomo, exhibition hall, Sasono Langen Budoyo, indoor stage and theater, Sasono Manganti, Sasana Kriya, multi purpose function hall, Park Management Office, Cokot Sculpture, a display of wooden sculptures by Cokot, a famous Balinese artist, The Miniature of Borobudur, APEC Memorial Monument and Garden, Non Alignment Nations Friendship Monument and Garden, The Miniature of Indonesian Archipelago on central lake, Indonesian Archipelago Plaza and Stage , Jati Taminah, a remnant of a large teak tree, Kayu Gede (large wood), the display of large tree trunk .

And several rides of Skylift Indonesia cable car, Aeromovel Indonesia, a wind powered people mover , Mini train around the park, Boat ride on Indonesian archipelago lake, Swan paddle boat on Indonesian archipelago lake,  Bicycle rent ride, and Car ride around the parks. In all one stop place to see all Indonesia.

Of course,  I have not been to all of them, but several and you have here a one stop visit to Indonesia, very convenient and inexpensive time with a family or friends. Enjoy Jakarta and TMII park museums.

Some weppages to help you plan your trip here are

Official TMII park in Indonesian language

Tourist office of Indonesia on TMII in English

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 29, 2018

An exotic stop, Singapore!

Ok so here I go into the exotic trip or is it connecting trip. Well there is a story to me been here, and was hidden in small bits of previous posts. This is the time to tell all.

I was going to another country (lets call it I), and on my way there I needed to transfer at Chiangi Airport in Singapore. Never been here, had never any idea of been here, and just by chance I landed here. Always a nice experience checking out a new place.

Upon landing at Chiangi airport for my connection, I realised that my passport (French) was almost expiring lol!! Never occurred to me in my years of travel, which are many, to have to worry about expiration dates on a passport. Well ,there is always a first.

The bottom line , was not allowed to continue my travel. So what to do? Well change plans go to another country , lets call it V. I needed to do something or waste the travel money. I in my old world brain, thought that the embassy can put a page on my passport and I could go on. Well not so fast old traveler.

I went out of Chiangi, so was practically in Singapore! I needed first to get me a hotel. Well the Ibis was fine I figure, French chain Accor no problems ;only to found out ,it was super expensive here (as find out most is) , the charge for the night was 162 euros!!! for an Ibis , you know. Ok so I pay.

Next day, ask for a taxi to take me to the French embassy/consulat to fix my passport. Well, the French rigueur told me that the reception was pretty cold, not even allowed in the building!!! I was interviewed by a security guy (not French) who relay my message inside, and came back saying no changes possible in passport as it was biometric. Oh well ,whatever happened to the good old days you can just add a page to the passport!

The funny part was that from the hotel I asked for a taxi, he came in , took my French embassy address and lookup on a  paper map!!! I told him are you sure you know how to get to the embassy,and he said no ,not sure! Oh shields , I told him no thanks, came back to the hotel reception and told them need a taxi that knows how to get to the French embassy! Finally got one who took me there!!

I needed to change plans and country V did not require my passport to be 6 months before expiration but they needed a Visa! Call my office in country V and they send me the visa right away to my mobile telephone. I flashed the visa to the airline staff ,first yes, then no needed a paper copy! ok so from a phone lol! Here quick old reflexes told me there is a Crown Plaza hotel at the Chiangi airport, rush to business center and it was closed!

Ask the reception is an emergency needed to open the business center! how can this be close! She hurried up and opened it for me. Got to email my visa to her desktop computer to print the Visa and rush back to the airline to get on the plane and finally landed in country V. End of story,the rest was easy.

An experience, to tell the grandchildren , eventually. First and only one so far, but can imagine the hesitation and stress of it all. No thanks. Need to check those darn dates on the passport. Of course, this was about 4 years ago.

So, this is my experience of Singapore, two days ,one night and thank you. The island nation has a lot to offer but it is very small. Some pointers on it.

Singapore

Singapore

Singapore

Singapore is officially the Republic of Singapore, a city State and island country at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia’s Riau islands to the south, and peninsular Malaysia  to the north. Singapore’s territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets on 130 sq km or 50 sq miles. The main island is call Pulau Ujong. There are two man-made connections to Johor, Malaysia;  the Johor-Singapore Causeway  in the north and the Tuas Second Link  in the west.

Singaporean residents pay high prices for their cars and there is a lot of public transport on bus, Taxis, Train (MRT and LRT) with the networks of SBS transit and SMRT Corporation.  There are six at least taxi companies, who together put out over 28,000 taxis on the road. Taxis are a popular form of public transport as the fares are relatively cheap compared to many other developed countries. The Chiangi International Airport is wonderful and a treat just to stay there ! It has been rated one of the best international airports by international travel magazines.

Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil. However, English is the common language, and is the language of business, government, and the medium of instruction in schools.

A bit of history I like.

Stamfort Raffles founded colonial Singapore in 1819 as a trading post of the British East India Company. After the company’s collapse in 1858, the islands were ceded to the British Raj as a crown colony. During , WWII,  Singapore was occupied by Japan. It gained independence from the UK in 1963 by federating with other former British territories to form Malaysia, but separated two years later over ideological differences , becoming a sovereign nation in 1965.

Singapore was not much affected by  WWI, as the conflict did not spread to Southeast Asia. During, WWII, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded British Malaya,  culminating in the Battle of Singapore. When the British force of 60,000 troops surrendered on 15 February 1942, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the defeat “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history. British forces had planned to liberate Singapore in 1945; however, the war ended before these operations could be carried out. It was subsequently re occupied by British, Indian and Australian forces following the Japanese surrender in September 1945.

On 9 August 1965, the Malaysian Parliament voted 126 to 0 (with Singaporean delegates not present) to move a bill to amend the constitution providing for Singapore to separate from the Federation of Malaysia. Singapore gained independence as the Republic of Singapore (remaining within the  Commonwealth of Nations).

For tourist information, the official webpage is here: Tourist office of Singapore

And there you go ,another hole or point on the world map for me and my 80 countries visited,and counting…. Enjoy the ride.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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July 22, 2018

A new face in the East, Ho Chi Minh!

This one was a surprise, never expected to visit this city nor this country but business always prevail. After so many trips to Vietnam ,north and south, it has been a pleasant experience full of friendly people and good times.

I have written before on Ho Chi Minh alone and these are my previous blog posts on it.

A different trip to Asia

Vietnam repeat visit

Back to wonderful Vietnam

Then, let me give you this time something on the history of this old and new city of the East.

Ho Chi Minh City, commonly called Saigon, which was the official name until 1975, or formerly Prey Nokor when it belonged to the Khmer Empire. Ho Chi Minh City, whose status corresponds to that of a Vietnamese province, is divided in 19 boroughs and 5 districts,and  it is located on the banks of the Saigon River. Located near the Mekong Delta, this city is the southern metropolis of the country. It was originally a Khmer fishing village and in the 17C became a Vietnamese (and Chinese) Settlement City under the impetus of the imperial Court of Nguyên in Hue. During the French colonization, it was first the capital of the colony of Cochinchina, then that of French Indochina from 1887 to 1901. After the partition of the country at the end of the Indochina War, Saigon became the capital of the Republic of Việt Nam (from 1954). Its capture by the Communists on April 30, 1975 (Fall of Saigon) after the Americans left them, marked the end of the conflict, and the winners rename the city in favor of their historical leader, Hồ Chí Minh, who died more than five years earlier.

The name Saigon refers to the district of Cholon (Big Market), while the mandarins use various appellations, Dong Nai, Phan Yen, Gia Dinh and, by local traders, Ben Nghe and Ben Thanh. The French, for their part, perpetuate the name Sài Gòn,  it is the French pronunciation, until the 1920’s. From 1931 to 1956, this name will be officially associated with that of Cholon, the city bordering on a strong Chinese community, with which it will be merged, Saigon-Cholon, before resuming the name of Saigon alone.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport, located inside the city, and the one I have used in and out and several others in trips to other cities in Vietnam.  There is a new airport which should be completed at least in 2020 as Long Thành International Airport, which will then receive international flights, Tan Son Nhat retaining the service of the national lines. Ho Chi Minh City has two major bus stations: Ben XE Mien Tay which connects it to the south of Vietnam, and Ben Xe Mien Dong which connects it to the north there are many taxi companies in this city, more or less reliable in terms of prices; very cheap but stick to a price. I have been given rides by locals there so other than a couple times on taxis all has been by locals in addition to flying out with them.

Ho Chi Ming

More on the history trail I like. During the Lê Kings dynasty the period from 1428 to 1789 in Vietnam, the spice Route attracted the first European missionaries and traders around the 16C. The country was divided and competed by two seigneurial forces, the Trinh in the north of the country and the Nguyen in the south. The Westerners called the lower Cochinchina the part governed by the Nguyen, of which Saigon became the capital the first Vietnamese presence in the city of Ho Chi Minh date in the early 17C when Lord Nguyen established a tax station in 1623 and an officer of the Lords Nguyen establishes a military post at Tan My, in the current region of Saigon in 1679.

Before becoming Vietnamese, Saigon was the most important port in Cambodia, under the name of Prey Kor. Occupied by Vietnamese from the 17C, the site was then called Saigon, then surrounded by walls in the 18C, before being conquered by the French in 1859. Saigon will then be known for years as the Paris of the Far East , however, Ho Chi Minh City has lost most of its colonial heritage outside of the monuments and completely lost its character.

Ho Chi Ming

Someof the things to see there in my opinion of course are the Notre-Dame Cathedral, in red brick imported from Toulouse, on the model of the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris but of inferior dimensions. It was built by the French from 1877 to 1880. It is located in the Paris square , formerly Place Pigneau de Behaine.  On the side the large central train station whose metal frame was designed by Gustave Eiffel are two colonial maps preserved at the entrance. The Hotel Continental, built in 1880, the writer André Malraux (later prime minister of culture of France)  and his wife lived there between 1924 and 1925.The Hotel Majestic, built in 1925 in the colonial French style.  The opera or  Municipal Theater  built on the model of the Petit Palais of Paris, in 1900. Ä very nice City/ town hall of Ho Chi Minh City built between 1902-1908.  The Palace of Reunification (former presidential palace built at the site of the Palace of Norodom). The Jade Emperor Pagoda, the Pagoda of Giac Làm, the Vinh Nghîem Pagoda. The Hindu temple of Mariamman at Trương Định street (ex-Lareynière Street). The Indian mosque at Đông Du street (ex- Admiral-Dupré street).

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

The Church of Cha Tàm in the Chinatown of Cholon whose interior is a mixture of Gothic and Chinese.  The Temple dedicated to the goddess Thien Hau, protector of navigators, also located in Cholon ( Nguyen Trai street ) and built in the Chinese style. The Ben Thanh Market (very popular)  ,and Binh Tay Market in the Chinatown of Cholon .. Museum of the revolution where many  planes, helicopters and other vehicles are exposed in the gardens mostly from the American time. Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, located in the former premises of the Maritime company , a brick building and the oldest French vestige in town. In fact, Saigon was the Asian head of the maritime passenger and freight transport, between Marseille and the Far East during the colonial period.

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Ho Chi Minh on tourism and history in English : http://www.eng.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/abouthcmcity/Lists/Posts/AllPosts.aspx?CategoryId=9

Tourist information on Ho Chi Ming city : https://vietnam.travel/places-to-go/southern-vietnam/ho-chi-minh

Tourist office of Vietnam : http://www.vietnamtourism.com/en/index.php/tourism/items/72

Hope it helps enjoy the city  , very crowded interesting and great nightlife.

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 21, 2018

Another dandy in the East,Manila!

Another surprise visit to a far away land, business many times provides unexpected visits to some exotic far away lands, and I am lucky to be part of the business travel loop. I came here and repeat several times and the experiences have been gratifying indeed. I am talking now of the capital, Manila ,in the Philippines.

I have written a previous blog post on it as well and here it is for reference:

Manila

The city of Manila is the capital of the Philippines, and one of the 16 cities of the metropolitan area of Manila, one of the most populous in the world. The latter, located on the west coast of Luzon Island, is the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila), and is not part of any province in the country. It is located on the east bank of Manila Bay.  The city is divided into six legislative districts and sixteen geographic districts: Binondo , Ermita, Intramuros, Malate , Paco, Pandacan , Manila Port, Quiapo , Sampaloc , San Andres, San Miguel, San Nicolas , Santa Ana, Santa Cruz , Santa Mesa , and Mowo.

Some of the key dates in history I like are

1571, founding of the city by Miguel López de Legazpi. The Spaniards settled there, and occupied the premises until 1898. 1762-1764: British occupation of Manila and Cavite during the war of seven years. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, American troops destroyed Spain’s fleet (Battle of Manila Bay), and take over the Philippines.

On December 26, 1941, following the bombardment of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into  WWII, the Americans abandoned the city and withdrew all their military facilities. The Japanese Air force bombarded Manila, before the Imperial Army entered the city on January 2, 1942. In February 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy refused to evacuate the perimeter, the Allies continue the advance to the city, at the cost of intense fighting that destroyed the town and resulted in the death of many civilians. Manila was one of the most devastated cities during  WWII. In 1948, Quezon City became the new capital of the Republic of the Philippines. Manila becomes the capital of the country on May 29th, 1976.

Some of the interesting areas to visit are on the south bank of the Pasig River where the ancient colonial district of Intramuros, founded in 1571 by the Spaniards, which in a peaceful atmosphere has preserved surprising examples of 17C architecture, and Rizal Park, Manila’s Central Park . Further south, the districts of Ermita and Malate, around its Baroque church, host many bars and restaurants. This is also where you can watch the sunset over Manila Bay.  On the North of the Pasig River, the district of Quiapo is famous for its steel church, the Basilica of San Sebastian, its market and its Basilica of the Black Nazarene, where the procession of the Black Nazarene is held every 9th January and brings together millions of devotees. A little further away the Binondo district is home to the city’s very authentic Chinatown. A fascinating Chinese cemetery is located in the north of the city.

Other popular sites include the Spanish colonial buildings in Intramuros, the World Heritage Site of San Agustin Church, and a few Art Deco and Revival style buildings like Manila Metropolitan Theater and the National Museum of Fine Arts. There are also modern attractions such as the Manila Ocean Park, the integrated resort complex of resorts World Manila, and the City of Dreams Manila and Okada Manila in Entertainment City.

Tourist attractions located inside the Intramuros old town include Fort Santiago, a Spanish citadel located at the mouth of the Pasig River, Manila Cathedral, a 19C ecclesiastical Cathedral which is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, San Agustin Church. At the Rizal park the Rizal Monument, located in the center of the park, is the memorial to the Philippine national hero, José Rizal. Museums within Manila include the National Museum of Fine Arts, formerly the National Art Gallery, the National Museum of Anthropology, an anthropology and archaeology museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, a premier museum of modern and contemporary visual arts.

The Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium with a marine-themed mall and hotel, it is located behind Quirino Grandstand, which fronts Rizal Park. Malate, the tourism center of Manila, is famous for the Baywalk and the Remedios nightlife district. Manila Zoo, the oldest zoo and botanical garden in the Philippines, is also located in that district. Binondo, an old district of Manila that is home to Manila’s Chinatown, is established since 1521. Its main attractions are Binondo Church, Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch, Seng Guan Buddhist temple and Chinese restaurants. Quiapo is the location of Plaza Miranda and Quiapo Church, which is home to the Black Nazarene. The San Sebastian Church, which is also located in Quiapo, is the only all-steel Gothic basilica in Asia.

I was briefly on a ride above places but was base in the business district of Makati CBD, one of Southeast Asia’s biggest financial hubs, and noted for its cosmopolitan cultural and entertainment ambiance around the huge complex of the Ayala Center, and  the Ayala Triangle Gardens.

Manila Manila

Moving about I was with a local driver because the streets of Manila suffers from a lot of chronic traffic jams. The jeepneys are the main public transport. These are old American army jeeps, left behind after WWII, which were turned into very colorful but also very polluting mini buses, and was told can be dangerous for visitors. Manila has an aerial light rail network, the LRT, which often follows the main axes of the city. It is one of the first urban railway collective transport systems in Southeast Asia. About 29 km Long it has 29 stations, on two lines: the LRT-1 (Yellow Line), and the LRT-2 (Violet line). The city also has a predominantly aerial metro line, the MRT-3 (Blue Line), and a ferry service on the Pasig River, which has 17 stations. The city comprises 10 bridges over the Pasig river of whirch, 2 railway bridges and 8 road bridges (The bridges of Roxas, Jones, McArthur, Quezon, Ayala, Mabini, Padre Zamora and Lambingan).  I always arrived by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport located 8 km southeast of the city center.

Manila

Manila

Hope it helps your planning for a nice visit to Manila. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Philippines tourist office : http://www.experiencephilippines.org/tourism/destinations-tourism/manila-environs-department-of-tourism/

Unofficial useful info on Manila and al: http://www.visitmyphilippines.com/index.php?title=CityofManila&func=all&pid=2557&tbl=0

Enjoy the exotic East and the islands of Philippines. I am looking forward to be back by next Fall.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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