Posts tagged ‘Asia’

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

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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.



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 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 :

Tourist information on Ho Chi Ming city :

Tourist office of Vietnam :

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:


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.



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

Philippines tourist office :

Unofficial useful info on Manila and al:

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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July 15, 2018

Let us go to Jakarta!

I have another find ,this one in Asia, far from home. Originally, never thought would reach here as too far from my comfort zone. However, business had its way that I found myself going to Jakarta, Indonesia. It has been  a wonderful experience and many new friends!

I have visited the country and in and out of Jakarta seven times in the last seven years and each experience have been gratifying indeed. The friendly people and the ambiance of a big city of the East are tops. Already looking forward to one day return again maybe end of this year.

Let me tell you my previous two blogs post on Jakarta, there are others mixed in with other destinations in Indonesia. See the Jakarta exclusive below

One whole of Jakarta:

Repeat Jakarta and its like home:

As I have written on things to see in previous blog posts on the city and country  ,let me tell you a bit about the history I like

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia. It constitutes a 1st level subdivision of the same rank as the provinces under the special territory of the capital Jakarta, in Indonesian Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta. Anglophones colloquially dubbed her “the Big Durian”.

Jakarta has a bus network and especially minibuses, such as the Kopaja, MetroMini or Angkot (group taxis). There is a high-level service bus network, the TransJakarta.  There are many taxis, the prices are low and the vehicles in general in good condition. Jakarta also has a Regional express network, the KRL Jabotabek with major railway stations  Gambir and Kota. Jakarta has two peripheral toll belt roads: An interior, the Lingkar Dalam Kota (“Inner Circular”), an exterior, the Jalan Lingkar Luar Jakarta (“Jakarta Outer Circular Road”) or in English Jakarta outer Ring Road . The city is the heart of a network of highways in the three directions: westward and the Port of Merak, south and Bogor, towards the east and Bandung.  I have taken the car here and with a driver but oh my God , it is really a challenge and I have done some major city driving myself; the city is inundated with scooters and bikes that surround you as you are standing on a red light; and one time we walk faster to our hotel than waiting in a car line of traffic lol!! The nice and easy airport always taken is the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.



A bit of history as it goes , Jakarta is located at the northwestern end of the island of Java, it is crossed by the Ciliwung River which flows into the Bay of Jakarta. An important Center of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of Sunda and then of Pajajaran under the name of Kalapa, it became Jayakarta in 1527 after its conquest by the Sultanate of Banten. The Dutch renamed it Batavia in 1619 and made it the de facto capital of the Dutch East Indies. On August 17, 1945, Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaim the independence of Indonesia, the city then resumes the name Jakarta-which in colonial times had remained as indicated by the name of a road, Jacatraweg, and became the Capital at the end of the War of Independence in 1949.

The oldest written vestige found in Jakarta is the so-called “de Tugu” inscription found in the neighborhood of the same name in North Jakarta. This inscription, written in Sanskrit and in writing of Pallava, mentions a kingdom named Tarumanagara and his King Purnawarman who, in this place, had a canal of 10 km to the sea built. It’s the 5C ,this was once the location of an active port named Kalapa (“Coconut” in Malay and Sundanese). Kalapa was the main maritime outlet for the Hindu kingdom of Pajajaran, whose capital, Kuan, was upstream of the Ciliwung river on the site of the current city of Bogor (visited!!) , 60 km south of Jakarta. In 1513, a Portuguese embassy came to Kalapa. A treaty was signed in 1522 with Pajajaran, which allowed the Portuguese to build a warehouse and a fort at the mouth of the Ciliwung river. In 1596, a Dutch flotilla commissioned made a stopover at Jayakarta. Prince Jayawikarta, a vassal of Banten, allowed them to build a fort and two warehouses. He does the same with the English, which leads to clashes between the two communities. Banten, who disapproves of the action of his vassal, was dismissed.  In 1619, Jan Pieterszoon Coen, Governor General of the VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Company or Dutch East India Company), installed since 1605 in Ambon in the Moluccas, in turn conquered Jayakarta. On his ruins he founded Batavia. In 1799, the VOC was declared bankrupt. The Dutch government confiscated its assets and Batavia became the capital of the Dutch Indies. Independent Indonesia gives the city its original name from Jakarta.

Some of the interesting cultural, historical and customs things to see here are

Monas (National Monument) enthroned in the center of Merdeka Square, the largest public square of the world with 1 square kilometer. The museum Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (very nice indeed on the customs of the islands); National Museum of Indonesia , and the  Ragunan Zoo.



Also, with time see  Setu Bakan (South Jakarta): The government encouraged the local people to renovate their home or decorate it with traditional elements like the roof sculptures Gigi Lang ( “Teeth Or the Langkan, i.e. the front porch. Traditional cultural shows take place on weekends.

Tugu (Jakarta North): In the 17C, a population from Malacca settled in the countryside east of what was then called Batavia. Malacca had been conquered by the Portuguese in 1511 and this population spoke Portuguese. The Dutch East India Company had brought them as slaves to Batavia and then had them freed. Their descendants inhabit the village of Tugu. Tugu strives to preserve his tradition of keroncong, a musical genre with melancholic accents. Every June 22nd, date decreed as the anniversary of Jakarta, which besides the Keroncong, offers culinary specialties Betawi.

Kampung Batik (South Jakarta): Kampung Batik (“The Batik Village”) is home to batik artisans. The Sanggar Batik Cantingku is a workshop where children are taken on weekends.

Jakarta has the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, the Istiqlal mosque. The city is the seat of the Archdiocese of Jakarta whose cathedral is the Cathedral of St. Mary of Jakarta.

Now you got it, a bit of history and some tourist sights to see as well those in my posts ;hope it helps.

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Jakarta in English :

Tourist office of Indonesia on Jakarta in English:

Unofficial good tourist info on Jakarta in English:

A very nice city, just get help in transports moving about and the rest is easy. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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March 25, 2018

In the eye of Asia!

I have made some trips into Asia over the past few years. From the beginning my only experience there was a two days conference in Taipei Taiwan. All that change in 2011, when my job requires several trips there. I am still a rookie when it comes to Asia and always different to me.

I have visited China, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and briefly Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and will put Dubai here as it was en route.  This post is to bring back memories as more trips are looming in the near future there, and even a new destination.

There is a lot to cover, so just will give a brief introduction and then the links to my previous blog posts.

In China, been to Guangzhou, Pekin, and Quingdao with brief stop in Hong Kong.

Indonesia and China



Dubai airport


Kuala Lumpur airport

In the Philippines, been to Manila, Cebu,Bacolod, and General Santos City.

islands of Philippines

bit of Hong Kong and Philippines above

bacolod Philippines above

Cebu Philippines above





 In Singapore ,went briefly into town for a hotel night and passed several times by the airport Chiangi. Dubai just did a stopover on my way to Indonesia, Malaysia did the same stopover at the airport.

bit of Singapore and Vietnam above


Baliester Road and Thomson Road Singapore

In Indonesia ,been to Jakarta, Surabaya, Ngoro, Yogyakarta, Bogor, Sidoarjo, and Malang.

exotic Indonesia above

vibrant Indonesia above


Jakarta architecture


shopping Century Surabaya

In Vietnam ,been to Ho Chi Minh city (old Saigon), Hanoi, Ca Mau, Da Nang, Nha Trang, My Tho, Chu Lai, Hoi An, and Quang Ngai city.

ca mau and others Vietnam above

Vietnam at its best Da Nang Chu Lai Hoi An above

back to Ho Chi Minh city Vietnam above

wonderful Nha Trang Vietnam above

My Tho city paradise Vietnam above


Ben Thanh market Ho Chi Minh city


beach at Nha Trang


beach at Da Nang

Very different experiences and customs, food, drinks habits etc. Even if met folks from there in Europe and the Americas, been in Asia gave me  a whole different view of life, and lucky to be where I am. Nevertheless, the experiences are life enriching and curiosity bring the best in men.

I now look forward to more visits there this year, and new destinations to enhance my view on Asia. It’s an up and coming destination for tourism that is still led by the big three France, Spain and USA.

I hope you enjoy the posts and comments on your experiences are welcome. Me, looking forward for more. Let me note the tourist offices here.

China: China

One good site on Qingdao: Qingdao China

Vietnam: Vietnam

Hanoi: Hanoi, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh city: Ho Chi Minh city , Vietnam

Philippines: Philippines

Manila: Manila, Philippines

Cebu: Cebu ,Philippines

Indonesia: Indonesia

Jakarta: Jakarta Indonesia

Surabaya: Surabaya, Indonesia

Singapore: Singapore

Hong Hong: Hong Kong

Malaysia: Malaysia

Dubai: Dubai

Ok so hope you enjoy this brief interlude into Asia, and be ready for more exotic different views of our world. Enjoy your Sunday, we are still cool grey, no rain and 9C about 45F in my neck of the woods. Happy travels, good health, enjoy life to the fullest. Cheers!!

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January 23, 2018

Cebu to Bacolod, the Philippines!

 Cebu  Cebu  Cebu  Cebu  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod  Bacolod

Ok so I did had a little time on my last trip to the Philippines, my third. there was not much time to do sightseeing but did get into a whole new area of the Philippines.

I flew from Cebu to Bacolog on Philippines Airlines. Their page is here:

A bit more on Bacolod city:

Let me give you something different than the tourist office on Cebu here:

I needed to get the flight at 6am had a driver take me to the Cebu airport, hop on Philippines airlines was easy and the flight smooth. Arriving at Bacolod city airport by 7am where another driver was picking me up and gave a brief introduction to Bacolod. The airport site is here:

we ,then set out to eat at the favorite place of the locals, Bob’s Restaurant. Here we had blue marlin fish dish just fried as it is, and rice, and delicious fruit punch drink, wonderful. I would come back just for the fish! More on them here:

We did visit a nice shopping mall SM City really nice modern and many nice stores, we had our coffees here at Starbucks inside the mall. The stores were all very clean, nice displays and many popular names notice. More on it here:

As we got back to Cebu a bit late, we had a good night wrap up at one of the joints of the past still very lively: Howling Dogs! Best at their facebook page here:

The beers are cold, the drinks superb , karaoke music , and plenty of good ambiance to get you into the late night. HD is the place in Cebu city.

And this was it ,this time. I was disappointed on the time but cannot always get free time on business travels. It will be next time , already working on it for summer this time. Looking back ,it seems I always visited in January for the last 3 years lol!

Stay tune for more on this your blog and my stories, Paris1972-Versailles2003. Enjoy the rest of your week in good health and happy travels. Cheers!

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March 31, 2016

And back to wonderful Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

I started here and finish here in Ho Chi Minh city , the old Saigon. Another wonderful experience of a vibrant, cosmopolitan city on the move, plenty of moves always busy and exciting day or night.  The tourist office info on it is here;

I  ,of course, arrive by plane on Vietnam Airlines, as in my previous posts. From the airport had shuttle to the hotel which stayed in two part to coincide with my trips to the other cities as in my previous posts here. The first period of four days and then at the end the last period of 3 days.

The hotel in both occasions was the Grand Hotel Saigon in district 1; overlooking the Saigon river, and with stylish architecture from the 1930’s. It had spacious first class rooms first part on the 11th floor and second stayed on the 9th floor. Wonderful amenities with in house pool, gym,sauna, spa ,restaurants and bars as well as the Grand Café on the roofstop 22nd floor. I try them all except the Bar des Amis by the pool. All wonderful and great friendly service. The best part was to go to the top roofstop at the Grand Café and listen to live music in English and French!  webpage:

I visited briefly the Cathedral of Notre Dame , it was built between 1863 and 1880  with French bricks & featuring 58 meters tall Romanesque bell towers.  This site has tons of info on Vietnam and best on the Cathedral;

I did a lot of walking all over the District 1 from the river front back to the city , and it was easy and nice , carrying my phone camera and wallet in back Pocket , all safe nothing to it;just always aware of surrounding folks.

I had my hands on the Ben Thanh market , the best of them all, was here before but no time to take photos at night, this time came during the day and it was wonderful.  I would say all coming here should check it out at least half a day.

Right around the Grand Hotel Saigon, I saw one of my favorites from home, the unique Burger King lol!!! yes they are here together with dunkins donuts and pizza hut, KFC etc; its like the Americans are back…peacefully. Could not resist my whopper and coke and fries ::) It’s actually call the Burger King Grand Hotel !

At night went to the Barbecue Garden, a wonderful terrace garden where each table has an oven to cook your meals, nice fish and shrimp dishes with local saigon special beers.  The site has great photos too.

There is a building not visited but great to see is the City Hall, another French inspired building sitting across from Town Square or Le Thanh.  It is now better call the People’s Committee. Great photo shots—ho-chi-minh-city.html

Right on the corner diagonally from the city hall you have the shopping center Union Square, full of top brand names stores. You have Versace, Hugo Boss, Banana Republic, Hérmes, Diesel, etc here.

There , I saw the panels of the planned metro of Ho Chi Minh on line 1 still Under contruction ,this is right along the LE Thanh square and there is a Saigon Tourist Information Center where I got me a printout paper map of the city for walks is good enough.

For lunch, on another day locals took me to 94 Quan Thuy crab seafood restaurant and it was a full meal with fried rice and shredded crab that was delicious and true local food.

For dinner we went to Vietnam House resto, again great seafood and nice service.  This is a gourmet place and very refine, a great for an evening with company too.

In the evening I went to the Gartenstadt Downstairs German style pub for a nice Krombacher pils German beer before heading back to eat dinner at the Grand Café roofstop resto of the Grand Hotel Saigon I stayed with. The Gartenstadts was great , full length bar with plenty of imported beers and of course Germans.  At the bar I stayed on the street level which I was told is better than the Noisy smokey lower level floor.

I visited the War Remnants Museum , this is a must to undertand the war from French colonial and especially from the American intervention, with portraits, maps, weapons ,and real remnants of airplanes, helicopters, tanks, machine guns like the 107 mm huge; tracing the history of cooperation and support for the Vietnam liberation of course.  You take it as you know it. It is  well Worth the visit.

I went back for lunch to Rosa Palace, this is rented out for wedding and events but it is a restaurant too, very nice. Once again seafood is great here and fried rice with some good Saigon Special beers.  Very special places I have come like 3 times already, the webpage is in Vietnamese, but believe me well Worth the visit ,

Almost every day here came to the The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf  for a nice cup of coffee as it was near the place I was doing work, yes did work too ::)  They have other branches but this one in District 1 was great.

The theater of Ho Chi Minh or Saigon Opera  was nice another French inspired building ,not went in but was Worth a shot.

I went into the Reunification Palace, the old Presidential Palace of Saigon. Been here before in the garden grounds but this time went the whole walk tour of it. This is impressive and a must to see. There is the jeep the President rode to surrender and the mercedes benz he use to drive around, the helicopter on the upper pad ready to take him away, as well as the bunker control war room and many luscious decorated rooms even his and First Lady bedroom.  I know some will give you all the détails but I rather tell you the whole and let you see the parts, rather not tell you the ending on a movie, rather let you see it for yourselves; the Reunification palace is a must, for me the best thing to do in HCMC.–ho-chi-minh-city.html

Before leaving on way to the airport ,I had lunch at a wonderful place taken by a local.  Com Nieu Sai Gon, at 59 Ho Xuan Huong Street, where the dishes are done with playing servers on the rice paddies thrown at a distance plate to plate, and the shrimp dish with fish in sauce and saigon special beers were the delight in a nice ambiance and great decoration. A fitting end to the visit to Ho Chi Minh ,Vietnam .

And I left Vietnam , the third time was the Lucky one and the best; already looking forward to be back ! Enjoy the photos ,and Vietnam.

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March 30, 2016

Wonderful Nha Trang in Vietnam!

In continuing my saga of Vietnam, I came upon a new city for me there. This was Nha Trang, and what a surprise, the best stay so far in Vietnam after 3 trips there in the last five years.

Nha Trang is a seaside town, also the capital city of Khánh Hòa Province on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. It has a 6 kms long beach front that is superb, and a Bay of over 400 sq kms and 19 small islands. Nha Trang is known as the famous entertainment center of Vietnam;which I just found out lol!! The tourist office is here for the city and the bay

I arrive by plane from HCMC on Vietnam Airlines. I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel arriving at night and ready for the city.  Vietnam airline is part of the Sky Team alliance of Airlines services ;

The airport is nice been a former military base ,and is about 30 kms from the city, call Cam Ranh International Airport , the entry in and out was simple and easy. The webpage here

We went straight to check in at the hotel, Paris Nha Trang Hotel, tuck in an alley off the main beach boulevard Tran Phu. It is a very nice hotel with as you notice Paris motifs of the Seine river and Eiffel tower; rooms are nice spacious bath, good breakfast resto and the most is walking distance to the beach and Entertainment.  webpage:

First business of the night was to check out the huge big Best Western Premier Havana hotel where on the top floor there is the Skylight Skydeck & Rooftop Beach Club , a super club highly recommended loaded with locals and tourists alike having great fun with the most beautiful views of the city below even at night. I stayed here until the wee hours and was all fun clean and safe. This webpage tells you all the nightlife and more of Nha Trang, have it on the beach club.

Of course ,the night continues into the Zima Club, this is a classic club and we had lots of fun here, they consider the largest dance floor in Nha Trang, I can vouch for it,loaded. If you want fun ,then come here.

I admit the photos were bad at Zima Club, as many lights too strong for my phone camera. Anyway , we finish at the Sailing club a more relax ambiance right next to the beach and part of a diving club.

Of course, next day we had lunch at Biển Hồng New – Hải Sản Tươi Sống  typical Vietnamese resto with live crabs and fish to eat fresh; good food but you need to be brave like me ::)

And of course, do not forget the beach ,glorious into one of the world’s best bays. 6 kms long beach with best by 1PM (13h);more on the bay here;

Just in time to get on the car and drive to Ho Chi Minh city well rested and with plenty of wonderful vibrations; kinda make you feel Young again or was I always Young !!! In all Nha Trang is a town to come with a Young mind to fully enjoyed and it really is enjoyable. I will be back ::)

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