Posts tagged ‘Asia’

October 18, 2020

Bacolod ,in the Philippines!

And here I am taking you back to Asia and wonderful Philippines. I was lucky to visit the country and some of its islands on several trips over the last few years and it has memorable stories and good friends. I like to tell you a bit more on Bacolod.

Ok so I did had a little time on my last trip to the Philippines. There was not much time to do sightseeing but did get into a whole new area of the Philippines. I flew from Cebu to Bacolod on Philippines Airlines.

Arriving at Bacolod city airport by 7h where another driver was picking me up and gave a brief introduction to Bacolod. It is actually located in nearby city of Silay, 15 km from Bacolod. This is about 1 hour by air from Manila and 30 minutes from Cebu by air. More on the airport at Airportia: https://www.airportia.com/philippines/bacolod-city-domestic-airport/

bacolod airport arriving jan18

bacolod aiport bombardier Q400 to cebu jan18

Bacolod has two main roads, Lacson Street to the north and Araneta Street to the south. The streets in the downtown area are one way, making Bacolod free from traffic congestion. However, its beginning to be filled recently.

bacolod street driving in city jan18

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 at their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BobsRestoBCD/

I like to tell a bit about Bacolod for the memories, for my blog and for those readers who dare go to the off the beaten paths in countries afar.

The City of Bacolod  is the capital of the province of Negros Occidental where it is geographically situated but governed administratively independent from it. Sitting in the region VI of Western Visayas. It is notable for its MassKara Festival held during the third week of October and is known for being a relatively friendly city, as it bears the nickname “The City of Smiles”.

The historical church accounts provide a glimpse of the early years of Bacolod as a mere small settlement by the riverbank known as Magsungay (“horn-shaped” in English). When the neighboring settlement of Bago was elevated into the status of a small town in 1575, the early missionaries placed the village under the care and protection of Saint Sebastian sometime in the middle of the 18C. Bacolod was not established as a town until 1755 or 1756, after the inhabitants of the coastal settlement of San Sebastián de Magsung̃ay, were attacked by forces under Datu Bantílan of Sulu on July 14, 1755 and the villagers transferred from the coast to a hilly area called Bacólod . In 1889, Bacolod became the capital of  Negros Occidental when the Province of Negros was politically divided into the separate provinces of Occidental Negros and Oriental Negros.

The success of the uprising in Bacolod and environs was attributed to the low morale of the local Spanish detachment, due to its defeat in Panay and Luzon and to the psychological warfare waged . For a brief moment, the provinces of Occidental Negros and Oriental Negros were reunited under the cantonal government of the Negrense Revolucionaries, from 6 November 1898 to the end of February 1899, making Bacolod the capital. In March 1899, the American forces led by Colonel James G. Smith occupied Bacolod, the revolutionary capital of República Cantonal de Negros. The Cantonal Republic of Negros became a U.S. territory on April 30, 1901. This separated Negros Island once again, reverting Bacolod to its status as the capital of Occidental Negros.  Bacolod was formally inaugurated as a chartered city on October 19, 1938. In WWII, Bacolod was occupied by the Japanese forces on May 21, 1942. The city was liberated by joint Philippine and American forces on May 29, 1945.

The city of Bacolod on its history: http://www.bacolodcity.gov.ph/about-bacolod/history

Some things to see here even if it is not a tourist destination, rather an off the beaten path area I love to come and lively city life.

The world-renowned MassKara Festival is an annual festival with highlights held every fourth Sunday of October in Bacolod. The  Panaad sa Negros Festival , also called simply as the Panaad Festival is a festival held annually during the month of April in Bacolod. The festival is a form of thanksgiving to Divine Providence and commemoration of a vow in exchange for a good life. The celebration is held at the Panaad Park, which also houses the Panaad Stadium, and is participated in by the 13 cities and 19 towns of the province. For this reason, the province dubs it the “mother” of all its festivals.

Even if no MassKara Festival this year due to covid19 here is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/masskaralive/

The Panaad sa Negros Festival on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PanaadSaNegrosFestival/

A nice area for walks is the Public Plaza one of the notable landmarks in Bacolod, which is found right in the heart of downtown/city center area, very near to the city/town hall and right across the San Sebastian Cathedral. There is a nice Negros Museum a privately owned provincial museum situated in the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol Complex. The structure was built in 1925 as the Provincial Agriculture Building. The Negros Museum Cafe serves the needs of museum goers and walk-in guests, situated in the West Annex of the museum.

The tourist office of the Philippines on Bacolodhttp://www.experiencephilippines.org/tourism/featured-destinations-tourism/featured-destination-tourism-6/

A private webpage with plenty of information on the Philippines and this time Bacolodhttps://guidetothephilippines.ph/articles/things-to-do/bacolod-tourist-spots

And there you, an exotic place glad to be there and nice friends found, some still in touch. Bacolod is a far away place of nice memories and happy to have in my blog for the memories and the friendship. Hope you enjoy the post as I did.

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

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October 7, 2020

An exotic stop, Singapore! Redone!

Ok so this is part of the slow down in travel lately even if it is coming along fine within the region of Bretagne. I did this post on a nice little anecdote escapade whatever a while back and rather than re blog , I am redoing the whole post. Bear with me and hope  you enjoy it. Again thanks for reading my blog.

Ok so here I go into the exotic 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 final destination Indonesia, 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.

Singapore overpass on thomson road nov12

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 to Indonesia. So what to do? Well change plans go to another country ,as I did. 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. The first taxi driver the Ibis hotel call, was not sure of where the French consulat was and look at a paper map guide lol! I say no way lets get out of it, went back to the hotel and ask for another taxi. This time he knew where the French consulat was!! 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 where you can just add a page to the passport!

Singapore corner of Baliester rd and thomson rd nov12

Singapore on way to airport nov12

My Ibis Hotel: https://all.accor.com/hotel/6657/index.fr.shtml

So, I needed to change plans and call in my contacts in Vietnam who happens not to worry about dates on passports at least at that time; did not require my passport to be 6 months before expiration but they needed a Visa! Call my office in Vietnam 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! The staff 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 Vietnam Airline to get on the plane and finally landed in Vietnam. End of story, the rest was easy.

The Crown Plaza Hotelhttps://www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/fr/fr/singapore/sincp/hoteldetail

The Chiangi airporthttps://www.changiairport.com/

singapore-lobby-t3-changi-airpt-feb13

singapore Chiangi airport T3 terminal mar15

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 so far the only time it happened, not bad on 40 years of traveling but a nice old story nevertheless.  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 , and expensive. Unfortunately with all this hectic episode photos are rare and few.

A bit about the country some I pick up there and some from the web.   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 brief history I like to get to know the place you go better

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.  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.

The Singapore tourist officehttps://www.visitsingapore.com/en/

An interesting place indeed, exotic as far as Asia and maybe worth a longer stay to see more. I just have a dot in my world map as been here in Singapore.

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

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October 6, 2020

This is Qingdao in China!!

Ok so with lots of travel ,hard to come up with posts and I like to have them all here as a depository of my life’s travel and a nice history for my family. I am lucky in a way to have work in companies with an international outlook and able to travel very often. Recently, they have been a slow down but things will be back slowly.

For now, let me tell you about my experience in Qingdao, Shandong province in China! And of course, let me tell you a bit on the history I like first.

Qingdao is also the name of a common beer, Tsingtao, brewed in this city, and exported around the world. The city is a coastal town located in the Jiaodong Peninsula.

Qingdao was colonized by Germany, under the name of Tsingtau, and retains some buildings of Bavarian architecture. The land was ceded to Germany by the Manchus for 99 years, in March 6, 1898, after the arrival of Vice-Admiral von Diederichs’ squadron in response to the murder of two German missionaries in 1897; in the region, it became the home port of the German Far Eastern squadron. It was in 1903 that Germany finished building the Qingdao brewery. So there was a brewery, but also a train station, a Lutheran church, the governor’s residence, a European quarter, a Chinatown, several barracks, an ammunition depot and two ports.

The Empire of Japan took power there in 1914, after a two-month siege. China recovers it on December 10, 1922. The Catholic Saint Michel Cathedral was built in 1932-1934 by a German architect in Romanesque-Rhine style. The city was again occupied by the Japanese from 1938 to 1945. The Americans used the port as a base for their navy, after 1945 (Port-Arthur having become a Soviet base) until the city was taken by the communist power in 1949.

One interesting anecdote I found out later but is one if not my favorite Japanese actor was actually born here!  Toshirō Mifune was born in Qingdao, then Japanese possession following the Paris Peace Conference and died on December 24, 1997 in Mitaka, near Tokyo. He was a Japanese actor and film producer. He is also the director of a unique film, Legacy of the 500,000. He has been one of the most famous Japanese actors at the international level, notably thanks to his successful collaboration with director Akira Kurosawa and his career in the United States. I always love his samurai movies as a kid lol! A 50 years career and 131 films!!! with a great association of master producer Akira Kurosawa .  Toshiro Mifune  very often plays the role of a samurai or Ronin, that is, a penniless and idle samurai, selling the services of his sword to the highest bidder. Such memorable films such as the Seven Samurai in 1954; The Hidden Fortress; Yojimbo in 1961, Mostra ; Sanjuro , and trilogy dedicated to the character of Miyamoto Musashi signed by Hiroshi Inagaki; or, later, The Saber of Evil in 1966 and Rebellion 1967. These are my favorite films of his best years.

So let me tell you about the trip or trips. Asia was great and instructive. My trip took me to Indonesia, and Qingdao in China passing by several places. I will leave the Indonesia part as already several posts on it , and will update next.

First,left from Nantes airport to Paris CDG to Singapore Chiangi airport,and finally arrive in Surabaya Indonesia. In the meantime, I flew with Air France most of the way, but I also, try again Garuda Airlines in indonesia from Surabaya to Jakarta, In Singapore, I went to Surabaya in China air then, took China Southern to Guangzhou, there took China Eastern to Qingdao and back to Pekin and to Paris CDG.

In China, I entered first by Guangzhou, and then to Qingdao. The airports are

Guangzhou airporthttps://www.guangzhouairportonline.com/

Qingdao airporthttps://www.qingdao-airport.com/

This was the Qingdao-Liuting International Airport, located 31 km from downtown Qingdao. There is another newer airport that is in the works to be done since 2013 and then 2019, but do not see it yet. The name will be Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport . And in a hurry for connections often my case pictures are far from showing up sorry::)

In Qingdao , I stayed at the wonderful , friendly and superb service Holiday Inn Parkview. Where I ate very well and another anecdote. While here I was met by the Director of a company who was from Belgium but did not spoked Chinese. He wanted to take me to a nice restaurant but the Chinese driver could not find it!!! and by GPS phone he and I could converse with the driver to take us back to the Holiday Inn Parkview where we settled for dinner there! I think it was hilarious!!! The HI webpage here: https://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/gb/en/qingdao/daopv/hoteldetail

Qingdao Holiday Inn front oct13

Then, I had drinks and food at the KR Korean fine dining in the Holiday Inn Parkview, 2fl very nice beef dishes with vegetables in a traditional setting. Refined, authentic Korean cuisine is served in a rustic, yet elegant atmosphere. Exciting table top hot plate cooking is offered in semi private rooms overlooking the lush greenery of the park. As the story above unveiled! And as time has it and good to update the restaurant is no longer a feature dining site in the hotel.

I went elsewhere to eat, this time with my Chinese driver lol! I ate at Anomtoula (not sure on the name maybe mispronouced), and it was a traditional Chinese place. But I got a picture , the lamp was impressive lol!

Qingdao Anomtoula resto lamps oct13 I left Qingdao, for the connection in Pekin, where I spent several hours in the airport having dinner at the Lei Cafe across from the customs entrance to hallways B where I took m plane to Paris CDG.  The Pekin airport site is here but cannot find the name of the restaurant again oh well,things change if away for a couple years lol!But I got the picture!! The airport webpage:  http://en.bcia.com.cn/

Beijing lei cafe in customs area across airport gates oct13

Once at Paris, had my breakfast at the EKKI lounge by gates T2F 29 afterward taken my flight back home to Nantes Atlantique airport, and driving home in my car!!! Another air warrior trip of yours truly ! Hope you enjoy the experience in Qingdao as I did!

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

October 6, 2020

The Philippines a country of islands!

I need to refresh , revise the text on this one. Sometimes, they hide amongst my over 3300 posts and really a pity, need to tell you all about it again. The text is revised, the photos are from January 2016. And this is on the Philippines and some of the spots I wrote later in more details. Hope you enjoy it reading as I do.

Well ,I thought about my wonderful stays in the Philippines. Really excited of been there and taken photos in Manila, General Santos City and Cebu.

The Philippines tourist board is here: https://itsmorefuninthephilippines.co.uk/destinations/

My flight was long, leaving by TER Bretagne train from nearby me in Auray to the train station south in Nantes, there taking the navette Express Airport bus for the airport of Nantes while staying for one night at the Escale Océania hotel in the airport just 300 meters from  it. For reference, the hotel webpage is here as used it several times in my trips. https://www.oceaniahotels.com/en/hotel/hotel-escale-oceania-aix-en-provence

Finally, the next morning walking to the airport and take my AF flight to Paris CDG and then China Southern Airlines to Guangzhou China , changing again on China Southern to Manila inter airport.

Upon arrival headed straight to my hotel and main base there the  City Garden Grand Hotel in the Makati business district of Manila. A very nice and central hotel that took walking to several places mentioned in previous posts. More here; http://www.citygardengrandhotel.com/

manila-city-garden-hotel-night-more-jan16

manila-city-garden-hotel-fr-street-jan16

manila-city-garden-grand-firefly-bar-32nd-fl-jan16

I stayed mostly in Makati district and was able to go the wonderful Ayala Malls and especifically in the Greenbelt malls 1 thru 5.  This is really a shopper’s paradise with about five malls all interconnected with stores, restos ,cinema, chapel and others all wonderfully modern and clean; a place to spent a whole day and night. I was there having a few beers at my old hangout TGIFriday’s and great chat with bartenders Grace and Manny! I know the TGIF’s and always fun to seek them anywhere.  The main webpage for Ayala is here! https://www.ayalamalls.com/explore/ayala-greenbelt

manila-greenbelt-chapel-entrance-jan16

Pinpointing TGIFridays at Greenbelt Mall by Legazpi street upper level: https://www.ayalamalls.com/explore/ayala-greenbelt/view-all/dine/AYALA-GREENBELT-1138846

I was join by friends for lunch at Mesa a nouvelle Filipino cuisine restaurant right in Greenbelt 5; It  was special having lunch with good company. This the restaurant main page Ayala circuit makati was the branch I ate: https://www.foodeeglobal.ph/Brands/Mesa

manila-mesa-resto-inside-greenbelt-5-jan15

In here , there is a great Ayala museum with great exhibits and cultural awareness.More info here: https://www.ayalamuseum.org/

manila-ayala-museum-aide-exhibit-jan16

And spent some time in the wonderful ,Ayala Triangle park, nice walks in the gardens, and nice eateries here too.  More here: http://www.ayalatriangle.com/GARDENS

manila-ayala-park-ent-jan16

Such as Banaapple in the Ayala Triangle Park; more here: https://www.banapplekitchen.com/menu

Even the Ayala Triangle Park has more on its restaurants and Banaapple here: http://www.ayalatriangle.com/gardens/restaurants/banapple

manila-bananapple-resto-makati-jan16

Also, came back for Simple Lang and the famous Lechon or pork dish, in the wonderful park. Unfortunately, it will have to be for the memories as it has closed down. Nevertheless, Ayala Triangle Park is a wonderful place to spent your time in Manila.

I did went for lunch to Apartment IB, I had passed it by and thought it was an apartment building ,actually its a restaurant with gourment new cuisine tastes and it was fabuleuse, fish and chips with San Miguel beers. Their webpage is here: https://apartment1b.com/

manila-apartement-1b-dining-room-makati-jan16

Having spent couple of days here and visiting the museums ,I set up for General Santos City on Cebu Pacific Airlines.  More on them here:https://www.cebupacificair.com/

As written in other post, just let you know that visited the Tuna capital of the Philippines or General Santos City or GenSan.  You need to read for security reasons if coming here but the beaches are very nice. Here ,I had local driver and stay at the Microtel by Wynham hotel. Their webpage here:https://www.microtel-gensan.com/

gen santos city microtel hotel arriving jan16

While at GenSan , I ate at Big Ben Restaurant, where the tuna steak was great as the city is famous for it ,tuna that is. More in their  Facebook page  here: https://www.facebook.com/bigbensteaks/

gen santos city big ben resto night jan16

I went for dinner at Gillian’s where the tuna feast continue, and great San Miguel beers, the resto is a chain and this one was Inside the Veranza mall a nice shopping place too.  More on the resto here: http://giligansrestaurant.com/branches.html

gen santos city gillians resto mall veranza inside jan16

So , if want to browse for some bargain shopping, its the best one two combination in town, here is the KCC Mall and Veranza Mall webpage:https://kccmalls.com/mall-branches/kcc-mall-of-gensan/misc-pages/veranza/

gen santos city veranza mall entr jan16

I came back to Makati ,Manila area and then went out to Cebu, a beautiful area. One, that I later came back the most! This time thus, flew on Philippines Airlines, and it was a same day roundtrip.

There in Cebu had lunch at the Pancake House, nice friendly place in a shopping center, you can  see more of it here, and I had ham omelet with sprite here for a change lol!!! More here: https://www.pancakehouse.com.ph/MENU1

cebu-pancake-house-arriving-jan16

Going out I took Philippines airline to reach Jakarta Indonesia , and then transfer on Garuda airline to Surabaya Indonesia , my next stop on this trip; which ,also will take me back to Jakarta and onwards home to Nantes on Air France!!!.  It will remain a wonderful experience and good memories of the welcome everywhere.  Enjoy the Philippines experience!

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

October 5, 2020

Indonesia one two Jakarta and Surabaya!!!

Ok so this is sort of an eye opener for my readers especially those from Asia. I came late visiting Asia, maybe started like in 2013 and been already to several countries there of which I have written in my blog. One of these countries is Indonesia. If I can recall correctly , I have visited the country 8 times in the last 9 years, with again several cities but mostly the one two punch of Jakarta and Surabaya.

I like to tell you a bit more on them and some new text and photos in my blog. Hope you enjoy it as I did.

Just a bit brief introduction as do not want to repeat myself. Jakarta, is of course the Capital of Indonesia since its independance from the Netherlands. Here I come in always by Soekarno Hatta airport.

The official Jakarta airport: https://soekarnohatta-airport.co.id/

jakarta airport T2 arriving going singapore mar15

The official Surabaya airport: https://juanda-airport.com/en

surabaya juanda apt arriving nov16

Surabaya is the first port harbor of the country, and an important commercial center. Here I entered always by  Juanda airport.

In Surabaya, my stayed have been always except one occasion at the Somerset hotel résidences (see below name change). While in Jakarta, I have been all over in about 4 different hotels, but I have to say my favorite was the Grand Kemang Hotel right in the entertainment center of Jakarta. You really don’t need a car staying here as all shopping, restos, bars to boot are walking distances. It has a wonderful Sparca restaurant. I must say for lodging was my best experience in Indonesia.

The Grand Kemang Hotel: https://grandkemang.com/

jakarta grand kemang hotel front oct13

The Somerset residences have change owner and name now call the Verwood Hotel and Serviced Residences: http://www.verwoodhotel.com/

surabaya somerset entr parking jan16

On this particular trip, the unusual not in my blog yet is my traditional java meal in Surabaya.  We walked from the hotel Somerset along Jalan Raya Kupang Indah street now Verwood hotel,and had the change to eat at a fish/seafood place where you can pick the live fish from the tank and they cook it for you! The place is very popular from the crowd and is call Daun Lada ! I do not see the resto near there now but they have branches in malls etc. They have a simple webpage here: https://daunladaresto.com/index.html

surabaya daun lada fish tank to choose oct13

The highlight of the trip was to walk just from the Grand Kemang Hotel a couple hundred meters  to Eastern Promise bar, sports bar, live dance club all in one, just great, you will have a blast here!  And they are still there! https://epjakarta.com/

jakarta eastern promise club outside oct13

PS. if you read older posts, you will have old info, the above is updated with new links. Things change fast in Indonesia! If you need to know more let me know ok.

And there you folks, feel free to search my blog for locations in Indonesia. An exotic place , and of course , a lot more than  Bali ::) Hope you enjoy the post as I did.

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

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October 5, 2020

Indonesia: Jakarta here I come, again!

I taken que from others and revising some much older posts on my trips around the world, slowly. This time I am taking you back to Jakarta ,Indonesia with updated text and older photos.

And again by Jakarta, Indonesia. Yes, it was always pleasant trips and looking forward to be back soon. Still with many friends there all over that would love to see again.

It feels like a vibrant modern city, with beautiful shopping centers, nightlife to boot,and great hotels, the one I stayed this time is first time and by now , well lost count but have been several hotels lol!

And of course, I stayed in a hotel! and twice. The first round was for five nights and then there is one night before heading back home. Both times was a new hotel experience, the Swiss Belinn Hotel Simantupang, was a great experience even if the breakfast choices were few to me. The rooms were great, modern clean and spacious, and the location was good.  The funny story here is we were taken a taxi from the airport but i was wiht a local friend; we got into really heavy traffic, and could see the hotel nearby but the car was not moving. Therefore, my friend, said , lets walk and will get there earlier. So we walk the streets full of scooters cars buses you name was pack just getting around them! and we did arrived to the hotel before the taxi!!! Needless, to say we pay the regular fare anyway. Great experience! Here is the hotel webpage:https://www.swiss-belhotel.com/en-gb/swiss-belinn-simatupang

jakarta-swiss-berlinn-hotel-arrving-night-nov16

jakarta

I did a bit of driving the next day to Bogor just about 1h30 from Jakarta (50 kms but , traffic, alas) and into another world,different more exotic but I still preferred Jakarta of them all; well just a city boy ::) The tourist office of Indonesia has something on it here:https://www.bogor.indonesia-tourism.com/

jakarta-road-to-ho-raining-nov16

I did some shopping and enjoy the famous Starbucks at the Central Park Mall , Jakarta; a huge mall with plenty of shops and restaurant with a beautiful central garden and maybe got its name from it. I had most of the meals at the hotel, but one night went out to the above mall restaurant, The Duck King,Level 1,  wonderful resto with baskets of different foods like wraps in shrimp, and an egg yolk bread type of ball, all with a mix pineapple orange drink delicious and different.  Funny do not see it listed now and had the old link so it is gone history now, just for the memories. Anyway this is a must for shopping and eating here. More info here : https://www.centralparkjakarta.com/product-category/gourmet-delights/page/5/

jakarta-central-mall-starbucks-open-dec16

jakarta-central-mall-gardens-restos-nov16

I did some driving in Jakarta which is an adventure, my driver ho ho ho was great even needing my GPS to get around the deadlock traffic in town! If you have time as I did, this is great way to see the real pulse of the city on the road ,in the pavement, with the traffic, Jakarta rocks!!

jakarta-from-cilandek-office-bldg-nov16

Another night went out into another mall that have been before to meet some friends; this is Sate Khas Senayan in the Town Square Mall Cilandak. Typical home food and great fry fish indeed. Try it , it is great! This is a foody site in Indonesia with info on the restaurant Zomato: https://www.zomato.com/jakarta/sate-khas-senayan-cilandak

jakarta-setay-senayan-resto-mall-mtg-friends-nov16

In all, it was a trip with little time to see things ,the longest that I have been in the country usually a week, this time stayed for two weeks!!

The Jakarta tourist office in English: http://jakarta-tourism.go.id/visit/

The Indonesia Tourist Office on Jakarta: https://www.indonesia-tourism.com/jakarta/

Hope you enjoy the post. Always looking forward to come to see the exotic and less known, Jakarta,Indonesia is one nice spot if you like foodies and nightlife.

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

October 5, 2020

Indonesia, and back to Jakarta!!!

So again updating text on an older trip as it is ok to do so these virus days. The photos are from 2017, bit cloudy sorry the phone lol! . This is Jakarta, Indonesia, and I had good times and good friends here.

This is a vibrant city full of action day with traffic and night with the life. Life is beautiful in Jakarta. I was here 10 times in the last 9 years, so I am in awe! Never in my mind would have believe if someone have told me would visit this much Jakarta, Indonesia.

On this particular trip I was coming from another nice city Surabaya ,an old fox here too came on Garuda Airline . This was on a Sunday afternoon so went straight to my hotel central ,another new property, which would repeat in subsequent visits. The Amaroossa Cosmo Hotel, was right in front of an overpass highway along the whole front even if told is in the chic district of Cilandak. The chain webpage here and see down the hotel: https://www.amaroossahotel.com/our-hotels

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As usual from me, the main highlights of coming to new places is to taste the food, so I had a wonderful time going to eat at different places day and night , my favorite gourmet trip in any place.

My first sampler was at  the hotel Andromeda Cafe, ok with a nice mini garden in the back but again that wall of highway, the other was the Bell Lounge but it was dull no action nobody there.  Great start lol!!!

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Finally ,went out of town to eat! I went to Abuba steakhouse! right near the hotel in fact at Jl. Cipete Raya No. 14A, and here you can have your juicy Aussi style steaks with fries and a nice Bintang beer!!!   Very good and highly recommended. This is the foody site Zomato on the Abuba resto: https://www.zomato.com/jakarta/abuba-steak-kelapa-gading

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I then had on another evening the wonderful Fish and Co. at the Town Square mall in Cilandak, this is your famous fish and chip dishes and I had the American fish and chip, huge chunck of fish indeed and with great company !! Their official webpage is here: http://fish-co.co.id/store/

The foody site Zomato has reviews also on the Fish and Co here: https://www.zomato.com/jakarta/fish-co-gandaria

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By the way the Town Square mall is the place to be in this area of Jakarta for that matter. It’s a marvelous open market all along the main hallway (its call Finders Fair)  ,few stores, but loads of restaurant choices… You can eat here at a different one for a whole month. You can find your restaurant here all in the comfort of nice temp control environment, chic area and good ambiance;they do concerts here too ,wow, something to be back for !!! More in foody site Zomato: https://www.zomato.com/jakarta/restaurants/in/cilandak-town-square-fatmawati

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I continue my gourment delights with trying the local Bakmi Golek, this is the typical Chinese Indonesian food place with a nice surrounding, and plenty of dishes choices.  The Nasi Goreng seafood special fried rice and some crab dish will get you going with juices and sodas. The official webpage is here: http://www.bakmigm.com/outlet

More reviews on the foody site Zomatohttps://www.zomato.com/jakarta/bakmi-golek-cawang/menu

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And I had a blast off my culinary exits in Jakarta with Mad Dogs, well this one came twice ::) Great place and a hanging out of the expats French community here; friendly place, with good, affordable food, pool table, beer garden and sports on TV.  A good place to meet other expats since it is a very popular hangout place, especially for American, Australian and British older expats .  Here, I had fish and chip and steaks with bintang beers of course. The Zomato foody site on Mad Dogshttps://www.zomato.com/jakarta/mad-dogs-jakarta-cilandak

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And to close , went to something local at Tumbar Jinten in the nearby town of Sentul; there I  had some Sundanese cuisine (west Java, very popular cuisine ). The restaurant if off the road, and a nice country setting with terrace and open tables or floor style tables. Again the foody site Zomato on the resto: https://www.zomato.com/jakarta/restoran-tumbar-jinten-sentul-bogor

jaka-tumbar-resto-arriving-jan16

And it was time to head back home so took Garuda Airlines from Jakarta to Amsterdam and then HOP Air France to Nantes, then Express Airport bus to the train station at Gare Sud of Nantes and TER train back to Auray. A long trip but a nice experience.

The Jakarta tourist office for reference here: http://jakarta-tourism.go.id/visit/

The Indonesia tourist office on Jakartahttps://www.indonesia-tourism.com/jakarta/

A wonderful trip each time again, looking forward to be back. In the meantimes, we will have the memories of previous experiences and good friendship. Hope you enjoy the post on Jakarta, Indonesia as I did.

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

October 4, 2020

Vietnam, and more of HCMC!!

So, therefore, we shall meet again in HCMC or Ho Chi Minh City ,Vietnam. For the historically incline ,old Saigon. Some places and even a district still is name as such. As said been here a few times over the last 9 years and always a pleasant visit. So, let me tell you a bit more of the goodies in HCMC.

Of course, the main dish is the food ,but it has some nice areas to see too. Some of them already mentioned in previous posts in my blog. Let me expand your horizons on Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City is another wonderful experience of a vibrant, cosmopolitan city on the move, plenty of moves always busy and exciting day or night. I  ,of course, arrive by plane on Vietnam Airlines, as in my previous visits. From the airport had shuttle to the hotel which stayed in two part to coincide with my trips to the other cities. The first period of four days and then at the end the last period of 3 days. 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 walk past LE Thanh square ,there is a Saigon Tourist Information Center where I got me a printout paper map of the city for walks is good enough.

hcmc-airport-domestic-arrivals-mar16

Above domestic terminal to change to other cities visited.

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. More here from Vietnam Online which I find very helpful. https://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/peoples-committee-building—ho-chi-minh-city.html

hcmc-city-hall-2-mar16

There is an ongoing metro transport network of 3 lines but repeated mismanagement to say the least has push it back, too bad, the city really needs it. Here is the official organism that is managing the metro of HCMC in English: http://maur.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/web/en/home

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Luckily, where I was lodging was right in center and walking distance to the best of HCMC. This was in 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 where I had some of my dinners too. 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! More on the hotel here: https://www.hotelgrandsaigon.com/

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I passed by the Cathedral of Notre Dame , it was built between 1863 and 1880  with French bricks & featuring 58 meters tall Romanesque bell towers. I was moving on and no time to go inside, but anyway it was under renovation so I am sure most if not all was not available.  This Vietnam Online site has info on the Cathedral: https://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/saigon-notre-dame-cathedral.html

hcmc-cathedral-nd-back-mar16

I had my hands on the Ben Thanh market , the best of them all, was here before ,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. Only mention because went in on this trip but have a separate post on it. https://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/ben-thanh-market.html

hcmc-ben-thanh-market-aisles-to-cua-side-mar16

And now let me tell you bits about my culinary Vietnamese delights in HCMC!

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. More on Foody VN here: https://www.foody.vn/ho-chi-minh/mien-cua-94

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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.  More on their site here: http://barbecuegarden.vn/address

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I came 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! More on Foody VN: https://www.foody.vn/binh-duong/trung-tam-hoi-nghi-tiec-cuoi-rosa-palace-tinh-lo-743

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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. More info on their site here: http://vietnamhousesaigon.com/

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Several evenings and came back in another opportunity to HCMC , went to the Gartenstadt Downstairs German style pub for a nice Krombacher pils German beer (same I have in France!). 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. Great spot recommended not far from the hotel but photos were in a personal mode ….More on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GartenstadtRestaurant/

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. See them all at official webpage here: https://coffeebean.com.vn/en

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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. More in Foody VN: https://www.foody.vn/ho-chi-minh/nha-hang-com-nieu-sai-gon-ho-xuan-huong

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Some general webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The Vietnam Travel tourist office on Ho Chi Minh City: https://vietnam.travel/places-to-go/southern-vietnam/ho-chi-minh-city

The Vietnam Online travel information web on Ho Chi Minh Cityhttps://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/category/ho-chi-minh-city.html

A fitting end to the visit to Ho Chi Minh ,Vietnam! Already looking forward to a next time. As work times are changing and me getting ready for retirement in 2021 maybe not; but anyway the memories and good friends will linger forever. Hope you enjoy the post and do come to visit. And do read my other posts on Vietnam.

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

October 3, 2020

Vietnam and HCMC!!

Ok so this one have several posts in my blog, just redoing some older text and some new photos for HCMC or Ho Chi Minh City ,Vietnam. I would spare you the history of the city and just go right into the text and photos. Hope you enjoy it as I did! Always looking forward to be back!!

Always amazed on how a war torn country can come back and be so alive and working. Vietnam is spoken less than other Asian countries when it comes to infrastructure and tourism but its a sleeping giant awaiting to catch the Asian boom.

Once there I went to my  Hotel Grand Silverland, in district 1 ,right in the middle by the great famous market of Ben Thanh. This is as a classic hotel as you can find, old look, and modern facilities throughtout, with a great breakfast,and easy walking to the market, muséums,and lively street life of the city.  It has a wonderful rooftop pool and resto with fabulous views of Saigon (now HCMC). And of course, was my first hotel stayed here so cannot find photos!!! yikes!!! More on the hotel here: https://grand-silverland-spayikes.hotel-rn.com/index.htm

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From here ,I tasted the nightlife best for action, and the best looking women of Vietnam locals or expats try the Beirut Gardens with belly dancing shows after 20h.  Just be there and you will see ,enough said! More info here: http://beirut.com.vn/

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I was surprise to be invited to a restaurant where President Bush (USA) even visited while there,and his pictures still hang on the walls lol!!  TIB restaurant , at Hai Bà Trưng. You go at the end of a narrow passage street. This has great dishes in a colonial setting even with pictures of Vietnam last queen and king(1945). I guess the decoration was done for me lol!!! More info here in Vietnamese, sorry but the real thing: https://www.tibrestaurant.com/about

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However, here is the translation from the premise I visited taken from their site: TIB Restaurant, established in 1993 in Ho Chi Minh City, is the first restaurant in Vietnam to revive vinegar, shrimp rolls, lettuce rolls, Hue rolls , methodically and systematic. The TIB brand has lived a strong life for more than 14 years thanks to always maintaining the authentic quality of the food and thus has kept customers from the very beginning.
November 2007 US President George Bush chose TIB restaurant to invite Australian Prime Minister Howard to dinner as a proof of brand value.

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I continue my culinary search into HCMC =Saigon, at Ngọc Sương  106 Sương Nguyệt Ánh,district 1. Here we had a nice fireup shrimp dish that was superb. And it has a webpage in English now!! I must have given it fame lol!! http://www.ngocsuong.co/

After this one we went to the Rose Palace,  locals know, a big restaurant for banquets and special events, with a big event of models parading that was awesome, the food is good and the service is great so seek it out when in town.  Now they have a Facebook page even if in Vietnamese…getting them on the world map lol! https://www.facebook.com/nhahangrose/

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I, also, tried comga Van Xuong at 74 Hàm Nghi, Dist 1 (gần bánh mì Như Lan), famous for its Hunan chicken style food of China. just ask for it. They now have a Facebook page in Vietnamese here:  https://www.facebook.com/comgahainamvanxuong/

The official Vietnam tourist office on Ho Chi Minh City: https://vietnam.travel/places-to-go/southern-vietnam/ho-chi-minh-city

So there you go a culinary trip to exotic Ho Chi Minh City in up and coming Vietnam, a destination worth trying it out. I know would love to be back, waiting for the virus…. Hope you enjoy this foodie trip to the south of old Vietnam.

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

October 3, 2020

Vietnam ,Danang and al.!!!

So here I am reviewing with new text and new /old photos on my memorable trips to Vietnam. I was there several times, amazing trips and good cheers, new friends and continues. I have written before on Danang but here is a bit more; hope you enjoy the post.

We drove by car from the airport of Chu lai, to Bung Tao , a airy picnic type large place with local service and good food of the area, fish sea and river, and great Tiger beers with a lively table of 10, lots of cheers and happy crowd, the driver was good lol! This one of course will take a good local to take you to it, but here for the memories and good cheers.

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At Chu lai airport was just a country airstrip but apparently busy as it is close to the beaches; and of course it was built by the USA… B52 landed here. we flew on VASCO domestic Vietnam Airlines.  The best info on it found this webpage https://www.vietnamairlines.travel/chu-lai.flights-in-vietnam.vietnam-airlines

chu lai arrving from hcmc feb14

Chu Lai, the capital of the Nui Thanh District, is the perfect gateway to the greater Quang Ngai province in Vietnam’s south-central coast. During the Vietnam War this port town was a military base for the US Marine Corp, acting as a supplemental airfield to their main base in Da Nang.

At Chu Lai, we drove passing by Quang Ngai to Da Nang. Here we had a night stay across the beach at the Hotel Doan 27, 128 Trường Sa street (trade union hotel) nothing fancy ,it houses the army personnel when on manouvers,and then a tourist hotel the rest of the time, basic training, food for breakfast order before hand, and not that great chow; the beach across was great thus,and wonderful views from my room. Here again see the pictures as cannot find a webpage, the locals took me here , to get rid of me hahahaha!!! The best part is that next door there was a small cafe where I tasted the best coffee in Vietnam!!! again just in the corner of the hotel and sideways facing the beach. The best can find on the web is this traveloka webpage: https://www.traveloka.com/en-vn/hotel/vietnam/cong-doan-da-nang-hotel-danang-trade-union-hotel-3000010022539

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Well got something, above is photo from hotel to beach!

We did ate here , first at Tea house Viet Nam,  very nice clean place we had good soups here,and rices, with green and yellow tea and water, very cheap I was told my friends paid lol!  The name escapes me again !!! Then ,we move on to one very special, its a patio with buddha and hills decoration, terrace out and covered, very nice place and service, again forgot the name yikes!! its me sorry,  the restaurant, will need to recall those names or maybe someone reading the post can tell me. It will be the unknown restaurant of Da Nang.

danang resto inner table no name feb14

danang resto terrace no name feb14

Here in Da Nang, we went to the airport for our flight to Hanoi, very nice airport at Da Nang, notice this is a big tourist spot in Vietnam, and famous name from previous war. Webpage here: https://www.danangairportonline.com/

danang airport gate 7 tohanoi feb14

There are severail nice hôtels , casinos, and the rotating bridge as well as the famous dragon bridge that spurs fire at night Fridays and Saturdays. And a nice beach across from the hotel!

danang dragon bridge facing feb14

danang rotating bridge feb14

danang beach from doan 27 hotel feb14

We drove from Danang to Hanoi. I finally took my flight back to Paris at Hanoi, by midnite, the flight was smooth,and on time. This is a nice size airport spacious and easy to navigate. I was at the VN airlines business lounge so that made it easier me think. Webpage : https://www.hanoiairportonline.com/

hanoi vn air business salon entrance feb14

The official Vietnam Tourist board on Dananghttps://vietnam.travel/places-to-go/central-vietnam/da-nang

The local Hanoi tourist boardhttps://tourism.hanoi.gov.vn/

This was a road warrior trip and skipping long distance by air on Vietnam Airline. It gave the opportunity to get a quick glance at the country and for future trips better manage the relationships. The best way to mix business and pleasure and see a new country, Vietnam , and a new city Danang. Hope you enjoy the post

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

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