Travel Journey to Cao Bang in Vietnam

Cao Bang is a northern province of Vietnam and is the common home of the Hmong, Tay and Nung. It is a very important trade center between Vietnam and China. This province was the revolutionary base of Viet Minh. The communist leader Ho Chi Minh lived here before the revolution against the French. Currently, Cao Bang possesses many historical sites. But on this trip, we visited only the natural landscapes and discovered the culture of the ethnic peoples.

On the way to Cao Bang, we stopped a bit to admire the majestic beauty of the pass but Pi Leng, one of the four steps of the most beautiful North Vietnam. Here you can take pictures of a unique landscape in the countryside.

In the late afternoon, we arrived in Bao Lac, a small town in Cao Bang province. We visited the local market and taste the delicious local dishes such as grilled duck, Vietnamese Nem, and sausage. Cao Bang is located very close to China so its cuisine is heavily influenced by that of China, where there are many grilled dishes, roasts and meat.

On the fourth day, we moved to the capital of Cao Bang province. Along the way, we made a visit to an ethnic village of Lo Lo. In this village, people live in house on stilts. The elders still wear traditional clothing.

At about 3 pm, we arrived at the city of Cao Bang, a large city, modern and vibrant thanks to the commercial activities with China. We took a ride in the central market of Cao Bang. Because of modern life, many beautiful and romantic things are lost.

On the fifth day, at 8:30 am, we went to the border with China where there is a very famous landscape. The Ban Gioc waterfall is the most beautiful of Vietnam. Ban Gioc is located in the city of Trung Khanh, which is about 60km from the city of Cao Bang. It is a complex of some waterfall that comes from China. The waterfall is the common ground of two countries so tourists from the two countries can enter it from both sides of the border.

Honestly, I must say that the beauty of the waterfall is destroyed a little bit because of Chinese tourists. Many Chinese people visit the falls from their side as an ant nest and so is a little difficult to take pictures. Fortunately, we went early so we were able to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the waterfall without any problem. Here, I bought a cone hat with the Nung people style as a souvenir and a kilo of local chestnut.

In September, Ban Gioc is much more beautiful thanks to the rice paddies that you find around the waterfall. On the way to the back, we visited a handicraft village of the Nung people that produce everything from hand knives. In the evening, we ate at a very good local restaurant. There is no word to describe how good the cuisine of Cao Bang is. It is a mix of Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. We ate at a very good local restaurant.

The sixth day, we left to go to Cao Bang Ba Be, The latest and most popular destination of our journey. Ba Be is the largest and most beautiful natural lake in North Vietnam near Hanoi, about 4 hours of transfer in the car. Ba Be is the so-called Halong Bay on the mountain because it is found on a limestone hill at the height of 145 m. You can still see many limestone islands in this lake.

It is not just a lake, Ba Be is also the name of a nature reserve where there is still the primary forest. Here is the common home of the ethnic people of Tay and Dzao. The trip to Ba Be often lasts about two days. There was no hotel to the lake because we were in a nature reserve. But Ba Be is a popular destination for foreign travelers. The tourist service to the lake is quite good and the people are still very friendly.

We rested in a traditional house of Tay people. It is a house on stilts with private rooms, shared bathroom, and balcony with a view of the lake. By late afternoon, we had a visit to Hua cave but, it is less beautiful than the Halong Bay. But it is much more authentic.

On the seventh day, we did a beautiful boat trip to discover every corner of the lake. September is the best month to visit Ba Be. The weather is cool and the water is clear. We also found a village which is located in the center of the lake and we had lunch with local fish. We did not even forget to take a lot of photos.

It seems that seven days pass in a blink of an eye. We made the trip together and created many good memories. Thanks very much to our talented guide who shared his knowledge with us.

Trip to Satya Dharma Temple and Nusa Lembongan in Bali

Bali is the Island of the Gods and this is not a euphemism. Not a single day passes without a ceremony here or there. Each intersection, each house, each rice field, each car, each temple is adorned with one or more offerings to attract the good graces of the Gods. But Bali is also the little pearl of Indonesia with its beautiful beaches, rice terraces, volcanoes and people so smiling. Going to Bali is a concentrate of happiness in a short tour of a small island with a big heart.

Bali is part of the small islands of Sunda. It is located between the islands of Java and Lombok, on the bow formed by Indonesia. It enjoys a tropical climate with constant heat all year round and rains abundantly between November and March. During the days spent on this small island, we were able to discover all the diversity that Bali can offer to its visitors. Here is a summary of this trip around the enchanting Bali.

Day 1: Tanjung Benoa

At 3.30 pm we land in Bali. That's it, we are there! First of all, we get the visa on arrival from the authorities in cash obviously. Then begins the negotiation with the taxis at the exit of the airport. The further we go, the lower is the price. In a few meters, it became half! So it's worth it to negotiate a bit.

So we got into our beautiful blue taxi towards the hotel in Tanjung Benoa, on the Bukit Peninsula. After half an hour drive, here we go! We collect the keys to our room, which is located next to the garden. The hotel is divided into a beach side with some of the rooms, large swimming pool and the dining room.

In the garden side is the other half of the rooms and swimming pools. We cross the road with the help of a policeman to be in the garden part of the hotel. The room is worthy with ultra comfortable bed, very well equipped with TV, kettle, safe and self-service drinking water.

We take advantage of the last hours of sunshine to end the day by the pool with a pina colada cocktail in hand. Luckily, we were right in Happy Hour between 5pm to 7pm, so we only pay for one of them. At 18:30, tired and torn by hunger, we decide to go eat. Of course, there is a restaurant at the hotel but the price is quite high.

So we prefer to go to one of the restaurants along the road. We set our sights on the one with a menu of soup, rice and fruits). We had a good meal and not expensive at all! At 8 pm, exhausted we go to bed early.

Trip to Satya Dharma Temple

Day 2: Nusa Lembongan

For breakfast, we return to the restaurant of the day before. I try the American breakfast and Julien the Indonesian. Big mistake for me! It's disgusting! Everything was boiled from eggs to bacon. At 10am, we find our driver for the day. Well, it turns out that it is not the one that I had by mail but another one.

We hallucinate on the road with scooters by thousands which double by the right. There is a super dense traffic and improbable loads. It's nice to have a driver! Our first visit will be the Satya Dharma Temple, a modern Chinese temple at Benoa Port. This is the last day of the temple ceremonies. So access to the site is limited enough for tourists but not for the monkeys who feast on the offerings deposited everywhere!

We are lucky because we are in Bali during the Galungan (Balinese New Year) holiday season. The Balinese celebrate the victory of good over evil and the creation of the universe. This event is calculated according to the Balinese calendar which consists of 210 days. For the occasion, penjors stand in front of each house. It's magical to walk in the middle of these streets and decorated!

The penjors represent a dragon, the head being the base and the tail the scenery. Each family creates their penjor for the occasion. It is mainly men who are in charge of carrying out the penjor, requiring about 1 week of work. Women, meanwhile, take care of offerings. The penjors are traditionally composed of a large bamboo rod for the structure and decorations made with palm leaves.

Tanjung Benoa is also a world famous surf spot but we did not see it that morning. A few kilometers from Tanjung Benoa are the most beautiful beaches of Bali but, again no luck, the road is closed due to procession. We will not see them unfortunately. So we head to Sanur and we are quickly stuck in traffic jams! It is because of the construction of the Ida Bagus Mantra bypass! What we do not know is that we will have the same ones back.

At 14:30, we finally arrive at Sanur! We have to find a restaurant! Our driver drops us in front of the waterfront and we walk along the beautiful white sand beach on foot looking for a nice table. On the menu is Ikan Satay (fish kebabs), Balinese Pancake (shredded pancake filled with grated coconut) and local beer. We have Bintang and Bali Hai.

We take the speed boat for our day diving on Nusa Lembongan. It is on this island that we are most likely to see the famous Mola Mola (moonfish). We cross our fingers. After 30 minutes by boat, we land in Lembongan. A cruise employee drives us on a scooter to the center. The timing is tight so there is no time to train.

We jump in the boat and head for Manta's Secret, our first dive spot. We equip ourselves on board and in the water! 3 or 4 manta rays join us and play with our bubbles. They stay with us during the 50 minutes of diving. We go back with stars in our eyes and hope to be lucky with the Mola Mola. We head for the second spot, Crystal Bay.

The seasickness awaits me so I eat almost nothing of my Nasi Goreng (typical Balinese dish with spicy rice) and focus on the horizon. After 1 hour of pitching, we return to the water for my greatest pleasure. We see a giant aquarium. It's really beautiful but there is no Mola Mola! And the worst thing about this is that the divers of the boat right next to us get back 10 minutes later and tell us that they saw it at the last moment!

We return to the cruise a little disappointed but delighted with these 2 dives. The staff is really great and we had a great day with them. As we have a little time before we take the speed boat to Sanur, we walk back to the pontoon and take the opportunity to visit the island a bit. We cross red and green algae drying areas for the food or cosmetics industry. They represent the main source of income for the inhabitants of Nusa Lembongan.

There is a peaceful atmosphere here that makes us want to extend our stay on this haven of peace but our boat is waiting for us. So we return to the more hectic life of South Bali. In front of us, dozens of colored boats are spread out on the sand. Returning to the parking lot, we stop in a shop to buy a sarong, a kind of sarong that we must clothe before entering a temple, man or woman.

Despite the negotiation we pay the high price, but that we will only know later by crossing other street vendors who will propose us lower prices! Our driver speaks English poorly so the return is in silence. We ended the evening quiet in our room with a bowl of noodles and chips.

After the meal, the manager comes to the table to book the next day's excursions. We choose from a dozen outings, the visit to Banyuatis. After a quick tour on the internet to sort my emails we go to sleep.