So Much Happiness Fits in the Half Girlfriend

Wrapped in harmonious melodies, Half Girlfriend is the adaptation of another best-seller of the famous novelist Chetan Bhagat. The story is an ambiguous relationship between Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor) and Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor), summarized by the tagline: Dost Se Jyada, Girlfriend Se Kam. What does this status mean? One wants more, the other does not want. Is it a fair deal for Madhav or is it proof of selfishness on the part of Riya?

Twelve years ago, I met a French girl, who was three years older than me. While studying at the university, we soon became friends but we met only for a coffee, or to talk about exams. I cannot say I did not like her. Indeed, she was one of the sweetest girls I'd have ever known. My girlfriend was polite, serious, clever, with beautiful green eyes. However, the thought that one of us could have been for the other, did not touch me. Perhaps because I feared it could ruin our beautiful relationship of friendship.

Over the weeks, our complicity grew stronger as we were always together, and many thought we were a couple. The time spent with her was precious and I felt listened to. It was barely few months for us to attend, and for me, she had become my confidant, my confessor, the point of reference. She was always there, without ever being intrusive. During those months I never went out with other guys or girls.

Without realizing it, a great story began with glances, caresses, long walks, days spent in the park out of affection and mutual respect. They say that friendship is not good if there are no fights, but we have never quarreled, as we understood each other perfectly.

After a year, once she decided to come to my home to take some notes, I was afraid of the reaction of my parents, who would think otherwise. Once again, my parents had shown what fantastic people they were, acting exactly as I would have liked. My mother looked worried and as strained as I was. My father seemed so relaxed, I dare say, almost amused by the situation.

Initially, there were several moments of silence, where no one knew what to say. Soon they too realized we were nothing more than friends, but maybe my parents started liking her too. We often spent the weekends with each other.

I did not talk much about my family, apart from telling her that my parents are very traditional. I knew she had a brother and a sister and that her parents were working somewhere. Her sister at the time studied in London. She was so similar to her with the very sweet face, the big eyes, apart from the color and the same stupendous character. Her brother, however, had finished studies and had married and lived with his wife and daughter in the parent's home. As strange as that, I soon learned that in France also it is normal.

Although my family was a well-off family, my brother and I always had to do some work during our studies. She also did the same, giving classes of English and French. On her day of graduation, her sister came to visit us, and my parents also had my own impression of her.

In those two years, she went to visit her parents only once, for two weeks, and those were the longest days of my life. Upon her return, I went to the airport and after hugging her, my legs trembled and my voice trembled. I do not know why. She falls asleep in the car. After accompanying to her room, she goes to cool off and me too. After an hour she knocks, and I see her for the first time in a beautiful sari.

I understand how different our cultures were, but at the same time, I realized I was so fascinated and curious to know her. Throughout the time we had been together, she had lived in my culture in my country, and now I was happy with that little view of her.

As we never had made love, so I began to think that perhaps at the age of 19, it was time to try this new experience. My trusty friend did not even disappoint in this case, as she told me that if I felt ready, I should go for it. I dared courage and one evening, I said to her that I wanted to make love with her.

We went for dinner in a romantic restaurant and held each other's hand all through the dinner, and after a couple of hours, as we planned to head to our room, both of us become slightly terrified. We did not know if it would be wise and if it was the right thing to do.

Arriving in the room, I was pleased to know she had made a romantic and relaxing atmosphere with dozens of scented candles and several bouquets of flowers. I soon relax and start feeling more comfortable, as she hesitantly moves towards me and I was also having trouble expressing my feelings.

At that moment, she approached to kiss me, I saw her beautiful eyes looking at me, and I saw her in my arms. Then I realized I was not prepared to be in love with her! Her eyes were filled with tears, and soon I found myself crying for the confusion and the fear in my consciousness. I left the room in a hurry with her mouth open and speechless. I head to my room, and when I open the door, I see all my life before me.

Without doing anything, I throw myself in my bed, and I can say with absolute certainty that it was the longest night of my life.

A Practical Egypt Travel Guide

I did not want to start doing an Egypt travel blog. Not because I did not love it. It's definitely one of those places that you have to go to in your life. I do not want to do it because there are so many memories. The truth is that I want to leave some things that I learned there. I hope it can serve someone in the future.

Since I can remember, my mom had always said it was a dream for her to go to Egypt, the land of Pharaohs and Pyramids. For this year, while planning my vacation, I decided it was time to go. When I was planning the trip I had a million doubts. I want you to know that this is the first time in my life that I have done something through a travel agency.

In Egypt, I decided on the travel agency because I realized that it was the easiest way to do it all. In the end, I do not regret it. It is a country that is a little different from what we are used to. At least it saved me the problem of the transfers, who to hire for excursions, and the guides. I recommend that the decision be made according to what you think is best for you and not because you read this or that is very easy. Make the decision according to what you will feel more comfortable.

And as I said before, I always make my vacations without agencies, as the established plans causes me a bit of discomfort. After reading so many Egypt travel guides I had made a fixed plan in my head of what I wanted to do and this did not fit into any agency plan.

In the end, I decided to send emails to travel agencies in Egypt. I wrote what I wanted to do. My plan was to compare prices with the plans already established by the agencies and make decisions. The prices vary a lot!

The problem was which agency to choose. I chose a one who gave me a very good impression because they answered my emails quickly. They had a good price, and offered good motorboats and hotels. I went to another travel site, found people who had traveled with them and sent them messages and they recommended it to me.

Day 1 - Luxor

Finally came the day. We left London and took a Cairo flight for African lands in an Airbus. The cabin staff passes us a paper so we can fill it out. This form is to formalize the visa, thus expediting the movement of passengers afterwards in the immigration window. They give us the food with cucumber salad and mushrooms with cilantro and a choice between chicken with rice or veal with macaroni or a bread roll.

We have a quesito and strawberry tiramisu dessert and juices and soft drinks since there is no alcohol. The first impression was at the Cairo airport and there I began to see how different this country was. It is the main airport, with great movement and it has so many boarding gates and I think I saw maybe 10 satellites.

There was not much when I was there, but there were almost no tourists in the country. They ride us on a bus, and they take us to the connecting flight to Luxor in the same airport in Cairo. I did not expect it in a country like Egypt. We board the flight to Luxor (the latter surprisingly in first class without knowing it). And why start in Luxor?

I wanted to leave the Pyramids for the last. It was my dream, and I was afraid that if I saw them first, the rest of the trip would not have the same expectations. The turbulence begins and it starts to get dark. Through the window we cannot even see the sun. The flight is going well, with small moments of turbulence, but time goes by and we get closer to the destination. We have a coffee and a cupcake.

I see large cities through the window, but almost everything is of an absolute black color. At night we arrived in Luxor. There was clearly sand in the environment and heat. It was much hotter than in Cairo although it was almost 10pm. They picked us up and we slept on the motorboat.

Day 2 - Karnak

We are taken out of sleep by phone from the reception. We go super early to have breakfast and start our spectacular week. We put on some sunscreen and went to the Valley of the Kings and on the way, our first stop. The Colossi of Memnon (representing Amenhotep III) and then we saw a small temple built by Ramses II on the road.

We continue our way to the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. The bus leaves us in an esplanade, in the parking lot. From here, a little train take us to the base of the mountain, where is the temple of this important queen. Deir el-Bahari is impressive.

It is very well reconstructed, but there are not many reliefs/hieroglyphics. It was empty, and we were the only tourists in the place. Our guide told us that since the political revolt about 3 months before, we were his first group.

In the visitor center, we can see a model of the original construction. And then, we go to the Valley of the Kings. Leaving the bus we went to the ticket office to get the tickets. The tombs of Tutankhamun and Seti I do not fall within this price and must be paid separately. With an impressive heat, without a shadow to shelter, it was refreshing to enter the tombs. We cannot take pictures, and the cameras had to be left in the car, but I will always remember the beauty of the tombs inside.

Being sheltered from the sun, they preserve colors very well. When we get the impression that we take is not very good, but once we enter the tombs we fall in love with the site. We entered only 3 graves. I was eager to see others, but the time was short and we had to continue. We crossed the Nile to go towards the Karnak Temple. With almost 70 hectares, it is the largest temple in the world behind that of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

In the visitor center, in addition to a model there are some pictures of how they found the temple which I loved to see the contrast with today. We see of the ancient history of this town. We left Karnak to visit the Luxor Temple. It is in a better state of conservation than that of Karnak. Originally both temples were united by the Avenue of Sphinxes, which is now in excavation.

There is only one obelisk at the entrance when there should be two. The guide tell us that one was given to France and is in the Place de la Concorde in Paris (and that by the way is seen in better condition than the one left here).

When the Egyptian temples were abandoned by the Catholic religion, they were filled with sand until they were covered. It also allowed them to be preserved. Here we see a more modern construction on top of the Luxor temple since everything was covered in sand.

This is how the first day ended. Even though in my country we are used to the heat, nothing prepares us for the desert. And that was not the hottest time! Before dinner we negotiated with some men who had their small rowboat tied to the motorboat selling djellaba, tablecloths and napkins. We bought a djellaba. After a very good a la carte dinner we go straight to sleep as we were very tired.

Day 3 - Edfu

We wake up, this time not so early. We have slept very well even though the ship has been sailing during the night. The truth is that nothing is felt, neither engine noise nor boat movements. We enjoy a good breakfast today without much trouble. We got off the boat to take the much-talked-about horse carriage. They are humble people, who have a horse pulling a chariot that it is not in the best conditions in the world. We go to the first temple of the day to Edfu temple, which is dedicated to the god Horus.

This temple was without a doubt my favorite after Abu Simbel. Karnak is big, so big that we did not see everything. But Edfu is very well taken care of. The reliefs are beautiful, and well preserved. The hypostyle hall (columns) complete with everything and ceiling in which colors are still nice.

Personally I liked it very much for how well preserved it is. Not only the construction is well preserved, but it also has hieroglyphs that are in excellent condition. We see areas where we can still appreciate colors. From the moment we arrive, we can observe the pill, beautiful with all the discernible figures, and even some colors. At the entrance there are two statues of the god Horus (here the best preserved of the two).

The patio is well wide, surrounded by columns that are also very well preserved. The Hypostyle Hall (columns) has up to its ceiling where it can be seen that it was black and painted / drawn with stars.

The way light penetrates I think it was one of the things that fascinated me the most. They had several places where it entered through some space. They say that before there were alabaster stones where the ray of light arrived, in such a way that the whole room was illuminated. It must have been spectacular!

We returned to the ship and set sail to continue our journey to Aswan where we would arrive at night. We pass the Esna lock and stop to see the Kom Ombo Temple, dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god and to Haroeris. Towards the back, there are salons that served as a school.

When finished, we return to the cruise to continue sailing towards Aswan. The dinner was on the deck, with beautiful night views of the river bank. We have gone down to dinner dressed in the djellaba. In the middle of the dinner, the waiters and the cooks with their Egyptian songs have come out. It has been very beautiful and we all started dancing in the center of the dining room.

We go to the disco bar. We took a bottle of Johnnie Walker, which we brought and took it to the terrace. Once up, we are joined by the guys with whom we talk about travel and life in general. Once again we dance and we have had a great time dancing. We go to sleep. The ship travels to Aswan, while we dream of more stone, more sand, and more Egypt.

Day 4 - Aswan

We get up early! The sky is a beautiful blue. One of the days we dreamed about was waiting for us at Abu Simbel. When leaving the motorboat we take two boxes each with breakfast and a lunch. It is night so we do not see anything and everything is dark. There is no light anywhere and the few street lamps are left behind. After waiting for the entire convoy to form, we went through the desert and could see the beautiful sunrise.

After a long trip, at a speed that sometimes scared me, on a long road in the middle of the desert, we arrived. The first thing we see is the beauty that creates the contrast between the blue of Lake Nasser and the desert sand. In the distance, we could see some other transport, but they are not the caravans we had heard about. There are souvenir shops, banks and we see an ATM.

We walk, and suddenly they appear in front of us of an incredible sensation that I will never forget. When we see the facade, the colossi, we can only think of the greatness of ancient Egypt and the greatness that Ramses II wanted to project, who definitely achieved it. After hearing all the history and meanings of what we would see our guide recommended us to start at the temple of Nefertiti dedicated to Hathor.

Since all the people go directly to Ramses II we could enjoy this small temple alone. It's definitely small, but beautiful. We left fascinated and went to the temple of Ramses II. It's one of those things to see sometime in life. It's a pity that we cannot take pictures, but it's a small price that we have to pay to keep the beauties inside.

In the temple of Ramses II, the details in the bas-relief of the Battle of Kadesh are incredible. So many times I have seen it in books and in documentaries, that now I see it in front. Just for a moment, all these centuries have disappeared. I was there with it, in its time, in its moment. It has been a magical moment. Although it is not even 9 o'clock in the morning, there is already more than 30 degrees.

We then rest up a bit in one of the restaurants in the area and return to Aswan wanting to see mirages. We got on the bus and started the return trip this time to the north. The sky is clear during the whole journey. We have not seen a single cloud. In the parking lot there were only three buses, although it has capacity for many more. Our guide tells us that before the Arab Spring this is not what it was.

Along the way we saw stables with camels. Our guide tells us that Sudanese camels are very appreciated for their meat. We also see military barracks with tanks and many checkpoints. Every once in a while we see some school. In the distance we can see pyramid-shaped mountains. Here it's all pyramid-shaped.

Upon arriving in Aswan, we went down to eat. I eat a little bit of rice and meat. We go down to the lobby to go to the Nubian Village. The Nubians, are very dark skin, but features and hair are different. They take out their drums and started singing and we followed them. In a surfboard they attached themselves to the boat and tried to sell us something too.

In the middle of the river, we change boats. We move to a more modern outboard motor boat, which has taken almost the charm of the excursion. With this new transport, we keep going through stones, some quite large. There is little wildlife on the river, but only a few waterfowl. On the shore, on top, we can see the castle fortress of an Egyptian character.

We continue navigating between smaller channels. We have left the largest branch of the Nile behind and stopped at a small beach where we take a good swim and we jump from the top of the boat. We had a very fun time. At the time of getting on the camels, the discussions between them have returned to see who we were going up with.

Once the waters calm, we climb the camel and our pilgrimage to the town begins. After about 20 minutes, riding on a camel, we arrived at the Nubian Village. The Nubian Town, whose name is Gharb Soheil, is a rather small town, located on the riverbank. It will not have more than 50 buildings and in many of them, over the doors of the entrance to the houses, we see mummified crocodiles.

Once on land we enter a typical Nubian house, where we are offered karkade, water, a Hibiscus tea of ​​various flavors and some refreshment with some pastas. They show us their house where they had in a cage live crocodiles and in a fish tank a couple of young ones. It is impressive to see these animals so closely.

We walk until we reach the school, where the teacher shows us how the numbers are written in Arabic, also as they are pronounced in Nubian. At 7:00 pm we go by boat to the motorboat. It is already night and the pleasant breeze turns around. We go through the Elephantine Island. Here the boatman shows us the elephant shape that this great rock has that makes up the island.

When we arrived at the jetty, we shower and have dinner. Today we have an Egyptian specialty. We eat Molokhia and some desserts like the baklava. After dinner, we left for the city. We pass through little-traveled areas of the city, where we are greeted as we pass by, especially children. Some houses are very abandoned. It gives the feeling of sites devastated by some catastrophe, but we see that this is the general trend.

This is an area little frequented by tourists. So they are almost surprised more of us, than us of them. The stores and businesses are in the purest Egyptian style. In some of them it seems that time has not passed and modernity has not passed by. There were and donkeys pulling cars. There are goats, sheep, chickens, cows, bicycles and pedestrians everywhere.

We soon reached a square. We get off the horse drawn carriage and sit down in a quite cafe. There people see a football match. They put us an apple-flavored shisha. After a while, we take the buggy and stop at a spice shop, where after a chat with the store owner, we make the corresponding purchases.

The main salesman, spoke to us of a spice, took a little between the fingers, pressed it against the palm and passed it so that we could see it and smell it. This has been done with several spices, commenting on the properties and the use of each and the possible mixtures. There were two more assistants, who repeated what the boss did.

The store was very beautiful, with antique furniture and many showcases with hundreds of jars where the spices were. The smells mixed; It smelled like cloves, saffron, turmeric and a lot of different species, many of them would not even know how to differentiate them and even less to name them. It was an enjoyment for the senses. He wanted to sell everything to us. All the spices had the same price, except the saffron and I do not know what other spice.

We ride in a carriage to the jetty and on arrival we go straight to sleep for the last time in the motor ship, since the next day we left in the night for Cairo.

Day 5 - Agilkia Island

Before going down to breakfast we leave our luggage at the door of the room. The staff of the motorboat is to take them to the lobby. After some negotiation, we take a video. The jetty is very close to one of the main streets, full of banks and shops. We got on the bus.

We visited the Unfinished Obelisk. Our guide explained how they were manufactured and how it was transported to the river, where it was taken to the temple under construction. Then we go to the Aswan Dam, a place that is definitely not very nice per se. It is a dam, but our guide took the opportunity to explain not only about its construction but also about the process of rescue and mobilization of the temples.

Some of they were totally covered by water. From the dam we can see the Temple of Kalabsha. Later we went to the Philae Temple. It turned out to be one of my favorites because of the majesty with which it is seen on an island in the middle of the water. We see the blue of the water and the fact that there is vegetation give it a unique life.

This temple also had to be mobilized by the floods by the dam (initially it was on the Philae island). Moreover, this was one of those that was submerged in water and there are walls on which we can still see the level where it was covered. On the same island were several temples, including the one of Imhotep.

It represents the importance of this character in Egyptian history. There are beautifully conserved reliefs and bas-reliefs and others in which the passage of the Catholic Church by it is evidently evident. And my favorite building is the Trajan's Kiosk. Some say it was here that Scheherazade counted the One Thousand and One Nights.

We arrived at the pier. The sellers sell very cool stones. They are rock crystals that are green, blue and white. The seller tells us that they are exclusive to the northern part of Sudan, so we will not find them anywhere else.

We returned to eat and collect our bags in the motorboat and they took us to the train station, where we would take the sleeper train to Cairo. This is particularly an experience that I do not know if I want to repeat. It was a bit difficult to rest and during the day with heat the air conditioning did not work well.

The only good thing I can say is that I lived something different. But if I repeat the trip, the flight will be the means of transport that I will definitely choose. And that's my opinion, but two of my group were about to get off at some station to sleep in a hotel and get a flight as soon as possible.

Day 6 - Cairo

We arrived very early in Cairo and went to the hotel there. Although it was not the check in time they allowed us to go up to the rooms to bathe and change our clothes. We go towards Giza. This was one of the most anticipated things of our trip. Undoubtedly. And just because of this we had left it towards the end.

When we were preparing it we imagined that if we saw the pyramids at the start (which was our dream) the rest of the trip was not going to be that exciting anymore. And so, we saw them appear in front of us. I was impressed by how close they are to the city! We see them appear between houses and roads. But definitely they are so impressive that nothing with the most modern architecture can be matched.

We could observe several more rudimentary forms of pyramids in the surroundings, mastabas and, in the distance, more pyramids this time higher. For those of us who do not know much about Egyptian history, that is something I did not expect. I did not know that in addition to the Pyramid of Sakkara or the famous Giza there were so many. I see them in the distance as they filled the panorama.

Here there is the option of entering the Great Pyramid of Giza also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops or the Pyramid of Menkaure. The main attraction is taller than I imagined and is with other smaller pyramids (of wives and children) that I didn't know existed. They welcomed us and we will never forget them.

Behind the Pyramid of Cheops, there is a small elongated museum, where the Khufu ship, found in front of the Great Pyramid, is exposed. On the same side is the pyramid of Khafre. And just in Giza we had another of those unexpected things that our trip was full of and that were wonderful. It was a camel ride!

At first we were a little scared but the experience is second to none. It was like being on a roller coaster and something I recommend to all those who physically feel fit. We take the bus that take us to the small pyramid of Menkaura. After the ramp there is a landing and a little further on turning to the right is the place of rest of the pharaoh. Of course we tade some pictures of the mummy. The pyramid inside is empty. It has no paintings, and it does not have a sarcophagus.

I've been wanting to visit these places all my life. The views from the area where the small Pyramid of Menkaura are extraordinary. From there we take again the bus that leaves us in the precinct of the Sphinx. And what about the sphinx? Stone by stone I do not know what to say if I like a pyramid or the Sphinx more. I can only tell you that what fascinated me the most is that it even has a tail! Just something I did not expect.

Next to the Sphinx, they were setting up a stage for what would be a light and sound show. We do some shopping and left again by bus to see the papyrus museum. It is very interesting an exhibition of how the papyrus plant is made and how it worked. Of course I ask for a sample. We left for Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt which is about 25 km away.

The first thing we see is the Mit Rahina Museum. This museum, almost all outdoors is very interesting. In a closed enclosure is a giant statue. It was found in a semi-buried river, hence the difference between both sides of the body. After this visit we went to eat at a restaurant with Falafel and Hummus and the typical beer.

The waiter brings a mini barbecue in the table with chicken and sausages and lamb. There is a little meat stuffed cabbage rolls like meatballs, elongated meat minced meat with grilled spices, aish, typical bread, and Turkish coffee. The food was delicious. Afterwards they offered us shisha, but we did not want much and we did not have much time, as always.

We left Memphis to go to the nearby Saqqara, which is only 3 km away. The first thing we visited in the area was the Imhotep museum where there are some interesting things. It is small, but more organized and definitive than Cairo.

From there to the stepped pyramid of Djoser, the truth was fairly preserved and there were great works of reconstruction. Sakkara is a necropolis. Here we had the opportunity to enter the pyramid of Teti, which was an unrepeatable experience. It will not have been one of the great pyramids of Giza but I think it is an experience. So, we go down our narrow staircase, unable to lift our heads to reach and observe the interior.

But undoubtedly what I liked most was the Mortuary temple of Djoser in the area because the stone is completely polished, which gives it an incredible glow. This makes it unique. Looking to the south we can see in the distance, the red pyramid, and the Dasnur area.

After this long day, we returned to the hotel which is on the banks of the Nile and very close to the famous Tahrir Square. It is that square where the Egyptians met to achieve democracy in their country. We went out to see the nightlife in Cairo. We understood how close the Cairo Museum was to a state building. The center is crowded, with streets full of stores with international brands. This is an expensive area, and it's called El Maadi.

We went through the 6th October Bridge, one of the bridges that separate Giza from Cairo. We passed the Cairo Tower, and an equestrian club. Walking back to the banks of the river, we had the opportunity to witness a beautiful sunset. We enter the Bab al Futuh, one of the gates of the Citadel. The city at night has a charm and a mystery. We decided to go for a walk in the area and look for our dinner.

It turned out to be quite an odyssey since no one understood what we were looking for. It was not until we saw a delivery motorcycle pass that we managed to get the address from the delivery guy. By the way, it was only about two blocks from the square.

The menu, based on falafel, rice, hummus and typical local dishes is very rich. After dinner, we ride on the minivan and return to the hotel. Our guide went to his room with two girls waiting for him in the reception. His night begins and our day comes to an end. We arrived at the room to rest.

Day 7 - Coptic Cairo

We had breakfast in the hotel in a beautiful dining room and excellent food. After breakfast we headed to the Cairo Museum. Here I do not regret having had a guide. There are so many things in this museum! The beautiful façade does not match what we find inside. Unfortunately it is not organized as one would expect.

It is the main museum of the country and, above all, with so much history and so much tourism potential. In the end, thanks to the guide we could see in an appropriate way the most important ones. We could associate it to all those temples, and tombs that we had already seen. I liked that we had seen it at the end because that way we understood everything better.

There is a room dedicated to Akhenaten, the father of Tutankhamun, with some statues which are the ones that I liked most in the museum. We cannot take photos inside, and leave the camera outside. So I dedicated myself to buy postcards of what caught my attention in the museum shop to have a small souvenir.

From there, we go to Coptic Cairo. I really liked seeing the different religions mixed in a small neighborhood. There we can see the Sacred Crypt where Mary and Joseph were during their flight. The Catholic Church is beautiful. Its decoration is very different from what we usually see in Western countries.

The influence of Arab culture can be felt. In the Synagogue (which we could not take photos) we could also see that beautiful influence in the decoration. Then we visit the citadel with the Mohamed Ali Mosque. It is a very beautiful place. It is on top, and has good views of the city. We can see the contrasts of the different areas of this megalopolis. The background is impressive and majestic with the pyramids.

The day was coming to an end and we headed to the Khalili Bazaar. It was already the last day to go shopping, but we wanted to experience the atmosphere and buy some more gifts. Here we make a stop and have a tea and a shisha. And so ended this wonderful week that I will never forget in my life. It is a country we should see sometime in life and left us wanting to return but we had to take our flight although the holidays barely started.

Viva Mexico! Guide to Burritos

Mexican cuisine for many years has been internationalized and has always been a regular presence in the American fast food chains. However, in recent years this trend has spread. Today, when strolling through the streets of downtown Mexico City, anyone can realize the high number of locals dedicated to this meal.

Beyond the fast food restaurants, Mexican cuisine is an excellent resource to enjoy a dinner themed with friends. Its main virtues are its affordability, originality and, if the night lengthens, the ability to accompany them with a few Mexican beers or shots of tequila.

For these reasons, from soul, heart, and life we offer a guide to make delicious burritos with which to surprise and succeed at the next meeting with colleagues.

What are the burritos?

Fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, burritos. Many are the terms we use interchangeably for Mexican food, but do not distinguish between them.

The main feature of the burrito is the way they seal it. Admittedly it is not easy. Sometimes there are different theories about the differential aspects of each. The quesadillas and enchiladas are the most easily distinguishable. The first is characterized by their main ingredient of cheese. They are bent (the filling is placed between two tortillas) and triangular cuts are usually carried out. Meanwhile, enchiladas stand out as being bathed in a sauce, usually chili.

But the difference between fajita, burrito and taco is more complicated. First we will focus on the taco, which actually refers to a corn tortilla rolled with food inside, but not their ingredients. While, the wad is rolled tortilla and stuffed with meat cut into thin strips.

And the burrito and fajita differs from its form of preparation, as to wrap one side is closed, something that does not occur in the fajita (both ends are open). It is also said that to be called burrito, beans needs to be inside.

However, as we explained Lexiofiles, the burrito is a product whose origin is located in Mexico, particularly in the north, in Chihuahua, but then has spread much more to Texas than in the south of the Mexican country. These are the reasons why this food can be considered more tex-mex than purely Mexican.

The tortilla

This is a basic aspect when making the burrito. Generally wheat or corn is used, although in this case the first will be better since then it will be more elastic. In order to differentiate a trick the corn have a yellowish color.

The meat

As in any other prescription, quality is a very important aspect. You can choose chicken or pork, but must ensure that the butcher give the tenderest meat. In case you opt for chicken, a very comfortable option is to cook by baking. However, pork is best cooked over low heat. It is advisable to be aware of the meat so that it is juicy without being tough, but never dry.

Of course, when pouring salt and pepper, better bit much. Overdo the seasoning to the point where you no longer know meat is a common mistake, so it is preferable to dose, try and decide the point that is considered optimal to taste.

Rice and Beans

Many people, for convenience, choose to serve white rice. But if you want to enjoy condiment tastier, it is possible to cook a classic Mexico rice . In the blog La Cocina Mexicana Pily a simple recipe in which a sauce with chopped garlic and onion is done until rice is browned and then boiled in chicken broth explained. Carrots or peas can be added.

The beans are another basic aspect of burritos and Mexican food. There are different variants of this bean, but the most prominent, in this case is usually black and pints. As to how to consume, there are different alternatives. At the laziest it will not be difficult to find them already cooked in any supermarket chain, but no doubt that will be better and be healthier if cooked at home.

The easiest way will cook them in water with onion and garlic. But it is also common eating refried, in which the initial process is the same, and once cooked fried in oil and ground into a denser mass.

The sauce

Here come into play the tastes of each. There are numerous saucesmore or less spicy flavor. The easiest thing to do at home is the tomato, as there are so just chop with onions, a pinch of salt and oil. If you want to give a strong touch, you can add jalapenos.

Another companion very usual is the guacamole, whose recipe, despite being a product that is often purchased already prepared, is quite simple. Only ripe avocado, lemon, salt and onion is needed. Onion and avocado (skinless) is chopped and added salt and lemon to taste. Some people add some tomato and garlic.

The cheese

The cheese may be the stooge, but not as the main actor. The right choice is a cheese that melts easily, so the mild Cheddar is a more logical choice. To prepare, best on the tortilla, to be heated in the oven or skillet over low heat for two to five minutes, until cheese is melted and the tortilla is flexible.

Final assembly

There's nothing left! But should not err in a last step, which is more delicate than an inexperienced can believe. Once warmed tortilla with melted cheese must add the remaining ingredients. The best order to place it: beans, rice, meat and finally sauces desired. Here it is where comes in the skill and experience of each, because we must not overfilling to prevent can not close or leave it empty.

The clumsiest may be close at both ends and wrap with aluminum foil to eat more easily. Of course, they should be aware that this can lift the laughter and criticism from experts and purists.

My Love Story with India

My mind ponder about the culture of India that includes its numerous religions, customs, traditions, languages spoken, the ceremonies, the arts, the way of life in India and its people.

In a subcontinent like India, with a population of more than a billion individuals, languages, religions, dances, music, architecture and culinary traditions vary considerably from place to place. I also believe in what I do not believe. It's not part of my experiences, but I take it into consideration. I do not like it, but I know it.

I do not practice it, but I accept it. I defend my favorites, but I do not fall prisoner of myself. India is a complex mixture of its historical traditions and a country of very different cultures, many languages, religions and traditions and I as a child began to face, learn, accept, and assimilate this diversity.

I will not leave the principle, and I will, at least here, tell you that I am the son of an authoritative, far-sighted man, a great worker, one who lives for work and who has been able to get out of the way with tenacity from scratch, willpower and sweat. In rural areas and sometimes in urban areas in India, it is common that three or four generations of the same family live under one roof and the patriarch often solves the problems of the whole family.

I still thank him today for teaching me the values of respecting people of all ages and in a place with over thirty employees, I could handle easily based on the experience gained. I know how to treat my co-workers, because I had been for long periods in my fathers’ shoes.

I turn to them with the kindness and humility and I had been able to see them smile when I did their job. I knew the importance of respect and confidence that are indispensable elements in creating a serene and productive working environment.

For a while I was proud of the position I had taken as a leader but at some point I realized that boredom was taking over as I spend not less than twelve hours a day in the same place! It is a beautiful place and I have no hesitation to admit it, but it is always the same, place I was in!

I really felt in a stagnant situation. No, if I had persevered in where I was, I should have recognized that I did not have a long-lasting experience for my activity, but a two-year experience replicated for a number of times.

I then started reading and researching something that could make my life more special and fun. Yes, because, in my opinion, one of the business's prerogatives is growth and fun. If I am happy I can create. If I grow up, I can gain. And gain is to be understood in both existential and economic terms.

In the beginning I had some preconception about the possibility of changing and getting out of my hamster wheel due to induced or fed preconceptions, unknowingly and with a sense of protection, from the mentality of friends and acquaintances. Are you crazy, you want to leave this nice job and they could not believe that despite the envied tenure of life, I was dissatisfied with my condition.

The fact is that I am a dreamer, a dreamer who has always dreamed of being great, and that they, moreover, had probably stopped doing it. At a certain age, the dream is perceived as a madness, a taboo, something that, if it is not realized, causes pain.

One day, which has become a milestone in my growth, I went to a dear friend whose mindset has fascinated me forever, who like me, shared the passion for the way people still do business in rural India based more on mutual trust than anything else, and we decided to make a long trip, each one riding our own bike.

We travelled thousands of miles through majestic and enchanting places in a fantastic journey and a wonderful adventure that has generated an existential turning point in me. And it was just there, on that occasion, that I realized the value of time and money. It was a winning and exhilarating combination. I found my target. I wanted to get my time and money too. Now, I had to trace my path.

And, without wanting it, the people of my country set me on the right path. One morning, at breakfast, a roadside dhaba in Rajasthan made me taste some of the products, which was very popular among patrons of that dhaba. The dhaba owner told me that they were made over a span of three days, but ultimately the smile in the face of people made him prepare it everyday. He told me about the mental process that had led him to success, such as his decision-making mode.

I decided to stay near the dhaba for a few days and this was part of a world of highly motivating training, a training that allowed me to learn insights as I saw the way he interacted with the customers that inevitably led them to carry some of the products for home too.

I had come to almost thirty years convinced that this was a sacred statement to find that it was nothing but a dogma as incredible as the circles of influence can unconsciously lead a man to do something. Also, thanks to that training, I was lucky enough to meet optimistic people, people who turned out to be good partners and good friends in life. I finally made my statement saying, if someone has already done it, I can do it too!

Another very important point for my growth, which really made a difference, was to find out that if I wanted to become rich, I did not have to go to a rich man to ask for his money as loan. If I really wanted to be successful in the economic sphere, then I should not have money, but information!

This is to be able to replicate the path. If you adopt the same thinking process, you can get the same kind of result. And that creates that kind of self-confidence, which is an indispensable premise to success. I continued to look for a method and a system that has already been proven to generate money and automatic bonuses.

I acquired new mental behaviours and attitudes and my determination to succeed in me was rewarded. That is the philosophy of delegation and decentralization and which needs the ability to find and manage human resources. I learned in a short time to buy and sell products to family members and friends, first buying them at auction, then selling it out, and then again. It was highly profitable because it was both beneficial for the buyers that avoid the high costs required for buying it in normal market.

This practice has sometimes helped me to help the family in difficulty, and helping someone at the same time. Being able to combine selfishness and generosity is really rewarding. In every business I do, I always try to improve someone's quality of life, in addition to my own and my family's. After acquiring mastery of the matter, my circle of influences has begun to be interested and want to participate in my endeavours.

So I came into contact with successful, motivated and concrete people who opened up other roads. I am aware of being just at the beginning of my journey and the fact that the road will be long and winding and that, for this reason, will be very fun and motivating.

Travel with the Monkeys at the Hanuman temple in Hampi, Karnataka

And here I finally managed to find some time to start the story of our wonderful holiday in Hampi. Until now the scenarios around me seem to be always new and completely different from each other. We went from Bollywood to the colonial villages, to the sea and Hampi turned out to be another surprise. The images in my mind flow faster than words, to the point that I find it almost difficult to describe it all together, this place.

After a few days of relaxation in Gokarna, it was time to get going again. So we boarded the semi-sleeper bus to Hampi without really knowing what we would find, apart from old stones. The road that leads from Bijapur to Hospet is partly new, partly under construction and, therefore, with various detours. Despite all the journey this time it was more than satisfying and comfortable.

I looked for hotels, even those with 4 stars, near the bus terminal, but strangely (from what I understood there was a great wedding the following day) they were all full. For the third time in my life, I found myself, for the same reason, to sleep on the street. However, once again I did not panic, and given that in these areas the evening is not cold and that India seems to be a particularly safe country from the point of view of delinquency, I found a secluded corner near the bus station. I took the sleeping bag and fell asleep for about three hours in front of a lodge entrance.

At six o'clock I then took the first bus to Hampi. After the dusty Hospet, we enter fully into the tropical atmosphere of southern India. A small asphalt road crosses fields of banana trees and coconut trees, against the backdrop of huge colored granite boulders rust that seems carved in the sky, in the background of that natural landscape that gives this trip something magical.

Hampi is one of those places that are not usually found in travel itineraries to India, as is the sacred city of Varanasi or the emblematic Taj Mahal. But unlike these, Hampi leads the Lonely Planet guide list at number one. Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara empire from 1336 to 1565, one of the strongest and richest empires in the history of India.

Day 1

We arrived in Hampi confident. It's been a long time since that happened to us. And the truth is that past the initial barrier of the rickshaw drivers, waiting for the tourist like hungry hyenas at the bus stop, the place had a special charm. The Israeli community planted the flag here and one at a time I had the feeling of being walking through Tel Aviv. Westerners walk in shorts and the rule of covering the shoulders here has no place.

Hampi is small. One walks a little and gets lost from the masses. The town is surrounded by a river and just by following the course one can find fantastic scenery. And loners, there are no cold beer kiosks everywhere, thankfully. And just a few meters away, Hampi appears to us as magnificent. Yes, "magnificent" is a big word, but we cannot think of another one.

We arrived with a piece of paper in our pocket with the address of a guest house. It was the only thing we knew about the place. The address was not in the center or in the tourist area. We had to combine two groups and walk a bit with backpacks. Once in Hampi, we had to take a boat to cross the bridge and reach our Guest House.

Our Guest House was like a fairy tale house. It was composed of a set of bungalows surrounded by greenery and in the middle of the rice fields and each had a hammock on the porch! Obviously being in the middle of nature I made friends with countless geckos, frogs, and many kittens! Finally, we felt at home, once again. Between dunks and sunsets, we asked ourselves several times what geographical feature gave rise to such beauty. And when science does not provide answers, myth takes place.

After a short moment of relaxation, we decided to cross the river again and make the first cultural visit of the holiday. Hampi is a village located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. On our first walk to Hampi, we decide to climb the Hemakuta Hill, the temple hill overlooking the Virupaksha Temple and the surrounding area. What is immediately striking is the particularity of the territory, sown with hills and gray granite boulders.

We wander through the small temples on the hill and then descend to visit, finally, the Virupaksha Temple. At the entrance of the temple, a beautiful elephant named Lakshmi collects the coins with the trunk and then lavishes a tender blessing by placing the proboscis on the head. Lakshmi was so tender that she immediately conquered my heart. I like walking through the courtyards, crossing the stone halls, watching the devotees enjoying the shade or the women strolling with their multi-colored saris.

After a full day of treks, we decided to take a moment to relax in a room that overlooked the river surrounded by mango and banana trees! At 6.00 pm there was the last boat that allowed us to reach the opposite side of the river to our guest house. As soon as we arrive, we are welcomed by the imposing view of the Virupaksha Temple.

I cannot forget the beautiful view of the gopura illuminated in the evening light from the roof of our guesthouse. This view and that of the river have always accompanied us during the snacks and during the excellent strictly vegetarian dinners cooked by the very good cook of the guesthouse. The day ended with a dinner among the frogs. A couple of rums helped us sleep very well.

Day 2

At about 10 o'clock we found ourselves in the refreshment area of ​​the Guest House, that is a set of mattresses and tables placed under a thatched roof with a fantastic view of rice fields. The breakfast was just a luxury with ginger and lemon tea, banana and coconut pancakes, yogurt with granola and fresh fruit salad. After an abundant hour spent in the relax of this place of peace, we discussed and decided to rent motorcycles and travel through valleys, lakes, and villages.

The bike ride between flocks, bad roads, farms, lakes, and temples was certainly a good choice. The landscape around it was truly magical. The part that runs along the river is undoubtedly the most fascinating and also makes interesting meetings. A family asks us to take a souvenir photo. I win the prize of the worst dressed in Hampi and surroundings. On the side of the river, there is also my favorite temple: the Achyutaraya Temple.

Surrounded by greenery and flocks of passage and especially at the time of our visit to the desert, the Achyutaraya Temple has the charm that only fans of Tomb Rider will catch to the bottom. There is nothing more suggestive than visiting a temple surrounded by tropical vegetation in complete solitude (sheep excluded). Continuing along the path we find one of the most famous temples of the entire ruins complex: the Vittala Temple.

This temple consists of several pavilions inside with beautiful finely carved stone pillars. But what makes it famous is definitely the stone cart. Legend has it that in ancient times the stone wheels of the cart were able to turn really. The wagon represents the vehicle of Vishnu to whom the temple is dedicated. Inside there is an image of Garuda.

The weather was not the best with the gray and low sky, with milky light. At the end of the visit to Vittala Temple, our bikes had the wheels punctured. Before us, it was still 8km of the circuit to go back to the base, amidst humidity and heavy rain. This inconvenience and the long stop to repair the bike wheels did not allow us to visit much of the remaining monuments along the way. On the way back we still managed to stop to visit the beautiful Baths of the Queen.

When we got off the temple, we decided to do the last laps on the bike looking for a nice place to photograph the sunset, but we were stopped by a farmer who invited us to his house to eat mangoes and sugarcane.

Hanuman wallpapers images

Day 3

After a super breakfast of idli with its chutney and some circular flea buns, we cross the river by boat and we go on the other side of the Tungabhadra to make some purchases (I bought a beautiful Hippie dress) and stop again for lunch. After a couple of hours of full relaxation, I decided to take advantage of the last afternoon in Hampi to visit another series of temples, among rice fields and banana trees and palm trees.

We take a rickshaw to let us carry around and along the way we also acquire a very special passenger. It was an old man we call Baba. He is skinny and a kind of guru decayed because of alcohol and marijuana than to holiness. However, his company is very pleasant. We consent to be guided to the temples of the area. The first stop is the beautiful temple of Hanuman on top of the hill of Anjaneya.

Hampi possessed an infinity of Hindu temples, the majority already considered only ruins, that was the main tourist attraction. But what attracted me the most was that special landscape with epic tints. Thousands of rocks populated the plain, of all sizes, of the most improbable forms. Strangely arranged, as if Shiva, in a fit of fury, showing his darker side, had thrown them in order, perhaps, to punish a particularly misguided or ungodly population to finally end up scattered resting at impossible angles.

Perhaps, such was the fury of Shiva in some places that his action buried them, under mountains formed by those curious clusters of stones. And so the landscape remained inspiring on the one hand and as a reminder of what could be expected by those who ignited the wrath of Shiva.

Imagination apart, the stone clusters turned out to be formations of affordable altitude for willing walkers and that allowed, after effort, to enjoy some really spectacular views. Whatever the reason for its origin, it was a fairytale landscape, with possibilities for climbing, a sport that I longed for. A long serpentine rock staircase was waiting for us to reach the top of the hill.

The white of the temple and its red pennant, at the top of the hill of Anjaneya, are clearly visible even at a distance, which makes the place even more interesting. Also, this is not any location since tradition wants this to be the birthplace of Hanuman. Little did I suspect then the dangers that lurked hidden and the wild and legendary beasts that the place housed.

I met a French couple and decided to cross the river and visit the temple of Hanuman, the monkey God, faithful servant of Rama, and possessor according to the stories, of a practically unlimited force. It is tremendously popular in India and has several temples in his honor, of which this was one of the most spectacular, because of its unique location.

To access it, we had to arrive after ascending 30 minutes by inclined steps, avoiding all kinds of macaques. At the base of the climb, we buy bananas. We had heard interesting stories about the monkeys who lived on the hill and it seemed nice to bring them something on offer, considering that we were entering the kingdom of their divine representative.

The climb is not short and the more we climb the steep staircase and the more we turn to look at the surrounding landscape. But almost halfway there we were a little disappointed as no monkey showed up. However, do you have that feeling of being observed? Here, it was palpable, though no one showed up. I had never liked monkeys as they are aggressive beings. But the views from the top really paid the effort.

Arrived high enough, we stop for a break and photos. I support the bag with the bananas on the parapet and I support myself with my elbows, back to the landscape. It was a second, the time of a blink of an eye and a monkey launched at a gallop on the parapet that made me literally take off. Fortunately, the beast was not interested in feeding on me but to take possession of the entire bag of bananas, which naturally had no intention of sharing with the other monkeys!

I set out to admire the spectacular landscape but when I was more relaxed, I suddenly had a strange perception. Although I immediately activated my alertness. Beside me, a monkey with a good-natured face approached. I thought I had made a friend. Although later I would realize my mistake. The harmless looking monkey approached me surreptitiously and looking to the opposite side it grabbed the bottle of water that I had in my hand.

It struggled slightly for a moment and then bit into it, a hole immediately emerging through which the water came out. Wasted bottle, I thought and played a moment, directing the spray to my face. Big mistake and then friendships ended. The monkey showed its true face. It took off the harmless monkey mask. It spread, swelled enormously and multiplied ten times its size.

Striking its chest, it showed its teeth in aggressive action, bloodshot eyes, grunts that made the foundations of the mountain tread tremble. The little monkey friend had transformed. It was the mutation of a maddening Hanuman. It had become an orangutan or a Gorilla. Hanuman, the good monkey God, once a faithful servant of Rama, had lost his sanity and had become the living incarnation of the devil.

I was reluctant to move and put a ribbon on my head to prevent discomfort from the sweat that would result in a confrontation more than certain and was prepared for the onslaught. I did not want distractions. I was willing to fight for my bottle, for my friends, and for my pride. And then strangely enough then there was a strange phenomenon in my mind.

Well, in the end, I did not remember clearly as I had a strange moment of amnesia. Surely, it was too violent to tell or maybe, just an image in my head. Or maybe, just maybe, the harshness of what happened deprived me of the memory of those minutes in which I risked my life safely. What I did know, is that when I regained my sense of reality I and my French friends were already safe and prepared to retrace our steps, to return to Hampi, happy to have survived the attack of the Monkey God.

Although perhaps, just maybe, as in any legend, the story would not have been exactly as it was now told. For the rest of the day, we go to the temples of the area! We have lunch in one of the temples. We are given banana leaf, as we sit on the ground under a tree in the company of other devotees and hungry monkeys (which stare at us). Then a man with a cauldron of rice poured it on the leaf and followed it with a very hot dal and vegetable curries. Any leftovers are happily disposed of by the monkeys.

Finally, surrounded by a landscape in the purest Indian style and after such a duel with Hanuman, I was prepared to listen to my inner voice and return back to the hotel.

Day 4

Today we are in Anegundi, about 5 kilometers from the tourist center. The town has no more than the main street and a route that connects with nearby cities. The guest houses are not plentiful and the streets are full of children playing ball and groups of men who come together to take a chai.

The women near the river wash clothes, talk and play with the little ones. Here, tourists are a minority. People greet us, smile and even ask us for pictures. There is not much to do, more than going out and getting lost walking, stopping to talk with kids who play bike races or with a man who is hours on the sidewalk watching the hours go by. There are many temples to visit and you can even climb some stones and contemplate beautiful sunsets or just think and breathe.

In Anegundi we did not find luxury places or anything like that. Anyway, Anegundi is one of those places where we can spend weeks without even noticing it. I enjoyed the tranquility, the hippie atmosphere, and the isolation. I enjoyed jumps from stone to stone between two baths and fresh fruit juices. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this was one of my favorite stops on our entire trip to South India. But this time we were in a hurry. The ticket back to Mysore marks a new travel rhythm.

Wandering in the Parvati Valley in Malana

In a minibus, we head to Kasol, a small village in Himachal Pradesh, in the north of India. As we approach our destination, the landscapes look more and more beautiful. A valley appears, overlooked by palm trees growing on the mountainside. At the end of the day, we arrive in a city invaded by Israeli youth. We are greeted by a Shalom in the Parvati Valley.

Around us, wooden panels on which hand-written scriptures are written in English and Hebrew, inform us of the services offered by travel agencies, the menu of restaurants, and the amenities of hotels. The local guys take care of finding us a lodging, then to reserve it, while we await them, warm, in a restaurant.

While we could taste Israeli specialties, we opt instead for delicious momo accompanied by soup in a tiny Tibetan restaurant. We go the wooden chalet and warm up at the corner of the stove before plunging into the cold beds, under heavy blankets. I am happy to find a little winter in the fresh air of the mountains after living in such heat.

malana images

Day 2

In the morning, we get up very early, buy something to eat on the road, and then leave on a path that, initially, is good. We decide to leave in the direction of the village of Rasol, at over 2500 meters altitude, planning to make a small loop that will make us cross a pass, visit a city that, although alive, seems buried in the past, and finally return to Kasol by another way.

We leave some of our belongings at the hotel, then leave on what we believe to be the right road. After some detours, some doubts, we find our way. We ask hikers and shepherds that we cross how long it will take us to reach the village.

We quickly lose to find ourselves on a path that gets more and more steep. Of course, we did not find it useful to hire the services of a guide. The hike now looks like climbing. Believing I'm still on the right track, I do not let go.

I do not feel dizzy, but rather scared when I realize the emptiness that grew slowly behind me. I continue, on the way to reach the summit of the Himalayas. Then I hear a voice, in the distance. Where are you going? This is not the road to Malana! Come on! Come on! Relieved, we join this camp-step.

Finally, we see the famous marked path, find the steps after already losing a lot of time. We decide to continue our ascent through the forest of which we would like to admire for a long time the imposing trees, the flowers and the roses. A little after noon, at 3 we sit for rest. We see the village of Malana in the distance.

We thought we had covered a good part of the road, maybe half. It will be nothing as the hardest is waiting for us. A farmer tells us that we have five hours left if we go well. We descend into the sparse forest where loggers cut trees, some of which are probably over a hundred years old. We meet shepherds with their flocks, humpback cows, hamlets that we would think straight out of the Middle Ages.

A family wears colorful clothes, which seem traditional. They are surely part of a particular community. They are afraid of us. We must go down to go up again, cross a bridge, and follow the villagers returning from their work. We have been walking for more than twelve hours. I collapse from exhaustion. I am emptied with all my strength. We have barely 500 meters to go.

Women walk in groups. Their heads are covered with a Russian-style scarf, and their ears stretched out by a swarm of silver rings. They carry on the backs of bundles of wood, while men, nothing or not much. They are terrified by our presence, taking a lot of leeway so as not to risk touching us.

When we sit at the edge of the road, but our bags are on the other side, they refuse to pass, asking us first to leave the passage free. They never turn their backs on us. I pretend to touch them when they cry, Do not touch me! Do not touch me! It's fun, and some laugh too. The inhabitants of this village seem particularly superstitious.

A magnificent waterfall adorns the entrance to the village. We see a family guesthouse run by a grandmother and her two daughters-in-law, who are sisters. All come from Kullu, a small town nearby. They are foreign, therefore impure, and so they can receive tourists at home, touch them, eat with them.

The inhabitants of Malana consider themselves pure descendants of Alexander the Great just like the Brokpa and Kalasha people. They do not mix with others. There must be a lot of problems of consanguinity in this village. At the hotel we have nothing to think of. The house is wooden, carved in places. Cabinets are inscribed in the walls.

A corridor makes it possible to isolate the rooms from the fresh air of the mountain. I sleep a little, catch my breath. Then we eat together, on the floor.

malana images

Day 3

After a good night's sleep, we visit the village. The temple is guarded by old sleepy families. There are dozens of deer heads, and animal horns nailed to old panels. The doorway was covered with cow dung. Young men offer hashish. The Malana cream is, it seems, particularly famous in the region, which one would find it even in the coffee shops of Amsterdam.

The little children are happy to see us, and shout Hello! Hello! but the elders are often afraid to approach us. We decide to leave after lunch. It's the world upside down here. Slowly, exceptions emerge, and a young man touched my hand, explaining that he was going to cleanse himself afterwards anyway. Teenagers shout hey, baby! to women tourists.

We head to Jari along the river, and then follow a winding road recently excavated to allow trucks to move. We take a break in a hut held by a Tibetan for the workers with masala chai with spices and cinnamon. We catch a truck, and sit back with the other passengers. It shakes a lot.

If we had walked, this day would have been as exhausting as the previous one, or even more. Jari is far beyond what we thought. There, after buying a bottle of vodka to celebrate our return, we catch a bus to Kasol. The last hike of our trip is over. It will have been one of the most difficult.

We turn to our Canadian and Israeli friends, savoring these last moments in their company, talking, drinking and laughing around the fire. We eat Tibetan food. We talk about Rajasthan. Our fellow travelers often remind us of it, to provoke us.

malana images

Honeymoon Travel in Seychelles through Mahe, Praslin and La Digue

Last summer, I had the chance to fly to a dream destination of Seychelles. I never imagined that one day I would go on vacation to Seychelles. I had always looked at other destinations, but Seychelles for me was something unattainable.

In case someone is interested to know more Lemuria and Mauritia are the submerged prehistoric continent. About 200 million years ago the only supercontinent known as Pangea was divided into two: Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south. From Gondwana emerged South America, Africa, Australia, Antarctica and India.

Between the drift of Madagascar, experts discovered a submerged mini-continent. It would comprise the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius and Reunion) forming an arc up to Seychelles. They are the only islands of granitic origin in the world.

A trip to Seychelles is a dive into a world of colors and silence, the white sand and coconut trees of Cote d'Or, the clear waters of the Indian Ocean, splendid orchids in the tropical garden, and beautiful diving spots. The turquoise water beaches and granite outcrops punctuate the white sand beaches.

The shade of the coconut trees and the warm rays of the sun caress the skin. Those who follow me on Instagram have already been able to observe the paradisiacal landscapes as our journey evolved during two weeks. Today, I take you to the heart of my journey. Let's go!

Seychelles wallpaper images

Day 1 - Mahe

Since I had not taken my boarding pass online, I had to take it out at the airport. So I had to be 3 hours before the departure of the flight. The flight was entertaining. I dedicated myself to watching movies and playing Nintendo. After two flights and eleven hours of travel, we finally arrive in Mahe, the main island of Seychelles. The plane lands punctually at eight in the morning in Mahe. The procedures when going through immigration are very fast. Our two suitcases are already rotating on the conveyor belt when we arrive at it.

The sound of the wind in the palm trees and the huge block of granite that rises before us at the exit of the airport makes us forget any notion of time. Here, the needles have stopped. Nature, even in the center of Victoria, the smallest capital in the world seems more present than anywhere else. The day has just risen. The birds are singing at the airport as if to welcome us.

We climb aboard a taxi and arrive, about twenty minutes later, to our hotel. Admittedly, it is far from being a palace but it is located on the edge of the Beau Vallon beach. It is a popular beach popular with locals who gather there on Sunday around a barbecue and tourists who bask in the turquoise waters. They welcomed us with a fruit juice, that with the heat that I had, it tasted like blessed glory to me.

That day we wanted to rest. We ate delicious ham sandwiches and spend the day there, tired of the journey and happy to finally relax after weeks of hard work. For the first time in my life, after having worked hours on my memory to finish it before departure, I feel I have really need of holidays.

Exhausted by the crazy pace of our life lately, we look forward to finally let ourselves go to do nothing. We spend the day sleeping on the beach. As the day progresses, the clouds disappear to give way to a beautiful blue sky. When the heat is too oppressive, we immerse ourselves in the water. I never felt comfortable in the sea and even less in the ocean. Yet here, fear gives way to a sweet feeling of happiness.

The water is turquoise, even transparent. The waves are soft. The day unfolds slowly under the Seychellois sky with the only slogan to relax. Behind us, locals party around a barbecue. The sun is slowly falling in the sky. Night falls quickly here. The beach is empty as the sun descends into the sky. While we are on the way to the restaurant, the day offers us its most beautiful colors. Pink and mauve reflections color the ocean and the sky. Even the sand seems to change appearance for a few minutes. I feel like I'm on a postcard.

They prepared us for a local fish dinner. As we were tired we went to bed early.

Day 2 - Mission Lodge

The tiredness was still in our bodies, so we got up at 09:20. The breakfast is served on a terrace, in front of the beach. The managers of the hotel have big smiles on their face. Thumbs up, and they wish us good luck.

Our driver and guide pick us up at nine o'clock sharp. He is a tall man, with surprising blue eyes and varied interests. His passion for his country and his culture is evident throughout the visit. He seems to know everything about the history of his country and explains the peculiarities of Seychellois Creole by making us discover the most beautiful corners of Mahe.

We visit the capital of the country, Victoria its colorful market, its temples, and its lively streets. Our driver then takes us to the heights of the island, at Mission Lodge. It is an unknown place that offers a magnificent view to tourists who deign to climb so high. It is, moreover, a place steeped in history. The brief account of our guide reminds me of my trip to Zanzibar.

It is sometimes difficult to imagine that such paradisiacal places as Seychelles or Zanzibar may have been at the center of such a dark part of human history. Our guide takes the time to explain the history of the site and also shows us endemic tree species in Seychelles by mentioning them by their Latin name. I just admire the knowledge of our guide.

From Mission Lodge, we leave for Anse Soleil. After this more cultural visit, we are looking forward to discovering a beautiful beach on the island. Anse Soleil is located on the other side of the island, near beautiful hotels. For their marriage, some Arab princes reserve them in its entirety. I find myself dreaming of luxury, silk sheets and private baths overlooking the Indian Ocean.

At Anse Soleil, we eat on the beach. The weather is nice. It's hot and Anse Soleil keeps its promises. The beach is beautiful. It is in a good mood that we go to Cap Lazare, on the other side of Mahe. We see a wedding on the beach. Sitting on large wicker chairs set with frangipani flowers, the bride and groom exchange their vows. The wedding rings sit in a shell filled with white sand.

The wedding meal takes place in a good mood. We taste local dishes, some even from family recipes. There is fish terrine with coriander, mango salad with ginger, and coconut nougat. After the meal, satiated, we discover with wonder the citrus garden and turtles that live on these lands. We leave the place only after dark after a day of celebration full of emotion.

Seychelles wallpaper images

Day 3 - La Digue

We spend our last hours in Mahe on the Beau Vallon beach. We parked the car behind a huge rock, in the northern part of Beau Vallon beach. Between the rock and our car, a small group of teenagers drink their beers and are encouraged to see a blonde running in shorts and pigtail in the wind. The drunk runs to the edge of the road and, with one hand on the cigarette and the other on the neck of the beer, gives a pass while releasing a hello! The girl smiles sarcastically.

Here the Labrin bazaar is held, a market where crafts are sold and food cooked at the time or brought from home. There are marmalades, fried plantains, coconut cake, while a couple of musicians play moutia. We have lunch at the table on the terrace and the chef gives us freshly cooked crepes. Spread with the papaya jam that we bought in the Labrin bazaar they taste very good.

At 1 pm, we leave the hotel to go to the La Digue island. For this, we must take a ferry that makes the transfer between the three main islands of Seychelles of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. We retrieve the luggage at an alarming speed, and we take the taxi to the jetty. A tropical shower greets us at the jetty while we wait for the boat to La Digue. It is a large two-story catamaran. We finally arrive at La Digue although a little shaken. The sun is setting on the ocean, with pink and orange reflections.

The oxcart drivers head for us. After eating well in the nearest takeaway, we go onboard the oxcart that leads us to our bungalow. The paths are very pleasant, and the slowness of the ox cart makes us appreciate the beauty of the landscapes all the more.

We arrive at the bungalow, which I booked like that on a whim, after having a conversation on the phone with the owner, without knowing what it looks like. Especially since before departure, there was no way to find opinions or photos on the internet! The oxcart eventually stops in front of a pretty house on a small lawn right on the edge of a pristine beach.

We are taken aback. It is not possible that it is here, as it looks too good. But the driver tells us, it is here! The whole house is only for us. The owner welcomes us with a refreshing natural juice of passion fruit. The cleaning lady welcomes us, all smiles and then we start swimming in a dream.

We drop the luggage, and we changed our winter clothes for the summer clothes and went immediately to see La Passe. Just over the gate, the first surprise is the big spiders! Their cobwebs hang from the power line and down to the bushes on the road.

We continue along the dirt road, flanked by shrubs with hibiscus and frangipani until we reach the main street of La Passe. Distributed in two hundred meters are banks, food stores, beachwear stalls, bicycle rental, craft shops, restaurants, and travel agencies.

We thought we were going to buy purple mangoes, papayas, lychees, corossol and passion fruit but were disappointed by the astronomical prices! It is strange that they do not sell papayas when the papaya grows everywhere and trees look overflowing with fruit.

For lunch, we go to a hotel. The best thing about the restaurant is the terrace. In the shade of an Indian almond tree, the view over the lagoon is fantastic and the blessed breeze that blows relieves the heat and humidity. We order a chicken curry with tamarind sauce and a curry fish with coconut sauce accompanied with rice and some Creole sauce.

From the terrace where we eat, we can see in the distance the most luxurious and exclusive cruise in the world. The passengers themselves set the itinerary by vote. I cool off in the blue turquoise lagoon. The beach is deserted. In the white sand, there are even two coconut trees that lie down towards the sea and the famous gray rocks at the edge of the water.

We rent a bike immediately, to go faster on the island. We start with the north of the island. The ballads around and in the heart of the island are a marvel. This island has a completely magical atmosphere. The inhabitants say hello, they smile, and everyone is quiet. The beaches are all more fabulous. We walk through Veuve Nature Reserve, a bird sanctuary that houses the endemic black flycatcher of paradise, in danger of extinction.

We discovered many spiders in palm trees, the cardinal of Madagascar, a hummingbird, Indian mynas, zebra pigeons, day geckos and above all, the huge fruit bats, always present in the Seychelles sky at dusk. We do not see the flycatcher on this occasion. The sunset is beautiful. The temperature drops and the breeze also give way.

At nine we had dinner with coconut cream soup with ginger, marlin marinated in lime juice, mango sorbet, veal in wine sauce and chocolate cake. The streets of La Passe are barely illuminated. This has the obvious disadvantage that we have to sharpen our eyes to see where we are going and, above all, be careful with cyclists!

The advantage of this poor lighting is that the celestial sky can be seen with a clarity that is out of the ordinary. I have never seen so many stars. I understand little of astronomy but surely you can get to see even planets. The moon is in a growing phase. We enjoy the silence at night as only the song of an insect and the occasional barking of the dogs are heard.

Day 4 - Anse Source d'Argent

This morning, I rise from bed at 5:30! As the day begins to rise, we ride our bicycles to the Union Estate. Anyway, we planned to go early! It is barely 7am when we enter the reserve. The first pleasant surprise is that the ground is relatively flat. It is less tiring on the bike, because there for a few days, I cannot stand any more of these ribs.

A quick turn, we pass in front of the cemetery from the era of the colonists. The tombs are indeed very very old! Turning left, we arrive at the giant turtle enclosure. They are between 30 and 90 years old tells us the panel. I am not an expert, but they are really giant turtles. We approach the wall. A turtle approaches, and she raises her head! How strange is the skin of a turtle!

It is 8am, and it is already super hot! We continue the walk. We pass in front of the vanilla plantation. We decided to cheer ourselves up by visiting the most beautiful beach on the island, also known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Anse Source d'Argent.

There are two ways to get there. You can pay an entry fee of Rs 100 per person that includes a small vanilla plantation and an Aldabra turtle refuge and pass through a park. Even if the price is a bit excessive. The access via this reserve allows staying longer on the beach because you do not have to worry about high tide. You can also go for free that is more adventurous while enjoying the low tide. We choose the second option.

We still walk a little, following the directions to get to Anse Source d'Argent. We pass through pretty scenery, a huge granite rock, and almost a small mountain, emerged from nowhere in the middle of coconut trees. Further are the ponds surrounded by dense vegetation.

The sign indicates Anse Source d'Argent, and the ground becomes sandy. My heart starts beating very hard! For so many years I dream of this beach! There are the rocks that we see everywhere, on magazines, brochures of hotels, travel guides, documents of the tourist office. We go under an arch of granite. It seems to be there to look good over the road!

The beach is two kilometers away but the path is nice. We walk in the water to see the huge rocks that punctuate the black beaches and contrast with the transparent water of the ocean. The landscape is breathtaking and it is not difficult to understand why people have been so fascinated for so long by these lands, waters, and colors.

In front of this nature, we climb rocks, take a pose in front of the turquoise waters. We play hide and seek in the hollow of the granite outcrops. On the way, we cross the remains of a small wedding chapel made of palm leaves. The construction dates from a few days at most. Finally, we arrive on the famous beach. The water is beautiful, the sand is very soft under the feet.

Beautiful blue crabs hide under the sand. But the heat is unbearable. Quickly I take a dip in the lagoon, with my mask and my snorkel. The more the day lights up and the more beautiful it is. With the light on the rock, the turquoise reflections of the lagoon are revealed. The green of the coconut trees lights up. I wait until the sun is high enough to take pictures, and then it is impossible to stop. We hear the waves crashing against the coral reef in the distance. The tsunami greatly affected corals.

We see the foam, but there, in the lagoon, it looks like a giant bathtub! This is the sun is flashing. I am dazzled, but I look around me, not to lose a crumb of this unreal landscape. No the photos of the magazines were not photoshopped. The gradients of the lagoon are really like that! And the beach is still empty, even at 11am! A magical atmosphere emerges from this place, with the brightness of this beach, and the changing colors of the lagoon.

At the end of the Anse Source d'Argent beach, a small restaurant offers delicious grilled fish at a ridiculous price. They serve us on a banana leaf. A few minutes later, we go back by bicycle and arrive in front of the planter's house, but nowadays it is better known to serve as summer quarters to the president of the republic. It is much larger than I had imagined but as beautiful as in the photos. There is a huge roof of leaves of latanier, wooden balcony all around, and pretty flowered lawn.

A little further, here we come to the factory of coconut oil (outdoor of course! While the employees unpack the nuts, an ox rotates around a millstone to extract the oil. We leave with our coconuts in the basket at the back of the bikes.

We decide to continue in this spirit of adventure and ride our bikes to Grand Anse. On La Digue, cars are less and most locals and tourists travel by bicycle. This particular atmosphere not only gives charm to the island but also eliminates the small pounds gained by going to restaurants every night.

The road to Grand Anse is not very long but dotted with climbs that hurt my legs. Several times I have to get off my bike and continue the rest of the climb on foot. We sit on the logs while the waitress gives a shot of fresh leaf to sweep the grains of sand on our table. And there it goes, we ask for a beer. The waitress tells us that at 12:30 there is a Creole barbecue buffet.

Grand Anse is a huge beach (as the name suggests) and violent. Swimming is prohibited because of the huge waves and the particularly strong current at this point of the island. The beach exudes a wild atmosphere that contrasts with the other, more quiet beaches that we have seen so far. We stay in the morning and eat in a small cabin a few meters from the waves.

Then comes the expedition! In Seychelles, there is a little piece of paradise even more extraordinary than the others. This little corner of happiness at the other end of the world is called Anse Coco and it deserves! To get there, you must put on a good pair of shoes and embark on an adventure in the Seychellois bush. We leave Grand Anse and follow a small sign that tells us the way to Petite Anse.

We follow a track made of earth, cut with a machete. We climb rocks, we stop to drink a little water, take the road crossing tourists who do the opposite. They send us big smiles as if they knew we were not yet at the end of our troubles. Once arrived at Petite Anse, it is necessary to continue under a sweltering heat, to cross a denser forest.

We climb steeper rocks and then, finally, after nearly 35 minutes (or maybe a little more), we arrive at Anse Coco. The beach looks like its two big sisters, Petit Anse or Grand Anse, with one difference. At the end of the beach is a natural pool formed by the granitic outcrops so typical of Seychelles.

The rocks act as a breakwater and offer tourists the opportunity to swim in the Indian Ocean while observing the huge waves breaking in the distance. The show is well worth the detour and the effort. We do not regret at all having walked so far to get there. Encircled by the rocks, with the sound of waves as music and the ocean for horizons, we are as protected from the world.

While we are lying in the shade, I observe a small wolf snake that slips among the low branches, three meters to our left. Its skin is camouflaged perfectly with the color of the branches. It advances very slowly towards its objective to an adult gecko that remains motionless on a thick branch.

We decide to get on the bikes and go to Anse Fourmi. We pass next to Anse Grosse Roche, Anse Banane, Anse Patate and finally Anse Fourmi where the concrete road ends. At the height of Anse Grosse Roche, we came across a giant tortoise from the Aldabra Atoll.

We have to turn back with our bikes. The hike is quite sporty (many climbs and some difficult passages through the sand). We decide to take a break at a restaurant. Next to the restaurant lives a big sea turtle, little fierce, who lets itself be caressed by the tourists passing through the island. After the meal, we stop on a small beach whose name we do not know. The water is low and conducive to snorkeling.

We ride a bike for a romantic getaway on our favorite beach near Anse Banane. We have lunch at a delicious restaurant by the sea and enjoy the hot rays of the sun all afternoon. On the way back, we spot the flippers of a pair of dolphins in the distance. We see two huge stingrays that hunt on the surface, just where the waves break against the rocks and form foam.

And precisely, when we come back to Grand Anse, (in 5 minutes this time we found the path) it is late afternoon. We are thirsty and hungry too. So here we are sitting again on these logs, with a cool coca this time. With the Creole music, the sound of the waves, the cool sand under our feet, the waiters sing and dance, as the waitresses laugh.

One of them announces in the microphone that the food is ready. It is barefoot that we will choose our dishes. We take everything, except fish and chicken, as we do not know much! So we taste these unknown flavors. I fall of course on a spice, and it's a real one! I ordered bottles of water during the meal! Everything is delicious from starters, fish, curries, and vegetables.

Moreover the meal is so good that the ice cream offered for dessert seems a bit shabby, but anyway we are no longer hungry. We walked to the port, which is one of the few places in La Passe that remains illuminated. Where the current is most perceptible is a group of flute fish almost one meter long and small solitary trevally swimming at full speed.

The silence of the night is broken by the shouts and laughter of a gang that runs a good party on a catamaran. After having been full of memories and images, we return to our hut for the night.

Day 5 - Praslin

We head to Praslin, the second largest island of Seychelles for a day of exceptional excursions. We take the jetty and in fifteen minutes we are in Praslin. So we arrive at Gold Coast. After arriving at Praslin, we see cars again! The change of scenery is total against La Digue where everyone moves only by bike. We meet a taxi driver who agrees to be our guide for the day. The taxi drops us at the guest house, at the northern end of Anse Volbert beach, one of the best on the island, without a doubt.

After enjoying our welcome cocktail on the terrace of our apartment, we cross the coastal road to meet the mythical beach of the gold coast. This beach is worth its reputation. It is beautiful and super nice to swim, and to my amazement almost deserted! As for the ocean, it covers the turquoise color of tropical paradises.

We go to the beach restaurant, and we have a hamburger, a drink, and an expensive dessert. Sitting in front of bat island in the middle of a turquoise blue sea, dazzled of sun and white sand, we savor our chance to be here! But from the first day, we find the atmosphere of Praslin very different.

On the program is the May Valley and Anse Lazio. We decide to rent a car to the May Valley, a nature reserve with many endemic species in Seychelles. Its fauna and flora are absolutely exceptional which is worth to be inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. This is a must not miss during any stay in Seychelles, especially to admire the famous coco de mer and some rare species of birds such as black parrot or bulbul.

The Valley keeps its promise and gives us the impression to walk in Jurassic Park as the flora is impressive. I always have nightmares of dinosaurs. I cannot help but imagine raptors hidden in the thickets waiting for the perfect time to jump on us.

The visit can be done with or without a guide (we chose the second option) and it takes a big part of the morning to enjoy it. We receive a small list that allows us to tick the animals and crossed trees during the walk. We did not see a single black parrot. It is a species so rare that even the park workers have not yet managed to list them all! But we came across some bulbuls and geckos.

After this tropical visit, we head to Anse Lazio, the most beautiful beach on the island, to stock up on vitamin D and relax on the beach. This Cove is very long and is more crowded than the beaches of La Digue but it remains absolutely breathtaking. We settle at the end of the beach, in a small cove protected by huge rocks and let us be carried by the waves. I almost forget my fear of water!

In the evening a Creole party is held on the Anse Volbert beach with a musical group that takes their hobby very seriously. The sound is crystal clear. A food stand sells exposed meat directly from the flames.

We eat at the hotel restaurant. We are the first to enter the dining room. We ordered a steak. It is undercooked, although they take an eternity to bring it. We call the waitress and we remind her that the meat has been undercooked, so we throw it back. They bring another.

The next is better, but have just taken out of the freezer and has cold areas. As they have taken so long, we ask for more drinks and this time they forget to serve them in the cold jugs that they take out of the fridge. We leave without dessert. And they put on a serious face as if they had something to reproach us with and not an apology.

Seychelles wallpaper images

Day 6 - Victoria

We set the alarm clock very early. We slept poorly despite the huge bed. The night temperature never drops below twenty-four degrees and the air conditioning is a necessity. The bad thing is that the device makes noise. I take the opportunity to go watch the sunrise over the Indian Ocean. It is therefore with the head full of images of colorful fish and deserted beaches that we take the direction of Mahe.

Almost the entire passage is filled with locals and the atmosphere is very relaxed, with reggae music sounds for the piped music and nobody stops. The jetty sails to Mahe a few minutes before ten. The duration of the crossing from Praslin depends on the state of the sea and today, with a little swell, we have taken about fifty minutes.

This time, I'm less afraid. The traffic out of Victoria is a little denser than Praslin, but still very quiet. From the exit of the city, we take one of the two roads that cross Mahe from east to west, to join the Anse Boileau cove. The beauty of the landscapes is amazing. So we arrive at our small wooden bungalows, a little decrepit, housed in a pretty garden, behind huge hibiscus bushes.

When we leave the hotel at the end of the day, we are a bit sad to leave the island. We have to change two flights! Despite all the time we had at the airport, I did not have the opportunity to eat a good burger.

If you want to daydream, do not hesitate as Seychelles await you. We keep our best memories of La Digue, and not only on its paradisiacal beach Anse Source D'Argent. We will also remember the quiet bike rides on the interior roads of the island, discovering the customs of the locals or marveling at the exuberance of their nature.

Itinerary and Summary of My Trip through Vietnam

After more than a month of the return of my trip I can begin to write the Vietnam travel blog. As it has been usual lately, work does not allow me to write blogs so often. It had been a long time since I thought about traveling to Vietnam. Specifically after my trip to Egypt. But for one thing or the other the time never came. But finally the ideal moment arrived, although it was not clear yet in what month.

I have a coworker who travels very often to Vietnam. I told him that we had been recommended to avoid the summer months since the heat was considerable, and he said yes. So, asking one and the other, we decided it would be in winter. It would be a faster trip, but at least I would finally go to Vietnam!

I am very reluctant to organized trips, but within this concept, the idea convinced me, because it would only be us. So of course, we did not have to worry about booking hotels, flights, or anything at all. And it was already there! The day arrived! We had a long trip by plane to reach my desired destination!

It was time to go to the airport. Our flight left at 18:20. So we went by the van one last time, and at 3:30 we were already there. We entered the mini-terminal and took the opportunity to take out things that we had in the backpack and that had to go in the suitcase. We had time. So we sat down to wait, since the screens still did not show at what counter we had to check-in. There were few seats.

At 16:10 I went to the screens and see the counter where we would check-in. So we went to the queue. While we waited, a huge group arrived, who were also at our hotel because we had seen them. It seemed that the responsible guide was looking at how to get through.

We show our passports, pack our bags, and that's it! With tickets in hand, and since there was nothing to do there, we went to the immigration. The airport was small! We threw the bottles of water that we had. Luckily, at that time there were still few people.

In the immigration they took away the paper that was stapled in our passport. They made me leave my fingerprints. Already in the area of ​​the boarding gates, we went to sit down. We had no choice but to wait. There was little to do in that airport.

Suddenly, we were surrounded by a group of Americans who were on an organized trip. They sat close to us. The airport wifi did not work very well, so there was no way to connect. Finally, at 17:50, embarkation began. We did it on foot as the Siem Reap airport is small! We went through the tracks and got on the plane.

When everybody boarded, they gave us a wet towel. And at 18:20, the flight take off! During the flight they brought us a bottle of water, but nothing to eat. And I was hungry! I had not thought about taking anything to eat at the airport, so I would have to wait.

The flight went well. At 18:45 the pilot announced that we were preparing to land. There were enough clouds. We caught some turbulence, and the plane moved a little. Slowly we started to see Saigon. And I realized that the pilot was circling. Surely the conditions would not be the best to land. It is not pleasant to see that at the moment we cannot land.

I tried to relax, seeing the lights of Saigon from the air, and thinking about what our hotel would be. At 19:10 after a long delay, a Vietnamese companion who decides to use me as a pillow, and without being able to sleep on the trip, we landed at the Hanoi airport. Finally we were able to go down. We were going to do it in front, but they forced us to go down the back. They put us on a bus that would take us to the terminal. It was raining a bit.

We have the on arrival visa that has cost a lot cheaper. After leaving the terminal, on the left there are three ATMs from which you can get dongs. We carry just enough for the visa and thus save commissions. With all the documents in order, we went to the belt to collect the suitcases.

It is always a relief to see that the luggage arrives well! We took a trolley, loaded the suitcases and went to the exit. But we had to pass bags and suitcases through another scanner. After the process, we went out and saw a lot of people with signs in their hands, with names. We were looking for ours, and there it was!

We saw who would be our guide in Saigon. He told us that those days it was raining in the afternoon. We confirmed that we had gone in the rainy season but he told us that in the mornings it might not rain.

The van was not bad. It was spacious and modern. He introduced us to the driver and told us that we had about 7 km to the hotel. As it was already night, we would enjoy our first sensations of light in the city. The journey could last about 45 minutes! Well, traffic was bad in those parts! Nothing to do with Cambodia!

And we began to hallucinate with the amount of motorcycles we saw (and what awaited us). It was chaos! We heard a lot of horns. That would be the soundtrack that would accompany us for a few days! But in the end we get used to it! Saigon was already beginning to impress us!

After a good while we arrived at the hotel. The building was certainly tall! It was still raining a little. While they were checking in they invited us to a cold tea that was delicious. We told the guide that we needed to change currency since we did not have Dongs. He took us to another part of the reception, and there they made the change.

The change at the hotel was not bad. We feel millionaires for a moment, with so much money! We ask where we could have dinner, because we were hungry. The guide took a map from the hotel and marked us the backpackers neighborhood. It was right behind the hotel. We only had to leave the hotel to the left, take the first roundabout on the right, and the first street on the right. There we would have a great variety of restaurants.

We said goodbye to him. It was 9:00 p.m. We go up to our rooms. The boy opened the rooms with the cards! We unpacked our bags and put important things in the safe. We admired the rooms again, and we were amazed by the views we had from there! On the huge plasma television they had left us a welcome message.

We went to dinner. It was still raining a little. There were not many traffic lights to cross the road. So we had to arm ourselves with courage to cross the street. We started to live already our first experiences with the Vietnamese traffic and with their bikes! I had the printed Google maps.

And we reach Bui Vien street. What an atmosphere! There were a lot of young people (and not so young). We started looking at where we could have dinner. We saw a restaurant that we liked, but they told us that they had run out of food. So we went to the restaurant next door. A boy showed us the menu in the street, and a girl told us that they had only been open for two weeks.

We decided to have dinner there and give them a chance. The girl was very nice and attentive. It was 10 pm and we were hungry! The place was tiny. They accommodated us at a table. There were some young guys celebrating something. We asked the girl what she recommended, and she told us that people liked a vegetable a lot, and later we learned that it was called Morning Glory.

So we ordered a serving of Morning Glory, fish balls, grilled prawns, beer and a water bottle. The Morning Glory was fried with garlic and we loved it. We became true fans of that vegetable! The truth is that everything was delicious. I started my first practices eating with chopsticks. But just in case, we also ask for forks. We finished and left. What a bustle!

I was liking the first feeling of Saigon. I could not help but keep in mind the musical Miss Saigon that we had recently seen in London. We saw some local prostitution in the area. It was not raining anymore. We were struck by a kind of motorcycles with carts that sold dried squid!

But we went to the hotel because it had been an intense day. At the reception we asked for the key and the wifi password and went up to our rooms. We take this opportunity to send messages to family and friends. The room was large and the beds were very comfortable!

At 23:50 we were already in bed! The first feeling I was having was that I liked Saigon. And that we had seen very little. Goodnight Saigon!

Day 1 - Saigon

Good morning Vietnam. It's about 7 o'clock in the morning! It is unfair that the alarm rings at that time, but it is what it is! We drew back the curtains of our huge window, and from the heights we saw Saigon in morning light. It looked huge, and at that time we could see bustle of motorcycles and people.

On the terraces of the nearby floors we could see people doing gymnastics. It was a bit cloudy but it was not raining like the night before. We get ready and at 7:30 we go down for breakfast. The restaurant was large and we stood next to the window, to admire the biker show!

The breakfast buffet is complete. There is everything from Western and Eastern and for every taste! There was chocolate donuts, neapolitan chocolates, croissants, yogurts, variety of juices in the bottle (papaya, orange, multifruit). There was also toast, butter, jams, varieties of bread, eggs and tortillas, cereals, ice cream (lemon, strawberry), sushi, and cheeses. Then there were Vietnamese dishes, sausages, bacon, potatoes, sausages, and cut fruit. It was super good!

We had a good breakfast, watching the chaos of motorcycles that formed when the traffic lights in front of the hotel turned red. We were getting used to what we would see in the city! What better way to acclimatize, than having breakfast while we are watching that chaos through the window?

When we finished, we went up to the room to brush our teeth and finish preparing. And we went down to reception at 8:30. The guide was already there. And we got going with our new van! We could not stop looking from one side to another, hallucinating to see how they were riding a motorcycle! Many people on the same bike, loaded to the brim.

We were already beginning to see that Saigon was a city of many contrasts. We started to go through a bit posh neighborhood and it was pretty clean. The first stop was at the History Museum. The museum showed pieces from prehistory to the last feudal dynasty. When we entered there were very cute children from a school with a guide.

In the museum repairs were going on. Upon entering there was a sculpture of Ho Chi Minh. We started to see the prehistory rooms. We saw coffins and we learn their funeral customs. They are buried even with fake (paper) bills, paper watches, and paper houses. We would have the opportunity to see all this in the markets.

Suddenly, observing one of the pieces to see the chronology, I saw that it put some dates and behind BP. The guide talk about rebellions against the Chinese in northern Vietnam. From prehistory to the fifteenth century it was not Vietnamese territory. The history of Saigon is a history of three centuries alone. He was also telling us about the first feudal dynasties.

We saw painted images of a battle, which was the first independence from the Chinese. And we could see that the victory was in a river in northern Vietnam. They had a system with wooden sticks, planted at the bottom of the river, which at high tide were not visible. And the large ships that tried to pass, were badly damaged.

We went up to the second floor. We saw sculptures of the Champa Kingdom. The figures were beautiful. We saw headless sculptures. We saw a Buddha with thousand arms, and in each hand he had an eye. There was even a mummy, with hair and everything!

After about an hour we left the museum. It was interesting, although it was a bit shabby. Suddenly a good sun had come out. The children who were visiting the museum were now having breakfast outside. We went to the cathedral and the post office in a van.

The people who went by motorcycle, were covered! I noticed that some cars had flowers in front of them. That day was for them National Day. Our driver was carrying the Buddha Avalokiteshvara. We passed the American consulate. There were a lot of queue, since they were people who wanted to obtain a tourist visa.

We already saw from afar the Notre-Dame Basilica, with two gray towers, added after its construction. It was built by the French in 1863. The towers are from 1953, as is the image of the Virgin Mary in front of the church. And of course, we saw a wedding!

And we got off the van to see the cathedral and the post office. And we went to the post office, which looked like a train station. It was built by the French in 1886, specifically by Gustave Eiffel. It was made in colonial style. We saw the portrait of Ho Chi Minh. In French times, Ho Chi Minh was an enemy of the French. There were also old maps.

The post office was beautiful! There were people walking around there. But there was a certain ancient feel. There was a small shop in the center of the post office. We went to see the image of Mary in front of the cathedral, in the Paris Commune, crossing as crazy as the cars passed by.

At 10:25 we go back to the car because at 11 o'clock closed the entry to the Reunification Palace! At 11am they close for lunch, and reopen at 1pm, but at that time we had to be somewhere else. In the van we took advantage to hydrate (we also had free bottles of water). But we had a serious problem with the Vietnamese water bottles. It cost a lot to open them! It happened to us during the entire trip!

We went down at the palace door. I took the opportunity to take a picture, because as always we were running, at least that's the way it was! And with the tickets in hand, we accessed the palace grounds. And the guide began to explain the history of the palace. It was built for the first time by the French (1868-1873), but with another (colonial) architecture.

They called it Norodom Palace, in honor of a Cambodian king, since in the French era Cambodia and Vietnam were the same thing. During the World War II it passed into Japanese hands and then back into French hands. In 1954, after the defeat at the Battle of Bien Phu, an agreement was signed with Ho Chi Minh to be an independent country.

It has about 100 rooms, 3 floors, a terrace, an underground tunnel. We started to see rooms and more rooms. There were reception rooms decorated with different colors. We saw the hall of the members of the government, and the conference room. We saw the Vietnamese national flag. We saw the national security council room.

In another reception room we saw fangs that are now imitation, since the end of the war was chaotic and someone stole them. There was a Chinese carpet, made in Hong Kong with four dragons, since it is a symbol of political power. And in the center a phoenix stand as a symbol of the first lady.

We arrived at the area reserved for the family with furniture from the 60's. It had the first air conditioning in Vietnam. We also saw the dining room with two tables with the revolving table for Asian food. Upstairs there was a chapel, since the president was Catholic.

And there was an interior garden that gave a lot of peace, with a fountain. There was also the president's room. We saw the room where his wife received the friends. There was even a private movie theater! And we continue climbing!

We climbed to the terrace. There was a good view! The avenue recalled the Champs Elysees. And we go down. And I discovered on my own where the building was bombed. We went down to the bunker. They had it as prevention. There were many more rooms down there. The wall of the bunker was made of steel.

The bunker was very big. And we came to a fully equipped kitchen, which was the one in the palace. They had machine for ice cream! There was an old Mercedes, one of the trophies captured on the day of the liberation of Saigon. And we reached the end of the visit. It had been interesting. We had been an hour.

We went back to the van, which left us next to a shopping center, the Vincom Center. It is very close to the town hall. So the first thing we went to see was the Saigon City Hall building also made in colonial style by the French. We saw a square that was new, made that same year to celebrate 40 years of reunification. And of course, there was a statue of Ho Chi Minh.

That area was already modern and expensive. We even saw the Bitexco Tower. On the 49th floor there is a viewpoint. And on the 52nd floor there is a platform for helicopters. On the 50th floor there is a restaurant. In front of the park was the Hotel Rex, very famous and important during the Vietnam War.

We walked to the Continental Hotel, the oldest one. It was next to the Opera building. We returned to take the van to go to the Ben Thanh market. We enter the market! The corridors were quite narrow and with many products (there was even food). The issue of shopping and bargaining, makes me nervous.

We ended up buying little plates decorated with Vietnamese women (very pretty, certainly) and little bags to give as gifts. At 1 o'clock we go for lunch. The place was beautiful. It was like a haven of peace in the hustle and bustle of Saigon. Upon entering the service was very friendly and ceremonial to the point of becoming overwhelming (we had 5 waiters for us, and the boss).

We saw the menu. The price was not marked (something that cannot be because the price must always be written). When the boss came to take note, we told him that we were not very hungry. If we were hungrier afterwards, we would ask for something more. The boss told us that this could not be. We had to take at least 2 items.

We insisted that we were not hungry and there was no way. So in the end we had to take two 7-course menus each, and I got really upset. We also ordered a bottle of water and a beer. Despite that, the dishes were good and well presented. And they gave us a goodbye gift. After all this mess we went back to the van.

At 2:30 pm, we go to the Fito Museum of Traditional Medicine, at Hoang Du Khuong Street. Each floor was decorated in different ways. There were old books written with Chinese ideograms. There were very old objects to prepare medicines. The house was from the 19th century and was in the north of Vietnam. It was made of teak wood. We saw the names of famous doctors from the 11th century to the 20th century. It was made of wood and weighed 500kg.

We saw an old traditional pharmacy, with all the old boats. The whole house smelled very well of natural herbs. Luckily there were fans all over the house, because it was hot! We were able to try a "machine" to grind herbs. There was one to do it with the legs and another with the hands. At the end of the visit we were invited to drink mushroom tea.

If you have time and you want to see a different museum (not art, history or ethnology), it's worth it. When leaving it rained a lot! We go to Binh Tay, the central market of Chinatown, in the neighborhood of Cholon. When arriving it almost did not rain. The feeling that the market gave me is that it was somewhat chaotic, but not overwhelming.

When we left, we were amazed by the traffic and motorcycles of Saigon! And we went back to the van. At 4pm we arrive at the Thien Hau pagoda at Nguyen Trai Street. It is dedicated to Thien Hau, the lady of the sea. The roof was filled with porcelain figures with themes of Chinese religion and traditions.

The altar of Thien Hau was at the back of the temple. There were also some papers that were offerings that people wrote. Upon leaving, we saw on the street a woman who sold birds. It was to set them free but the birds ended up coming back. We went back to the van, and among other curious images we saw two men carrying a huge crystal on a motorcycle!

After the day's visits we go to a lacquer shop. A very kind man was explaining the entire process of making the lacquers, some with eggshell. And we finish the visit in the store, of course! I got into the van and we go back to the hotel. At 5:00 pm we went up to the room and in the plasma we had a message from the hotel, that the steam sauna did not work.

We decided to go up to see the pool. It was beautiful and practically empty! And we met the girl at the reception. We were talking with her for a while. And we asked her to recommend us somewhere to go to dinner, near the hotel. So we went to the room. We prepared to leave and at 7:30 we went down.

When leaving it rained a little. We had to walk on the road, as the sidewalks were full of bikes! We found the restaurant easily. It looked nice on the outside and inside! So it convinced us and we entered. We were seated at a table, and the atmosphere was super cozy. A very nice music was playing.

There was a menu that had food from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand. But we ordered Pho Bo (soup with noodles and meat), chicken with honey (Ga Chien Mat Ong), breaded squid (Muc Chien Toi), rice (Khao Suay) and water.

They brought some really good peanuts to snack on, but they served us pretty quickly! Everything was delicious! We just had dinner at 8:45 pm and when we left it was raining a lot! We got a little wet because the bikes were on the sidewalk and we had to go on the asphalt.

Already in the hotel I gave myself a good shower with good smell of the soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion of the hotel! We took advantage of the calm and relaxation of the room to watch American TV channels for a while. On TV we could also see a webcam that was on the top floor of the hotel. But since it was raining it did not look very good. At 23:10 I already got into bed, to rest!

Travel Ideas for a Holiday in Vietnam

Day 2 - Mekong Delta

At 6 o'clock the alarm clock rang. And through the window we could see the sun and the city in full operation! Of course, there was no noise in the room during the night. How well we slept! At 7 o'clock we went down to breakfast, but that day they did not put us next to the window, but at a huge round table for us alone!

We have chocolate donut, a pastry with almonds on top, chocolate pancake, fruit (watermelon, melon, mango), and multifruit juice. The body asked me for sugar! At the end we went up to the room to brush our teeth. When going down to reception, I realized that I had left the sunscreen (vital for me) and had to go back up. Luckily, the elevators went fast.

We got on the van. We got to see a man on the bike who was carrying boxes with eggs! We took a highway. During the trip we saw people working in the rice fields by the side of the road. And we also saw graves in the middle of the fields. The road went by the side of many popular cafes, with hammocks for the clients to rest. They liked this kind of relaxation very much, since there were so many! In Cambodia we had also seen them.

The locals reminded me of the typical motels in the US, which are seen in the movies. And after a long time of traveling we arrived at 10:15 a.m. to Cai Be. When we went down there were many more tourists like us, waiting to embark and make the trip through the Mekong delta. We go to one of the boats, which was for us alone.

After a while of navigation we arrived at a floating market. But I must tell you that I was very disappointed with what we saw. I expected much more from the floating market. We did not see people buying or selling. And then, when we returned, we found out that we should have gone earlier, not at that time.

We saw the Catholic church near the waters. The boat took us to the shore and we go to a rice paper, coconut candies and popcorn rice factory. We were able to see the manufacturing and packaging process of these products. We were able to try the freshly made pop rice, and it was good!

After the mini-visit we sat down to try peanut pastries (great ones), peanut candies, banana candies and a tea. And after a while of rest, at 11.15 we continue navigating the river. The truth is that it was quite relaxing. It was a breeze that was much appreciated. And I have to say that we did not see any signs of mosquitoes!

During the navigation we were given fruits to try like rambutan, dwarf plantains, and dragon eyes. We liked the fruits that we did not know. The houses are located just above the waters! During the walk we saw a kind of shop, with huge coffins. And we also saw some big boats that had some eyes painted on the front. According belief they could see at night.

We went back down to the shore to visit an old house, from 1938 of Ba Duc's Ancient House. The house had Vietnamese and French style. The front had old furniture. We reached the back of the house, which was now much more modernized. The family that lived there even had internet. So they had already succumbed to the pleasures of comfort and modern life.

We returned to the boat to continue navigating. Slowly we reach the widest part of the Mekong River. We saw the big cruises that sail the Mekong. And we returned to navigate another tributary, smaller and quiet.

After one more piece of navigation, we came to a quiet corner where a man with a sampan, a traditional boat, was waiting. He put a Vietnamese hat on us, and the oarsman took us for another narrower part of the river. I was struck by the crossed position of the oars of the boat.

In the narrowest areas it was quite hot! The truth is that the swaying of the boat and the silence were appreciated. What peace! The walk lasted about 10 minutes. And when we return, we climb again to the biggest boat. The trip lasted about 3 hours. And we arrived at the restaurant. We go to a kind of cabin on the water, just for us.

We would eat a 5-course menu. We ate elephant ear fish, vegetable soup and a kind of meatballs, chicken with ginger, crepe with vegetables and meat, rice and pineapple dessert. During the whole meal the woman made us eat in a hurry. We ate well. It was all pretty good, and the surroundings were beautiful. We even saw a version of the Vietnamese Manneken Pis.

When the woman considered that we had finished, she took us to another part of the restaurant to see live traditional music. It was fine, but nothing spectacular. It got a little long and it was pretty hot. Finally, at 2:20 we left there. We got into the boat, and there was no way to start it. The poor man try a long time, but there was no way.

So after 15 minutes of attempts, they changed our boat. And we reached the other mile, to Vinh Long. We went to a service for a moment and started the trip back on the van, to Saigon. In our program it was stated that on that day we would see an orchard and a fruit plantation, and that we would walk through the village. We had 130 Km ahead, and would be about 4 hours away.

The traffic was quite chaotic. We saw bikes loaded with ducks, motorbikes with four people, motorcycles with two adults and two children (one of them sleeping soundly). It was a show of motorcycles! At 16:15 we stopped for a moment to rest. Shortly before 5 pm it started to rain very hard! But after a while it stopped.

And at 17:30 we arrived at the hotel. We had not taken 4 hours at the end. When we went up to the room, none of the cards worked. We had to go back down to reception and they fixed it. Once in the room I thought about going to the pool, but it was raining. I did not feel like bathing in the rain. I waited a while, but it did not stop. So I gave up on the idea.

We rest for a while in the room. At 7:20 we went to dinner. We went back to the previous restaurant since we liked it. It was raining a bit. That day we ordered fried cuttlefish with garlic, prawns with coconut juice and eggplant with meat! We took two dishes from Vietnam and one from Cambodia. We also ordered a Saigon beer and a water bottle.

They also brought us the peanuts to snack on. Even the waiter who helped us the day before, brought us more. The waiter explained that we had salt and pepper, to which we had to put lime, to wet the prawns. It was delicious! For dessert we ordered flan, strawberry ice cream and chocolate ice cream. When we left, I told the boy that he had been very kind to us, and that he had helped us a lot! And he told us to be careful.

We arrived at the hotel and climbed to the panoramic terrace to see the view. I was on the 30th floor! What views! The terrace was after going through the restaurant, and they let us pass without problems. We take a few pictures! It was early, 9:20 pm, but that way we could sleep a little more. And I left the suitcase more or less ready for the next morning. At 22:30 I was already in bed.

Travel Ideas for a Holiday in Vietnam

Day 3 - Hoi An

We get up at 6 o'clock. I looked out the window. There was a kind of haze in the air, but it seemed like I wanted to get out in the sun. At 6:50 we went down to breakfast and we were able to sit next to the window, again. But that day it was cool in the dining room. We had breakfast very well, as always in that hotel.

And when we finished, we took advantage to go down to reception and change money. The change at the hotel was not bad at all. We left the hotel to take a picture of the building, so we can see how high it was. It was a good day.

We went up to the room. We brush our teeth, picked up things, went down and checked-out. The porters of the hotel helped us to take the suitcases to the van. We loaded our bags in the van and left the hotel behind. For a long time I swelled to take pictures of motorcycles and people! What fun it was!

Everywhere they put a few stools and have a kind of cafeteria in the middle of the street! And I continued with my photos. Finally, after an hour, we took a country road. And suddenly the guide told the driver to stop. He told us that he wanted to show us something very typical of southern Vietnam. And he told us that he wanted to show us how they killed and skinned rats, to sell them, because people ate them.

We went down for a moment. They also sold bags with snakes inside. We see the motorcycles that carried cages with dogs enclosed inside. After a while we stopped next to a forest where they got rubber. We saw how they extracted the resin. There were people selling figurines built with wood and gave us a large seed and a piece of souvenir wood.

Finally, at 10:10, after all that odyssey we arrived at Cu Chi. Then we walk among the trees of that jungle and see several holes caused by American bombs. A local guide continued the visit. He showed us one of the trapdoors through which the tunnels could be accessed. He tried to find out, but there was no way, because there were leaves and dirt. So he showed us where he was. And he got inside! Of course the Vietnamese were smaller and thinner than the Americans!

And suddenly, he appeared to us from behind, when we expected him to go back out the way he had entered. And finally we had the opportunity to enter some of the tunnels. We asked that it not be too complicated. They told us that they were widened so that tourists could pass.

We could do it perfectly, since we made short stretches. It is true that we had to go a little crouched, but it was not too hot inside either, and it got along well. I had a flashlight that I took from home, and it was great! We saw the recreations of the spaces dedicated to kitchen, operating room, place of command.

In one of the tunnels where I got alone with the guide, when I focused with my flashlight, I saw a bat in the low ceiling of the tunnel. I did not expect it, and the guide scared him so that he flew out. So, although it gave me a little something to go through the tunnels I enjoyed it.

We also saw an area where there were explanations and reproductions of traps designed by the Vietnamese, to hurt or kill. It was really curious to see the operation, and the ingenuity applied to those traps. We also saw a selection of old photos. After we go to sit at some tables, we eat yucca.

At the end of the visit there was the option of being able to fire weapons. But we had no desire to do so, since we were not attracted by the idea. The visit to Cu Chi ended after 1 hour min after arriving. It was 11:25. We wanted to see the Cao Dai Temple but had to skip it.

We climbed into the van and headed towards the airport. We went through a place where the guests were arriving at a wedding. The driver stopped for a moment next to a cemetery for us to visit. He told us that it was a graveyard of victims of the Vietnam War.

The cemetery was completely empty. We see the different tombstones of the victims. The tombs followed a very marked order. And in the background there was a huge sculpture. And at 12.45 we arrived at the airport. There were an hour left for our flight to take off.

They lowered our bags, and said goodbye. We entered the terminal and took the opportunity to put things that we did not want to carry in our hand luggage, to the suitcases that would be invoiced. It was so early that they still did not come out on the screens or on which counters we had to check our bags to Danang.

So we went to sit down. I connected to the airport's Wi-Fi. After a while I looked at the screens. So there we went. We arrived at the counter and the guy who attended us was very friendly! And with the tickets in hand we went to the access door. The escalators were damaged! Loaded with the suitcases we went upstairs. There was some line to pass security check, but it was quite fast and we passed without problems.

There was a variety of restaurants and we ended up deciding for an Asian. I ordered noodles and a slice of pizza. We sit down to eat quietly! We had time to spare. After lunch we went around the terminal. And as I was beginning to notice that I was missing some sugar, I saw a Dunkin Donut, and I went to buy a chocolate filled donut! And finally, the boarding started at 2:15!

Slowly, the plane was filling up. And at 2:40 we already started moving. It was a bit cold in the cabin, so we asked the stewardess if she could give us blanket. At 2:45 we were already in the air. During the flight they brought water and a refreshing wipe. And at 18:25 the captain announced that we were beginning the landing maneuvers. The flight had been super quiet! At 3:40 we landed in Danang.

We got off the plane and when we got to the terminal, the bags were already there! We went out and saw a short boy holding a sign with our names. At the moment the van arrived and we went in the direction of Hoi An.

As we were in Danang he was telling us things about the city. It is a modern city, with a good beach area, and many hotels. Although it was already dark, we could see the number of hotels that were there. What a difference with the chaotic traffic of Saigon!

At about 5 pm we arrived at the hotel in Hoi An. At night we found it very beautiful. With the light of day we would check it better. So we sat down comfortably as they brought us a very good drink and a washcloth to refresh. And immediately the manager came with the cards to open the doors of the rooms. He explained where the breakfast was, how the wifi worked, that we had a shuttle bus that could take us to the beach by booking previously.

He brought us a map of the town and he marked us a place that recommended us if we wanted to make custom clothes, since Hoi An is very well known for that. The tailors make suits, dresses, tailored shirts very fast. It also marked me where the restaurants were.

A girl accompanied us to the building where we had our rooms. The hotel had several buildings surrounded by beautiful gardens. We passed by the pool! What a joy! Our room was on the floor of one of the pavilions. A boy brought our bags to the room. He showed us how the air conditioning and the fan above the beds worked.

The room was very good. It had everything from bathrobe, slippers, free water, Safe, TV, bathtub and dryer. We go down to the pool to complete the relaxation to the fullest! We went down with the bathrobe we had in the room. How nice it was lying in the hammocks! What is the life of the traveler?

We connect to the hotel's wifi to contact the family. Throughout the hotel there were lovely flowers on the ground, and even in the pool waters. They smelled very good! I even tried the jacuzzi, and I was bathing in the pool completely lit already!

And totally relaxed, when it began to get dark, we went back to the room. We got ready and went out again. I went down to reception to change. The change was somewhat lower than in Saigon. And when we were ready, we left the hotel for a first inspection round to Hoi An, and for dinner. We were very close to the most touristic part of Hoi An. First we went to see the tailor shop.

I was looking at fabrics, because I wanted to make an oriental cut shirt. But the fabrics did not convince me. We were trying to find a store where I had seen a shirt that I liked. But it must have closed already. I should have looked at the shirt right when I saw it.

We continued walking and saw a shirt in a store that I liked. So we entered the store. I left very happy with my shirt! In a little square we saw that there were a lot of people. We approached, and see a kind of cock fight. We were entertained for a while watching them.

Walking, walking, we reached the Japanese bridge and we saw it illuminated! The area was very busy! There was a kind of show in a place, with children selling lanterns, and people walking. We passed the bridge (not the Japanese) to get to the other side and see the night market. We bought some more postcards and a buddha.

We crossed the bridge again, which was very crowded. And at 9 pm they turned off the lights! Those of the Japanese bridge too! We tried to find two restaurants that I had selected, but there was no luck. We even went through places that were a little empty.

We went down to the river and decided that we would have dinner. We reached Nguyen Thai Hoc Street and we found the restaurant. They accommodated us at a table on the upper terrace. The table was right next to where the river was. What a beautiful and cozy place! There were many people! They brought us the menu.

We ended up ordering White Rose (shrimp wrapped in rice paste and with fried chili peppers), fish with caramel sauce, rice with jasmine. For dessert we have chocolate cheesecake and mango cake and a Larue beer. It was all great! We were lucky that they put us on the terrace, next to the railing. The view we had from there was beautiful.

We finished dinner and went around the town. What a contrast to Saigon! We saw one of the traditions of Hoi An to light a lantern and let it navigate the river. The shore was full of people selling the lanterns. We also approached to see the Japanese bridge, but it was not illuminated. We continue walking, but at that time there were enough shops closed. So we went on our way to the hotel. The illuminated hotel was also very nice! When we arrived, we were already in bed.

Day 4 - Danang

At 6:30 we woke up with the birds of Hoi An. How nice to wake up like that, right? And at 7:15 we went down to breakfast. But when passing by the side of a window that faced the street, we saw the school that was right next to the hotel. We stayed for a while observing the curious ceremony they were following. An adult (I guess it would be one of the teachers) seemed to ask a question to the children sitting in the yard.

The children raised their hands and one of them would go to the microphone, and it seemed that he was answering. If he was right, they would sound drums! After the questions they made a kind of theatrical performance. I loved watching it! Yes, we went down to breakfast. We seat at a table in the hotel garden.

At the hotel buffet in Hoi An there was also everything. It was complete! We took orange juice, bacon, sausages, cinnamon donut, and muffins. We tried a fruit, which was a kind of rosewood. I tried the watermelon juice from the buffet.

What a nice breakfast between nature, birds, silence. We were really on vacation! We finished and went up to the room to brush our teeth and finish preparing. And at 9 o'clock we were already at the hotel reception. We walked to the center of town, which was right there!

We were already beginning to see women carrying their wares, with this typical image that many of us may have of Vietnamese women. The first place we visited was the China Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, on Tran Phu Street. It is an 18th century building, built in 1757 by Chinese merchants to be able to meet each other. The port of Hoi An was very important in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The temple is dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of the sea, protector of sailors. We already knew Thien Hau from Saigon. The door has been rebuilt since 2000, but the rest is original. It is oriented to the south, following the ideas of Feng Shui. We saw a garden in front of the temple that was full of bonsai, and had figures of tigers, lions (animal defenders and protectors).

We see a very typical flower, something like chamba. During the war with the Americans, Hoi An was not affected. In 1999 it was even declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We came back to find the huge spirals of incense, as in Saigon. They could last between 20 days and a month.

After visiting the building calmly, we continue with our walk. Through the streets there were several French groups almost as much as the Chinese. The buildings we were seeing had French influence. We even saw a house decorated for a wedding. The lanterns give the note of color to the old part of the town. I would have taken them all.

The next visit was to an old house called Tan Ky, on Nguyen Thai Hoc street. In the house there were more groups and they made quite a noise. The house was from the 18th century, from bourgeois merchants. It was full of lacquered furniture. The house was basically made with teak wood, as it is a wood very resistant to moisture. And being next to the river, and near the coast is something fundamental.

We came to see some marks on the wall with the height at which the water had reached during several floods. We went to the river and we saw more beautiful images. Then we go to see the Trung Hoa Assembly from 1885 in Tran Phu Street.

And how could it be otherwise we went through the famous Japanese bridge, built in stone and teak wood. It is now a replica of the eighteenth century. The bridge connects the Japanese district and the Chinese quarter of the old city. Inside the bridge there is a temple from 1719 and there is also the Ying Yang.

At both ends of the bridge there are guardians with dogs and monkeys. The bridge was built between the year of the monkey and the dog. Next we went to the museum of history and culture. Small, but perhaps dispensable. We saw tools and prehistoric objects of the Champa.

Finally we go to a silk shop. In the shop a girl explained the process. She took us to the tailor-made clothes shop, to silk-embroidered paintings! And we saw the workshop of lanterns so typical of Hoi An! In the end we did not buy anything, and the girl started to grumble.

And we already spent the morning walking around Hoi An. Seeing the shops, the restaurants. From time to time we bought something. We were attracted by some very elaborate and beautiful postcards. We go through the river again. In some sections of the streets with shops there were times when the bikes did not have access, so they were completely pedestrian, and for the bikes.

That's where we used to smell incense. The little village was beautiful with a mixture of tradition and modernity, with great charm. And the town continued with its daily life. Another wedding! They wore the traditional Vietnamese dress, the Ao Dai.

We go through the market. As we were already hungry we decided to go to lunch at 13:15. We ordered Wonton, Cao Lau, prawns with garlic and onion. For dessert we order pineapple crepe, fruit crepe and a yogurt ice cream with chocolate and peanuts. Everything tasted great!

And after eating we went to the market again, but this time to see it inside. There were enough people eating in some kind of restaurants, and some of them lying on the benches sleeping. Further on we find the shops, with very varied products. We had a young couple in front of us.

We went through the meat section. What a smell! At 1:00 pm we decided to return to the hotel. We take down the suitcases in the elevator, to the garden and a guy mounted them in a kind of motorized golf cart to take them to reception.

We did the check-out at reception and they went to check that everything was correct in the room. When we were already there, we sat on the sofas of the reception. After a while we packed our bags in the van and we left that magnificent hotel. Goodbye Hoi An!

The first thing we would see that day would be the marble mountains. So we go in the direction of Danang. Before arriving, we stopped at a marble factory. We were struck by the contrast in one place of Buddhist and Christian sculptures. There were huge and beautiful figures.

But the visit was totally dispensable. A waste of time. We arrived at the foot of the mountain. Our mountain would be the one of water (Thuy Son), since they were also the one of fire, earth, metal and wood. The water was the highest (100 meters) and large.

We went to the elevator, which goes up relatively fast. There were good views from the viewpoint. Above all we could see the South China Sea and the beach. But the waters were quite turbid. The hexagonal tower Xa Loi had 7 floors and was made of cement to get to nirvana. It was the tower of Buddha's ashes, but not anymore.

Our guide talk about the two types of Buddhism, which differ in structure. In India there is original Buddhism and in China is the modified Buddhism. There were mosquitoes over there. We arrived at the foot of the oldest pagoda in the area. The Linh Ung pagoda was from the XVII-XVIII century, and was made by monks, but the one we saw now was modern. There was a woman Buddha. And other buddhas.

We saw another smaller tower, which was the tomb of a monk. It had as many floors as the level it had come to achieve. It was a chief tomb. There were ancient tombs of 300 years. We saw natural caves that had formed in the mountain. There is a huge cement Buddha near the entrance to the Van Thong cave.

We enter one of the caves. The Vietcong were there and the Americans bombed that area. The light effect was magical! Inside the cave we saw two temples. I have read that the marble that was extracted from these mountains was used for the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum that we would see in Hanoi.

At 10:05 we finish the visit. We went down the stairs. There were a few steps, but they went down well. And we continue the trip. It was about 3 hours until Hue. We went through Danang and that day we saw it with light. So we appreciated the hotels, a ferris wheel, an amusement park, and a bridge in the shape of a dragon.

And we started to climb towards Hai Van Pass. The road is about 22 km long, and it is full of curves, in addition to the huge climb it makes. It is a mountain range (Truong Son), which has about 1500 meters. The climb was spectacular, although in the environment there was a kind of fog that blurred the images.

At the top is Hai Van port, a mandatory stop for all tourists. Up there too a few cyclists climbed! We arrived after 11am. We could see the bunkers of the 60s and other constructions. Slowly we already had more and more evidence of the Vietnam war. If there was no fog, Danang could be seen, but that day was not possible.

We made a necessary technical stop. And we continued because there were still about two hours of travel. On the way down we saw goats quietly on the road. They are the owners! Upon reaching the bottom we stopped for a moment to see a fishing village, Lang Co. We were surrounded by postal sellers, but then we followed our route.

During the trip we did not see anything remarkable. We saw rice fields. We saw children alone on the road, coming home after school, with their bikes. And at 1:15 we stop to eat. The place is in Duong Hoai Tranh (far from downtown). It was very calm and beautiful with a pond of water, fish, and silence. They treated us very well. Even there were individual towels to dry our hands. They also brought us a wet wipe for the hands on the table. There was wifi.

We ended up ordering Morning Glory, spring rolls in the Hue style called Nem, and noodles with seafood. We also ordered a Huda beer. They also brought us rice. And for dessert we have chocolate crepes and strawberry ice cream. It was all delicious! The only thing that the service was somewhat slow. At 14:40 we left there.

We arrived in Hue. Everywhere we saw many flowers and the next day was the day of the Vietnamese woman, and that many flowers were given away. And at 15:15 we finally arrived at the Hue Citadel. It was built between 1804 and 1834. In 1945 the last dynasty ended. And it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993.

The imperial city is inside the wall that surrounds the enclosure. It was for the emperor, the woman, the concubines, the eunuchs. The rest had the entry banned. Within the citadel was the imperial city, the civic city and the forbidden purple city.

There were some girls with the Ao dai, the traditional Vietnamese costume, and they were taking pictures with the people that were out there. They were really very beautiful! The colors of these dresses are spectacular, and the design is beautiful! We saw the flag tower, with the highest column in the country and the largest flag.

It is a square used for ceremonies, parties, and meetings. We went to access through the door. The one in the center was reserved for the emperor. It has a yellow roof. The two doors that remain on the side of the plant were for civilian mandarins and the military. And through the tunnels on the sides came the soldiers.

Above is a construction called the balcony of the 5 phoenix, so that the emperor presided over the acts. The forbidden purple city was the precinct where the emperor's women were, and the concubines. We saw the Palace of Supreme Harmony.

It was the only original building, since the rest was bombed by the Americans and are reconstructions. In fact, we saw how they were still working with the reconstruction tasks. In the palace we could not take pictures inside. There was the throne replica of the Nguyen emperors (the original is in the Hanoi museum). It is on three steps, which represent the town, the mandarins and the imperial family.

We saw a model of all the buildings of the Citadel. To the north was the door of peace. There were about 135 constructions. We continue with the visit to the Hung Mieu temple. And we got to the library. They had done a good job of reconstruction, since the result was beautiful.

And we arrived at the theater, but that day was closed, so we could not access. We had seen official cars outside, with flags of Cambodia. Maybe that was why it was closed. And we left by one of the doors. The visit had lasted an hour. We took the van and we go to the Dong Ba market.

The smells were pretty intense. The corridors were quite narrow. We returned to the van and went to the Thien Mu Pagoda. We arrived at 5:00 p.m. The sun began to fall and we saw a beautiful sunset on the Perfume River. The Perfume River was so called because the flower of the chamba came down.

The pagoda was the first the center of Vietnam. It's from 1601 from Chinese Buddhism. Because of the war, it had to be rebuilt, just like the original one. We saw the octagonal tower (something unusual), with 7 floors. In the temple we saw that they were celebrating a ceremony. Inside was the head of the pagoda. We could hear the chants from outside. During the ceremony we could not enter.

We saw the car of the monk Thich Quang Duc. The bonsai garden was very beautiful. And we saw the little monks playing! At the end of the garden there was the tomb of the chief of the pagoda, which had 6 floors. We stayed until 5:35. We left the premises to the edge of the Perfume River. We took a Dragon Boat, a boat shaped like a dragon, very typical of Hue. The boat was for us alone.

But as we had entertained ourselves in the market, it became dark. The woman on the ship tried to sell us things. We pass in front of the citadel, again, but now darker than before. Of course, we saw the iron bridge illuminated. We got off the boat and returned to the van, which took us to the hotel.

We got off the van and entered the reception. There was a huge group! We did the check-in. They gave us a drink, and the cards. We went up to the room. It was very good! It was quite big! And when going to use the safe, we had several problems. So we had to tell reception and they came up to help us. But it seems that we were not the only ones that happened to them, because there were more people complaining.

The room was very nice and very complete with TV, mini bar, Safe, bathrobe, slippers, and free water. Once solved, I go to the pool, which was on our floor! But when I put my hand in the water, I lost the urge! It was freezing! So I gave up on the idea. And I will tell you that I was not the only one. There were more people like me. The pool was simple, nothing to do with Hoi An.

We went up to see the solarium. And we also inspected the gym room and the room for the children. We went for a walk around the block of the hotel. And we decided that we were going to have dinner. They gave us the menu. There are Vietnamese and European dishes. We ordered Morning Glory, prawns with salt, pepper and lemon, battered squid, a large bottle of water, and beer. We ate well, and the restaurant was very good.

After dinner we went to the promenade that is next to the river (Le Loi) to walk a little and stretch your legs. We reached the Truong Tien bridge. It was a very good night, with an ideal temperature. We saw a group of young people, who had made a pretty big circle and were singing songs. We stayed a little bit to listen to them, because they were very lively.

We went back to the hotel, and in our street there was a lot of noise in the bars. We went up to the terrace to see the views at night, but they were not worth it. I expected to be able to sleep, with as much noise as there was. At 11pm I went to sleep, hoping to rest.

Day 5 - Hue

We woke up at 7 o'clock and we had a good shower. We looked out the window, and the day looked nice! It was sunny! At 8:30 we were ready, so we went to breakfast. The dining room was on the upper floors. There were more people having breakfast, but it was not a crowd.

The breakfast was nothing to write home about. The bacon was cold and a bit dry. There were sausages, sliced ​​fruit, toast, croissants, small chocolate neapolitans, coconut cakes, and banana cakes. I ate all this and I had a passion fruit juice. When we finished breakfast, we realized that the previous night we had not gone to the correct terrace. So we went up to the other terrace, and from there there was a good view.

There we see the Perfume River, with a somewhat chocolate color. We went to the room to brush our teeth and to close our bags again. We went down to reception and asked what time we had to leave the room. At 12 o'clock (as usual, but it was worth it to be sure).

We went out to the street and Hue began to wake up slowly. We walked around a bit, and ended up biting into two small shops. We bought shirts, steamy type, and black pants. We bargained a little, but not much, because the price was already good.

With our booty in bags, we went back to the hotel, picked up our bags, went down to reception and checked out. They told us they had to check that everything was fine in the room. They checked it and they gave us the OK. We packed our bags to the van and left.

On the street we already saw quite a few people carrying flowers. We could tell it was the Vietnamese women's day. In about 20 minutes we arrived at the first tomb we would see that morning to the Imperial Tomb of Tu Duc.

We arrived around 10:50 and got off the van. I saw a little sign with the prices. Some believe that it is the most beautiful imperial tomb. I do not know if the most beautiful, but it was great for a while, huh? There are 50 different buildings. The tomb is surrounded by a huge lake, and the emperor used the place as a summer palace.

We saw the pavilion where the emperor sat. Inside was the Empress's altar. The roof was propped up by termites because it is made of teak wood. The guide told us that the emperor had 103 women. There was some building under restoration. We also saw the buildings of the mandarins, but they were in ruins.

We entered the building of the Minh Khiem theater, and saw the Emperor's throne and palanquin. There was also the platform where the emperors sat to watch the shows (operas and shows made by the concubines). The theater is the only one built in the area of ​​the royal tombs, and it is the oldest theater in Vietnam that remains relatively intact.

We also saw the Luong Khiem temple. At first, it served the emperor as a residential palace. But it ended up being a temple. There was the altar of the mother, and in the background the symbol of the throne, which was small.

We continue the route. I love the crowning of the roofs of buildings. On the floor we found several flowers like those in the Hoi An hotel. They smelled so good and so good! They were called Great Flower. The tree lasts a lot, that's why it was usually planted in front of the tombs.

And we went to the burial area (there is the temple area and the tomb zone). While the ritual area contains several aspects of the kings' daily existence, that other area represented later life. The environment and buildings reflect the earthly and mundane world. The mandarins await orders in the courtyard, while the eternity houses of the wife and the adopted son are on the other side.

We arrived at the pavilion of the stela, with a huge tombstone (they say the largest in Vietnam), which weighs about 20 tons. We saw the guardians, horses, elephants, guarding the space. The emperor died at age 50. There are some columns that represented the strength of the emperor.

There was a lake in the shape of a half moon, and right behind it was the tomb of Tu Duc (although his body is not there). It is said that to avoid looting (since it is said that he was buried with a great treasure), 200 workers buried the body of the emperor somewhere else. It is also said that they were beheaded once it was done, so that they would not reveal the place.

It was 11:30 and a sun of justice was falling! The tomb of the emperor was rather austere and modest. I loved the details made with pieces of pottery. The setting was definitely beautiful! Small peace was breathed there, and all rose green! Next we went to see the tomb of the Empress Le Thien Anh, the first wife of Emperor Tu Duc.

Then we went to the grave of the adopted son (his nephew), who governed very little time. He had three adopted children. In his tomb there were no towers or protectors, because he actually governed very little time. We also enter the temple of the adopted son. And so, we arrive at the end of our visit to the Imperial Tomb of Tu Duc. It was 11:50. We were an hour or so.

Surely we could have spent a little more time, but what we saw we liked a lot and did not know much. We went back to the van again, to go to the Tomb of Khai Dinh. We arrived at 12:05. Duc told us that this tomb is not wide, but long. At the moment, what impressed us from there was the very long staircase that we had to climb to start!

We took it easy, and we reached the top. There were about 130 steps. The tomb integrated the modern and traditional influences from the East and from Europe into construction. The most important example of this synthesis is the interior decoration of the Thien Dinh palace. We saw the pavilion on the stele, but this time it was not an autobiography, but a biography, written by his son Bao Dai.

In the distance, in the mountain we saw a huge figure. And we arrived at the Thien Dinh palace. It has three rows of rooms. Those on the right and left were reserved for the guardians of the tomb, and the central one for the relics of the emperor and the cult. So we entered to admire it. The first thing that struck me was the ceiling, decorated, painted with dragons.

They were 9 dragons, and they had been painted with their feet. And again, the decoration with ceramic pieces was absolutely beautiful! We went to see the tomb of the emperor. Upon entering, we were amazed. Despite being smaller than the previous one, we also enjoyed visiting this imperial tomb. We finish the visit at 12:35. Until 2:30 pm we did not have to be at the airport for our flight (which was at 4:20 pm)!

We wanted to see the Tomb of Minh Mang, because I had also been told it was interesting but we again had to skip. We went up to the van and they took us to a road cafe. Right next door was a school of Buddhist monks. We went into the cafe, we sat down and they invited us to a tea. And after this rest time, we went back to the van and went to the airport.

We arrived at 14:10 at the Hue airport. The driver unloaded the suitcases. We passed the control without any problem. We just forgot to take two bottles of water out of the backpack, but that's it. And we went up to the area of ​​the boarding gates. We hallucinated, because there were only 3 doors! As I said, Hue airport is really small.

In addition, there were also very few stores, so it was going to be the boring 3 hours we had ever spent in an airport. We went to sit down. We walked around a bit to see what there was to eat, but it did not convince us. The airport's wifi is not very good. As what there was to eat there did not finish convincing us, we ended up eating a hot dog. The bread was crispy!

At 15:20 we saw that on the screen it said that the flight to Hanoi was estimated at 5:35 pm! This was exasperating! To make up for the wait, Vietnam Airlines gave us a bottle of water, or tea, or Pepsi. We sat down again, to continue waiting for more. Finally, after so many hours, at 17:30 we started to embark. They checked our boarding passes and took us on a bus, which would take us to the plane. And we arrived, finally!

We settled into our seats, and we began to laugh alone. We started thinking about what our next guide would be like! Slowly all the passengers were already seated, and the plane began to move. They explained the usual security rules, and at 5:50 pm we finally took off! It was time! The north awaited us! And above all, my desired Halong! Let's go!

The sunset from the airplane window was spectacular! They brought us more water and packaged wipes. The flight went smoothly. And at 18:30 we started going down. At 18:45 we landed in Hanoi! There was some fog. We got off the plane, we got on a bus and they took us to the area of ​​the tapes where we collect the suitcases.

The suitcases took a while to leave. We took them and headed to the exit. It gave me the sensation of hearing a drum roll! And there, in front of us was a gentleman holding a sign with our names! The man had a very peculiar Cuban accent. The van arrived, we loaded the suitcases and went up. During the trip the guide explained his life to us and he had lived 30 years in Cuba and his wife in Cuban. In fact, she lives in Cuba!

We asked him about the show of the Water Puppets, and he told us that he would get us tickets for the next day at the time we told him. Slowly we get closer to the city! We were already beginning to see something familiar to us at this stage of the trip of the traffic and the motorcycle madness!

We saw a wall that is 7 km long, all covered with mosaics, which was made in 2010 to celebrate the millennium of Hanoi. Finally we arrived at our hotel in the Old Quarter of Hanoi! We did the check-in. We were told that we had interior rooms (we had requested this, if possible, to avoid street noise).

We went up by elevator. We entered our room and it was pretty good! The trunk brought us the suitcases. And we keep the four important things in the Safe. We went down to the reception and exchanged some money. We took a Hanoi map and went to explore the city a bit! It was 8:25 pm and we leave the hotel.

That controlled motorcycle madness was worse than in Ho Chi Minh! We went down Ma May Street, the street of our hotel. And we arrived at Hang Be. There was one of the restaurants. We liked it on the outside and decided to go in for dinner. We reached a patio, lit, very beautiful.

The site looked pretty posh. We could say that they make a kind of fusion between French and Vietnamese cuisine. They took us to the top floor and accommodated us at a table. The staff was very attentive. They brought us the menu and we chose eggplant with tomatoes and olives, Bacon with soy and fruit, and Ravioli with vegetables. To drink we asked for a large bottle of water.

The place was very cozy, lit with a soft and pleasant light. And the plates arrived. Very well presented! The truth is that everything was very good! Maybe it was a little posh for our taste. The service was attentive! We left there at 10pm. And we went for a little round. Through Hang Be and Hang Dau, we arrive at Dinh Tien Hoang, which is right next to Hoan Kiem.

What an odyssey to cross the wide street! I followed the basic instructions for crossing in Vietnam by walking at a safe pace without changing the pace. The bikes calculate the trajectory and they dodge us! Above all, we cannot stop! It is impressive to see all the bikes that cross us, but we have to do it that way!

The lake area was very lively! We saw an illuminated bridge, and a kind of temple. There were cartoonists doing cartoons, and people walking. Suddenly, I stopped a guy and asked if he can take a picture of me! With the calm we went back to the hotel, more and more acclimated to that biker madness! We went up to our room, and at 23:15 we were already in bed.

Day 6 - Hanoi

The alarm clock rang at 7:15. And that we were on vacation! Never mind, getting up early is worth it! We gave ourselves a shower, but the water was cold. There was not much pressure and it did not heat up too much. Surely it would be because we were on the top floor.

At 8 o'clock we went down to breakfast. The dining room was quite good. It was not the super dining rooms of the Cambodia hotel, nor the Ho Chi Minh hotel, but it was pretty good. The hotel was also much smaller than the others.

The breakfast was quite good and varied. I ate cheese omelette (freshly made by a cook), bacon, sausages, sweet pastries (banana and yogurt), a roll with jam and butter. There were also chopped fruits. And I had a passion fruit juice. Everything was good.

We went up to the room to brush our teeth and collect the gear for the day. We went down to reception. The first thing we learn was to say good morning (Xin Chao) and goodbye (Tam Biet). We went to the van to start the day's visits.

The first stop would be the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. At that time the motorcycle traffic was already hellish! I loved that city chaos! We went through the wall again with mosaics from the previous night. It would not be, far from it, the last time we would see it.

We arrived just at 10am and saw that the changing of the guard was starting, so we started to run so we could see it and take some pictures! Not that there were many people watching the changing of the guard.

After seeing the changing of the guard we went to the shade (although there is not one in the esplanade! The guide told us about the date on which Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Vietnam, precisely in that place. It meant the liberation with respect to the French. It seems that Ho Chi Minh wanted to be incinerated, but the government decided to incinerate it in order to expose it to the public. At that time I remembered the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow.

From the huge esplanade and Ba Dinh Square we could also see the presidential palace, the finance ministry, and the parliament. At 10:30 another change of guard began. From there, we walked to the one-pillar Pagoda. It is a unique work, because there is no more with this structure that resembles a lotus flower. It comes directly from water.

This small Buddhist temple was founded in 1049. Emperor Ly Thai Tong did it to thank Buddha who had a child, when he could not have. Inside we can find the merciful Buddha, golden and with many arms. At 10:50 we went to the van, to continue with the visits.

At 11:05 we were already in the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu)! There were enough people out there! We go to the entrance. And when we cross the doors we find many boys and girls very well dressed! And we also saw small hedges, cut in the shape of animals. We saw a buffalo, a snake, a dragon, and a pig.

The surroundings were beautiful, very green! There were also some floral compositions with the name of some virtues. In 1070 it was founded in honor of Confucius, by Ly Tranh Tong. It is one of the few places in Vietnam dedicated to Confucius. And in 1076 it was founded as the Temple of Literature and the first university in Vietnam.

It was an academy. There they taught the king's sons (princes) and the good students of the country. The classes were of history, sociology, and philosophy. From here came the country's rulers. This university worked for about 700 years.

The stelae are divided into 4 buildings on the sides of a lake. There are 10 slabs per roof (being a double slope, in each construction there are 20 slabs). On the other side was a lake that was the mirror of heaven. I saw some of the students posing in the lake for a photograph, and there I went to take the picture too! It was 12:10 and there were a lot of people visiting the site.

We saw a sandalwood burner, beautifully decorated! There are four sacred animals: the dragon, the tiger, the phoenix and the turtle. We saw some of these, made of different materials. And we reached the anteroom of the Temple of Confucius. As you can see, people touch the head of the turtle (at the feet of the phoenix) and the chest of the phoenix, because it seems to be lucky.

And we entered the temple, with the figures of Confucius and some of his students and followers. The offerings that are made to them are very varied with sweets, money, fruits. Slowly we headed towards the exit. It had been a very interesting visit! Before leaving, I also noticed two flags. On the one hand there was that of Vietnam.

The other flag is in the pagodas where there are pilgrims. They are the five colors of Buddhism. Going out I took the opportunity to take a picture with some of the students, who were beautiful! There was no problem. I asked for a photograph and they quickly put me with me!

At 12:25 we finish. We got on the van and continued with our morning journey. The next stop was the Ethnological Museum. It's on Nguyen Van Huyen Street. There were very few tourists there. We took a little stroll calmly, seeing the various showcases with instruments, dresses, objects.

There was a showcase dedicated to water puppets! We would see them in a few hours! It is very typical of Vietnam since they have a lot of water and very good craftsmen. We even saw a house of the Thai ethnic group, stuck in there!

We really found it very interesting. In the museum there is also a part of the exhibition that is outside the enclosure, with houses of different ethnic groups. We did not see it, since it was time for lunch, and the function began at 4:15. We went out to get the van, but something caught my attention in a rearview mirror of a car!

On the way to the restaurant I see some of the streets of the guilds. I leave some in case you may be interested: Hang Bac (silverware), Hang Dao (peach), Hang Quat (fan), Hang Bo (basket), Thuo Bac (medicinal remedies), Hang Gai (silk, linen).

We go to a cafe, which is on Dinh Tien Hoang Street, right next to Hoan Kiem Lake. It was already 2:30 pm. We went up to the 5th floor in the elevator, and when we got to the top, what views!

We sat in the interior dining room at one of the tables, because there was no room on the terrace. We ordered fried rice with pineapple and Nem (rolls from Hanoi, which were also very good). To drink we ordered a small bottle of water and a Hanoi beer.

At 3 pm after we have just finished eating, our guide was explaining something else from the terrace of the restaurant. Hoan Kiem Lake is like the zero kilometer of Vietnam. It is a natural lake of fresh water and has two islets of land. The large islet has a temple of the nineteenth century, and the small islet has the Tower of the Turtle.

The name Hoan Kiem means restored sword since there is a legend related to this name. After explaining this, we went down to the street, to be able to visit the lake. We meet the bases of a house prepared for a wedding!

On the way, we took the opportunity to change some money in a bank. We decided that one of the things that we had scheduled for that day (a tricycle ride through the Old Quarter), we would leave it for another day. If we were going to see the puppet show, it would be all too hasty.

We passed in front of the Water Puppet Theater. We reached the access that would take us to the temple. Inside the compound we saw some elderly gentlemen playing, a kind of board game that I could not identify. And we entered the temple.

We saw the huge figure of the embalmed turtle! We also found the altar, full of offerings, and a kind of flat bell. Some of the stained glass windows of the cathedral also had bullet marks. We went to the theater, because the show would not take long to start! It was almost 4 pm!

We sit pretty focused! We had no problem finding a good place. And very punctual, they started with the function! I cannot leave any picture of the show, because I dedicated myself to enjoy it. Music with traditional instruments is live. The truth is I really liked it! Although we had economic tickets, we saw it very well!

What we can see, is a selection of 14 scenes, from among the 400 treasures of traditional Vietnamese puppets. Among others, we can see the legend of the sword returned by King Le Loi. Of course it's a tourist attraction, but it's worth seeing! It is curious and at the same time magical.

We left at 5pm, as the show lasts one hour. The streets were full! We took a small turn, heading towards our hotel. We cannot walk on the sidewalks, because either they are busy with the parked bikes, or one have a barber cutting hair, or there are people eating. So, the pedestrian has no choice but to go down the street, where thousands of motorcycles circulate!

At 17:40 we arrived at our hotel. We took a good shower and prepared the bag for the mini trip to Halong. We could not carry our bags, because the boats are not very big. So the suitcase would stay at the hotel, and we would carry a bag with the essentials!

At 6:40 we left for dinner. We bought a couple of bottles of water, to take them to the ship. On our same street, Ma May, we found a restaurant. It looked good, so we went inside. There were several Vietnamese specialties and we ordered some nem, grilled prawns, rice and battered squid. We ordered a large bottle of water.

They did not take long to bring us dinner. The service was very attentive. While we were having dinner we heard some chants, and a kind of bell in the room. We noticed that there was a monk (or so it seemed) doing his prayers in a tiny altar that was in a corner. It caught our attention!

We had very comfortable dinner! We took a little stroll, losing ourselves through the streets of the Old Quarter, without a fixed course. People were dining at tables and low stools in the street. We returned early to the hotel! At 21:45 we were already in bed! Could I fall asleep, with the nerves I had? Well, it seems that yes.

Day 7 - Halong Bay

We woke up at 5:30. From the window we could see the wall decorated with mosaic. We prepared ourselves, closed our bags, because we had to leave the room, and at 6:30 we went down to breakfast. The truth is that we were not very hungry, but we had something to eat. We ate some fruit, and I took a couple of bananas for the trip.

We went up to the room to brush our teeth. We left the room and left our bags at the door. The suitcases weighed a bit, so the guys at the desk told us not to worry about them. We arrived at the reception at 7:20!

The van could get to the hotel door. We went up and we left! We had 180 km ahead! We went through many different landscapes with many trucks, rural areas, rice fields. The women were too capped to protect themselves from the sun.

The driver slowed down so we could take pictures of them. At 9:30 we stopped at a huge place, with people who embroidered paintings, sold precious stones, and sculptures. There were more people who had also stopped there with their guides. We did not buy anything, and at 10:10 we continued the trip.

And at 11:25 we began to glimpse the landscape of the entrance door to the bay! Rather all the cruise ships that waited for the arrival of tourists. At 11:45 we arrive at the area where the different cruise companies are. The driver was looking for ours and finally found it. We got off the van.

And at 12:30 they came looking for us. They called us and a couple of French people. So we follow the captain. Well, I do not know if he was the captain, but he was dressed in uniform. They put us in a little boat. They made us put on our life vests and we went out! There were a lot of boats around us.

After much speculation, we arrived at our future home for one night! We entered by the stern, and they accompanied us to the dining room. They gave us a washcloth to clean our hands and sweat and gave us watermelon juice to drink. It was good. They checked the names on reservations, and gave us the keys.

We went down to see our cabins that were on the ground floor. We went in and we thought it was nice! We had two bottles of water, a safe, a hair dryer, a mini-bar. The room was well equipped. We went up on deck, to take some pictures and do a little round to explore the ship.

We saw 4 cabins that had small balconies. At 13.15 we had been summoned in the dining room, and there we went. We sat where we wanted (the table was long). But just at that moment the other travelers arrived and we had to wait, to eat all together. The ship set sail.

One of our travel companions was a huge man I photographed the night before, sitting on one of the stools, dining in the middle of Hanoi's street! When we were all seated at the table the food started. There was garden salad, spring rolls, grilled chicken, Halong fish with tamarind sauce, and sauteed vegetables. And for dessert we have pineapple and banana with chocolate. Everything was good, but the fish did not convince us.

Through the windows we could already see the wonderful landscape of the bay! I was dying to get on deck to admire the show, but no. There would be time for it! The French couple sat next to us and we were talking to them. They were on honeymoon.

We finished eating at 14:50 and at 3:00 we already had the first excursion! We went to the room to quickly brush our teeth and put some sunscreen on. And at 3:00 we were already getting into the boat. We put on life vests. The landscape was already a good time that was spectacular!

I could not believe that I was already there! The feeling I had was that what I was seeing improved expectations. The boat stopped in one place, so that those who went in kayak could go down. There were only 6 people. The rest we continue in the motor boat. They took us to a jetty.

We got off the motor boat. We were going to see the fishing village Vung Vieng. We went up in some traditional boats, which a woman was rowing. We put on the vests they gave us and we started the journey. I was lucky to be able to sit in front, so I could take the photos well.

It was really magical and relaxing. We almost did not open our mouths to speak, enjoying intensely every moment of that wonderful landscape. We went through the little village. There was even a dog, guarding the entrance! The boats with those very peculiar candles fascinated me and the people who occupied them.

The sunset was fantastic with the play of lights, colors and shadows was beautiful! The rocks were spectacular, and being so close to them made an impression. And slowly, after about 50 minutes of walking, we went back to the starting point. We came back to reality! Although throughout the journey we were not alone, but there were the other boats also sailing. The feeling of calm was incredible. The people saw everything in silence. We were going back to civilization.

There are no words to describe it. You have to live it! And I suppose you will be aware, that the photos do not do justice to that wonder! The reality is much better. One of the fears I had during the previous days was the weather, because I knew that if there was fog, we could not leave the port. So we had great luck with time! We could see everything perfectly!

We got off the boat, said goodbye to the woman who had taken us, and we rode in the motor boat. The guide told us that if we wanted we could go to the beach. They took us to a small beach. We had to climb some stairs, and we arrived at the place of fine sand. There were those who had done the kayak tour. They told us we had 20 minutes to bathe.

How good was the water! Neither cold nor hot! I was swimming in the waters of Tonkin Gulf. It was the ideal complement to the relaxation of the walk among the islets. After 20 minutes, they provided us with towels. We rolled up and went back to the boat that would take us back to our boat. Already at home we took a restorative shower. From the shower I could see the landscape that surrounded us.

Fresh as roses we went up on deck and met our French friends. We had a good time talking and watching the beauty that we had before us. We were talking about our trips (they highly recommended a trip they had made to Oman). We took advantage of the fact that there was happy hour on the ship until 7 pm with discount on all drinks. We all asked for a cocktail to celebrate that we were there! I asked for a Virgin Pina Colada.

Slowly, it began to get dark. At 7 pm, a cooking class began. We approached to see what they were doing. We were taught how to make spring rolls. It was good and they did it pretty well. We ended up trying the rolls that were quite good. At 7:30 they started preparing the barbecue for dinner.

There was everything from cucumber salad, papaya salad, mango salad, steamed vegetables, grilled prawns, pork, chicken, squid, oysters, moniatos, rice, noodles. We get up to serve. The desserts were dragon fruit, cut watermelon and cut pineapple. The dinner was good, and especially in that incomparable setting! The moon illuminated us.

We put on the loungers to rest a little and look at the sky. We could see the stars. Sure, there was not any kind of light pollution there! What a pleasure! And after a little while there, enjoying, we went to the room. The next morning at 6:30 there was Tai Chi class on the deck, and I really wanted to do it!

So at 10pm we were already in bed! In the next room there was a bit of fun. The Malaysian guys were a little noisy. Let's hope they let us sleep at night. And so, rocking, in the middle of Halong Bay we fell asleep, with those fantastic images recorded in the retina. It had been a great day!

vietnam wallpaper images

Day 8 - Hanoi

At 5:30 I opened an eyelet. I saw a little light coming in through the blinds, so I did not want to miss the sunrise in Halong Bay! I put on a jacket over my pajamas. It was cool, but not at all exaggerated. We saw the captain sleeping on a small cot.

There was no one on the deck. We were completely alone before that spectacle. And what a spectacle! I went down to prepare for the Tai Chi class. I had brought comfortable clothes, because I already knew that in the cruises there is this activity first thing in the morning.

The landscape was still beautiful, and the poor cameras had no truce! There were more people practicing Tai Chi on other boats! Slowly the bay was waking up. The teacher arrived and we started the class. First we warm the body a little. The ship was slowly moving, and we were seeing the beautiful images that were passing in front of our eyes! I had never done Tai Chi like that!

He showed us a piece of the 24-movement form. But the teacher was a bit quick, and not everyone could follow him well, so there were people who left him. After about 20 minutes, we finished the mini-class by massaging each other, all in a row, as if it were a little train. What absolute relaxation!

We finished, made the final greeting, and finished the class. At 7 o'clock we went down to breakfast, as we were hungry! There was cut fruit, tea, coffee, fruit salad, cucumber, grilled tomato, pancakes, toast, jam, egg. It was all very good, and at that time it entered as if nothing!

When we finished breakfast, we went to the cabin to wash fast, change clothes, and quickly to the boat, because we had a trip to a cave. When we went to the cave we did not take anything. It is very clear that it was the time when all the cruises took people. The cave we would visit was Hang Sung Sot.

Before starting to climb, the boat's guide was explaining that the cave was discovered in 1901 by a French explorer. It is about 30 meters above sea level. And he told us that they had come to find prehistoric remains. The cave was also declared a World Heritage Site.

We started climbing ladders and that at the pace of a procession, as you can imagine. But the climb was worth it! There was a time when, among so many people, we ended up losing the ship's guides. But it was normal, as the whole group ended up shelling.

After the climb, we arrive at the entrance of the cave. It is well conditioned, and illuminated. And the shapes of the rocks are beautiful. We saw other guides who, with a laser pointer, were illuminating forms. We already know that in places like these, there are people who see various forms (a Buddha, an elephant, a jellyfish), and this cave was no less!

We went through a place, where people threw coins and touched the stone. It turned out that it was shaped like a turtle. We have already seen that in Vietnam, the turtle is an important animal. We also touched the head of the turtle and slowly we started heading towards the exit. In total we had been about 40 minutes.

As a conclusion of the cave it is large, well prepared and illuminated, but honestly, it did not impact me much. Upon leaving the interior of the cave we reach a spectacular viewpoint! Slowly, we went down and went to the pier where the boat awaited us that would take us back.

We went through the side of a kind of small shops and fisherwomen selling their fresh products. We had to wait a little while on the jetty, because the boat had already left for the boat to take the first passengers who had already arrived. And that, it was only 9:20! The boat arrived, and we went up!

We got to the ship, took a quick shower and left the cabin, because in a few hours new passengers were entering. We left the bags, did the check-out and paid what we owed for the drinks. We went to sit on the deck. At 10 o'clock a class began on how to make shapes in vegetables, cutting with a knife. More than a knife it was a kind of scalpel, but it worked wonders!

We had a good time entertaining, and then proposed that whoever wanted, could try to make a rose with the skin of a tomato. At 11 o'clock they made us go down to the dining room. There was salad, chicken rolls, fried prawns, fried noodles, aubergines. Everything was very good.

It was time to leave. We took our bags and disembarked. We went up to the boat for the last time. It was 12 o'clock. And so, we reached the mainland. We took our bags, and said goodbye to our French friends. We got into our van, and at 12:15 we were on our way, towards Hanoi again.

I felt sorry, as I did not want to leave there. It had been wonderful, and a very good way to recharge batteries. We had absolutely Zen moments! The guide told us that the only inhabited island is that of Cat Ba, and that perhaps the beach we had been on was that of Soi Sim. We take the road from the previous day again. We saw how at the entrance of some houses, they spread the rice to dry.

We went through a kind of grotesque and exaggerated mansion! The asphalt was nothing special. There were stretches where I had to go at 40 km/h. That's why it took so long to make the journey. Another thing that caught my attention is that the clothes were laid out at the entrance of the house, with some hangers.

The driver was very good. To avoid heavy traffic, the driver took a shortcut and passed through an urbanization already arriving in Hanoi. It was like a little Venice, because it had channels. Finally, we started to enter Hanoi. At 16:20 we arrived at the hotel. We did the check-in again and they gave us the keys to the rooms. We climbed in the elevator that we always used, but when we reached the fourth floor we could not find our room!

We went back down, and saw that there was another elevator. We went up, and there we had them! We went down to reception again, and the guide had already brought the tricycle that would take us around the Old Quarter. Our trip was not over yet!

We said goodbye to him, and pulled the tricycle. The gentlemen who took them gave us a good little spin! We went through some of the streets of the guilds. The one that smelled the best was that of medicinal herbs, of course! And of course, could not miss the shocking images! I was absolutely fascinated with that city!

We could tell that Halloween was coming! The tour lasted 30 minutes. They left us at the Cathedral. I read that they call it the little Notre Dame, not so much for Paris, but for Ho Chi Minh. It is the oldest church in Hanoi, and was built in 1886 by the French, demolishing an ancient pagoda. It is very close to Hoan Kiem Lake.

We enter through a side entrance; the main one was closed. It is really imposing, and a small contrast in the chaos of that city. We were not able to see the bullet holes. We went for a walk, and made the last purchases (some boxes, and some bookmarks).

We had already become complete experts in crossing the streets of Hanoi! It was as if we had done it all our lives! Slowly, we reached the street of our hotel, Ma May, and went to dinner at the place we already knew, because we liked it.

We were seated at one of the tables on the ground floor. Today there was no one who was praying. They brought us the menu and we chose pork Nem, breaded prawns, crispy cheese (which tasted great), and beer. The dishes arrived quickly.

Everything was delicious. When we finished, we asked the waitress to help us, to bring us the dessert menu. But instead, she brought us directly cut watermelon. They invited us to the desserts! We were very satisfied with everything we had requested. The waitress had been so nice to us, that we gave her a small tip for her attention.

We went out to the street! I do not know what entered me, but suddenly, I started running down the street, and the girl who was at the entrance of the restaurant laughed! Those were amazing! There was a kind of festival in the streets of the Old Quarter, because there were shows, music, lots of people!

We stayed a moment watching a group that sang and danced, I guess traditional music. We continue walking. People were already dining on the street. We passed in front of our little hotel. We arrived at one of the corners, where they had set up a kind of disco for kids! And how well they were having fun, dancing!

We said goodbye and continue. In another section of the street there was another group playing. And we came to a flea market. We were browsing through the little shops, and I ended up buying halong shirt. We were trying to book the Sapa trekking. Thank goodness we did not because once in Sa Pa the prices drop by half or less.

Slowly, we went back to the hotel. At 22:50 we were already in bed.

Travel Ideas for a Holiday in Vietnam

Day 9 - Sa Pa

We woke up at 6:30. We showered, kept the last four things that were missing in our suitcases, and at 7:45 we went down to breakfast. The dining room was very full! We managed to find a table. The breakfast was quite ordinary. The juices were not very good. The croissants had too much butter flavor. I took a banana for the trip.

At 8:15 we finished breakfast. And the city was already starting to wake up! We went back to the room, brushed our teeth, closed our bags and went down to the reception. We did the check-out. When we were ready, we loaded the suitcases, and at 9:10 we were already running.

I had a hard time deciding which train to choose. The train really was super comfortable, much more than I thought. We shared cabin with a very polite Chinese until we reach Lao Cai. We went to a humble little hotel, clean with spectacular views of the valley.

We went to Giang Ta Chai, passing through villages such as Ta Van and Lao Chai. It was really beautiful, I have spectacular photos of those landscapes, we walked among the rice fields, we saw the villages, and we ate. At night, we toured Sa Pa. We gave ourselves a massage, had dinner, and went to sleep, since the next day we wanted to do another trek by free before they came to pick us up at the hotel to take us back to Lao Cai.

The trip was coming to an end. We went up to our rooms, packed the bags and put all the gifts in the bags of hand luggage. We already had everything. We were ready to go home. I still had a few more days of vacation (especially to recover from the Jet Lag). But I had liked the trip so much (despite the little things with one of the guides). Tomorrow we have a very long trip with a stopover at Changi Airport in Singapore! So the visits were not over yet!