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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Cholon, or big market is the area of Saigon where people of Chinese descent traditionally lived.  It is know to them as Dī’àn – or embankment, due to the large embankment built next to the river to stop flooding.

Originally a separate City, it was merged with Saigon to form Saigon-Cholon – The Cholon part of the name being dropped in the 1950’s.  Later many ethnic Chinese left Vietnam, changing the racial makeup of the area, though walking around you can get a feel for the heritage of the area.

The area is blessed with more temples than any other area of the city, dedicated to the many Gods of the Taoist and Buddhist traditions. Each one a place where someone can make an offering to hope that some wish will be fulfilled.

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My favourite part of nearly all Vietnamese Chinese temples are the rockeries or Hòn Non Bô – little miniature worlds where the gods live in a kind of mountainous Island.

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Worship is the main draw of these temples – they see many more worshippers than tourists.

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And these aren’t the only places of worship.

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The Religious sights might be the main draw, but commerce is the main reason the area came to be – Buying and selling is still the heart of the community.

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ms loan

cau lauHoi an has some great specialities.  In fact it’s one of the best places to eat great food in Vietnam.  There are tasty cheap eats down the market, upmarket Vietnamese places in old traders houses, Cafes, even places that serve some pretty edible pizza – but for me, this is the place to try great examples of the local food.

Ms. Loan is one of many almost identical places lined down the Khu am Thuc eating area.  The restaurants take turns feeding the customers who wander this far down, and I ended up being fed by the family here – lucky for me.

mi quangThe most famous dish from Hoi An is Cau Lau noodles – Thick, rough rice and wheat noodles, with lots of green herbs and lettuce is topped with a little broth, some roast pork, and finally some offcuts of the same noodles deep fried till crispy.  It’s one of my favourite noodle dishes.  Simple, and the pile of herbs and a squeeze off lemon give it a fresh light flavour.

white roseAnother noodle dish we tried was Mi Quang –  Turmeric coloured noodles with the same herbs, but a rich tomato and crab fat sauce, with braised pork and a quail egg.  Another great dish, Richer than the Cau lau, but still light because of the mix of green herbs.

won tonsWe also tried two other local dishes. White Rose is a steamed rice noodle stuffed with prawn, and topped with lots of crispy shallots – with a sweet vinegar dip.  The local wontons are flat triangles stuffed with a little pork mince, then topped with a great sweet and sour salsa of green beans, tomato and peppers – another winner, almost like a local plate of nachos!

So, If you’re in Hoi An, get down to Ms. Loan’s for some local specialties.

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Not in the same league as Angkor in Cambodia, but still a great place to visit due to the beautiful natural environment around the Temples.

The Temple, dedicated to Hindu Gods, was used as the religious centre for the Cham people when they controlled much of Southern Vietnam. Work began building a religious centre in the 4th century, and the temple complex was used continually till the 14th, the longest of any similar site in South East Asia.

With the decline of Cham power in the region the temple was abandoned.  Sadly, during the American war, the temple was damaged significantly, destroying many of the buildings.

 

 

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Hue was the last Royal Capital of Vietnam.  Sadly though, the old quarter of the city and most of the palace was destroyed by American bombing during the fight to recapture the city from the Viet Com.  Luckily, outside of the city there still remains the tombs of some of the last Vietnamese emperors, a world heritage sight.  They give some insight into what it would have been like in the Imperial Capital.

 

The eight tier Thien Mu  pagoda, just outside the city

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A shrine in the tomb of Minh Mang

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More of Minh Mang’s Tomb, built to specific Confucian design and set in beautiful grounds.

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Tu Duc’s Beautiful and expansive temple complex

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The ruined living quarters for servants – still expected to tend to their Emperor after his death.

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Elephants, horses and Mandarins stand to attention for their dead emperor in the after life

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Flowers decorating the grounds

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Always in pairs, huge Chinese dolls guard the gateways of many of Bangkok’s temples.  However, none are as impressive as the examples found in the famous Wat Pho – home to the country’s largest reclining Buddha.

The statues are known as “Up Chao” in Thai, meaning ballast, and actually many were brought from China for this purpose.  The main trade from Thailand to China was in heavy resources such as tin, lead, wood and rice, on the return however the lighter Chinese products weren’t enough to weigh the ship down in the water, so these cheap concrete statues were perfect for the job.  However, many of the statues in Wat pho were believed to have been specially made by Chinese artisans in Bangkok as a  thank you to the royal family of the time.

 

 

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A great place to see real Thai people getting to grips with on of the country’s most popular hobbies.  Men come to spend hours studying the amulets looking for unique and rare examples to add to their collection.  The most expensive will contain hairs from auspicious Monks, and will have been blessed over an extended time.  Strangely, the trade in Buddha images is illegal in Thailand – To get by this the representations are “Rented” to the collectors.

Here are a few of my photos:

A selection of Amulets

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Buyers pore over amulets

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Pictures of a young Prince as a Monk

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A collection of statues, and an Artisan creating a large example

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Lucky catfish

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A cat naps on top of the Amulets

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Keeps your eyes open in Bangkok and you’ll see some pretty crazy stuff.  Here’s a few of the random things that I found.

My favourite brand of whisky….

black cock

What an awesome statement.

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No hand grenades, no S&M, no sexual harassment???

noooo

No explanation needed!

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How are they gonna know if it doesn’t smell?

no farting

I know I am.

coffee.

Well those glasses should help with his eyesight…

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Karaoke – yes, Sexy ladies – yes, Disabled – yes, Filming no, obviously!

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Cute and crazy shit- some things definitely get lost in translation

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cute shit

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