Friday, May 31, 2019

Visit to Bao Loc, Lam Dong Province April/May 2019

Visit to Bao Loc, Lam Dong Province

About 200 km north east of Saigon, Bao Loc has an elevation of around 1000 metres. It's climate is perfect for agriculture. You name it, it grows here.

Best of all it's cooler in the day, has few people and has sidewalks unencumbered with food stalls and motorcycles.

Tea plant

Coffee Plant

Extensive tea and coffee plantation.

Thuy and Sophie by the lotus fields

Descent into the rainforest on a rollercoaster


Tea and coffee working class style

D'am Bri Falls

                                                Sophie presented with a melon

                                                          Old dad sweating it out with the BMX kid

                                                                                                           Tea terrace 

                                                                                                          Trouble in paradise


                                                                                           That's all for now folks!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Vietnam 2017 - 18

Viet Nam

With my daughter Sophie at the tender age of one travel was limited to travel inside Vietnam

Phu Quoc - Autumn 2017

Long Hai  - May 2018

Vung Tau - June 2018

Nha Trang - August 2018

A short one hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City Phu Quoc was my favourite spot of the last year.

The level of development is low with the exception of one or two spots on the island. Long may it last.

The beaches and one or two parks inland were exceptional, rustic and still very fresh. The white sand beach in the south of the island was quite wonderful and the so-called coconut prison quite a place to visit especially in the heat of the day.

Coconut Prison


Long Hai was a so-so experience. Really it was just about having a long weekend. Long Hai has a long beach. And that is pretty much it. There is a temple with rhesus monkeys in attendance.

Sophie in the homestay garden


Vung Tau is somewhere I have been five or six times. Initially I was disappointed, having been to say Phang Nga Bay in Thailand, Caye Caulker in Belize the black beach at Amed in Bali and another black beach at Corcovado national Park in Costa Rica. Ahem, but Vung Tau appeals to me more and more each time I go. The so-called back beach is cleaner and cleaner each time I visit (first time in 2013). Many parts of this ocean city are quiet but there is a certain energy there. Like Nha Trang there are more than 400,000 people in Vung Tau.

With woods, parks, swimming, restaiurants and a laid-back atmosphere and only 85 km from Saigon its a great place. As an indicator I stayed there for 4 days; hotel, food and motorbike travel there and around the city for $215 all-in. I like the economics of this trip.


I visited Nha Trang for the second time in August. Thuy, Sophie, nephew Ben and I stayed on the 24th floor of an apartment building overlooking the crystal clear blue sea of another white beach. Nha Trang is city beach environment but with lots of pluses. The terrain aroundabout is quite remarkable though quite arid.
A week for all of us with food and motorbike rental and travel to and from Saigon on the train came in at $384 in a 2 bedroom apartment 40 metres from the beach.

View from the apartment at sunset and sunrise

Rocks on the northern road to Ninh Hoa

Happy Travelling

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Oriental Mindoro, The Philippines

The scene on arriving in Mindoro by motorised Catamaran.

This was a family holiday of sorts although winging it from London in the UK to Saigon then Manila before reaching Oriental Mindoro by coach and ferry was not the typical undertaking.

Thuy and Sophie on the empty beach outside our apartment.

At least one person is tired here.

Can you see which one?

A cheese ice cream. It is a grim thought but it was okay. I wouldn't run to find another one.

A durian ice would have suited me far better.

A idyllic view from upstairs in our apartment with the outline of Luzon island to the north

This was a private beach of sorts. That is to say no one ever sat on it. 

No question it was pristine and clean. There was even bit of coral in the bay.

As a new (old) father I was actually too tired to swim more than a couple of times.

We were several kilometres from the nearby town. Several westerners lived in the neighbourhood with pretty smart houses that opened out onto the ocean.

Mindoro is a large island around 100 km long. We stayed on its northern tip.

The hinterland is largely uninhabited with mountains, forests and I think no roads that cross them and few that even lead into them.

As usual for people in this part of the world people are pretty darned friendly and conveniently, all of them speak English. 

Where we stayed was exceptionally quiet There was only the sound of the waves (and Sophie crying)

Boats moored in Puerto Galera

Next time:

Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Manila, Luzon, Philippines

Welcome to readers from Turkmenistan

First impressions of Manila are less than favourable.

The city appears grey even in tropical sunlight.

The traffic is execrable. The bus from the airport, only 5 km away, took an hour to make the centre.

That journey took us through some tough neighbourhoods.

Feel Dinah Washington's This Bitter Earth

Of course merely first impressions.

At the traffic lights I was reminded of Manuelita Mascarenas - Green an environmental lawyer recently executed at the lights while in her car with her children. One of twelve such lawyers murdered in the last year alone.


And of course it's hot.

The Mexicans and the Spanish got to the Philippines hundreds of years ago at the beginning of the 16th century. Both their influences are palpable here.

The big draw here is that most everybody speaks English.

I travelled with my partner and Sophie ,who was 4 and a half months old so ... the journey was especially interesting to me.

Manila really is a bit hot so every time we went out we ducked into Robinson's Mall or a 7/11 for the air con which was fierce.

Manila grows on you though. People (in the daytime at least) are friendly and will engage you quite easily though they are more removed than people in Vietnam where I live or India say. Thailand, Costa Rica and Mexico too come to think of it.

The Philippines is pretty free and easy. You need no visa to get in nor pay no exit tax to get out though the flight costs were painfully high going with the national airline - the alternative going through the budget airlines where you select everything through to the ply of the toilet tissue threatened to cause me an aneurysm during the booking process.

Not everywhere was rugged like the neighbourhoods fringing the centre.


The highlight of Manila for me.

See wikipedia for historical detail on this area

The Philippines is the only spot in Asia with Spanish colonial influence.

Sophie, who appears as a child shaped milk ingesting bladder during these months and weeks, her in Casa Manila.

Young Filipina Daniella with her grandmother in Malate

Fort Santiago

A few damp walls and an old gaol.

Looking over to the Binondo district from Fort Santiago

Inside Fort Santiago

A typical bride and groom on photo shoot in the Intramuros district.

The demands of the bride on this shoot were interesting to experience.

The Manila centre at night didn't feel wholly salubrious with hard-faced men in singlets glowering from stools on the pavement, hot girls sneering.

Little bit of sex tourism and arrangements to that effect going off throughout. In fact the day felt like it was snoozing, waiting for night.

Inside Manila Cathedral 

A representation of the Virgin Mary in Manila Cathedral

Police Officer patrols Casa Manila

Thuy and Sophie - Casa Manila

In Rizal Park, central Manila.

Where we went next ...

Happy Travelling!