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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Travel to Vietnam Part VI

19 June 2008

Today was our last day in Vietnam. We started our journey back early in the morning to Ho Chi Minh City with Vietnam Airlines before continuing to our final destination, Kuala Lumpur via Malaysia Airlines. There was no direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Da Nang yet. Hopefully Air Asia could add Da Nang as their new destination one day.

That morning, I was late to check out. I was the last person to be on a bus that would carry us to the airport. Luckily I managed to get it on time. Becoming the last person to be on the bus was an advantage though. I could sit at the front seat and in front of me, I could have a clear, wide view, similar to the driver's view.

There were a lot of motorcycles on the road in Da Nang. Everywhere were motorycles. The bus was moving slow and steady. I felt relaxed, no rush like in KL. The bus sometimes honked so that smaller vehicles gave way. Here, frequent honking while driving was accepted and was not considered as annoying. To certain places, honking might be considered rude.

While we were passing over a river through a newly built bridge, we could see that Vietnam was indeed fast developing and seemed nothing happened here few years back eventhough Vietnam had experienced bloody wars. There was a stadium being built by the side of the river. In the middle of the river, some boats were moving, a sign that lots of activities were happening here. Far behind, there were tall buildings rose above the rest. At the horizon, a series of blue mountains decorated the magnificent panorama view of Da Nang.

We arrived at the airport quite early. We has our light meal first. At the airport, the view was also beautiful. From here, we could see the same blue mountains from close range. There was also former US Air Force's depot over the other side of the drive way. Da Nang was one of the battle fields during Vietnam war and thus a lot of war legacies could still be seen in Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Slow yet smooth traffic in Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A new stadium is being built in Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Among millions of motorcycles in Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Aircrafts landed at beautiful Da Nang airport.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Beautiful panorama of Da Nang airport.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

An aerial view of a dam in Da Nang.


The flight that we took to Ho Chi Minh City was quite full. As usual, I was quite bored in the flight. I had no mood to take pictures, just took one or two only. Didn't know why, perhaps it's time to go back and missed Da Nang or too tired.

We arrived Ho Chi Minh City airport around noon before taking our next flight in the late afternoon. Our plan today was to go shopping again at Ben Thanh market! Before we went to Ben Thanh, we went to a shopping mall which I forgot its name (perhaps Saigon Center). We hoped that we could find some good quality goods there but we were disappointed as there were not so many choices compared to Ben Thanh. This was typical shopping complex that could be found anywhere.

While we were there, I started to feel uncomfortable at my throat. Think I was going to get sore throat, then caught flu and finally got fever, as usual. Perhaps this came from outdoor activities yesterday at Hoi An. I drank less water because it was difficult to find toilet there. I asked for some sweets from my friend to relieve my sore throat.

The distance between the shopping complex and Ben Thanh market was not far. We just walked to Ben Thanh. Although the traffic here was quite heavy, we could easily cross the roads as the traffic speed was slow.

At Ben Thanh, we went straight to the same shops that we surveyed when we first arrived here. I went to a shop selling bed sheet with rose motive which was made from hand-woven thread. It was really beautiful. The seller could speak Malay and it was easy for me to speak to her. Perhaps she worked in Malaysia before or she's a Cham Malay who also lived here.

Few of my friends were looking for laptop bags. There were a lot of choices here and they looked alike original ones. When a seller was asked if bags sold were genuine or not, she replied,

"Same, same like original."

They straight away got their answer! Another friend bought a white gown with hand-woven rose motive, also made from thread for his daughter. It's awesome. Vietnam silk was also available here and it's considered cheap. I saw a lady from Malaysia too was trying few clothes, perhaps for a wedding ceremony. There were a lot of beautiful clothes here, yet at cheaper prices. You can shop till you drop here!

From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

An antic car found while I was walking to Ben Thanh market


After shopping at Ben Thanh market, we went to a restaurant that served halal Malay food for our lunch. The name of the restaurant was Bon Mua Four Seasons Restaurant (refer Google Map). The owner was a Malay, perhaps a Cham Malay or Cambodian Malay (refer previous entry regarding Cham Malay). She spoke fluent Malay and looking from a sweater hanging near the cashier counter, somebody might have been studying in a college in Malacca. However, it was sad to see younger generation of Malay here couldn't speak Malay anymore. One of them was a the owner's son there. This was because there were limited utilisation of the language here as well as Vietnamese language was used as medium of teaching in schools.

The foods here were very much similar to the ones in Malaysia. We ordered Tom Yam, Daging Gulai, Sambal Belacan, Ikan Tiga Rasa and among others we normally ate. This was the only time we could feel full! We're not get used to Vietnamese foods while it was also difficult to find foods that suited our halal diet. When we were eating, there was an Indonesian family also eating in the restaurant. When we about to move, another Malaysian family also patronising the restaurant.

Four Seasons Restaurant was located not far from a mosque called Dong Du Mosque or Jamia Al-Muslimin (refer Islamic Finder), which was located by the side of Sheraton Hotel. We went there for prayer. We met the community there which most of them spoke Malay. Some of them could be Malaysian who were working in Ho Chi Minh City. The mosque there did not just serve as a place for prayer. It was also used as community centre for Muslims. There was also a small restaurant there selling halal foods.

After that, we went to the airport. My body was getting worse. I felt very sleepy after taking flu pills at the restaurant. I slept all the way to the airport and then continued in the flight.

From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

The lounge Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City.

From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Leaving Vietnam.


We arrived KLIA almost dark. I went straight to a clinic there. I really felt uncomfortable at my throat. When the doctor asking me where I was returning from, I replied Vietnam. He said it was normal for people coming back from Vietnam to catch cold. It could be the weather difference there. So, be prepared by drinking a lot of water.

It was sad to leave Vietnam. Sometimes people would think that Vietnam was not a nice place. Ironically I found Vietnam an interesting place, unique and it's worth having trip there. The goods were cheap and the place was beautiful.

Vietnamese are not like before. In the past, they came to Malaysia as refugees, now they come to work here. It's no surprise that they will go back to serve their fast developing country and perhaps one day will come here again as tourists!

The end.

From Vietnam Trip - Ho Chi Minh City

Sunset at Port Dickson, right before we were landing at KLIA.


Previous entries:
Travel to Vietnam Part I
Travel to Vietnam Part II
Travel to Vietnam Part III
Travel to Vietnam Part IV
Travel to Vietnam Part V

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Travel to Vietnam Part V

18-19 Jun 2008

Around Da Nang, there were many places that visitors could visit. Apart from wide and white sandy beach, here was also located one of UNESCO's World's Heritage Sites namely Hoi An. This place was used to be the centre of ancient Champa Kingdom.

On the second night here, we had opportunity to go to Hoi An to witness Full Moon Festival. However it was unfortunate as the most anticipated full moon was out of sight. Like when we first arrived here, there were thick clouds blanketing Da Nang's sky and that's why the full moon couldn't be seen.

During the festival, lanterns which resembled lotus flowers were offloaded from boats and sampans in the middle of the river and were left drifted. Perhaps because the full moon was not seen, there were not so many boats and sampans in the river. They might not celebrate at this time.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Lanterns were offloaded from a boat in the middle of the river at Hoi An, Vietnam. Not many boats seen perhaps due to the full moon which was out of sight.


Awarded as one of UNESCO's World's Heritage Site few years back, Hoi An was an ancient city where it had become an important port in the past. It was also one of the stops in the spice route. Now the trails that it left has become attractions among backpackers to taste local delicacies, shop and enjoy sea activities. We had another chance to go there again in one afternoon as we had treasure hunt activities there.

Close to Hoi An, there was also located Cham Island which the people there were related to the Malays down South of this region. Da Nang used to be called as Indrapura and this was the centre of once powerful kingdom of Hinduism-Buddhist Champa. According to certain theories, based on artifacts found, the Malays were originated from Cham people.

After Champa Kingdom was annexed by Viet Nam, its last king together with his loyal subjects escaped to Cambodia and started a new civilisation at the bank of Mekong River called Kampong Cham. If we look at the name of Kampong Cham, Cham language and Malay language have a lot of similarities. Kampong in Cham and Malay language means village. There are few other words which are exactly the same meaning such as sungai (river), banyak (a lot), ikan (fish) dan orang (people). Some of Cham people also ran away down South to the states of Terengganu and Kelantan in Malaysia and also to Southern provinces of Thailand. Some had also escaped North to Hainan Island in China. When I was raised as a kid in Terengganu, there were a lot of Cham people selling cloth from house to house. They were good businessmen and businesswomen.

However, not all his subjects ran away as some still resided in Vietnam. Apart from its original location at Cham Island, there were also still resided at Nha Trang. During its golden age, Cham people were converted to Islam by Arabic traders and had close relationship with Abbasid kingdom in Baghdad. It also helped Johor Kingdom to fight against Portuguese in Malacca. I was not very sure those residing at Cham Island still practicing Islam. Some said they still practiced ancient belief although they were Islam, similar to few Javanese in Indonesia.

I had a short chat with one sugar cane juice seller at Hoi An. When he was asked where he's coming from, he simply replied that he was from Cham, not from Vietnam though. I guessed Cham people still believed that they were being colonised by Vietnam. There was a movement to help freeing Cham people from Vietnam but now it was abandoned.

From the beginning, I knew our treasure hunt team would not win. Our friends from Thailand even went shopping instead of completing tasks given! Actually I rued the chance to buy some souvenirs as prices here were much cheaper compared to other places such as Ho Chi Minh City. However, at least I could relax and enjoy taking photos while they were shopping.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Animal-shaped whistles made from clay is one of the famous handcrafts from Vietnam. This picture was taken at Hoi An.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Local delicacies at Hoi An. The ones look like woods are indeed woods that produce fragrance.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Only walkers and primitive vehicle users are allowed here.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Water transportation is still important in Hoi An. A boat from Cham Island is carrying passenger and motorcycles.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A museum at Hoi An.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Carrying loads traditional way is still very much popular in Hoi An. In Penang, sellers used the same way to sell rice and that's how Nasi Kandar was known.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Japanese Bridge built by Japanese during the World War II.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A lady is making lanterns at Hoi An.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Lanterns sold at a shop in Hoi An.


While we were on the way to Hoi An, I could see a former American Air Force depot used during the Vietnam war. Around Da Nang, destructions from war could still be seen. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in sandy areas, there were big holes created from bomb explosions. A temple from Champa Kingdom days was also being restored after destroyed by bomb explosion.

The houses of Vietnamese were indeed unique. The front opening was very narrow, just to fit in a car while the length was extended behind, about double the size of a normal terrace house. For rich people who wanted bigger house, they didn't extend to the next door, but it went upwards until three storey! Didn't know why but I guessed this was because of the shape of the land they owned. The pieces of the lands were actually similar to the shape of each paddy field lot. So, each house was built according to the shape of that land piece.

Another uniqueness about Vietnam was grave at the backyard! In the past, Vietnamese buried the dead in their own backyard. However, the Vietnam government now did not allow this anymore and proper centralised graveyards were made available.

Before the introduction of Roman characters, Vietnamese language used similar characters as Chinese. It was however written and read from the right to the left, similar to Arabic character.

..to be continued..

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A former US Air Force depot in Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Vietnamese house - narrow opening but extended behind.


Previous entries:
Travel to Vietnam Part I
Travel to Vietnam Part II
Travel to Vietnam Part III
Travel to Vietnam Part IV

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Travel to Vietnam Part IV

18 June 2008

The place that we stayed was Furama Resort. It was located on the way to Hoi An, one of the UNESCO's world heritage site, the same title that Malacca and Penang have got recently. I will tell more about Hoi An in the next entry. This resort was facing South China Sea, the same sea that extends towards East Coast Peninsular Malaysia in the South, and is close to China Beach, which was famous to American troops and its alliance during Vietnam war.

At one glance, the architectural design of the resort was very much similar to traditional Malay and tropical concept but it still had local elements. It was an idea of an Australian architect. There were few blocks of buildings that connected to the main building that included the lobby, restaurants and bar. A beautiful surrounding could be clearly seen right at the moment we arrived, which was really fast attracting us.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Furama Resort, Da Nang.


At the lobby, on the right, there was the reception counter which faced sets of sofas for waiting and relaxing. Straight to the front, there located a courtyard which placed rows of big vases alongside a small pond. Inside the pond, there were few Japanese fishes swimming between leaves and blooming lotus flowers.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Courtyard at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Rows of big vases alongside a small pond at the courtyard at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Fishes are swimming between lotus plants at the courtyard at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Courtyard at Furama Resort at night.


On the left hand side of the courtyard, there was a restaurant which was located at a building that extended from the main building that included the lobby. On the right hand side, there located a bar. The design of both left and right hand side buildings were symmetric. Straight to the front, a sizable swimming pool could be seen. It had square design which suited for marathon swimming compared to those swimming pools that had weird shape. I liked this one. The bottom of the swimming pool was surfaced with blue tiles, similar to its blue sea background.

Separated from the swimming pool by short coconut trees, there laid a wide, clean and white sandy beach. There were huts, which their roofs were made from palm leaves, for those who liked sunshine and sun-tanning. Underneath, there were chairs with blue-and-white-striped canvas for lying and relaxing.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

The swimming pool at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

The huts for relaxing located at the beach at Furama Resort, Da Nang.


The sea was blue and very peaceful. Seemed one could forget all stresses when was here. The waves were just small touching the beach gently and was very suitable for swimming. At the horizon, it looked clear from any obstructions except a small unknown island. There were also few fisherman's boats catching fishes. Far to the left, the famous Monkey Mountains could be seen. The beach with beautiful corals there was a heaven for divers. Fisherman's traditional village which added colours to this beautiful scenery could also be seen from here.

On the right hand side, there was a new resort building being erected. Some trees had been planted to beautify the landscape.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A beautiful beach at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A very peaceful view at the beach at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Water trishaw at Furama Resort, Da Nang. At the background is Monkey Mountains.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A new resort is being built at Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Panorama of the beach at Furama Resort, Vietnam.


Coming back to the resort, there were many facilities available. For those who wanted cash, there was an ATM located at the lobby building. For those who don't know yet, most of hotels and resorts in Vietnam have casinos. One of us, an uncle who frequents Genting, was quick to grab this opportunity to bet his luck.

After checking in, I was accompanied to my room. The resort's area was big and I had to walk for a quite long distance. My tiredness however fast disappeared seeing lush green landscape here. A lot of small trees planted alongside the corridor. On the right hand side of the corridor, there located resort rooms while on the left hand side, it was open to the air facing a beautiful park. At the park, there were a lot of trees planted giving a green and eye-soothing view. The most outstanding were tall coconut trees rising above the others.

Visitors can also walk in the park as walking pavement was made available. In addition to lush and beautiful greens here, visitors could also smell a nice aromatherapies which was installed at certain locations at the park.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

The building that accommodates resort rooms.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Corridor at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Tall coconut trees at the park at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Walking pavement at the park at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

A lagoon at the park at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Aromatherapies installed at certain locations of the park at Furama Resort, Da Nang.


The room was also nicely designed and decorated. The room adopted open concept where there was a window in the wash room that separated it from the bed. This gave a feeling that the room was big than its actual size. Every room had a balcony that faced another park on the other side. A couple of chairs and a table were provided for visitors who wanted to feel hotter air outside. A railing to hang wet clothes after going to swimming pool or the beach was also available. For rooms that were located near to the sea, the balcony actually faced the beach. However, not mine though, just the park..

..to be continued..

Visit Furama Resort website.

Previous entries:
Travel to Vietnam Part I
Travel to Vietnam Part II
Travel to Vietnam Part III

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Bed inside the room of Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Open concept at Furama Resort room, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Another view inside the room at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

View from outside at Furama Resort, Da Nang.

From Vietnam Trip - Da Nang

Chairs and table at the balcony at Furama Resort, Da Nang.


Previous entries:
Travel to Vietnam Part I
Travel to Vietnam Part II
Travel to Vietnam Part III

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