• Entrance to the Vietnam Military Museum with a captured tank facing it
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Vietnam Military Museum

    For those visitors who wish to understand a bit on Vietnam and its many wars for Independence, then a stop at the Vietnam Military Museum, or simply known as Military Museum is a must. It is Hanoi’s oldest museum. It opened its doors to the public on the 15th anniversary of the Vietnamese Army Day, in 1959 – a mere five years after they defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu. View of the B-52 wreckage in the courtyard A bit of history Vietnam’s history, especially the last century, has always been about fighting for independence. In the beginning, it was waging a war to get the French to leave…

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum with a guard of honour
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex

    Ho Chi Minh is revered in Vietnam. He was both prime minister and president of North Vietnam and played a key role in the early stages of the Vietnam War. And what better way to honour a beloved leader than to embalm his body and have it on permanent display at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Ba Dinh Square with Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum in the background However, that is not what Uncle Ho, as he was popularly known as, wanted. Just before his death in 1969, he had left strict instructions that his ashes should be buried in the hills throughout both North and South Vietnam. However, his colleagues…

  • Main entrance to the Imperial City.
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    The Imperial City

    The Imperial City is, by far, the most prominent feature of the city of Hue. It sits on the Huong river, or the Perfume river as it popularly known as. It’s minutes away from the South China sea. And should be your first stop on a visit to Hue. The Vietnamese flag flutters atop the Citadel It’s exactly these features that caught the attention of Emperor Gia Long, the first ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty. Its proximity to the surrounding mountains also made it an ideal location. He went about setting a new capital in 1802, making Hue the administrative and military center of Vietnam. However, when the monarchy came…

  • Temple of Stratum Bodhisattva and Temple of Relatives
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    The Pagoda of the Celestial Lady

    Thien Mu Pagoda, also called the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady, is a must for all those who visit the imperial city of Hue. Garden behind the temple with bonsai trees For reasons best known to us, we chose to walk the distance from town. While I would ordinarily walk around 7 kms without too much of a hassle, so long as it’s an easy walk, this proved to be a bit tedious for other reasons. It was drizzling and chilly, like it had been all that week, both in Hanoi, and now in Hue. Except for the Huong river, or the Perfume river as it is famously known as,…

  • View of a crashed helicopter
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    DMZ

    All is quiet on the DMZ now. The bases and bunkers are no longer there. The country is one. And the area is a major tourist attraction. View of the Ben Hai river when driving However, it wasn’t always so. When the world’s powers convened in Geneva to try and sort out the mess the French had got themselves into in Indochina, Vietnam was split in half along the 17th parallel. A strip of land, running about 5kms on either side of the Ben Hai river separated a nation and its people. During the ensuing Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese and US-supported South fought ruthlessly, trying to gain an advantage…

  • Reunfication Express train on its way to Danang which you can see in the background
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    The Reunification Express

    First things first. There is no Reunification Express. At least not officially. It is called the North–South Railway. Covering 1,726 kms, it is the main railway line that connects the political capital of Hanoi with the commercial capital of Saigon. View of the South China sea A bit of history first Construction of the line linking these two cities began during the French rule in 1899.  It took nearly 40 years for its completion, finally connecting the cities in 1936. However, the line was continuously sabotaged and bombarded during the Vietnamese fight with the French, and later during the Vietnam War. It wasn’t after the war finally ended, in 1975,…

  • Blog,  Europe,  Hungary,  Travelogue

    Discover a surreal part of Budapest

    Memento Park is like Disneyland, communism style. It’s home to 42 statues, busts and plaques of socialist heroes fictional and real. Rather than being consigned to the dustbin, they’ve found themselves another home today, albeit not where they would have expected Entrance to Memento Park A bit of history 63 years ago, in 1956, Hungarian students and citizens demonstrated in Budapest demanding reforms. One of their demands was the dismantling of Stalin’s monument in a park in Budapest, that was ironically, only installed seven years earlier as a gift from the Hungarian people to the Moscow and its leader. They proceeded to break the statue, leaving only the boots on…

  • Reclining Buddha at Vinh Tranh pagoda
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Vinh Trang Pagoda

    About three kilometers from My Tho city, in the heart of the Mekong Delta, is the Vinh Trang pagoda. View of the temple It is among the most well-known in the region and one of the most fascinating, not least because of the three enormous Buddha statues within its complex. A standing Buddha symbolising bliss and compassion is located just outside the main gate. As you enter the pagoda gates, a laughing Buddha symbolising happiness and good luck smiles down upon you. A little ahead is the reclining Buddha, meant to symbolise nirvana. The pagoda itself rests on five acres of manicured gardens and fruit trees in My Hoa, on…

  • View of thatched hut on a pond at restaurant in Mekong Delta
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    A day in the Mekong Delta

    There is a reason why the Mekong Delta is called the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam. It’s a region that is blessed with endless rice paddies. The delta is so huge that it literally covers about two thirds of the southern part of the country. Farmers till their rice paddies The facts first The Mekong Delta covers more than 15,000 square miles. In fact, the Mekong river that finally ends here is, the seventh longest in Asia, and the 12th worldwide and traverses six countries including China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and of course, Vietnam. It’s biologically diverse, with a variety of animal and bird species. It’s also the agricultural heart…

  • The Saigon riverside
    Asia,  Blog,  Travelogue,  Vietnam

    Aah Saigon!

    Ho Chi Minh City, popularly known as Saigon, can be a chaotic place that asks whether you are ready to go along for a ride. Motorbikes rush past on a busy street in Saigon It starts the moment you arrive into the city. At first, the hustle and bustle of the busy streets can be quite overwhelming, especially with the number of two-wheelers that zip by. However, in time, you realise there is a certain order to this chaos. Let me explain. Crossing the streets must be the most daunting task any traveller would face in Vietnam, and especially in Saigon. While the four-wheel vehicles are fine, it’s the sheer…