Once again, the powers that be have announced another competition to design a logo & slogan for Vietnam’s tourism industry, following the much-maligned Hidden Charm campaign. Presumably they have been casting admiring glances at Amazing Thailand and Malaysia – Truly Asia, and hope that the new slogan will act as a silver bullet and turn Vietnam into a major tourism player overnight.
Cambodia has only two major painted narratives of the story of Rama in Khmer art, the murals of the gallery that surround the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh and those that are found in the vihara of Wat Bo in Siem Reap. The story itself is Indian in origin and the Cambodian version, called the Reamker was localised and adapted, and can be found in bas-reliefs and carvings on the Angkor temples and in theatrical dance and shadow puppet stories.
By comparison to most Cambodian provincial capitals, many with histories counted in the centuries, Sihanoukville is a very new city. Nothing but jungle and a few fishing camps prior to the 1950s, the town was first established in 1960 as an adjunct to the newly constructed deep water port. Few of Sihanoukville’s historically or architecturally significant buildings from the period between 1955 and 1970 still exist.
2010 will be the 10th and final year of running the Bangkok to Saigon Cycle Challenge. It remains a superb experience, but for us it is time to move on to new projects, so this is your last chance to experience this great cycle ride.
Please be sure to book early. To secure your place on the FINAL 2010 Bangkok to Saigon Cycle Challenge
With rainy season just around the corner, I took a trip up to Siem Reap to see what the amazing temple complex had to offer in low season. Most people prefer to visit during the dry season but the stunning temples and exquisite surrounding countryside are well worth a visit at any time of year, with each season offering a new perspective and completely different experience.
It’s early morning and I’m on the motorcycle in very heavy traffic. I’m anxious, paranoid, and can’t stop thinking about crashing — I’m close to panicking. I know what the problem is but I don’t want to admit it. I’ve got the Fear.
Riding a motorcycle requires a certain amount of trust. Trust in your own abilities, in being able to spot trouble ahead and anticipate what others will do, adjusting accordingly. Trust in the physics that makes it possible to balance on two wheels at high speeds without falling off or the bike flopping over. Trust in your bike, knowing that the tires’ contact patch will still hold if you lean the bike just a few more inches because you came into that corner too hot.
This summer has been one of the hottest summers on record in Vietnam, with temperatures often rising above 100 F in many parts of the country. Low rainfall has rendered the country’s network of hydroelectrical power plants virtually useless, and rising energy consumption has outstripped the capacity of the state-owned energy sector, leading to rolling blackouts throughout the country in recent months.
It could be so beautiful. We arrive at the Organic Farm. Goats standing in their wooden stables, chewing mulberry leaves. A black-white kitten is walking with us, asking for attention with a loud "miau". Birds are singing from the trees. Morning clouds are hanging deep around the hills surrounding the Nam song river valley. Nature at it's best. If there wouldn't be another sound: blasting music. Welcome to Vang Vieng, the “paradise” for backpackers.
The average stay of tourists in Luangprabang is 2-3 nights. The common activities are temples (Wats), the old Kings Palace and walking along the Mekong river. But there is another attraction, a bit outside and off the track: The Laos Bears - Luang Prabang Rescue Centre.
It is located at the stunning Tat Kuang Si Park with its beautiful scenery and waterfall, approximately 30 km south of the centre of Luang Prabang. There is a waterfall here, with views across the surrounding countryside and many cool pools that you can swim in.
With the recent opening of the Trung Luong Highway, the Mekong Delta is now a mere 90 minutes’ drive away from HCMC. Yet given its proximity to the metropolis, allied with its sleepy, laid-back ambience, its friendly people and its beautiful countryside, it’s amazing that so few HCMC expats bother to spend much time down there.
I suspect it’s because we all visit the Delta soon after arriving in Vietnam, usually on a rushed one-day tour being dragged from one fake ‘tourist village’ to another, and end up wondering what all the fuss is about. The fact that there is little in the way of decent accommodation in the region doesn’t help either.