VIOLA. IT’S VIETNAM

Vietnam was a surprise package… The initial thought of this country was always oh no…but a visit there changed my thoughts views and perceptions.
A country so diverse and interesting that you ll wonder what’s more to arrive.
I reached hanoi on 1 march by Malaysian airlines and reached safely  in the bustling city.
My guide for Vietnam was a very affable smiling and a diminutive guy called Tony chu , his Vietnam else name being  chu van toa my hotel that day was the Hilton opera.
The day I reached I visited the french quarters and was surprised to see the magnificent work on buildings that the french left behind. The opera house was another noteworthy structure.
My guide insisted I taste the famous ice cream on tang tien street. I visited the LI thang park famous with the locals and was an observer on activities that they indulged in. Next we went to the
sofitel metropole hotel, a historic  hotel which has a tunnel inside  hotel.
Back to the hotel.
The next day  we went to the day long trip of the halong bay cruise,  words cannot do justice to this natural wonder where 3000 or more incredible islands rise from the emerald waters of the gulf of tonkin. HA long means where the dragons descends into the sea and islands are dotted with wind and wave eroded grottos. The caves have unique shaped stalactites and stalagmites.
The next day I stayed with a local family
Sam doan who lives with his father and sister. Never in my life I had the opportunity to sleep on a futon on the floor in a tiny matchbox apartment. Several thoughts ran in my head. . Oh my god what am I doing here to” what if one day I have nothing in life and just live in the tiniest place… I shivered.
My days sightseeing began with the very interesting
van meiu temple of literature which  is about confucious and the  first university of Vietnam .
Got to see Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and his house,  one pillar pagoda ,lady Buddha and different types of village homes. Rural homes in Vietnam. My lunch was at Theit phat vegetarian restaurant in old hanoi. My next sight was the museum of ethnology.. and ethnic tribals of vietnam.
My stay was in old hanoi at icon 36.
The next day I left to Hoi An a port city and the airport is located in Da NANG 40 km away from the city.
The Walking tour in old town was the highlight of my trip. The Japanese covered bridge was constructed in 1593 and has a temple built into the northern side. We also got to see old houses of historic importance and some museums.

And went to market street restaurant and then to hotel vinh hung emerald resort room number 404.
Went on a bike to  the countryside to cua dai beach and  visited the hoi an resort .

Went to NAM HAI hotel and saw the luxury pool villa.
Went to ganesh hotel for Indian lunch .
Walked again and saw old houses  and saw the big shopping areas . I really loved the bright and colourful single person rickshaw and had a ride across the vegetable market.

We flew to ho chi min city and checked in at song anh at Le thanh ton street .
Room no 403 for 30 USD
Went to vegan restaurant and then walked through the park to  the night market and to hotel.
On 8 March we went to breakfast and then to war museum.
Then to independence palace of reunification.
Saw the magnificiently built  post office built during french rule in 1886.
Lunch at same restaurant .

Went to  the famous majestic hotel rooftop for Vietnamese coffee.
Went to cosmetic shop at dong khoi street.
The next day I went to the mekong delta cruise and to the rural village but was pretty disappointed.  It was quite a rip off .. noteworthy was the candy industry run by the locals.
Off to airport to catch a flight to seim reap… Cambodia.

Continue reading “VIOLA. IT’S VIETNAM”

Royalty like days of yore

Does it sound like a dream come true if you are reliving the romance of a bygone era with its resplendent opulence. That’s exactly what the luxury train golden chariot is all about.
It’s purely experiential.  Just be ready to get transported to the

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past with loud welcomes and departures .
I had a lucky chance to be aboard the pride of the south itinerary  of the golden chariot that takes you to karnataka.
The train embarks from bengaluru and takes you on an exciting tour to some lovely historical cities … The first one being mysore with a tour to the mysore Palace a definite see with its finest  18-19 centuries architecture.
From a Palace to a river lodge, that’s diversity as you are now into the hunting lodge of the maharajahs , the dense and lush forests do have an exciting wild life but I was not lucky to see the big game.
The golden chariot chugs along with the finest cuisines offered in its two dining sections offering continental and Indian cuisine.  There is a well placed bar for the ones who wanna enjoy their liquor  too.
The other towns that the golden chariot reaches is srirangapatna , the bastion of tipu sultan and then the road takes its bend to hassan for an exquisite detail of hoysala architecture.
The golden chariot has well structured stateroom cabins with an option of a king size or twin bed , a shower area and of course if you want to rejuvenate then there is a spa and steam room.. yes all on the train all offering relaxing therapies based on ancient ayurveda.
You will love the experience getting a massage done as the train pulls through with its cradling sensation putting you to sleep like a baby.
The other destinations are belur and halebeedu  the beautiful hoysala temples with its stone nymphs and folk deities.
Then you reach shravanbelagola home to the tallest monolith statue in the join pilgrim circuit, followed by hampi which are the remains of the vijaynagara empire .The train then moves to pattadakal another Unesco heritage site with a very fascinating Temple complex that was once the coronation of several dynasties, then to bad ami with its cave temples . A dip in the beaches of go a and then you are back to Bangalore.
The golden chariot is ideally for people who wish to travel in style and relax  with no worries for any planning or preparation.
The stay and food are of absolutely star quality and the service is impeccable.
The golden chariot train is generally being favoured by the westerners who wish to visit India by train yet enjoy 5 star luxuries.  Indians however may find it expensive but it is now than a five star hotel definitely.
So prepare to be pampered in all its finery and niceties on the golden chariot .
By vibha jain

http://golden chariot train.com

The writer is a travel enthusiast and can be reached at vibhaj98@yahoo.com

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