Wednesday, August 29, 2018

CFAL 10 - Day 1 Kuala Lumpur - Gurun - Yan

Last August I ventured into a Cycle Malaysia tour around peninsular for 43 days but this time around I planned to join a group of friends touring from Padang Besar to Penang where I hope to catch them somewhere in Gurun.
From my house I cycled to KL Sentral to catch a train to Gurun.
I stopped by at Mikebikes, Matic Jalan Ampang for a toilet break. With KK who was on duty to show the city to tourists on bikes.
I am ready for the train journey and will be away for 5 days.
A view from the train into the beautiful lake of Bukit Merah.
From Gurun Train Station I took a taxi to get closer to Pulau Bunting, Yan. I visited the same warong I visited one year ago where I met a fellow tourer by the name of Zari Zari. I chatted with the warong operator and had her nasi goreng with teh O ais limau (that was my lunch). The above 2 photos showing the 2 different visits to this warong.

At last we met up at the entrance of the bridge to Pulau Bunting
Kedah has many kuala (river mouths) and always comes with many beautiful scenery of fishing boats and its mooring.
Paddy fields of Kedah is always beautiful and unique.
Month of August is Independence month let's us raise our national flags.
Their journey continued to Penang and was glad to be able to join them from here.
 A shop keeper in Yan recommended us a Thai Food restaurant for dinner. The Mee Udang was delicious, the prawns were fresh and succulent.
We managed to find a homestay without much of hassle it is located just opposite Pantai Murni Waterfront, Jalan Pantai Murni GPS : 5.794082, 100.367832 Brian mending the third patch on his front wheel.
The long silted walkway into the sea.
A selfie at the end of the walkway and good night on my Day 1.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Mekong Delta Day 10 - Shopping Time in Ho Chi Minh City & Goodbye Saigon

Good morning Saigon, the hotel has moved us to another hotel which is about 300 metres away due to a so called mistake by them in the booking. On the bright side the hotel is reasonably conducive and it is tucked within the narrow alleys of Pham Ngu Lao (Backpacker Street). Day 10 was bicycle free day for us.
Our first target was Thai Binh Market (GPS : 10.766821, 106.688866) which was about 500 metres away from Saigon 237 Hotel. Again abundance of food to choose and savour.
We found a corner in the market  though it's rather pack but truly authentic, I like the atmosphere and I patronised this grand lady's noodle. Obviously it was pho again hehehe.
Some of us tried her Banh Xeo (pancake). Her face might not be sweet and friendly but her food was delicious.
Surrounded with interesting local foods and that is the most ideal place for breakfast. Of course not forgetting their Vietnamese iced coffee cà phê đá. I prefer it hot without milk and sugar .... and it's really kaw kaw to the bone..
One of the interesting vendors selling cooked crabs and it looks so enticing.
My favourite visit to anywhere is to see the market scene of lovely atmosphere the different scent and the interesting food to savour. I simply love it.
I love the many rustic corners of this old Ho Chi Minh city and there is a lot of it.
From the Backpackers' Street (Pham Ngu Lao) we slowly walked toward north west for some famous spots.
The weather was fine and ideal for walking.
I was surprise to see an Indian temple in Ho Chi Minh City it's the Subramaniam Swamy. It was built in the late 19th century by the traders from India and has been well kept and preserved.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall located at Nguyen Hue Street (GPS : 10.776486, 106.701164). It stands up majestically and beautiful as you approach towards the building, a French colonial architecture built in the early 1900.
The statue of Uncle Ho Chi Minh in a memorial park in front of the City Hall.
Mr. Ho Chi Minh, I hope you do not mind me having fun with the local children for a picture together with you. Thank you to the future of Vietnam.
Another beautiful building at the same vicinity is the Saigon Central Post Office. The building was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the late 19th century. It counts with Gothic, Renaissance and French influences. It was constructed between 1886-1891 and is now a tourist attraction.
A row of interesting arches seen in the main interior of the building. The floor finishes made of fine marble slabs and a large portrait of Ho Chi Minh hanging high above everyone at the end of the building.
Classic telephone booths serving as a reminder of the past where the post office played before the era of email and mobile phones.
 Just next to the Central Post Office we see the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon. This was constructed between 1863 and 1880 with two distinguished bell towers, reaching a height of 58 meters. It was built to serve the community of French colonialists during that time.
So much of sight seeing and it was time for some serious shopping.
Ben Thanh Market (GPS : 10.773048, 106.697436) was placed as our last visit for the day where we would shop, buy and carry some back home.
 A must go market in Saigon it not only serves the locals fresh vegetables and dry goods, but also sells items such as souvenirs, T-shirts, traditional handicrafts including lacquerware and embroidery.
Our serious trading was carried at this stall everyone of us took part in it and eventually left Cho Ben Thanh with something in our hands. Well, a bit of negotiation skill was required to trade which turned out to be of a better deal than those fixed prices items sold by the Government controlled stalls.
Joe fulfilling his obligation with a few kilo of cashew nuts to bring back home. It was indeed a happy shopping day.

Day 11 - Goodbye Saigon and it had been a great experience in Mekong Delta.
I took a last spin in Ho Chi Minh City in the early morning before I bagged my Brompton.
 I bought a few bao from this roadside stall and to my surprise the lady spoke in Cantonese to me after finding out that I am a Malaysian. 
The Hotel 237 arranged the necessary transport for us to the airport, all safely reached and ready to be sent back home.
For the record the weight of my bagged Brompton and the second Dimpa bag were 15.9kg and 8.9kg respectively. Hence a total of 24.8kg of my luggage versus the allowable 25kg by Malindo. 
Goodbye Saigon till we meet again in the near future.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Mekong Delta Day 9 - My Tho to Ho Chi Minh

Not too far away from Rang Dong Hotel there is a market known as Cho Vong Nho where we had our morning breakfast. Located at GPS : 10.351754, 106.355018
Fenn and Joe were feeling satisfied after finishing their bowls of noodle.
It was Pho again for me, I simply love the clear soup noodle and it is always delicious in Vietnam.
The smiling faces of the local in the market as we moved from stall to stall.
The weather started very good in the morning as we breeze through My Tho and enjoying the cool morning ride.
Chua Truong Sanh Buddhist Temple located at Dinh Bo Linh Road GPS : 10.352252, 106.379788. We could not enter into the pagoda building as there were a function in progress hence we just loitered around the outside of the temple.
There is an older building annexed to Chua Truong Sanh Temple which was quiet, lifeless but with interesting architecture.
We went further north of the town and were attracted by this market. It is another farmers' market and we decided to check out the place.
This market is bigger than the previous one and known as Cho Cu located at GPS : 10.357189, 106.375353
As we were trying to find an appropriate to park our bicycles we stumbled into this amazing old temple. The temple has 2 associations flanked at the side of the temple 福潮會館(福建公所、潮州公所) one for the Hockchew and another for the Hokkien people. There are also interesting paintings on the wall depicting European figures and influence in the region.
 Probably these were the French men whom were living in My Tho.
The entrance to the Hockchew Association.
And the entrance for the Hokkien Association.
The main prayer hall at the middle of the temple.
Suddenly it started to rain while we were pedalling back to the hotel and decided to stop at this cafe for a coffee break.
The rain has finally stopped and one for the album as we were leaving the coffee house.
Let's roll back to the hotel and get ready to catch the bus to Ho Chi Minh City.
The bus terminal operated by Tan Lap Thanh company is situated in a single storey shop house somewhere in My Tho. A Toyota Innova ferried us from Rang Dong Hotel to the terminal and it has to go 2 trips for 6 of us together with our bagged bicycles.
After a short wait the bus came. We had to bring our bagged bicycles into the coach placed in between the passenger seats fortunately it did not cause in convenience to anyone as the bus was not fully occupied. The journey to Ho Chi Minh was about 130km for almost 2 hours.
At last the coach reached its final destination An Điềm, Phường 10, Quận 5 (GPS : 10.751682, 106.666177) which is a couple of kilometres away from our accommodation and we were back cycling in the crazy traffic of Ho Chi Minh. Anyway we were kind of tuned to the condition and did pretty well in maneuvering on these roads. It was indeed a truly memorable experience.
Despite the heavy traffic in the city there are still people commuting the traditional way and do not have any concern on road safety.
We were back to Saigon 237 Hotel at the Backpackers' Street, Ho Chi Minh.
The similar Vietnamese rolls and prawn fritters we had in the smaller town which definitely tasted very much better than the touristy restaurant in Ho Chi Min City. We realised we were missing the delicious and authentic food of the wonderful Mekong Delta.
Day 9 Cycle Mekong Delta was only a morning ride within the town of My Tho before we took a coach to Ho Chi Minh.