Hué’s Imperial Citadel

The Ngo Mon Gate

The Imperial Citadel in Hué

One reason why I’ve chosen to go to Central Vietnam instead of the popular cities of Hanoi in the north or Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in the south is because the Central region has a concentration of 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites all quite accessible from the regions main gateway city of Da Nang. UNESCO’s got quite a lengthy list, which I doubt I could cover all of them in this lifetime. And you could never go wrong visiting these sites as they are carefully selected, funded and preserved.

The Ngo Mon Gate and Bridge

The Ngo Mon Gate and Bridge

Our first stop is up to the city of Hué (h-way). I didn’t expect Hué to be such a big and modern city and was surprised to see how developed it was. I was imagining the place to be smaller, provincial like, with all the sights just a walking distance from each other. Though the place somehow caught up in urban development, the city still have the Complex Monuments spread out across the city along by the scenic Perfume River. These historical monuments, despite being stricken by war managed to survive and earned its rightful place in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

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Fort Ilocandia

Fort Ilocandia Fountain

Fort Ilocandia Fountain

Spanning 77 hectares in area, Fort Ilocandia, the only five-star hotel resort in northern Luzon, is also considered as one of the largest resorts in Asia. This historical fort is adorned with terra-cotta brick walls highlighted by warm lightings in the hallways and numerous paintings on the walls. It will surely warp you back in the Grand Spanish era.

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Into the Quay

Clark Quay

Singapore’s Clark Quay

I must admit that it was my first time visiting Singapore. Thanks to my friend Jaz who let me squatter at his apartment during my sojourn at this famed “Fine” city, it sure lowered my travel expenses since Singapore’s cost of living is quite high. It sure was exciting seeing those myriad pastel colored houses, double decked buses and sanitized streets when the MRT got out of the tunnel from Changi Airport.

Dynamic lighted umbrella roofs

Dynamic lighted umrella roofs with phallic inspired(?) air ducts

I only have a limited time to truly explore the city after we got back from Vietnam. My impression of Singapore is really a small country where everything is in place or order. It’s an architect’s playground with dynamic designed buildings. Everything really is well presented here. I mean, the river isn’t that good looking, it even looks like the “Bagong Ilog” in Pasig, but they somehow managed to make it “Look Good,” which is clever actually. They don’t have much of a major heritage here, but they make it a point to make it well known by putting informative markers which makes them more interesting.

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Vietnam | The streets where cyclos rule

Danang Bridge

Han River bridge at Da Nang City, Vietnam

Getting past the immigration in Vietnam took longer than we expected. It seems they have to input every detail into their computers. But getting out of the Da Nang Airport into the city is trickier with very persistent taxi and motorcycle drivers ready to just rip you off with their extravagant prices. Language barrier didn’t help and those phrases I memorized didn’t seem to work as I may have been mispronouncing them. I just admire the driver’s persistence here. Imagine us walking a block away from the airport to find another transpo and the same taxi guy still followed us, then a group of motorcycle drivers offered to take us into the city Train Station where we were headed, then another cab arrived offering his services. Immediately we were surrounded with drivers speaking their native tongue and seem to be fighting over us. I decided to go by the taxi which we were able to reduce the cost to 3 US$ from its original 10 US$ they offered earlier. Good thing I did major research on how much the basic prices here are or we would have been ripped off big time.

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Sa dulo ng bahaghari

Bangui view deck

I’m glad to be home again. It didn’t take a week before I hopped on another plane, but this time its more of a travel assignment. I didn’t expect to be back soon in our proud heritage of the north in Ilocos. Little did I know that there are a lot – and I mean a lot of off-the-beaten path destinations in this area! It was a whirlwind trip but exciting covering places and taking shots of food (then eating them after)

The photo from above is from the Bangui View Deck, Ilocos Norte. It was, I think the first time I ever saw a full (180 degrees) arc of a rainbow (bahaghari) at that time. I would have taken a photo of the whole thing but it was just huge!

And I got a kick at Smart’s unlimited mobile GPRS. It’s 10 pesos unlimited kilobytes for 30 minutes was helpful in accessing important mails and some websites from the net on my reliable old mobile while on the move.

Anyways, gotta rest. Will be posting lotsa stuff soon. Now I wanna sleep…

From ancient cities to modern skyscrapers

Hue Chao Mung Festival

The Imperial Citadel of Hue, Central Vietnam

It’s so nice to go back home after a very long and far away travel. Though it may be tiring but the excitement and rewards of traveling to different places is incomparable. Somehow, every time you go back, you are a different person. You bring back all the experience, the culture and the people you’ve encountered on your recent travel. The sights and sounds, whether you it exceeded your expectations or not, are forever engraved in your memories.

In my recent travel to Central Vietnam, I was literally blown away by the excitingly wild city streets of Vietnam. Riding on the back of a motorcycle from city to city to visit ancient heritage sights is quite an experience to remember.

Singapore's Central Business District

Singapore’s Central Business District

In a major contrast, Singapore’s modern city, despite its overly-sanitized environs still holds some cultural treasures under its fast-growing urban façade.

For now its time to rest these weary feet and be ready for another round of travel. 😛

Megastructures of the north

Bangui Windmills

The Windmills of Bangui, 15 of these structures stand on the Pebble Beach. (The orange speck on the right is a bulldozer, so imagine the height of this structure)

This would be the last entry for Northern Luzon adventure and would be a perfect climax for the series. When going to Pagudpod, you’ll never miss these spectacular windmills left-side of your view. It’s one of the most amazing view you’ll see up there on the north. When at the beach of Pagudpud you’ll still be able to see these afar.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse stands in Burgos, said to be the tallest lighthouse in the country.

On your right (coming from the south), amidst the mountain terrain, you’ll see the towering structure of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos. Both mega structures, the former a new construction, and the later a true historical monument. (more…)