Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Incredible Angkor Wat

Sited inside the architectural complex of the Khmer Empire, Angkor had been constructed from the 9th to the 15th century with aim of creating a Hindu temple, before transforming into a Buddhist place of worship.


By the way of using satellite imaginary, some scientists explained why the construction of Angkor Wat was capable of carrying out. The answer was that ancient Khmer people dig a canal 34km long to transport stone from mountains to the construction area of the temple.


This enormous structure was built of 5 million tons of stone and within 35 years. As the icon of Cambodia and also pride of the Cambodian, it has appeared on the country’s national flag since 1850.


Angkor Wat has a perimeter of nearly 6km and an area of barely 200ha. Its main tower rise a height of 65m. It is the unique temple mountain in Cambodia featuring the main entrance oriented to the west, the direction in which the sun goes down.


The temple was built in the shape of a pyramid. Its central quincunx of five towers symbolizes the five peaks of Mount Meru, a sacred mountain Hindu cosmology, with three sets of steps leading up to the gopuras represent for three levels: the lowest set represents for hell or underground, the middle one represents for earth, and the highest one stands for heaven where deities live.


Angkor Wat was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1992, becoming the cultural icon of not only Cambodia but also Southeast Asia and over Asia.


Sunrise is the best time in day that Angkor Wat is most beautiful. Every day from 5 a.m, hundreds of travelers flock to two sides of the lake in front of the temple to contemplate dawn.


The entrance fee of Angkor Wat has several different kinds: $20 for one day, $40 for three days and $60 for seven days. Visiting hours are 5:00AM - 6:00PM. Angkor Wat closes at 6:00PM, Banteay Srey closes at 5:00PM and Kbal Spean at 3:00PM. While visiting, always carrying the ticket because it will be checked upon each park entry and at major temples.


Angkor Wat was translated as “Temple City” or “City of Temples”.


Its bas-reliefs proceed in a counter-clockwise direction, an evidence for the view that it served as a funerary temple, concluded via the truth that the temple is oriented to the west rather than the east like most Khmer temples.


Every year, Angkor Wat attracts 50% of foreign tourists travelling to Cambodia.


The most original trait of this temple is the sculptural paintings on the wall of the gallery in the first floor. This is one of the largest and longest carved-stone frescos in the world with the height of 2.5m and the length of 800m.


The temple has 398 rooms, with stone carving art on ceilings, corridors, balustrades and colonettes manifesting excellent, virtuoso talent of ancient Khmer people. The second floor is adorned with depictions of dancing Apsaras (heavenly nymphs of the clouds and waters in Hindu myth). The third floor includes two corridors forming a cross and intersect perpendicularly at the middle.


Another spectacular temple in the Complex of Angkor is Ta Prohm, well-known for giant roofs and vines that weigh down part of the temple. The structure was ever chosen as the shooting location of blockbuster Tom Raider.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Discover Vietnam's Subsidy Period via Five Cafes in Hanoi

Amid a new Hanoi bustling and flashy, sometimes people want to come to some serene and gentle corners, where preserve their memories of an unforgettable period – the Subsidy phase (Bao Cấp). 

 Photo: Instagram @Congcaphe 

# Cộng

Cong café doesn’t have only one address, it has now developed into a brand chain of several dozens of various-sized shops located on many streets in Hanoi.

All Cộng cafes feature a space imbued with the old-styled quality, ingeniously recalling subconscious of customers with wooden chairs and benches, barbers’ chairs and sewing machine tables. These objects, according to many business people, are both worthless and… invaluable.

Photo: Instagram @meonhan


 Photo: Instagram @Congcaphe

To common people, painted wooden chairs and broken sewing machine tables are merely cast-off junk; but to creative ones, these items become highlights. 

# Bao Cấp (Subsidy)

If objectively commenting, Bao Cấp is the catchiest name, but the café doesn’t have many exceed differences compared to other same-styled coffee shops. However, each its small, safe and sound corner is enough to evoke quivering emotions about a bygone era.  

Photo: Instagram @i__phuwowng 

Photo: Instagram @qanhhhh

 Photo: instagram @_le08

 Photo: Instagram @jin.jhin

# Xoan

Every corner in the shop is a strange street like “Happy street”, “Waving street”… accompanying a set of crude wooden tables and chairs, pillows wrapped in flower-patterned or peacock-patterned blanket-fabric, black & white televisions, or legendary dial telephones.

Some people compare Xoan café as a clear voice among a hustle track, because there aren’t too much peaceful corners as such in this noisy city.

The space of Xoan is not spacious but open. It has both gardens, yards, and balconies, and is always soaked in music of composer Trịnh Công Sơn.

 Photo: Instagram @_trada

 Photo: instagram @manh_tringuyen

 Ảnh: instagram @lanxphu

 Photo: instagram @104bc 

 Photo: instagram @104bc  

All corners of the café on photographs are very beautiful and peculiar, from iron window frames with sunlit flowers, grey walls full of paintings, to sets of small, old rattan chairs, making every time reaching Xoan is feeling like newly setting foot on father’s hometown in every summer.

Besides, some cats at Xoan will be graceful saboteurs, who may break your relaxing moments anytime. Cats in the café are fearless and familiar with human body odor so they are extremely friendly and lovely. 

# Xí Nghiệp (Factory)

Xi Nghiep was already old. It was old in both style and age, because it is one of the oldest subsidy-styled cafés in Hanoi.

Photo: Instagram @nhacuacoffeeholic

 Photo: Instagram @dingolong

 Photo: Instagram @hnamle

The owner demonstrates the artistic character through subtle spatial arrangement, which is very suitable to the name “Xí Nghiệp” (factory). Reaching here, you will touch unpainted brick walls, old ironwood tables, typewriters, antique speakers, books and notebooks with yellowed paper.

The particular centerpiece of the shop is perhaps the ancient motorbike suspended right above the bar, making anyone getting to the café be full of admiration and amused.

# Cuối Ngõ (At the end of the Alley)

Precise like the name, it’s truly situated at the end of an alley! It’s small, rustic and simple like a part of an ancient house from a former village long time ago.

 Ảnh: instagram @kevinisjustfine

 Photo: Instagram @vuvancanh

Photo: Instagram @ng_t_giang

Photo: Instagram @klinnyt

All objects inside the shop are so reminiscent of space of Tokin (North Vietnam) in olden days, with rustic bamboo tables, lampshades made of Neohouzeaua (an Asian bamboo), battered green-painted wooden chairs, and oil paintings that being old can be felt by just looking them. Nevertheless, vases of flowers here are always fresh and new. This shows the careful attention of the owner. 

Music in the shop is mainly songs of Trịnh Công Sơn. Especially, the interior of the shop has a portrait of deceased musician Trịnh Công Sơn hung solemnly at the center position, where is also the stage for live music shows in every Thursday evening.

Via: K.H

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cambodia’s Top Alluring Islands

Absorbed in grandiose, magnificent temples, may travelers forget that Cambodia is also home to a mass of enthralling islands.

1. Koh Sdach: Best for local life discovery

Positioned between Koh Kong and Sihanoukville islands, Koh Sdach is the anchoring place of many boats. Reach it, apart from sea bathing, searching out culture and lifestyle of the local fishermen residing in small villages will make the trip more interesting.

2. Koh Ta Kiew: Best for wine

If you want to find a secluded, gorgeous beaches, yes, it has, a lot. Now the island is developed tourism by a Malaysian company with a rental agreement for 99 years.

Perhaps Koh Ta Kiev are the last place that it’s possible to see an absinthe bar. It earn a good reputation thanks to one-man operation named Syn Absinthe, who makes types of hand-crafted, small-batch absinthe. Aside from joining a distillery tour that embraces the whole process, guests can have fun by frolicking in blue sea, sun-burnt lying on quiet beaches and playing coconut bowling.


3. Song Saa: Best for luxury

In fact, it consists of two private small islands, and is oriented to be a sweet, deluxe honeymoon site for couples. Song Saa means “sweethearts” in Khmer tongue. Its villa prices can rocket to $3,000 per night, and the services are high-quality, from the transfers from shore, a bottle of champagne at check-in included in the price, gourmet meals made from natively-sourced foods, to the well-stocked mini-bar and free international calls from the villas. Song Saa even features a 50,000-square-meter marine reserve around the two island. To get there, take a boat or a helicopter flight.


4. Koh Rong Samloem (Monkey Island): Best for relaxing

Known as the most beautiful island in Cambodia, Koh Rong Sanloem has long been a top-choice of expats in Phnom Penh, who head to the quiet island for weekends. It’s sited 2 boating hours from the mainland, and features a fishing village, three major coasts and many minor others.

This is a point of Koh Rong Sanloem: Saracen Bay - a heart-shaped inlet with calm turquoise surf and clean white sand beaches. Not many things to do on the island. Days can be spent to paddle-board, snorkel, or daydream on a good book under a palm tree.


5. Koh Rong: Best for party

Koh Rong - Cambodia’s second largest island has fabulous sea with white sand and warm, clear water. In spite of the most famous island in Cambodia, it remains astonishingly pristine.

Not too long ago Koh Rong’s sole tourist amenities were a handful of bungalows beside miles of dense jungles and stunning white sand beaches. There is still amazing hiking and trekking in the parts of jungles that loggers haven’t been destroyed. Besides, the island is also a great spot for sun-burnt travelers, who like to bake in day and get toasted at night. 

Koh Rong’s business owners are notoriously party-friendly, who are ready to run generators to keep the music going until the wee hours, and supply live DJs and free-beer happy hours.


6. Koh Tang: Best for diving

Located roughly 5 boating hours from the mainland, Koh Tang is well-known for its marvelous coral reefs on the sea-bed. This island is unpopulated now except only a small outpost of Cambodian military personnel, causing clear-crystal water with excellent visibility and undisturbed marine life, making it and nearby Koh Prins the perfect islands for diving. There are eight diving sites around the island that offer colorful coral reefs and a wealth of underwater creatures comprising fantastic hued nudibranchs, toxic puffer fish and dazzling stingrays with electric blue spots.


7. Koh Thmei: Best for nature watching

Settled inside Ream national park, Koh Thmei is home to various animals and plants, including monkeys, civets, mountain lizards, over 100 distinct species of birds, and several endangered species like the fishing cat, a wetland feline that inhabits near streams and mangrove forests.

Koh Thmei resort is the sole accommodation on this island, which covers a block of rustic, environmentally-friendly solar-powered bungalows. Guests can jungle trek, sea kayak, snorkel and bird watch. The resort is even raising ponies that children can ride. There are close deserted beaches to amble with occasional views of dolphins swimming along the shore.


8. Koh Totang: Best for running out of Internet

It is a wonderful island to completely disconnect from the regular life and escape from botheration of work-emails and social networks. Yep, no Internet on Koh Totang. This charming island has only a place to stay, Nomad's Land, a range of five solar-powered bungalows lack of noisy generators. Rainwater is saved from showers, and produce is grown in a permaculture garden. The simplest thing to do is lying in a swaying hammock, enjoying the view, and provisionally expel all thought of life at home.


Contact to ActiveTravel Asia at here to held your own sea adventure in charming, untouched islands in Cambodia.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

10 Adventures in Laos

If you aren’t interested in familiar and much touristy spots like Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng, let take 10 itineraries following to immerse in wild nature and enjoy peace.

1. Kayak in Si Phan Don

Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands) is surely a promising spot for kayaking thanks to the calm and gentle course, majestic natural scenery and beautiful villages along the Mekong river. This bunch of islands lies on the mighty Mekong River, includes superb Khone waterfall and a chain of reef that paralyze navigation of any boats. Threatened Irrawaddy dolphins can be found at the basin of the fall. Among islands, Don Det, Don Khone and Don Khong are largest, where focus rustic rest houses perfect for an escape from noise and bustling.  


2. Discover ancient Khmer relics

If you are keen on Tomb Raider movie shot at Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia, or Indiana Jones adventure franchise, sure you will be excited when reaching Champasak province to explore vestiges of ancient Khmer temples dated the 11th to the 13th century and used to be a part of Angkor Empire. Wat Phou complex of shrines and palace isn't as large as Angkor, but it is quite deserted, silent and extremely occult with cluttered rubble, swamps, crocodiles crawl higgledy-piggledy and broken trunks. This construction was inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

3. Zipline through jungle

Zipline is definitely suited for daring travelers. At Bokeo nature reserve in northern Laos, flying over the old jungle and the valley on a 500m-high cable and it’s able to enjoy freedom among a vast, green space. This jungle also offers chances to sleep in tree-houses and observe endangered black-cheeked gibbons once in a lifetime. It is even home to many other rare species such as elephant, bear, tiger, water-buffalo and various birds. 


4. Climb karst mountains in Nong Khiaw

Climbing mountains in Nong Khiaw, the area on the bank of Ou river in the northern country, has been permitted since 2002. After defeating the craggy karst peaks, climbers can have panoramic view to primitive and tranquil landscapes of imposing mountains and streams. 

For ones adore caving, let explore Pha Tok cave located 2km from the backward but serene Nong Khiaw village. It used to be the refuse of the locals during the Indochina Wars.

rock-mountain-climbing-nong khiaw-laos

5. Row boat over a limestone cave

Tham Kong Lo cave is obviously a star in Laos travel. Situated in the heart of the wildest area in the country – Phu Hin Bin national park of Khammouane Province, this limestone cave stretches 7km, with some its parts are 91m high, and features a pure beauty of the green river and miraculous stalactites inside. It has a reputation of one of Southeast Asia’s greatest geological wonders.

A green, precious lake in the cave is deified by the natives as they suppose that the water surface reflects the skin color of Indra, a deity in Hindu culture. No one reaching Tham Kong Lo is without an incredible boat trip through this spiritual cave.


6. Trek through jungles in “the land of hundreds of waterfalls”

As the name it is, the northern Laos owns many hundreds of small and big waterfalls pouring down like white silk pieces. With a trek through Nong Khiaw jungle, travelers can stop at peaceful Nong Khiaw village adjacent waterfalls.


7. Explore Vieng Xai caves – where thousands hid from American bombs

This gigantic system of caves is one of the most important historic relics in Laos. In the war, over 2,000 people took refuge here to avoid bombards. Laotian people established sufficient infrastructure inside the cave, with bedrooms, offices, hospitals, elephant enclose, bakery, a market, a theatre, a printing press and even a bank.


8. Learn to become a mahout

Riding elephants through jungles is a diffused activities in Laos. However, it’s more impressive if you can join in a mahout course training how to control an elephant. This class is hold at elephant camps around the famous city Luang Prabang. >> See Luang Prabang adventure


9. Discover the country by bicycle

Laos is an amazing place for ones indulge in exploring new regions on two wheels. Cycling is the best way to sightsee scenery along the ways, talk with locals, and especially find out authentic things, exotic things, or less-known things that you may be hard to see if on a car or bus.


10. Trek in Phongsali and encounter exotic tribes

One of most fascinating treks in Laos is to Phongsali, the northernmost province sharing its same border with China. Sited high on a small ridge-top plateau, this destination offers breathtaking panoramic views and a cool climate that can swing from pleasantly warm to downright cold in a matter of hours. Enjoying a trek in the surrounding hills, it’s easy to encounter ethnic groups with diverse and unique cultures.