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.