Saturday, June 09, 2018

Saturday, June 09, 2018

SpaceX n JPL open house

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:16 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Chewing on a piece of grass
Walking down the road
....
You don't care, I know
Ventura Highway in the sunshine
....
You're gonna go I know
'Cause the free wind is blowin' through
Your hair
And the days surround your daylight
There
Seasons crying no despair
Alligator lizards in the air...

except we didnt go there! But we did, of course, play the song ...

Been awhile. always air smoggy, hazy, dry, hot but sunny. Always that headache. always in socal is like being in a different country. but always loved it.

The Courtyard at Marriotts was nice but rooms are tired and not very clean. No real restaurant, just a starbucks bistro, small pool, getting to the elevators one needed to navigate a maze. But location right in the old town Pasadena.

eye opening visits included the falcon 9 rocket booster that stuck the landing back on earth, showered and repainted, on display in full glory minus the top, in the spacex HQ on 1 Rocket Road in Hawthorne. Then a mad dash through notorious LA traffic to JPL in Pasadena, where 1/10 scaled down models of all current and past spacecrafts were on displayed, life-size Galileo, the Mars rovers Curiosity and Spirit, miniature Mars helicopters, and after an hour of waiting Disneyland style, the assembly facility, where the new Mars rover was being assembled. Another mad dash to see the operations room, empty and abandoned after 4PM. Extremely generous of the security guard who let us in. the rocket scientits was ecstatic, like a child, running here and there in a hurry, eyes wide open in total awe. so truly a space junkie.

No time for the Fahrenheit 2018 at the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) in Pomona, to see Mari's winning ceramic piece. But meals included a fantastically savory bone broth of noodles with beef, crab lumpia, chinese donuts and clams (salty over the top) and papaya salad at the Bone Kettle (loved this place, gotta go back for more food) on Raymond Ave, followed by a leisure stroll in Old Town Pasadena; for breakfast, Venezuelan coffee, my choice of the El Torero, with Spanish Chorizo, melted Gouda, eggs, spicy mayo aioli, tomatoes and greens. Lunch was simply frozen lemonade for the Hip and burritos for them. Last supper was with the kids, Chris who worked at SpaceX and his girlfriend, and Catalan scientist Ivan from Barcelona, who worked with sonars, at Malbec Argentina, in the new part of the city. No parilla on the menu, but they called them sausage platter I guess. I got the papardelle with beef and porcini mushrooms (except I couldnt find a single porcini). OK, not great. The rest has 8 or 14 or 16 oz of ribeye. The argentine malbec was smooth, full of flavors, and I did like it a lot. however, not so for the food.

In the last morning, we drove to the LA Port to sneak at peak the falcon 9 rocket booster landing platform (wooden plank the Hip called it) and T and A were caught on camera. The patrol just happened to drive by and caught them trespassing. well just standing on the rocks to photograph Elon Musk's Mr Stevens. The day before Ivan did the same and was caught as well. Their security was super tight and I guess, working!

Brunch at the 22nd St Seafood Bar and Grill, with direct view of the port, different size ships docked. Gorgeous day and here, next to the ocean, the air was a bit breathable. Quite enjoyed socal, as usual.

See SpaceX and JPL pictures:


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Thursday, April 26, 2018
Posted by Hippo Bean at 2:00 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Meow

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:23 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Meow with Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale burlesque concert at the SF Davies Symphony Hall:

A&T with Meow Meow


Us at the Symphony Hall:


Tom charging his Bolt at the NASA Ames electric charging station:

day of rest

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:32 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Woke up but the headache's till there. Ate some bread for breakfast and downed some coffee with condensed milk. On our way back to the mainland, our boat pulled next to the boat selling fruit (what happened to the floating market? that was it?). We sampled some awesome ripe mangos. i dont like jackfruit, so I didnt touch those. Back on the huong sen hotel in Saigon, I was given a corner suite which suited me just fine. After a proper shower, I went around the corner to have the same pho I had before. The rest of the day I simply chilled and watched australian open women semis. Glad Simona made it. Last supper was at restaurant where they trained under privileged to be chefs. These types of restaurants although with good intentions, just like the ones in Laos and Cambodia, they're usually a bit more expensive. The menu was extensive with over priced fixed dinners. I've ordered the garlic morning glory which was excellent and the grilled squid which was so so.

The EVA flight to Taipei wasnt as comfortable as the one on my way here. But I've discovered the games on the flight entertainment. the guy next to me was playing millionaire and losing badly. So on my next flight leg, I've played battleship and after 20 rounds of millionaire, I've finally made it to the million $. And learned quite a bit on the way. Now I know how to spend time on a flight. I've never had special meal on a flight before but since Eva offered seafood meal without extra charge, I've thought I'd try it. both the lunch and breakfast was shrimp and calamari. By the end of the flight, i was totally shrimp and calamari out. And since I've eaten so much seafood on this trip, I think I'd abstain from seafood for a while.

So the entire southeast asian peninsula is done. Vietnam offers incredibly stunning natural beauty, the sea, the rivers and limestone peaks were a wonder, but totally lacks any unique culture. Everything except the Cham monuments were chinese. HạLong Bay, Hội An and Mỹ Sơn were worth visiting. The rest not really. But the food has been excellent simply because i love seafood and pho. From the 5 countries, I still prefer Cambodia because of its Khmer temples.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

mekong delta on a headache

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:34 PM 0 comments Links to this post
3.5 hours ride to Vinh Long on the Mekong delta. First we visited a very strange temple called cao dai. It's a very small but pretty temple with 2 colorful towers. This religion honors 4 deities: bhudda, confucious, lao tzu and jesus. In fact, 4 statues representing all 4 deities were on the altar, all under the 'all seeing eye'. go figure. After this strange temple, we got on a boat (how many boat rides have we had so far?) and cruised the delta to see orchards and sampled lots of local produce, jackfruit, water melons, bananas, dragon fruit. Stopped to see a cottage industry of rice paper, coconut candy and rice popcorn and snake wine. there was a python in a cage. It was the shop owner's pet.The snake looked relatively mild, so I've touched its skin. scaly, hard, sharp, smooth and shiny. We observed how rice paper, coconut candies and rice popcorn were made and made some purchases. The sampan ride on a small channel lined with small houses and gardens and wooden bridges, was very tranquil. All sampan had women drivers. the lunch at the eco tourism was out of this world. Fried elephant ear fish in a fantastic presentation, hooked on a stand. we cut up the meat and wrap it in rice paper, mixed it with cucumber, lettuce and peanuts. This is the typical mekong delta appetizer. It was heavenly delicious. Next small deep fried chicken spring rolls and giant prawns with heads on, of course, grilled. light veggie soup with small meat balls (typical of a mekong delta meal), a pork dish and steamed rice. jack fruit for dessert. Food this good, how can the women here be so thin? Next more orchards and more fruit trees, durian, jackfruit which looked exactly like durians except the skin arent pointy and sharp, green guavas, bell apples, bananas, longans, tamrind which looked like long peanuts (very ugly fruit), star fruit (carambola), rambutans, avocados, and lots and lots of coconuts. I was all fruit out.

We finally made it to our delta homestead situated at a very shallow and narrow channel. The homestead offered very basic accommodation. the rooms designated for us were inside a big guesthouse built in the style of local mekong delta house. all rooms, although each had its own door, are all open on the top, under the guesthouse roof. Bathrooms were wet rooms (shower and toilet in 1 room) and communal, unisex. Sinks were outside the wet rooms. The living/restaurant area was all open, with a few hammocks. I've climbed on one and was happy for while until a terrible headache started to develop. for the rest of the day I could barely stand the pain. Went to my room, lowered the mosquito net and sprayed deet all around. A small dirty looking towel was offered but didnt use it. I brought my own towel and went for a shower, which was a huge mistake. The shower head barely produced any warm water with any pressure and the floor was of course completely wet. good thing I remembered to bring my flip flops. Dinner though was very good. The owners showed us how to make tamrind pancakes and I've made a small one because with the headache, i didnt have any appetite. the delta appetizer of fish, rice paper, rice crackers and some veggies came of course, this time the fish was boiled. I couldnt even eat it. The waiter made one wrap for each of us, but I had to give mine to John. Lemongrass chicken, light veggie soup and rice followed and i couldnt eat those either. Pineapple and water melon for dessert. i just looked at them and sighed. I've excused myself and went back to my room and crashed. half way through the nite, I had to use the bathroom. All lights were out except for 2 fluorescent tubes above the wet rooms, so I had to use my flash light to illuminate the way. Almost stepped on the dogs that were sleeping in front of the bathrooms. Lowered my pants to pee and scourge of hungry mozzies attacked my deet free butt. had to remember to deet my butt as well next time. needless to say, i didnt enjoy the homestead. had i not had the debilitated headache, the homestead on the mekong delta would have been a nice relaxation.

Mekong Delta photos:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

the whole town in celebration

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:30 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Sài Gòn - drove back to da nang and flew to saigon, now HCM city. and went straight to sightseeing. the war remnants museum was boring. american planes, tanks and helicopters on display in the garden, a few replications of prison cells and 3 floors of nothing but photographs. not interesting. however, the lunch was very special. i had coconut salad and duck confit on a bed of super delicious egg noodles. again, was totally stuffed. Afterwards, we visited the reunification palace, which was completely destroyed during the war and rebuilt. Again, not very interesting. quite simple and no extravagance. Had wanted to see the notre dame cathedral but it was closed for renovation. At the market inside the post office building, i finally purchased the Trung Nguyen coffee, only to find out that the coffee store was but a block from our hotel and it was cheaper at the coffee shop, and i could purchase whole beans there too. ah well, me, stupid tourist! the hotel huong sen was 1 block from the city center/time square, 2 blocks from the opera house, 3 blocks from the union square. the rooms were excellently appointed and with balconies. Skipped dinner that night as the lunch just about made my stomach explode. Stayed in the room and watched australian open tennis. Quite good. Breakfast was at the hotel terrace. Really liked this hotel.

the following day we did the cu chi tunnels. A picture depicting how the tunnel structures were was very interesting. disguised openings, traps, rooms for sleeping, dining and even teaching, and openings to the river. however, the 40 meters of the total 60m of tunnel I've crawled or rather walked bending over, was not all that fun or interesting. Just a low dark place. Displays of traps, guerrilla soldiers, shops to sell vietcon soldiers uniforms, hats and boots (made of rubber tires, they called them uncle ho's boots), nothing much else. not sure why all the fuzz about these tunnels. Not exciting to me. Returned to saigon for a pho lunch, just around the corner from the hotel. the pho was quite good. and i had a coconut juice right from the fruit. not as good as the ones in cambodia or myanmar. another free afternoon at the hotel watching tennis on tv.

A little before 7, i was sipping cold green tea in my balcony, when suddenly a big commotion started on the street below. a crowd waving the vietnamese flag was shouting. I thought it was some kind of political uprising. Soon the motorbikes joined, banging pot and pans tops. More and more bikes came and filled the streets in front of our hotel completely. Then I've realized this was their AFC cup semi-final victory parade. By 7 we headed out to hunt for dinner. The streets were filled with bikes, people carrying the nation's flag, shouting, banging pot lids. we had a hard time crossing the street, jumping over bikes. We eat on the top air conditioned floor at the Lemongrass, quite an upscale restaurant. I had soft shell crabs which were gigantic and deep fried seabass that was expensive, good but not excellent. For drink I've tried the 'car driver' which was grenadine, pineapple, lime and ginger ale. it was super delicious. My bill totaled almost 400K dongs, my most expensive meal in vietnam. Going back to the hotel took another daring motorbike filled street crossing. somersaulting over bikes again. back at the hotel, we watched the never ending sea of motorbikes from the hotel terrace. It was quite a sight. the victory parade didnt stop until around 3AM.

Sài Gòn photos:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

finally some temples

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:16 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Mỹ Sơn - I've never heard of the Champa people until I came to vietnam. and this afternoon we visited the Cham civilization's spiritual home, after admiring their intricate artifacts at the Cham museum in Da Nang. My Son was one of the ancient Cham's sanctuaries, where they buried their kings as early as the fourth century. The orange stone towers had an entirely unique architecture than I've never seen before, stone upon stone without mortar. imposing structures, with a haunting feel. there the guests were offered a free show of Cham dancing and music. the dance resembled laotian and cambodian dances with the fingers curling backwards.

In the morning, I went back to use up my old town ticket's remaining tabs and visited the cantonese chinese assembly hall. They were all the same, with buildings with chinese style roofs and dragon motifs. on my way into the old town, i've spotted a light green blouse with a pretty cut and buttons on the side. on a whim i've bought it along with another the same color but with a big button in front. I knew vietnam makes good clothing so I was happy with my purchase. I've also tried an Áo dài, but they were too long for me and didnt come in green. In retrospect, I should have had it made in one of the tailors but now it's too late because we're leaving the next day. ah well, i have no occasion to wear it at home anyway. besides, it would look better on tall slender women. it wouldnt look good on me. finally on my way back to the hotel i found the tiny restaurant, more of a take out place, that had real bánh mì, the one John told me about. indeed it came with real toasted baguette and wrapped in a banana leaf. I chose the beef. this thing was the most delicious sandwich I've ever eaten. the baguette was crunchy, the veggies cut to perfection (long thin round strips) and the beef savory. it was so good I've almost went back for another one. So today was a good day. For dinner we just walked to the first restaurant we encountered in the old town and the waitress stayed late just to serve us. I had some nice grilled squid. Was good but not terribly excellent. After our meal, we saw the waitress put on her helmet and get on her motorbike to go home. very typical. I've really enjoyed hoi an, the nice hotel (would have been nicer to have a room with a view), the night strolls under colorful lighted lanterns, the food and the cham temples.

Mỹ Sơn photos:

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday, January 20, 2018

city of lanterns

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Hội An - going into the old town needed a ticket. one price to visit 5 historical places. the ticket came with 5 tabs. walking through the japanese covered bridge took 1 tab. next an old chinese house, not much to look at, took another tab. Then a chinese community hall which was like a temple. another tab. so I have 2 more tabs left for latter. The old town had narrow streets lined with restaurants and shops. I've looked and looked but could not find anything interesting to buy. The houses on the other side of the Thu Bon river were very picturesque and exactly as they're shown on the photos and postcards. Very pretty. Went back to the hotel to change room and the 2nd floor room had a balcony that faced a balcony of the building right next door. the 2 balconies were literally next to each other and one could climb over easily. That was the best they could give me since our group rate did not cover any better rooms. Others in the group had balconies that faced the wall of the adjacent building. so I guess mine wasnt too bad. I've decided to go for the bicycle ride this time which was a mistake. We first had to cross some heavy traffic streets to get to the outskirts. that wasnt entirely bad but a bit on the dangerous side. when we got to the rice paddies with absolutely no cover, it started to rain. it poured so hard we're all drenched. We stopped at a store to get ponchos but what's the use. We're already soaked. My quads were beginning to ache when we finally made it to riverside to get on the round boats. these boats are completely round so 3 people would sit on 1 bench across the middle of the boat. the boat drivers were very skilled as they pulled banana leafs off the trees by the river and made us jewellery to wear, rings, necklaces, bracelets and even earings and glasses. the boat driver paddled us through small tributaries of the river, with vegetation all around. the ride was short but very pleasant. After that we cycled upstream and boarded a boat to bring us back to the old town. it was early evening now and all the lanterns were lite and people out on the streets in the old town walking by the river.The bridges and buildings were lite by colorful lanterns. I quite enjoyed the night time in Hội An. We dined at an expensive bar restaurant and I had fried tofu with lemongrass and giant tiger prawns. They were good but not excellent. on TV we saw vietnam winning the semi final shoot out for the AFC cup. Everyone yelled. The walk back to the hotel was again quiet. tonight I had a good nite sleep as i was tired after the effortful bicycle ride and the hallway was quite. really love this town. I'm finally enjoying vietnam.

Hội An photos:



Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday, January 19, 2018

cooking class

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:02 PM 0 comments Links to this post
From Huế to Da Nang was about a short ride of 130Km. I've only ever stayed at the airport in Da Nang on my way home from my thai/laos/cambodia trip, 40 mins at the airport. Da Nang is a very modern city with wide streets and big name hotel chains on the beach front. There was no one on the beach. The sky was still grey but air humid and hot. So far I havent seen the sun in vietnam yet. The Cham museum was a delight of buddha and hindu statues, altars and pedestals, steles and tablets with Cham's writing and decorative works taken from the Cham temples. truly enjoyed this museum. Lunch was the typical famous quang noodles that were thick and wide rice noodles in an unique sauce, not quite a soup, and I chose fish for protein. Although not hungry and stomach not totally well to accept normal food, the noodles were so good, I ate the whole bowl. Strangely I felt better after the meal. We next visited the marble mountain with bhuddist temples and tons of caves. Up there we could get nice views of da nang and the surrounding area. Half hour later we arrived at our hotel the Silk hotel in Hội An. very new, with rooms and villas and 2 swimming pools. Rooms equipped with the usual southeast asian hotel room amenities and the bathroom modern and with a rain shower. However, we were given rooms on the first floor next to the lobby. I dont accept first floor hotel rooms so I've asked to change to a room on a higher floor. Was shown another identical room on the 2nd floor. however, the sliding door opened to a hallway. no way I was staying in a hotel without a window to the outside and for 3 nights. So I've insisted to get another room. the hotel was full that day (their usual response) so I had to stay in the 1st floor room and change to a higher room the next day. Although the room was very nice, the window opened up to a low wall with plants on it and the room was dark. I dont usually sign up for cooking classes but since it was vietnamese and therefore easy cooking, I've decided to give it a try. The chef came to the hotel to pick us up and took us to the market to show us the ingredients. Then we went to his restaurant and learned how to make turmeric pancakes, papaya salad, chicken spring rolls and mackerel wrapped in banana leaf. We tasted our own cooking and mine wasnt bad. The chef also showed us how to use a special shredder/peeler/cutter utensil that was a plastic rectangle with rows of sharp round metal holes to shred and flat metal edge to cut. I bought 2, just a dollar each. My first cooking class, no major disaster, kinda fun. We walked back to our hotel and the streets after 8PM werent busy like in hanoi. The night on the first floor was noisy with the hotel restaurant just under my room in the open basement, and rowdy hotel guests parading on the hallways and the elevator right next to my room. hope tomorrow night I'd get a better night sleep in a quieter room.

Da Nang photos:

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thursday, January 18, 2018

ancient capital

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:59 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Huế - should have followed Anne's example to rest at the hotel but didnt want to miss the sightseeing. The Tu Duc mausoleum was again a disappointment. dilapidated, not ornate, just another simple chinese temple. When we went to see the garden tomb, I had enough. returned to the Cherish hotel and slept the whole day. The next morning I skipped the scheduled bicycle ride and just stayed at the hotel to rest and finished reading 'vulgar'. In the afternoon Anne who also skipped the sightseeing but went to the cycle ride in the morning, and I took a taxi to see the cidadel. The walls were impressive and aside from some colorful halls, again nothing too impressive. Most of the original structures were bombed out. We walked back to the hotel crossing the Perfume river. Dinner that night was on the riverside and I simply ordered a veggie rice noodle, not brave enough to start on proteins yet. So much for the ancient capital.

Huế photos:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

that train had done me in

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:58 PM 0 comments Links to this post
the night on halong bay was cold but although the room was tiny and without heater, it was comfortable and I had a good night sleep. No motorbike or traffic noise. no dogs barking. no people yelling. all quiet and serene. The breakfast was simple but nonetheless absolutely delicious. I had 3 full meals the day before but I've found myself hungry in the morning. The toasted sliced bread was surprisingly good, the fried egg filling and even the bacon was tasty. I didnt do the orange juice as I never did on my trips and didnt taste the banana but took a few pieces of pineapple for vitamin C. The coffee was OK and I was still waiting for the good vietnamese coffee. The boat chef showed us how to peel the fishing net from a carrot and how to cut a cucumber into a flower. This dude, who cooked our super delicious meals, was very young and good looking. He bowed and smiled and allowed us to take his picture with his creations. Back on land and the 4 hours drive back to the May de Ville hotel to pick up our big luggage. A few hours to while away before boarding the overnight Reunification train, for the 500KM to Hue. We found a french bakery and I had my first cake, a black forest that was neither sweet nor chocolaty. Bought a small round pizza for the evening meal on the train. Our first class cabin with soft beds was tiny for 4 people, with 2 bunk beds and I took one of the upper ones. however, the linen looked fresh, the walls equipped with good lighting (even reading light) and plenty of storage space on top. It even came with a table with complimentary water bottles, snacks and flower. 2 toilets, one on each end of the compartment. one was western and didnt smell too bad but the floor was wet because of the train rocking motion. 2 sinks on this side. the other toilet was eastern, smelly but the floor not so wet. After munching the cold tasteless pizza, I walked the train to discover what other classes were like. 2nd class compartments exactly the same as the first except for the cleaniness, lighting and complimentary stuff. 3rd class was airplane seating and then the next lower class simple hard benches. the toilets and sinks progressively got worse and smellier as you go down in class levels. The restaurant looked dirty and unsavory. Didnt linger there. back in our first class cabin, I perched on my top bunk and continued to read 'vulgar' while my 3 roommates played word games. The ride was jerky and loud with frequent hard brakes that woke you up. Nonetheless I've expected a good night sleep although the bed was hard (you call that a soft bed?) Around 5AM i ran for the nearest toilet and puked. Guess the pizza didnt get digested because it all came out. For the rest of the journey, I hung on our cabin door, in front of a big window, on the corridor. Never had motion sickness so bad, I thought. My last overnight train journey from budapest to bucharest was enjoyable and fun and i slept all through the night. and the cabin wasnt even as clean and nice as this one. so what happened this time? I puked a second time and the rest of whatever I had the night before came out too. When people started to wake up and get out of their cabins, I've discovered I wasnt the only one sick on the train.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

dragon descending

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:55 PM 0 comments Links to this post
HạLong Bay (ha = descend or below long= dragon, like in chinese) - a 4 hours minibus ride brought us to the halong bay harbor and the sun peeked out every now and then. We had the entire boat to ourselves. lunch was steamed whole shrimps with the heads on, deep fried spring rolls, grilled calamary, cucumber and tomato salad, a pork dish and warm cabbage salad. With steamed rice of course. It was one of the best seafood meal I've ever had. After lunch, we went on the top deck to admire the stunning bay with its emerald waters and the thousands limestone peaks while we cruised the bay. It was cold, sky grey but just a little wind as the boat wasnt going fast. In fact I much prefer the weather like this as the peaks looked more romantic in the mist. I probably wouldnt have like the bay more in full sunshine. In the afternoon we got on the ferry and met up with a fishing boat and banged bamboo sticks to scary the fish. It turned out, the fisherman had lowered a fishing net a few feet from the boat so the noise would scare the fish to swim away from it and get caught in the net. True enough, when the fisherman pulled the net, we got prawns so huge I've never seen anything like it before, small flat fish and crabs. next we visited the sung sot cave, not the deepest I've been in, but the main chamber so vast, it blew me away. the cave ceiling resembled desert sand floor. very interesting and quite impressive. I've enjoyed this cave very much. Back on the boat, I had a steamy hot shower. The room although tiny, the bathroom was actually quite spacious for a boat bathroom and with a good size shower stall. By the evening all the boats parked in a designated area for the night. Dinner was pan fried prawns, with heads on of course, grilled oysters wrapped in foils, crab meat on sticks, papaya and carrot salad, cold cabbage salad, whole fish from the bay covered in a fishing net made of carrot, and yellow curry chicken. And the customary steamed rice. I'd never eaten so well. The Brits were practicing salsa after dinner and then took turn playing their favorite songs from their phones and we did 'name that song'. After everyone called it a night, I went on deck to commune with the night sky, the quiet and the smell and ambience of the bay. Although the sky was grey, some stars were out. Quite a magical nite, stars abound, flat quiet water, nearby boats illuminated, and the sound of distant music. Peaks all around in silhouette. Loved nights like these.


HạLong Bay photos:

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday, January 14, 2018

ascending dragon

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:51 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Hà Nội (ancient name Thăng Long,"rising dragon" over the red river) - arrived in a rather gloomy day with grey sky and quite cold. the ride to the hotel took almost an hour, the usual southeast asian city traffic coupled with lots of road constructions. people said hanoi was one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I wondered why. narrow streets, the french colonials lacked impressive architecture, not one single monument stood out. Nothing in particular to see in the old town. Instead of visiting the presidential palace, which only opened to the public in the morning and the line was over an hour long, according to our local guide, we got talked into visiting the ethnology museum instead. Sour point as I very much would have liked to see the palace. The museum itself wasnt impressive but the reproduction of the Cham's houses (first time I've heard of them) in the outdoor garden was quite interesting. Didnt really enjoy the Hoa Lo prison, the hanoi hilton. It was scary as they put human statues right in front of the prison cells so you'd get a shock if you peeked into the cells. Much like the ones in phnom penh, they were simply eerie. The temple of literature wasnt particularly interesting either for me. It was but a scaled down version of a Chinese temple. It got colder as the day went on. Thuy took us to the phở 10 lý quốc sư, the best pho in town. This place, frequented by locals and tourists, we had to wait in line and just grab any available spot on any table. We sat with a local girl and a singaporean tourist, and was told this place was the most popular pho in town. I've ordered the well done beef and it was good but not excellent by any means, although the singaporean girl declared she never had better. I've skipped the dinners and just stayed in the hotel room to read 'vulgar favors' which I couldnt put down. totally fascinated by this spree killer's life story.

The May de Ville hotel offered great hospitality with very friendly and attentive staff. My room faced a side street but still very noisy all day and night. The bathroom was enclosed in a translucent glass which I didnt mind but the door didnt quite close all the way and with the poor ventilation, after using the bathroom, the smell and steam permeated into the room. all the complimentary room amenities, toothbrush, combs, razors, cotton swaps, shower caps and kettle with free coffee and tea, of course. Wifi was good. didnt expect anything less in a southeast asian hotel.

The Eva flight over was very comfortable. The food was excellent although the entertainments lacked any good movies. The 11 hours to Taipei flew by. The Taoyuan international airport was dingy, dark, with only high end stores and very few restaurants or cafes. Hard to find a place to sit. the 3 hrs flight to hanoi again got by quickly, with an excellent meal. Will probably fly Eva again tho.

Hà Nội photos:

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Saturday, January 06, 2018

We did it ... with LOTS of hints

Posted by Hippo Bean at 12:47 PM 0 comments Links to this post
  Pandemic Zero at Omescape
 

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