Posted on October 23, 2012 by Admin of TBJ
Ha Long Bay’s famous limestone karsts just out from every side of Cat Ba Island, a beautiful little piece of Vietnam situated on the Eastern Sea (or South China Sea, depending on who you ask). Cat Ba is both beautiful and shabby, a tourist attraction and then again not – there are a total of three ATMs on the island, whose main means of income is still farming and fishing, but a huge resort, currently under construction, will likely ruin the secluded feeling that Cat Ba brings. Getting there is half the fun – you take a bus from Hanoi to Haiphong, and from there you get on a hydrofoil boat (don’t bring much luggage – it’s hard to heave it across the small gangplanks onto the boats) to take another bus to Cat Ba Town. The main things to do in Cat Ba are, of course, take in the beaches, eat fresh seafood, and hike, climb, and swim among the beautiful karsts in the bay. Recently named a UNESCO site, the area is used to tourists from all over the world, and you’ll see many Australian, American, and European ex-pats mixing in with the locals as the island’s popularity grows. Don’t miss kayaking (and swimming and climbing – try Noble House (now Asia Outdoors) or Blue Swimmer for packages) and strolling around the waterside, try your hand at rock climbing, and see if you can spot one of the rare Cat Ba langurs, an endangered species that is a symbol of the island. History lovers might enjoy checking out Hospital Cave, a Japanese-built Vietnam War site with one of the goofiest tour guides you’ll ever meet – the ride out to the cave alone, on the back of a xe om (motorbike taxi) is worth the visit. The island also has a national park with several different hiking trails (and a pretty nice vista view point – the xe oms will gladly take you there and wait if you’re in a rush), and Cat Co #2 is touted as the best public beach. Go to Cat Ba now, before it becomes a seaside resort and loses some of its shabby chic charm.
Filed under: Asia | Tagged: Asia, Asia Outdoors, beaches, Blue Swimmer, boating, Cat Ba Island, Cat Ba Park, Cat Co #2, climbing, fresh seafood, Ha Long Bay, hiking, Hospital Cave, how to get from Hanoi to Cat Ba, karsts, kayaking, seafood, swimming, UNESCO, Vietnam, xe oms | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 3, 2010 by Admin of TBJ
My friends and I were sitting in the grass behind the cathedral of Notre Dame and eating a picnic lunch, when suddenly a man came over and posed beside us while his friend took a picture of us all; I’ve always wondered what those guys thought after they looked through their travel photos years later. It’s odd that someone else has a photo of one of the best little picnic meals I’ve ever had. The Brassiere Esemeralla, located quite conveniently off of Square Jean XXIII and Pont Saint Louis, specializes in bit meals to go, and it suits a nice September afternoon picnic quite nicely. Since it’s a typical Parisienne brasserie, there’s seafood, beef and lamb with vegetables, but there are also fresh, made-when-you-order crêpes, made with the sharpest cheese I’ve ever had melted over bright veggies and tender chicken. There’s something on the menu for everyone, and you can eat inside, outside, or take your food to go. We took ours, as you already know, to the park, and enjoyed fresh fruit along with our warm crêpes. Even if the cathedral area is touristy, you still can get some of the Paris vibe without feeling cheated – simply eat, drink, and do your own thing, and qui s’inquiète des autres?
Filed under: Europe, Great Eats | Tagged: beef, Brassiere Esmeralla, cafe, cathedral, crêpes, France, fresh fish, fresh fruit, lamb, Notre Dame, outside, Paris, picnic, Pont Saint Louis, seafood, sharp cheese, Square Jean XXIII, touristy, vegetables | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 3, 2010 by Admin of TBJ
Valparaiso (aka. Valpo) is the first place I think of when thinking of a Chilean port city. It’s a short bus ride away from Santiago and right next door to Vina del Mar. This part of the Chilean coast is pretty rocky, and Valpo is built with small houses virtually sitting on top of each other all the way up the hill. It’s a pretty site to see the different colored tin roofs speckling the long descent to the water. There is fantastic seafood here, and if you have the time, taking a tour of Pablo Neruda’s house is worth it. The guy collected all kinds of neat and weird stuff. You can also get guided boat rides around the harbor area, where there is an open market and lots of people walking around. Great for a day or two away from Santiago.
Filed under: Latin America, South America | Tagged: Chile, juror #14, Latin America, Pablo Neruda, seafood, Valparaiso, Valpo, Vina del Mar | Leave a Comment »