Back to Nam!

Finally after more than a decade I am finally back in the country that started it all – Vietnam!

Way back in 2008 I went on my first ever Asian adventure to Cambodia and South Vietnam and I have always wanted to come back and explore the north of the country.

And finally here I am! Husband in tow we have landed in Hanoi, the bustling Northern city that will act as our base for exploring this beautiful country.

We’re based in the frantic Old Quarter in the Queen Light Hotel,

The Old Quarter is a place of street sellers, a million mopeds and more chaos and colour than you can shake a stick at.

But we’re only there a night before we’re heading off for our first trip. A three night tour of Ha Long Bay and Tam Coc. So watch this space!

Sri Mariamman Temple

Sri Mariamman Temple dates back to 1827 and is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore.

Beneath the imposing gopura are huge wooden doors. Their massive size is quite deliberate, designed to remind the worshippers of their insignificance in comparison to the divine.

Devotees believe that ringing the bells on the doors will bring good luck.

It’s located in Chinatown and is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases.

Two nearby streets got their names because of this temple: Temple Street (for obvious reasons) and Pagoda Street, because of the shape of the temple’s gopura.

Now a national monument, much of the present structure is believed to have been built in 1862-1863 by Indian craftsmen.

Highly ornate and colourful ceiling paints abound in the temple. Each one is an eye-catching delight.

Colourful chaos

One of my favourite things to do in a new city is just to mooch around and soak up the sights.

In Singapore’s Little India district you are besieged by sights, sounds, smells and colours.

From gorgeous floral garlands for use in temples, weddings and special occasions to piles of fresh, mouth watering produce.

My favourite exotic fruit – the rambutan – is to be found piled high with its prickly little exterior hiding a small, white fruit.

As well as fruit and flowers you can rifle through endless lovely handicrafts from embroidered umbrellas to wooden carvings – fancy a tiger dear . . .?

Even now my mouth waters at the endless selection of fruit juices on offer here.

From honey lemon to sugarcane juice, papaya to lychee, there’s a colourful option for everyone!

Finally before we head off I spot a bucket full of stunning lotus blossoms.

These sculptural blossoms can often be found gracing temples as offerings to deities.

The Lotus flower is regarded in many different cultures, especially in eastern religions, as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth.

Its characteristics are a perfect analogy for the human condition – even when its roots are in the dirtiest waters, the Lotus produces the most beautiful flower.

Wall art

If like me you’re reduced to a snap happy frenzy at the sight of some colourful wall art then you’ll be in seventh heaven in Singapore.

We stumbled across these spectacular examples in Little India and naturally I had to spend a while taking some snaps!

These joy filled images are Kathaka by Didier Mathieu aka Jaba – the name is a reference to a type of Indian dance.

You can find them at 68 Serangoon Road, at the junction with Upper Dickson Road

And just across the road is a mural by Eunice Lim called Book-a-Meeting for Artwalk Little India 2018 which is an extension of the 30-year old Siyamala bookstore it is connected to.

I enjoy the cheeky cow seemingly taking a look at the sombre hubby!!!

Singapore sensory overload

I’m so far behind with my travel blog that I’m only just starting on the first trip of 2019!!

As it was a ‘big’ birthday year I got to chose where we headed for our long haul adventure – and it just had to be back to Vietnam. The place that set off my love affair with Asia way back in 2008.

We also decided to stop over in Singapore for a few days too. So let’s dive headfirst into these amazing places.

We stayed in the lovely Summer View hotel that was ideally placed to explore this hectic city.

There’s lots of fascinating districts in Singapore including Arab street and the colourful Little India district which is where I dragged the hubby first!

From multi-coloured shutter and incredible street art, to buildings so candy coloured that you want to nibble them, this area is amazing to just wander round and soak up the sights.

The incredible House of Tan Teng Niah is one such incredible rainbow hued sight.

The house was built in 1900 and belonged to Tan Teng Niah, a Chinese merchant who made sweets and sold them in stores along nearby Serangoon Road.

Gorgeous isn’t it! You can find this little gem by taking the MRT to Little India Station, taking exit E and following the snap happy tourists 🙂

Every wall and building is a colour clashing dream – even the toilet below is a pastel coloured delight!

Little Venice

More mooching around Mykonos old town reveals my all time favourite shop tucked down an alleyway and smothered in postcards and paintings.

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Every square inch of this little souvenir shop is covered in paintings and postcards of this picturesque island. All azure seas and blue domes.

I’m a bit obsessed and have to be bodily dragged away by the husband . . . .

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Heading down another tiny alleyway we’re suddenly confronted with a rocky drop and the sea!

Behind us you can see the line of famous windmills, one of the iconic sights of the island.

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We also get an alternative view of the bustling little quarter known as Little Venice where restaurants hover just feet away from the lapping sea water.

You can just about make out one of the hulking great big cruise ships that flood this tiny town with 1000s of visitors each day.

Back to wandering the seemingly endless, maze like streets, throw up yet more lovely details.

More traditional gifts such as olive oil soaps and woven bags all tempt the tourists.

For such a small place, the Hora sure has a lot to investigate. So watch this space!

 

Colourful Chinatown

Even though we turned our eyes westward for our honeymoon we can’t quite escape our love of all things Asian. So we’re heading to Chinatown for a snoot around.

Manhattan’s Chinatown is home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere with an estimated population between 90,000 and 100,000 people and is one of  12 Chinatowns in the New York metropolitan area.

Manhattan’s Chinatown borders the Lower East Side to its east, Little Italy to its north, and Tribeca to its west.


The bustling street scene stretches for several blocks with greengrocers and fishmongers  around Mott Street, Mulberry Street, Canal Street and along East Broadway.

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Then there are also lots of shops selling the obligatory good luck charms, paper goods and other colourful items. Naturally I stock up!!

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Wondrous waters

Missed a post! Ooops . .  while in the little village of Portixeddu we take a little trek upwards to enjoy the peaceful view.

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From our vantage point we have a perfect view of the stunning Sardinian coastline.

Rugged outcrops of rock surge out of the crystal clear waters that sparkle in a host of hues from emerald green to turquoise and royal blue.

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it’s a little taster of the incredible seascapes that we’ll encounter as we travel around this lovely island.

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Paintbox pretty

Carrying on with our exploration of the gorgeous little Sardinian village of Bosa now.

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We’re heading up into the mass of tiny colourful alleyways in the town now and the further up you go then more rainbow like it becomes!

This quirky little town is chock a block full of paintbox coloured delights. Each house competes against its neighbour in an eye popping display.

I love the emerald green and warm orange of the houses above.

The man lounges against a peppermint green corner while I am captivated by this literal rainbow of a street.

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When the October sunshine hits the walls it creates a vivid spectacle and we’re lucky to have it almost to ourselves.

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Could this baby blue and orange wall be any more delicious? Or how about this pink and orange combination with a sculptural plant for added delightful detail?

It feels like the town is gearing up for a festival with its strings of bunting all fluttering in the breeze.

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Whether you’re a colour fanatic or just enjoy strolling around little back streets, Bosa should definitely feature on your Sardinian wish list.

Dazzling Zia

Continuing our exploration of some of Kos’s mountain villages we’re making a beeline for Zia.

Set on the mountain side of Dikeos, Zia is surrounded by scented pine forests and stunning vistas.

Essentially it’s a tiny village with shopping streets lined with boutique shops and traditional souvenirs.

If you’re after snaps of a more traditional Greek way of life then this is the place for you!

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It get’s thronged with visitors however so you’ll want to find a place to escape and cool off.

If you head through the village to the furthest side you’ll find the colourful and quirky Old Watermill cafe.

Set high on the hillside it is a perfect vantage spot for a drink and some people watching.

 

But given the sheer abundance of colourful signs and painted windows, naturally I can’t sit still for more than five minutes….

So here’s some rainbow snaps of the rustic decor that the cafe has to offer.

Hand painted signs advertise all manner of refreshing beverages and a sunset view.

Once I’ve exhausted every single permutation of colour and signage possible it’s back out into the main shopping streets.

Canopies provide a welcome shade break as we (I) browse the shops and the man gets impatient.

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He really loves to shop . . . honestly . . .

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A few more pictures of the delightful splashes of colour that you can find in Zia.

Lots of gorgeous traditional blue and whites and tumbling flowers in colourful pots.