Monolita Chatterjee


Monolita Chatterjee

travelling is like breathing

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi October 8th 2009

The great city of Ha Noi slept as our train entered it at the unearthly hour of 4 am. This is something which puzzles me - why do trains reach in these strange hours in Vietnam?... read more

Asia » Vietnam » North Central Coast » Thua Thien - Huế » Hué October 6th 2009

Always research a place before you arrive. Well I did to the best of my abilities. But if anyone asks me how to do Hue now, I would be categorical - get yourself a two wheeler. But nothing that I read gave me any understanding of the distances involved in Hue. Yes, other than the Imperial City, most everything are kilometers in different directions. Had I known this, I would have opted for a motorbike. Motorbikes seem easy to hire everywhere, and while I had been anal about licenses - it seems not that big a deal. But we would learn that later. I had managed to contact a local CSer yesterday, and she enthusiastically promised to meet us and show us around after her morning classes. We decided to make it an early day - ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » North Central Coast » Thua Thien - Huế » Hué October 5th 2009

Great plans to wake up early to make it to Cau Dai all plans do, we need the sleep. Morning agenda is to get the dresses and look around in the market a bit. I love my dresses, Tupur not so much. We shop around and look around a little bit and then head for the hotel to pack up and check out. The bus is supposed to pick us up from the hotel at 1.45 and Tupur gets a quick pedicure from next door for 30 dongs. We familiarise ourselves with Hue and hotel locations. And thank goodness for that because the trip was about to start. Our bus arrived and then the scam began. This was no big bus with toilets and great seat as promised by us. It was a mini bus ... read more
As we have our breakfast in the patisserie
Sanaa and Babla pour over the menu
Some interesting bamboo furniture

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Quảng Nam » Hoi An October 4th 2009

We make a rush out in the morning to catch all the sights. Quick breakfast at the patisserie with croissants and chocolate croissants - great bakery stuff again. We walk up to the Japanese Bridge and the Assembly of Phu Kien. We need to get the combined tickets for the old city which is available at street corners. 75 dongs for 5 places with an 'intangible culture' option. We clutch our maps and make way to the nearest sight - but on our way find ourselves in a quite and beautiful pagoda. The forecourt is full of interesting bonsais and a real peace surrounds the place. We go out and walk into the Phu Kien assembly, built in the 1700s. The huge concentric conical spiralling incense sticks are mind blowing. The assembly, dedicated to the female ... read more
The Pagoda we happened upon
The Shrine at the Pagoda
At the doorway

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Quảng Nam » Hoi An October 3rd 2009

Mornings in trains are always interesting. People of all shades and shapes wake up ane perform the same functions. Its like the great leveller. The good thing about these trains are that the attendant sees to it that the toilets are clean. And food comes in trollyes. Tea and coffee. Lunch on order. An old lady sleeps in our cabin. She is fascinated by our family and puts up with a lot to continue sitting in a cabin going berserk with two kids on the rampage. Sometimes we can be a bit too much. I am quite happy with the trains here. They are clean and comfortable if a tad small. We get of at Danang station about an hour late. There were supposed to be minibusus from the station to Hoi An, but we did ... read more
The Old city buildings
The old city buildings
Dragon parades on the streets

Asia » Vietnam » Mekong River Delta » Can Tho October 2nd 2009

This was supposed to be an early day, as we wanted to catch the Cai Rang Market. So out at 6.30 in the morning and rush through breakfast to leave at 7. We boarded into small low boats which would take us to the market and then into the backwater canals. We weave through an entire market on boats - trading fiercely between each other - yet, I feel 7 o clock is too late. We should have been here at 6 to catch the action at its height. But still its unique. An entire life on water. Families with children. Mostly one floor, some two floors on the boat. And they live and trade and wash their clothes and hang them out - all on the boat. I would have preferred a sampan to take ... read more
Sanaa in her topi
Yes, we are all Vietnamese today
Life along the waters

Asia » Vietnam » Mekong River Delta » Can Tho October 1st 2009

Morning rush to reach the Sinh Cafe booking office. Thankfully we can keep part of our luggage here, so we carry one bag with us and leave the rest here. Good airconditioned bus, a nice guide - its comfortable even if both Anu and I hate package tours. 3 hours to Cai Be and the rain god plays with us. We buy very flimsy raincoats - 7 dongs each. On to a boat in Cai Be and on the Cai Be river, passing the Cau Be floating market. The banks of the river are houses, with stilts into the river, and people's lives play out unconcerned about the tourist boats that peep into their homes. Here a girl cleans up her front room - there a mother is feeding a child. All around loading unloading of ... read more
The floating markets at Cai Be
Life on the boats

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City September 30th 2009

Disaster! Tupur and family are scheduled to reach by 11 ish, so we had thought that we would grab some breakfast at our favourite ABC Bakery (trying to keep the costs down - its so easy to blow away 150 dongs in that place!) and then get the train tickets and the Mekong tour in place before they arrive. I had spoken to our landlady that we need 2 rooms for the night of the 30th. When we come down and just thinking that its a good idea to just check it up, we find that no, they dont seem to have an extra room for tonight. This is after confirming twice with the owners. We rush to Vy who is leaving with some more guests, and she assures me that she will help out somehow. ... read more
Tupur takes her first bite
Arindam's first taste
Sanaa on her romp

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City September 29th 2009

What a full day. What a day of myriad impressions. We woke up late, and by the time we got going it was already 11. Off to breakfast at the same bakery, and we hogged great sandwiches and Sanaa lopped up a Tiramisu. A good way to start the day. Free wifi at the coffee shop, and though we ended up spending quite a bit more than what we intended - a good beginning to the day all round. So we decided to walk down to the war museum. Vietnamese streets are full of two wheelers and tha traffic has its own life. For us Indians, not that amazing, not that difficult - though in some ways it is different - the rhythm, the method. After many twists and turns, and some very interesting colonial buildings, ... read more
The crazy Saigon traffic

Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City September 28th 2009

Day 0 Chennai Airport Okay, quite crazy. Several international flights leaving at the same time, and only one screening machine in place. Chaos and confusion and tempers running high. And piling crowds everywhere. Long long queues. It helps to travel with a kid - we get preference queue positions, shortcuts to counters, special lines meant for only families with young children. Who says travelling with kids is difficult. The mistake we made is not doing the web check-in. So we actually dont get seats together on either flight. Lesson to oneself. My apprehensions about the visa approval form which looks like something run off on a hick computer proves unfounded. The immigration officer is not bothered as he waves us through. I did not know Malaysian flight seats are so small - but enough leg space. ... read more
On the Bus from airport to Pham Ngu Lao
Bin Than night market
David and I pour over the Menu

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