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Old 7th December 2011, 09:18   #76
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Excellent coverage Ramkya! Lovely to read your narration.

Some of your shots worth going for large prints. Please consider that.
Dear Rudraji,

I would consider that a big compliment coming from you and a high point of my T-Log here. Thanks.

I would be grateful if you would find time to point out which ones so that I would critically evaluate them, try to duplicate some of correct things I did there, keep the 14 MP original prints and make out some posters.

--Ramky
======
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Old 7th December 2011, 09:36   #77
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
I would be grateful if you would find time to point out which ones so that I would critically evaluate them, try to duplicate some of correct things I did there, keep the 14 MP original prints and make out some posters.
I'll do that today. There are at least 7-8 as I see. Send you a PM as I'm done. In the meantime post some more.
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Old 7th December 2011, 15:29   #78
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

0345: The scene unfolding was like Alice in Wonderland kind of setting, 100’s of small island formations raising out of water in suggestive shapes. Around 1550 sq. kms, limestone islets, has taken eons to form, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a true wonder of the world. This is the biggest tourist puller in the Asia Pacific region and tipped to become the 8th wonder of the world, read more here:

Ha Long Bay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Most people are quiet on the boat, the vistas around are unique, hitting and awe inspiring. Different shapes, shades, scales and sequences of formations dotting all around, different configurations of sail ships steaming towards the distant horizon, slicing through the bow waves, whistling wind with a slight chill fluttering the sails; those who move unconsciously careful not to make noise or disturb the sojourn of their fellow Halong gazers. One can be humbled at the sight of Mother Nature’s artwork, collaborating with mighty time proudly carving geology and presenting it in South China Sea, as if to say, “look what I did.” We did our bit of gaping too, could not help it, sat helplessly riveted to the deck chair.

Around 0415 PM, the boat moored on the quiet shadow of one limestone mountain, all around us were 100’s more as far as the eye can see. Dung calls for everyone to assemble on the gangway, there are two small boats waiting down to take us to the Cave visit and sight around it, one boat follows another towards a mountain, in the distance we could see a big opening up above, about 100 feet high through the foliage, lots of small boats streaming towards it filled with tourists.


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Kate Winset and Leonardo DiCaprio


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We get down from the boat, Dung explains about the caves its history along with the story of Halong Bay, read about the caves here:

Halong Bay - Halong caves - Sung Sot Cave

The cave is also UNESCO Heritage area, you need to climb steep through trees and bushes. Once you enter, another awe-inspiring spectacle awaits you; yearning chambers, stalactites, stalagmites, small rivulets, it’s a picture form a dream. The very proportion is stunning, imagine biggest amphitheater you have ever seen, you get the idea. There are well lit walkways, myriad shapes, your mind can play tricks and suggest life forms to them, many coloured lights adding to the damp eerie scene.

A rare statue inside the cave:

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We come out, catch the boat and reach the floating village.

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You would see many of them in Vietnam and Cambodia, communities living on water. Those who wanted to do kayaking were given a briefing, given kayaks with Dung managing them, we chose to stay on the boat and head for the cruise boat, light was fading, we didn’t fancy kayaking all the way to the cruise boat. By the time we reached the boat day light was gone, the formations becoming specters of shadows. We move down to our cabin, have a quick shower, change and come up the dining room to find that most people are already seated and Dung explaining what’s on for dinner and what’s special. He said as per our request, there is a n selection too, specially made for Anu, she was happy to get the individual attention.

The dinner was a 7 course one, with special emphasis on sea food; crab, fish and prawns were reportedly well prepared. Anu stuck to delicious soup, vegetables, Soya preparations and rice. We had the Germans for company, our Indian friend Das form Bangalore (most of the times he was seen with firangi crowd) and a French sixtyish cougar with a young guy in tow (this guy polished off 80% of the prawns, much of the crabs, was digging into the food, an Ethiopian refugee would been ashamed to see him eat), some of the whites were obviously embarrassed by the way the cougar cavorted with this guy, it was clear being French had nothing to do with the way they behaved. Food was on the house, alcohol on sale was expensive but the bar was cashing in on the festive mood. Dinner was on form 7 -10 PM.

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A table was decorated with lots of presents for the games that would follow. The dinner finished, Dung announced the game ‘follow the leader’, went on till 11 and we said good bye and hit the upper deck and settled down, music was on in the dining hall, music was filtering form a dozen lit-up junks moored all around. There was a party on, people choosing to enjoy the way they wanted. We hit bed around 0100 AM, an eventful day.


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Last edited by ramkya1 : 7th December 2011 at 15:48.
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Old 7th December 2011, 22:33   #79
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: TITOP ISLAND

0530 AM, 01-11-2011, Phoenix Cruiser, Halong Bay, Vietnam: Tinging sound corroding corners of sleep, whispy sounds of lapping waves floating somewhere in the brain, tinging continues and I snap awake, it’s the mobile alarm dutifully doing it work. Why, I ask myself, why the heck did I set the alarm? Wheels click, sunrise time, time to catch the golden rays from the deck, I try to wake Anu, she said you go on. Pick up the camera, slowly walk up the stairs, sky is dark, low walk away lights show the way up the stairs to the top deck, not many people around, 2 Italians, Sylvya Reiter and me, very cloudy day, dim chances of a glorious sunrise, yet we wait in hope. Settle down on the deck chairs, 0600 AM, things start to emerge out of shadows, light spreads form the Eastern sky but no sign of the sun. Disappointed, Sylvia and the Italians move off to the lower deck, I follow suit and catch sight of a Chinese looking man reading a book under the deck lights. Tell him, no sun, he said yesterday it came out at 0 610 so you can wait, there’s a chance, he showed me a snap on his mobile of his yesterday’s clear sunrise. This is great news, my spirits soar and I climb back to the deck and wait. Thick clouds, I could make out a halo behind the clods, lo and behold, 0610 the clouds clear for 15 minutes for Mr.Sun to give his darshan. People come running up the deck to shoot pictures, by 0630 it’s very bright but the clouds claimed territory again. Well, we did see the sunrise.


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MR.DUNG OUR GUIDE AND THE BOAT CAPTAIN SLEEPING AT 0600 AM!!

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Breakfast at 0800 was again a big spread, one can eat only so much. Not our French friend, he must have polished off 8 eggs, bacon and kilos of assorted fruits right in front of my eyes, I watched it with scientific interest. The big questions was, where was it going? Still puzzled!!

Sylvia and her husband (forgot his name) turned out to be the salt of the earth, they have traveled far and wide, their children now in Australia , Das was seen with them most off the time, we hit it off well during the cave visits, dining room and on the deck, was great exchanging travel notes. 0900 AM, Dung announces tour of the day to Ti Top Island. A 15 minutes boat ride away, we disembark into the island and can see way up the top something that looked like a deck. Dung explained about the island, read about it here:

Titop Island, Halong Bay | Luxury Cruise Halong Bay

Island named Ti Top too respect Russian Cosmonaut, Ghermann Titop who visited it along with President Ho Chi Minh. White sands, clear waters inviting you to swim or sit in the emerald bay and watch the gently lapping waves. You can climb the 427 steep steps to the lookout point which gives you a stunning view of God’s gift to the world. Half the people chose to swim on the waters, rest of us decided to climb up. What looked like fun turned into a hard climb, some sections going up 60-70 degrees, we were sweating, many climbers rested on the way, we were soon panting, people climbing down said, “not far now, keep going, it’s worth it.” Through the foliage, we saw the tower, increased the speed and flopped into a chair, that was some climb, didn’d realize it was cold, a wind was blowing on this cloudy day, light was not the best good enough to see for about 50 Kms into the hazy sea. Observing from up here you can truly appreciate the number of hillocks jutting out of the water, the boats trailing silver threads, miniature cruise ships moored on the far horizon, ships trailing whisp of black smoke and a million other things which words cannot describe. The feeling was one of non itemizable joy, you can feel a soul song so loud yet silent, a feeling of getting atomized with the air around you. The climb up the steps was a faint irritation compared to the liberated feeling when you feel the wind in your face while the eyes take in the feast below. We must have sat there for 15 minutes before we thought of clicking photos, we could see that most people around were similarly affected.

DOWN BUT NOT OUT

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Last edited by GTO : 9th December 2011 at 14:25. Reason: 18th image was inverted. Correcting
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Old 7th December 2011, 22:52   #80
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA: Climbdown from TITOP

30 minutes later, we climb slowly down, some people in our group had given up the trek half way up not knowing what they’re missing. The water nymphs down below on the bay were great loosers, you can get a swim anywhere else, to miss a sight form the 150 feet tall mountain deck is a sin. We waited on the bay for the water nymphs (there were mama sized ones too) to catch up and trooped to the boat. By the time we got back it was already noon, time for a small rest and time for lunch and the cruse back to Halong Bay.

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You need to dip your feet into the green bucket of water before you get into the boat and leave the sands behind

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The observation tower we climbed on Titop Island, departing shot.

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The tower, zoomed up.

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=

Last edited by ramkya1 : 7th December 2011 at 23:02.
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Old 8th December 2011, 11:47   #81
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

@ ramkya1
Fantastic narration and some beautiful pictures.
Effort taken to picture your travel really awesome.
Lots of point taken from your narration.
Sunrise pictures and from mountain deck are really fantastic.
The best part you update quite frequently.

Last edited by gajadonga : 8th December 2011 at 11:50.
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Old 8th December 2011, 14:24   #82
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Quote:
Originally Posted by gajadonga View Post
@ ramkya1
Fantastic narration and some beautiful pictures.
Effort taken to picture your travel really awesome.
Lots of point taken from your narration.
Sunrise pictures and from mountain deck are really fantastic.
The best part you update quite frequently.
Thank you very much. Just the kick I needed to get it going again. I am squeezing time to move on and finish this with as much details as possible. Pl. keep posting questions, if any.

========

On with the story..

Boat to the caves:




0130 PM, 01-11-2011, Phoenix Cruiser, Halong Bay, Vietnam: Lunch is a little subdued but sumptuous. Rice, vegetables, chicken, fried fish and fruits for dessert. For a change with sit with the 50 plus Italian group, all retired govt., female employees, travel about 2-3 months a year, they have covered the Golden Triangle and Khajuraho and were all praise for Rajastan. The lady I helped with medicines form his group is OK now, in broken English with great difficulty she explained all about her Indian experiences, was happy to hear a very positive report.

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Some guests who were continuing on for 2 more nights were transferred to another boat; Sylvya & her husband, Das and another couple left for Cat Ba island nearby, we hugged good-bye and promised to keep in touch, as it happens on most tours.


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Mr.Dung, our guide invited rest of us to the shaded upper deck for the cooking lesion. Today’s class is on spring rolls, the chief chef was already there with 2 assistants, they even had a special veg roll just for my wife, they were careful to make it first, fry it in oil. All were given a chance to roll the rice paper and contents after wearing a disposable glove, never thought cooking class could be fun!! I guess it was the communal gaiety that made it fun; kitchen and me never had synergy except for eating. Anu enjoyed the experience thoroughly, it was clear most women loved it too.

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Our boat was moving towards the dock, by the time the class was finished it was 0400, time to get off.

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Something that caught my eye at the Harbour waiting point


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The transfer, wait for the bus and ride back was a replica of the ride in. We reached back at Hanoi in 3.5 hours, we were tired, just checked in and hit the sack around 0900 PM with happy memories of a World Wonder.

Mid way point with restrooms and refreshment and handicrafts for sale.

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=======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 8th December 2011 at 14:37.
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Old 8th December 2011, 18:36   #83
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA / HANOI CITY TOUR

02-11-2011: Hanoi, City Tour: Up at 7, lovely breakfast at 8.

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Sweet Nano Oranges.

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The street below, street food is very popular.

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Wait at the lobby for the city tour bus to pick us up. 0830 AM, English speaking guide, about 5’6” and 60 kgs, slight build, Mr.Hung (meaning Strong) comes in, we walk to the road where a 12 seater van was parked, the transport for the day. Van moves to another hotel where we pick up a Malaysian couple, the Choons, adorable and warm people. That was the crowd for the day, 4 of us.


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First port of the day, Ho Chi Minh Mussoleum form where the Vietnam Leader read the declaration of Independence in 1945, Uncle Ho is considered the father of the nation. Read about it here:

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hung tells us the story of Uncle Ho and how he lived in a simple house, story similar to Mahatma Gandhi. It’s a sprawling place with lots to see. The Ho Chi Minh Museum is in the next compound, depicting the life and times of the great leader and his struggle against foreign powers. This is not to be confused with Ho Chi Minh City Museum which is different.

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Uncle Ho's humble house, he lived a simple life, a house on stilts.

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The palm tree which grows from inside another big tree( don't know the name) another wonder inside Uncle Ho's house.

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Fishes that respond to claps are another surprising feature at His pond.
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Last edited by ramkya1 : 8th December 2011 at 18:53.
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Old 8th December 2011, 23:29   #84
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

@ramky:: If you take more than 1 night in the cruiser do they take some other places along the bay or they just roam around the same place? Seen some Ariel shots of the bay, some tourist helicopter rides available as well?
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Old 8th December 2011, 23:33   #85
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
@ramky:: If you take more than 1 night in the cruiser do they take some other places along the bay or they just roam around the same place? Seen some Ariel shots of the bay, some tourist helicopter rides available as well?
1st night usually is mooring near the caves, observation tower, kayaking and back. 2nd night is in an island to chill, usually Cat Ba or some other island, 3rd night would be a combination of all these with some snorkeling gear and free goodies, the price goes up to 200-300 USD. The chopper ride is optional, the cruise company arranges it, don't know the pricing. You'd need a clear day to enjoy the scene from up above.

--Ramky
=======
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Old 8th December 2011, 23:36   #86
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA/ Hanoi City Museum

1200 Noon: 02-11-2011: Hanoi, City Tour: Tour completed, we visit the one pillar Pagoda inside a pond nearby, supposed to be very powerful. Emperor Ly Thai Tong built this as a token of thanks to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara to give him a son. Many couple come here to pray for an offspring.

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Next was the City Museum, a must see place. There’s an entrance fee included in the tour price, if you’re a history buff, this is the place to be. There’s a lot to see; life and times from 50 different ethnic groups in Vietnam how they live and what they do etc., there are videos going on, one can easily spend half a day there, our guide was hurrying us on as time was limited. There’s a garden out there with stilt houses, bamboo houses and religious artifacts. By the time we finished, we were tired and famished with the climbing up and down and walking.

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Corner Cafes are all around offering cheap food.

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Last edited by ramkya1 : 8th December 2011 at 23:51.
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Old 9th December 2011, 14:29   #87
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBOD :Oldest University, Hanoi

0130 PM: 02-11-2011: Hanoi, City Tour: Lunch is included in the tour cost, but vegetarian options are far and few. We order veg soup, big bowl full of boiled vegetables, rice, boiled eggs, finger chips made of Soya and fruits, a stomachful. Our Malaysian friends loved the fish and meat, said it was tasty and well prepared. By 0215 we were ready to go. Most streets we traveled through were narrow, crowded and busy. Hats off to the driver who skillfully threaded through the mayhem, we could see it needed immense concentration, I can’t find parallel to any place in India, what we have is chaotic and dangerous. There Hanoi traffic density would be like Delhi’s on a peak hour, but everyone obeyed rules, not many honked, no overt aggression, they respect each others need to live and reach their destination. The open bullying, road-rage you would find here was absent, there was organized chaos. You could feel the restraint and discipline they deployed, more like Mumbai, without self discipline the system would collapse.

Look at people on the left footpath stall enjoying the street food on Nano perchs, most young and hep crowd can be found here:


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The Iconic Vietnamese Cap

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Next stop, Hanoi’s Tempe of Literature and National University. 1st university of Vietnam built in 1070 is considered The Nalanda of the Orient, read here:

Temple of literature - the first national university of Vietnam - Vietnam Tourism Information

Place hits you as you enter from the humdrum of congested Hanoi traffic, you walk in to peace and tranquility, we saw students drawing what structures they see, lots of tourists and students milling around quietly; strangely they become noisy once they leave the front gate, a must be the place!!

The big stone tortoises, they have stories too, one needs to look up in the web, the pool with lovely photo options of reflections, the courtyard which leads into the Confucius temple is pretty striking and colourful. We spent about 90 minutes inside, if our guide was not pushing us forward we would have preferred to just see the sea of tourists, students and other humans gliding by, place has great atmosphere that can grow on you.

Photo group for a wedding party, photo shot on and the "Extras" take rest:


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I think this world in Chinese means Respect

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And this one Worship

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Confucius being worshied:
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Art students drawing what they see in front of them, some kind of an exam in progress:

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==

Last edited by ramkya1 : 9th December 2011 at 14:58.
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Old 9th December 2011, 19:00   #88
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Arrow Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Clips of Halong Bay, enjoy the music too:






--Ramky
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Old 10th December 2011, 14:48   #89
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Default Re: Footloose in VAMBODIA (Vietnam + Cambodia)

Nice sketching there by the students, in you pic the traffic looks pretty sparse compared to Koramangala, Bangalore
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Old 10th December 2011, 23:01   #90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Nice sketching there by the students, in you pic the traffic looks pretty sparse compared to Koramangala, Bangalore
Moto: I thought so too, some of those guys are very talented, I heard the selection to the University is tough.

Wait till I get the videos uploaded, I've seen the traffic of Karamangala and most other busy streets including that to Kothalchavadi, Chennai. Compared to all that, traffic in some streets of old quarter Hanoi are dense. Will try to load more tomorrow if I get some time.

-Ramky
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