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World Travels 2023 - 2024, 9 April 24, Tianjin, China to 24 April, The Repubilc of Singapore.

Updated: May 7





Ho Chi Minh City – 22 April 2024



Embarking on a day-long adventure in Ho Chi Minh City, I found myself enveloped in the rich tapestry of Vietnam's cultural and historical heritage. My journey began aboard a comfortable, air-conditioned coach that promised a day filled with exploration and discovery in Vietnam's bustling metropolis.

 


Morden Ho Chi Minh City 2024


As the city unfolded before my eyes, I was struck by the vibrant energy that coursed through its streets. The mix of French colonial architecture, towering cathedrals, sacred Buddhist temples, and the lively alleys of Chinatown created a mosaic of cultural diversity that is uniquely Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Our first photo stop in the downtown district provided stunning exterior views of Notre Dame Cathedral, with its 40-meter-tall towers reaching towards the sky, and the adjacent Central Post Office, a relic of the late 19th century. These iconic landmarks served as a vivid reminder of the city's colonial past.

 


Notre Dame Cathedral, with its 40-meter-tall towers reaching towards the sky, and the adjacent Central Post Office, a relic of the late 19th century.


The narrative of Vietnam's history deepened at the Reunification Palace, the former residence of the President of South Vietnam. Here, the tales of the Vietnam War felt palpable, a stark contrast to the serene beauty of the palace itself.

 


Former Presidental Complex


Our journey then took us to Cholon, the city's expansive Chinatown quarter, where the air was fragrant with spices and the streets alive with activity. It was a sensory overload in the best possible way.

 

The visit to Giac Lam Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City's oldest Buddhist temple, offered a moment of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle. The gilded figures, peaceful gardens, and the sacred Bodhi tree provided a serene retreat and a moment to reflect on the spiritual heritage of Vietnam.

 

The highlight of the day was the free time allotted on Dong Khoi Street. This commercial boulevard, lined with upscale boutiques, luxury hotels, and chic cafes, offered a glimpse into the modern vibrancy of Ho Chi Minh City. Walking along the Saigon River, shopping for unique souvenirs, and indulging in authentic Vietnamese cuisine allowed me to connect with the city on a personal level.



Streets of Ho Chi Minh City

 

Returning to the coach for our trip back to the port, I carried with me not just souvenirs, but memories of a city where the past and present blend seamlessly, creating a dynamic and unforgettable experience. Ho Chi Minh City, with its historic Reunification Palace, the world's largest Chinatown, and scenic drives past architectural marvels like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, had captured my heart.

 

 

Na Trang, Viet Nam Mud Experience – 21 April 2024

 

During my short visit to the bustling city of Nha Trang, I had the pleasure of driving along the stunning Tran Phu Street, a journey flanked by an array of beachside attractions including bars, restaurants, and luxury hotels.

 


I Resort, Na Trang, Vietnam


My destination was the I-resort, renowned as one of the most captivating mud-fest experiences in Nha Trang.

 


Intro in to Na Trang


There, I indulged in a truly relaxing experience, treating my body to hot-mineral mud baths, delightful bathing pools, and even waterfalls, all set against the backdrop of distant mountains.



Missy and Maureen into the mud




Joe in the mud



Joe with his best traveling companions


Among the highlights of my visit was the opportunity to relax my body with a 20-minute soak in the mud, followed by a hot mineral soak and a massage under the hot mineral waterfall.

 


Waterfall and pool



Fun in the mud


The experience was rejuvenating. Driving along Tran Phu Street, I was also captivated by the seven-kilometer stretch of golden sand and clean water, a testament to the natural beauty Nha Trang has to offer.

 

To top off the experience, I enjoyed a refreshing drink and a light meal served by the resort, making my visit to the I-resort an unforgettable part of my journey through Nha Trang.





Yokohama Sail Away - 16 April 2024


The greatest joy I have experienced during my visit to Japan was the excellent "sail Away" the people of Japan gave to everyone aboard the Serenade of the Seas. The light shows and the enthusiasm the Japanese people gave to all of us is a memory I will never forget. I will always have a special place in my heart for Japan.



Yokohama Sail Away Celebration



A beautiful City of lights



Osaka Castle & Dotonbori - 16 April 2024

 


My bus ride to Osaka Castle


I constantly in search of the perfect blend of history and modern vibrancy in my adventures, my trip to Osaka, Japan, offered an unparalleled experience that I'm eager to share.


This journey took me on a fascinating exploration of two distinct sides of Osaka: the historical majesty of Osaka Castle and the pulsating modern energy of Dotonbori street.

 


My adventure began with a step back into the late 1500s, walking in the footsteps of the legendary Toyotomi Hideyoshi within the imposing stone walls of Osaka Castle.

 

Surrounded by the serene beauty of its gardens, under the gentle shade of cherry trees, I delved into the rich history of Japan before its unification.



Entrance into Osaka Castle

 

I was captivated by tales of resilience, learning how the castle withstood numerous fires and air raids over the centuries.

 

The artifacts from the period, preserved with care, spoke volumes of the castle's storied past, making history come alive before my eyes.


Wandering around the moat, tower, and meticulously maintained gardens of Osaka Castle, I felt connected to the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the pivotal moments in Japan's history that unfolded within these walls.



View inside and outside the castle were. memorable

 

Transitioning from the historical to the hustle and bustle of contemporary Japan, I found myself enveloped in the neon-lit spectacle of Dotonbori, Osaka's heartbeat.

 

Standing by the Dotonbori Canal, I was mesmerized by the enormous billboards that seemed to compete for attention, each more colorful and animated than the last.

 

This lively entertainment district, known for its vibrant nightlife, was bustling with energy, and I was thrilled to dive into it.

 

Gifted with 90 minutes of free time, I embarked on a culinary adventure, sampling the local gastronomy that Osaka is famed for.

 

From the daring pufferfish to the comforting warmth of sukiyaki and the irresistible crunch of kushikatsu, each dish was a discovery in itself.


Meanwhile, getting lost among Dotonbori's neon-colored billboards, eclectic souvenir shops, and cocktail bars was a delightful contrast, showcasing the city's modern allure.

My journey through Osaka allowed me to indulge in the city's street food in true "kuidaore" style, which literally means to eat oneself into ruin.

Yum yum

This phrase perfectly encapsulated my experience as I savored each bite, from the street vendors to the hidden gems of Dotonbori.



Dotonbori Canal street life and conveyor belt sushi.

 

In Osaka, I discovered a city where the past and present coexist in harmony, each lending depth and flavor to the other.

 

From the historic grandeur of Osaka Castle to the electrifying streets of Dotonbori, my journey was a testament to the city's dynamic spirit, leaving me with memories to cherish and stories to tell.


Nihondaira Outlook & Kunozan Toshogu Shrine - 15 April 2024

Standing atop the Nihondaira Plateau, I felt as though I had ascended to a realm where the earth touches the sky.

At 307 meters above sea level, this vantage point offers a sweeping panorama that captures the essence of Japan's natural and cultural beauty.

Below, the azure expanse of Suruga Bay stretched into the horizon, merging seamlessly with the sky.



Looking at a very foggy Mount Fuji

To my left, the Izu Peninsula jutted into the Pacific, a testament to the volcanic forces that shaped this landscape millions of years ago.

But it was the majestic sight of Mt. Fuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Japan's tallest peak, that truly took my breath away. Its snow-capped summit glowed in the sunlight, a silent guardian watching over the land.

The Minami-Alps, with their rugged peaks, added to the dramatic scenery, creating a picture-perfect moment that I wished could last forever.