Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Cat Ba is the largest island in the Bay and approximately half of its area is covered by a National Park, which is home to the highly endangered Cat Ba langur. (Believed to be only 60.)

Cat Ba Island means ‘Women’s Island’ and legend has it that three women of the Tran Dynasty died, each of their bodies washing up on a different beach. The inhabitants built temples for each of the women and the island came to be known as Cat Ba.

Cat Ba’s position at the head of Haiphong Harbour made it an important strategic location in the Vietnam War, known as the American War to the Vietnamese.

It was heavily bombed during this period and craters can still be seen in various places across the island.

Another significant remnant of the war is the Hospital Cave which served as a secret hospital, military base and safe house for Viet Cong leaders.

Hospital Cave, (Off Ha Sen Road, 10km from town). A 17 room underground hospital and hideout which was in use until 1975. It’s a real life James Bond underground lair. Get tickets from the café on opposite side of road.

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Here is my “unsorted photos”. Will edit and sort them shortly!

The World I Knew!

Burj Al Arab Hotel

Burj Al Arab Hotel

Today is the first weekend back in South Africa after a week in Dubai. SA has so much to learn from a modern city that has evolved in a matter of 30 years to a world class destination everybody has either been to or heard off.

It’s a clean and respectable place with strict punishments for crime such as murder and rape. Foreighners are deported after serving their sentence in jail, no questions asked. Crime is at a mind blowing 2%. Why? -because everyone has a job. The porters at the 5 star hotels was telling us how they look forward to the world cup in South Africa, and they will definitely be attending this spectactilar event later this year. So, it seems like everybody earns well. 80% of the population in Dubai is foreighners, who most of them seems to be from India, Pakistan & the far east. We did meet an American couple also living there, and we also have a few South African friends that lives and work in Dubai.

There is a lot of construction still going on in Dubai, despite the resession. Some construction has been halted, like the world class metro railway system, but plans to complete the remainder of the stations connecting Dheira with Jumeira later this year is promising.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Dubai, United Arab Emirates is home to the tallest man-made structure ever built, at 828 m (2,717 ft). Construction began on 21 September 2004, with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. The building officially opened on 4 January 2010. The tower’s architecture and engineering were performed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill of Chicago. The total cost for the Burj Khalifa project was about US$1.5 billion; and for the entire new “Downtown Dubai”, US$20 billion. Previous record for the tallest skyscraper in the world was Tapei 101 at 509.2 m (1,670.6 ft).

Our whole adventure started in the Emirates Lounge at OR Thambo airport Johannesburg. We were welcomed by a very friendly receptionist, after checking our tickets. We thought this was just awesome, couches and place to relax everywhere. A business center with free internet access, showers, big screen TV & very yumee meals. For all the Muslims out there, everything inside here is halal! The flight itself was very entertaining, and relaxing! The air hostesses was kind, and very helpful! Again, all meals are halal, and the best money can get you on a plane! 😉 The seats were very comfortable, and the entertainment on their “ice” system satisfactory! Ranging from some of the latest releases in movies to TV Series and listening to music for literally every person in every corner of the world.

Emirates Business Lounge OR Thambo

Emirates Business Lounge OR Thambo

Upon our arrival in Dubai Airport at about 7:30am (9:30am SA time), we had to go for eye scans before we could go through passport control. Was a bit of a new thing to me, but anyways, I suppose their land, their rules! Rushing to get our bags, hoping our transfer to the Grand Moov hotel haven’t abandoned us, we rendezvoused with the driver from the hotel, on our way to the hotel. Arriving at the hotel, the receptionist informed us, check-in only starts at 14:00, but he will try and let us check-in at 13:00. (It is 11:00am) -what to do for 2 hours. The hotel porter guy said we could leave our bags with him, wasn’t to comfortable with the idea initially, but sure as hell was not going to drag 2 big bags with me all the way for 2 hours, so we did what we had to do …. trusted them! Anyways, walking through the streets of Deira, on our first reconnaissance mission, we discovered we not to far from one of the metro railway stations, Al Rigga. We were quite excited about this, cause all of a sudden getting around became a whole lot easier for us, for now at least. We walked up and down one of the main roads there, familiarizing ourselves with the restaurants, shops etc. in the area. Today is Friday, which means weekend, most places was closed, but all the furniture was outside -so not something we used to! Some of the shops seemed unattended, but the doors open -strange for us South Africans to witness.

With the clock almost at 13:00, we started heading back to the hotel. a Bit concerned with our unattended bags in the hotel, we both were a bit worried -“nothing to worry about” the porter at the hotel said, showing us to our bags. We had to wait for about an hour after checking in for our rooms to be ready -waiting with us was a few highly irate tourists. Finally in my room, I could just sit down, freshen up, and get ready for our first metro train trip to the Deira City Center.

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