From far beneath a glacier some 3,000m up in the Himalayan crests of the Indian state of Uttarakhand, near the border with Tibet, a stream called the Bhagirathi flows out and down a mountain. It widens as it goes, the frigid brown torrent eventually joining another stream, the Alaknanda, several kilometres away – from which merger India’s holiest river, the Ganges, is born. It traverses some 2,500km of hill, plain and wetland across several states, most of that distance at a languid molasses pace that belies its cascading mountain source. It passes by or through some of the subcontinent’s most culturally significant sites – Allahabad, Rishikesh, Varanasi, Haridwar – before emptying into the Bay of Bengal below Kolkata. One in 20 people on the planet lives within its drainage basin. During the monsoon, the Ganges can extend up to 12km in width, overflowing its banks and wreaking massive destruction. But for the world’s Hindus, it is a … [Read more...] about The boats taking river cruising to a new level
New world hotel in ho chi minh city
Reds are worth the most, even more than black. White is really green and green is like black, but not. It felt like a game of snooker where the points scoring had gone haywire, but I was at a pepper farm on the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam. As someone who, as my wife Debbie puts it, likes to have some food to accompany his plate of pepper, this was a fascinating highlight of a tour of the south of the tropical isle, which is about the size of the Isle of Man and off the Cambodian coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Our guide Lee took us through the cultivation process, explaining that Vietnam is the world’s biggest producer of pepper, which grows on tall vines. The little fruits are dark red when fully mature and these are the most prized peppercorns. The black ones are simply cooked and dried unripe green fruit, while the white is dried ripe peeled fruit. It was time to beat a hasty retreat to the shop to buy some bargain red as we noticed a spider the size of your hand … [Read more...] about Best things to visit on Phu Quoc island from pepper farms to Coconut Tree Prison
You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? I spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and cottage breaks. According to UK travel association Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the online … [Read more...] about Solo Travel: Why are so many of us now choosing to travel alone?
Ho Chi Minh City is an intoxicating, teeming fusion of old and new Vietnam: where buildings ready for the wrecking ball, covered in bird’s nests of electric cables, rub shoulders with shimmering skyscrapers. Where locals flog second-hand trainers on the pavement outside Louis Vuitton stores. Where millions of motorbikes buzz around day and night. And where French colonial architecture adds considerable richness and elegance. HCMC is beguiling, bewitching and bewilderingly busy. But brilliant. My wife Debbie and I were there on a three-night visit as part of a week-long TUI Holidays multi-centre trip. Here’s our pick of the top sights, tastes and experiences not to miss in this bonkers bucket-list ticker, which is still known as Saigon to the locals. Don’t try to see too much and pace yourself in the broiling heat. THE STREET FOOD Right up there with Southeast Asia neighbour Singapore, it’s some of the best in the world – and great value too. While it … [Read more...] about Beguiling, bewitching, busy
With his daring pho cocktail inspired by Vietnam's signature beef noodle soup, Hanoi's leading hipster bartender Pham Tien Tiep is hoping to elevate the drinking scene in a city better known for its raucous outdoor beer dens. Though he leaves the meat out of his version of the national dish, the aromatics remain key ingredients: cinnamon, star anise, cardamom and fresh coriander, plus a generous splash of gin and triple sec for good measure. The cocktail is a departure for denizens of Vietnam's capital city, where cheap and cheerful open-air 'bia hoi' beer markets reign supreme. Beer is the beverage of choice for most Vietnamese drinkers, who downed 3.4 billion litres of the cold stuff in 2015 compared to 70 million litres of wine and spirits, according to an EU-Vietnam Business Network report. "It was a bit hard for me to promote this, to beat the bia hoi or rice wine, but we are making it for a different level, it's more luxury and more elegant," Tiep told AFP at his cocktail bar, … [Read more...] about What the pho? Vietnam streetfood cocktails make a splash