Travel Writing

Lotte Observation Deck and Top of Hanoi

When in Hanoi, visiting the Lotte Tower is an absolute must. It’s a short drive from the Old Quarter (where most tourists stay) and for someone unaccustomed to Vietnam see public transport, such as myself, get yourself a driver. 

Side note, the taxi fare out of the gridlocked Old Quarter is guaranteed to skyrocket so we picked up an Uber and it cost us next to nothing.

The Lotte Observation Deck sits over sixty floors above Hanoi and boasts breathtaking panoramic views. It’s open day and night. We went at night and thoroughly recommend it. For a modest entrance fee, the observation deck offers interactive experiences for people young and old. The highlight for me was the glass skywalk, where you take your shoes off and walk right out into the night sky- not for anyone with vertigo! 

The Lotte tower also offers a range of eating options, so I recommend making an evening out of the experience. At the skydeck there’s a fast food eatery or two, but if you delve a little deeper, you’ll find award winning restaurants and bars within the Lotte tower. 

Top of Hanoi is literally the top of the city. This open-air restaurant sits you up in the clouds, overlooking all of Hanoi, the twinkling traffic, the city glow. You can secure yourself a table through reservation, but we were able to walk right in. The cocktail bar is exciting and innovative, and their mains are reasonably priced given the location. We were shocked that we were sat on top of Hanoi and didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg! My friends chose pasta dishes and I had a pan-seared salmon dish- the food was to die for. The service personnel here were very attentive, friendly and ready for a chat. This venue is worth it for the food, and the magnificent views.

Afterwards, we weren’t ready to go home. We headed down about thirty floors to the lounge where we were greeted by live piano, sleek aesthetic and deep sofas. The dessert and cocktails there make for the perfect ending to a wonderful night. 

Traveler’s note; I compared this experience to a similar one I had at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. For me, this evening was much more relaxed, affordable and all-inclusive as the stunning view was paired with fine food and great service. It was honestly the perfect way to unwind and celebrate the end of our trip to Vietnam.

Advertisements

Wellington Cable Car, NZ

The Wellington Cable Car is such fun. It’s only a short ride to the top of the hill, but the view is well worth it. The tunnels on the way up has rainbow lights and all the kids go wild. I Loved seeing the houses on the hill, the whole neighbourhood seems so relaxed and calm. 
The view from  the top is sublime. Clear blue harbour, majestic mountain range, perfect little houses in the distance. 

We Took the train up and walked through the botanic gardens back down to the city  which was a really pleasant stroll. A must do in Wellington.

​​
Disclaimer: This review was also posted on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Fisherman’s Plate, Wellington NZ

Fisherman’s Plate looks like your regular run-of-the-mill takeaway. They have a long standing tradition of serving fish and chips, and they have an extensive Vietnamese menu. I was going to just go with my usual pho,  but decided to take the path less trodden.
We had salt and pepper squid with green tea soba noodles and Vietnamese salad. It was to die for, absolutely stunning. The soba salad was warm, plum sauce sweet, tender, lightly seasoned squid, fish sauce salty, had a peanut nuttiness, had some red cabbage colour, and fresh herbs for punch. This dish is a true revelation. We ordered two and I would be happy to eat it all day. This restaurant is a hidden gem. It may seem tame from the outside, but do yourself a favour and jump right in. It will be the best Vietnamese you’ll have in Wellington.

​​

Disclaimer: This review was also posted on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

Jurong Bird Park is a lot of fun. I suggest going early to avoid the crowds, perhaps prebuy your tickets because the queues are outrageous.

I recommend taking the tram to get an idea of the whole park first before splitting off to follow your nose.

I visited Jurong Bird Park through RMG Tours-i do not recommend this. It takes too long in transit and I didn’t get as much time at the park as I wanted. You should Spend a while there, there is a lot to see and do, the variety of birds is impressive and their enclosures seem elaborate and reasonably natural. 

Take your time here. If you just run through the park you’ll be the usual suspects- pelicans, flamingoes, penguins. If you take your time, you’ll see the smaller birds, the exotic birds, the amazing bird shows.
A lot of the park seems to be a bit run down and out of date, undergoing maintenance and the like. It’s still in working order and there’s still a lot to see, but it’s not a modern, seamless experience like the Night Safari. 


Disclaimer: This review was also posted on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Gap Cache Log Book

If you walk down the lane, you find a small park. The park that is filled with subversive art installations. There are murals on the wall, planted natives for the future, a giant kaleidoscope… Christchurch is has hidden quirks. 
There is a tree-stump about shin height. I looled down and found this small door. 

I opened it.

Inside I discovered a Gap Cache Log Book. It recorded entries from people who chanced upon the logbook, as I did. 

Christchurch after the quakes is a place full of human strength and resilience. There are signs of life, if you choose to pay attention.

Or Tor Kor (OTK) Markets, Bangkok

These fresh produce markets are simply wonderful.

They’re a maze of everything food related. There are a few florist stalls to add a subtle fragrance to accompany pin pricks of colour. Their fresh coconuts can be dehusked and grated according to your needs. As you move through these, the fresh fruits and juices offer refreshment for the weary traveler who finds themselves uncomfortable under the blanket of smog that settles over the city.

The markets have an extensive marine section, both alive and otherwise. This doesn’t smell too fishy, though. I believe that those involved in maintaining the markets pride themselves in its cleanliness. I learnt from a stall holder that they don’t have a rodent problem (unlike other areas of the city) because they’ve addressed the issue head on, in a humane way (!).

They also have a section dedicated to dry goods, such as dehydrated fish, jellyfish, abalone, curry powders and more. They’re so pungent, you can really tell that they’ll add depth to whatever dish you decide to cook.

The bags of spice are aromatic and sensual, and at this point, your visit to the markets has become spiritual.

Finally you reach the middle. There are vats of curries and crowds of people. It’s a wonderful place, bustling with life and colour. I recommend you go, buy some produce and make yourself something. Or just go to see the exotic variety.

We bought enough food from these markets to have a feast fit for a king. We had crab, and pomelo salad and we learned how to make Tom kha ghung from scratch.

***click the links for photos!

 

 

Disclaimer: This review was also posted on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.