The Ho Chi Minh City skyline has been reshaped following the frenetic development of the past decade. At street level, much of the past’s brick and mortar has been demolished to give rise to air-conditioned, steel and glass towers. With the global economic downturn, the appetite for construction is temporarily suppressed and lovers of heritage architecture can breath a collective sigh of relief.
The new year of 2015 is well underway. But in Vietnam, the old year is just drawing to a close and preparations for the Lunar New Year - Year of the Goat, commencing February 19, take centre stage. Vietnam, as with many Asian countries, marks the passage of time using simultaneous calendars. Whilst the Gregorian calendar is the official timepiece, important aspects informing social life are set by the lunisolar calendar, which is based on movements of the sun, earth and moon.
Bas-reliefs, arguably the most famous achievements of Khmer art, adorn many of the temples. Angkor alone boasts over 600m of narrative carved on the exterior walls. The main sources for the relief subject-matter are the legends and mythology found in the Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Once you've gotten over the magnitude of the temple, this is where to spend time appreciating the skill and creativity of the Khmer craftsmen. Gory warring scenes, epic battle victories of Vishnu over the Asura's and legends of ancient heroes captured in stone.
Selecting a Top 5 list of Spa & Beach Resorts is no small task when you consider the plethora of resorts scattered across the lengthy coastline of South East Asia. Not to mention the scattering of islands found in the Gulf of Thailand and East Vietnam Sea. The task became simpler when applying Ansova's ethos of responsible travel and the concept of back to nature luxury.
1. Get literary ~ take tea in the Authors Wing of the Oriental Bangkok 2. Get adventurous ~ see Saigon like a local, on the back of a taxi om 3. Get musical ~ take in the soothing sounds of so sam sai or the tinkling sounds of so duang, traditional Thai instruments 4. Get cultural ~ with 16 World Heritage Monuments and Sites across 4 countries
Few countries have changed as quickly in recent years as Vietnam. Only thirty-odd years after the brutality and trauma of the American War, this resilient nation is optimistically moving forward. It is a country on the move: access is now easier than ever, roads are being upgraded, hotels are springing up and Vietnam’s jubilant entrepreneurial spirit is once again alive as the redundant Communist system gives way to a socialist market economy. With ever increasing numbers of international tourists, word is out that this is no longer a land decimated by bomb craters and unexploded ordinance but of shimmering paddy fields and sugar-white beaches, modern cities and ancient pagodas.
Sawaddee! Hello! Welcome to Thailand! Sawaddee is an all-purpose greeting that can mean good morning, good afternoon, good evening, or good night. By putting your palms gently together under your chin with your head tilted slightly forward, you have greeted your hosts with the wai (form of greeting) that is used in Thailand. If you want to be even more appropriate, use the wai and say "Sawaddee krup" (if you are a man) or "Sawaddee ka" (if you are a woman). With this greeting, you have not only shown respect to your host, but you also have started your amazing adventure into the exploration of Thailand.
Sabaidee! Hello! Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th Century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997.