Monday, November 30, 2009

Bac Ha Market, Bac Ha

Today is 30-11-2009

29-11-2009, Ba Ha, Vietnam
Bac Ha Sunday Market, Bac Ha Town

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Bac Ha Sunday Market - Some 100km (62 miles) from Sapa, this is probably the most famous market in the region. Here, various hill tribes converge every Sunday morning to conduct business.

Yesterday (29-11-2009)we were in Bac Ha town, visiting Bac Ha Market, where the flower Hmong(or Hua Miao) are having their Sunday market. Bac Ha is 7 km from China border. The weather is fine, with heavy train during the morning while we were still traveling in the van. The rain stopped half way during our journey to Bac Ha. It was a long journey of winding road by the van, to reach Bac Ha town. The travel along the winding mountain road take about 3 hours to reach Bac Ha from Sapa. If you are fearful of height, the travel along the winding mountain road may be frightening, it is better to close your eves and have a short sleep like some members did. Other than our family, there were 2 Singaporean, 3 Malaysian from KL and Sarawak, and two Spanish girls, Eva and Betta. Eva and Betta worked with the airline.

It was sunny, when we reached the town. The market was very vibrant and crowded with many flower Hmong people doing their weekly marketing. The most interesting part of it was the selling of buffalo,pigs and dogs. Yes they sell dogs, which they eat.(Note: Not only Vietnamese eat dog, Korean, Naga(from North East India), the North Burmese, Northern Thailand, and of course the Hakka Chinese; so animal right lobbyist, do not be surprise ). The market is good place for photography.

After the market visit, the tour group members are still busy shopping; I have finished my photo session at the market , and have extra time to venture into the local community. I witnessed the trading of the firewood, where a horse cart were used to transport by firewood trader to their customers. I have a nap in the tour van, and over slept; the tour leader was looking for me for the lunch at the town restaurant. When they finally located me in the tour van, the other tour members have finished their lunch, I was the last to take the lunch. What a shame....

After lunch, the tour van took us to the flower Hmong village nearby. We visited the village house, many tour members were shocked to see the poor condition of the house and the standard of living of Flower Hmong. They are curious to explore inside the house. The chicken, the pigs, and the human are living together within short distance from each other. The floor was not cemented and with bare earth. The house unit is just bare basic, the wall was home make earth wall. I really feel that if we buy anything directly from the tribal people we should not have bargain as we used to do in our shopping at Vietnam. The little money that the tribal people earned from their handcraft will support the whole family,and improved their living...why don't we contribute and share our little wealth to buy handcrafts from them with the price they ask?.... I did not stay long in the house, my heart felt uneasy and pain to see the living condition and we are watching them like in the zoo. I preferred to talk with the children outside, the smile from the kids despite their difficulty in life. I hope they will never grow up to know the hard part of their lives and future....

we were actually scheduled to take a van to Lao Cai, may be a stop at the China/Vietnam border. But the tour guide suggested a boat trip along the river to Lao Cai. But the trekking to the river bank took longer time as expected, the boat ride was cut down from 1 hour to half hour. We took of from the river bank 5 km from Lao Cai.

After the dinner at Lao Cai, we waited at the same restaurant where we waited on our arrival from Hanoi night train. We have dinner at the restaurant. It was a long wait for the time to take a night train. The time to depart was 2100 or 9.00p.m. Again, it is a solid 8-9 hours train ride to Hanoi. But we have good sleep in the train.

For a more adventure tourist, nearby Saturday market, Can Cau Market. Sprawling near the banks of a river, Can Cau Market is a clearly defined shantytown, packed with crude stalls covered with thatched roofs. The start of a few simple settlements can be seen high above, many of whose residents now make their weekly pilgrimage to the market. The Can Cau Market is only 9kms from the Chinese border and some traders make the journey across from China on horseback. Few foreigners make it to Can Cau; those that do brave the journey come either with a small tour group in four-wheel drives, or if on a tight budget come by riding on the back of a motorbike. Can Cau Market is predominately a livestock market and not the sort of place to buy some choice gifts for the folks back home. Beyond the fenced-in perimeter, pot-bellied pigs, chickens and water buffalo wait patiently by the river to be sold. They rub shoulders with magnificent wild horses, some of whom will be transporting their masters back over to China. But the market also sells the basics: traditional clothing, sacks of rice, bundles of coarse, raw wool and ironware. Some stalls sell fresh tobacco and a rather sad array of root vegetables. Many women sell their wares from large, wicker baskets and sit weaving whilst waiting for a sale.(ref:

30-11-2009, Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi to Danang

The next morning(30-11-2009), we were picked up by the hotel staff when the train arrived at Hanoi Railway Station. The staff led us to the taxi hired by the hotel, which has been waiting at the railway station for our arrival. The breakfast is also ready at the hotel.

After a morning shower, I am now writing the blog.

Today the weather is sunny, we will be in Hanoi for the morning, and taking the plane to Danang in the afternoon.

We will be pick up by hotel at Da Nang airport, and take us directly to Hoi-an for the lantern festival.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


We arrived at Lao Cai at about 5,30a.m. 27/11/2009 morning, by night train from Hanoi. At Lao Cai Railway station you can feel that the air is cold. I first I thought Lao Cai is a small town, but it actually is a big border town between Vietnam and China. The population of the Lào Cai province is a mosaic of ethnic groups. Visitors can meet 24 ethnic groups, each with its own language, culture and traditions. This cultural wealth is explained by the diversity of landscapes and of land available for farming. History also offers clues as to why the highlands in the Lào Cai province served as a refuge for certain ethnic groups during political unrest like the Taiping rebellion in 19th-century China. The seven most numerous ethnic groups in the Lào Cai province account for over 90% of the whole population. They are the Kinh (the true Vietnamese) 35%, the Hmong 22%, the Tay 14%, the Dao (Mien) 13%, the Thai 9%, the Nung 4.5% and the Giay 4.3%. The other ethnic groups: the Phula, Hani, Latis, Tu Di, Pin Tao, Tu Lao, Pa Di, Sapho, Lolo and the Xa Mang are sometimes represented only by a few villages and a few hundred individuals

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27-11-2009, Sapa, Vietnam
Trekking to Ta Van Village
Home Stay

A van took us to Sapa. The drive from Lao Cai to Sa Pa is 38 km, but it take one hour to make our way up the mountain. It is a winding mountain road, on the way we can see tribal people walking at the road side. The view of the valley from the mountain road is so beautiful, with the terraced rice field and river. You feel like stopping the van and come down to the valley. However some passenger cannot stand the winding road and feel uneasy.

Sa Pa or Sapa is a frontier town and district in the Lào Cai province in northwest Vietnam. Sapa lies in the Northwest section of Vietnam on the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Mount Fansipan which lies about 19 km from Sapa at 3,143 meters above sea level, makes this the highest peak in Vietnam. Now, the area is considered a Mecca for hikers due to its supreme trekking terrain. Sa Pa is about 380km from Hanoi and in the mountains where it is often wet with mist or rain, and can be cold, and it was reported that ice fell last week. Snow fall in coldest month(December and January) on the highest peak.

It is one of the main market towns in the mountain area, where many ethnic minority groups such as H'mong, Dao, Zay, Zao and Tay live. Sa Pa is a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. The total population of 36,000 consists mostly of minority groups. Besides the Kinh (Viet) people (15%) there are mainly 5 ethnic groups in Sapa: Hmong 52%, Dao 25%, Tay 5%, Giay 2% and a small number of Xa Pho. Approximately 7,000 live in Sapa, the other 36,000 being scattered in small communes throughout the district.

Most of the ethnic minority people work their land on sloping terraces since the vast majority of the land is mountainous. Terraced rice fields in Sapa are the effort and hard work of the H’Mong and Dao(or Dzar) people. Terraced fields owned by H’Mong, Dao and Giay people are located in Muong Hoa valley. This is the combination between cultivation of wet rice in narrow valleys of Giay people and cultivation on high mountains of H’Mong and Dao people. The authority of Sapa is planning to apply to UNESCO to list Sapa's terraced rice field as world heritage.

In Muong Hoa valley, Lao Chai district, visitors can observe a complex of terraced fields from Muong Hoa stream to the middle of the mountain, totalling around In this area, the beauty of terraced fields is outstanding thanks to the vast space. Another beautiful terraced field area is Suoi Thau, which was created by Dao people.

Seven most magnificent terraced fields in the world as voted by Travel & Leisure: Banaue (Philippines), Yuangyang (Yunnan, China), Ubud (Bali, Indonesia), Annapurna (Nepal), Mae Rim (Chiang Mai, Thailand), Sapa (Lao Cai, Vietnam), and Long Ji (Kuei Lin, China). Sapa’s terraced fields were recently recognized as one of the world’s seven most beautiful and magnificent terraced fields in the world by US-based Travel & Leisure magazine. There are some terraced field tours in Sapa, including two major tours: From Sapa town to Ly Lao Chai – Ta Van and Sapa town – Ly Lao Chai – Ta Van – Ban Ho – Thanh Phu – Suoi Thau. We took the trekking route of Sapa-Ly Lao chai-Ta Van - Sapa, which is the shortest.

After checking in the Sapa Global Hotel at 18,Pham Xuan Huan, we have time to freshen up after a long night train from Hanoi, and journey of maintain road. I have a room with good view of the mountain and the town, it is room 301. This is a nice hotel, the only set back is the 4 floor hotel has no lift to take you to the 4th floor.

After breakfast at the hotel, we were allotted with a tour guide, and started our trekking to the mountain. The trekking guide , a Black Hmong girl named Ci was our guide to the mountain and the minority villages. We have no time to explore Sapa town.

The weather was fine for trekking, with a lot of sunshine, which was better than the weather forecast I received earlier. It was reported by a Singaporean group that last week the weather is rainy, and the trekking was difficult. It is a blessing for our trekking and our stay in Sapa. When we start to trek, there are many black Hmong tribal women and children following us, some of them try to sell their handicraft, a good people helping you and talking with you on the way.

The first part of the trekking is on the road from Sapa town to mountain road to a village, but we soon turn to the right and walk on a small path down the valley to the Muong Hoa River and from here to the Black H’mong village Lao Chai. They called the valley Muong Hoa Valley. Black H’mong is one of the biggest minority groups in the Sapa area. They are proud of their culture and keep their traditions and way of living alive. They have their own language and wear traditional indigo blue clothing.

It was a long journey of trekking for the whole day. We walked across the paddy field and the stream. Walking across the hanging bridge(suspension bridge) to reach a village called Lao Chai, a black Hmong village. There was a restaurant near the hanging bridge, many tribal people are waiting there for the tourists to buy their handicraft. They are able to speak conversation English to sell their goods. The soft voices of " Bye form me", " where are you from",.... you will be surprise that the tribal people speak better English than the Viet. We have our lunch at the restaurant, the restaurant have a view of the stream from the top. The stream with the clear water flowing through the rocks in the stream and the rock at the bank, form a beautiful picture for photo taking.

After lunch and enough of rest at the restaurant, we continued our journey. Passing through a Black Hmong village, we witnessed a group of male Hmong weighting the black pigs, ready for the sale in the market the next day. A child was carrying a rodent(rat), I think it must be for the family dinner tonight. We also saw marble carving work sites along the way in the village. They produced some beautiful handicraft which are for sale in Hanoi and other places. There was also one school on the way, where the teachers and villages are having a project building something together.

At night we stay at Ta Van village, a home stay for a night at the minority village of Zay or Dzay. Ta Van village, surrounded by the apple green of a bamboo forest, the huts are made of wood. Some are two-storey, with smart concrete patios and television antennae. Ta Van is home to Zay people, who dress in Chinese-style shirts and bright headscarves. They are more affluent than their neighbours. Most Zay go to secondary school; many go to university, move to the cities and send money home.

The Zay peopele(Giay, Nhang, Dang, Pau Thin, Pu Na, Cui Chu and Xa)

The Giay(热依族) (pronounced”Zay”) are a relatively small minority group, with a population of around 40,000, living at high altitudes in Lao Cai, Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces. They are concentrated in Bat Xat, Bao Thang and Muong Khuong districts (Lao Cai Province); Yen Minh and Dong Van districts (Ha Giang Province); Phong Tho and Muong Te districts (Lai Chau Province); and Cao Bang Province. The Giay speak a Tai language. Traditional Giay society is feudal, with a strict demarcation between the local aristocracy and the peasant classes. All villagers work the communal lands, living in closely knit villages of stilthouses. The development has meant that some of their old customs have been lost but many women still wear traditional shirts with a purple, blue or green colour. Men wear trousers, short vests and wind a turban around their heads. Women wear a highly coloured shirt, circular panel sewn around the collar and a shirt-fastening on the right shoulder, and trousers. They wear their hair wound around their head or wind it in a turban. The woman dress look like Chinese traditional dress. On formal occasions, women may also wear a chequered turban. The Zay/Giay houses are built in wood and bamboo with clay floor. They are more modern compared to other tribal people in Sapa. Giay people historically was sub-tribe of Buyei or Puyi(布依族); of Guizhou province, China, who come to Vietnam through Yunan.

We stay overnight with a local Zay family in Ta Van and have our dinner there. All the foreigners home stay in the village are scattered in various village houses. Our host is an elderly couple, with their daughter in law helping them in housework. Ci, our guide help the host to prepare our dinner.

At night we went to the house where more visitors are staying, as there is a billiard table and more people are there, talking and laughing....We met the 3 Malaysian girls who stay at the house. Ci,our guide was playing billiard with the handsome German boy. Their bet is the German boy to buy blanket from her if she win, and if she lost she is to pay for the beer. I also met a Jew from Israel and a woman from Argentina, two girls from Spain,others are from Germany. The wife of that host house is able to speak good Mandarin, as she had been working in Taiwan for some time. She has just deliver a baby girl,and is under breast feeding. She is the daughter of our host.

The night is really cold, and the night outside the house is total darkness. We have a late night before going to bed.

The sleep is different from the city; is is a very quite night.....

28-11-2009 Sapa, Vietnam
Trekking to Waterfall
Night at Hotel in Sapa town

Today, 28-11-2009, it is another day of trekking.

Prior to departure from the village, I took an early walk along the village path to the stream. It was down the terrace paddy field, half way I saw Sarah from Australia is also heading for the stream. The stream is cold and one local woman attempt to cross the stream.
Sarah have her quite time there, and I return to the host house after have a short view of the stream.

We said good bye to our host after breakfast. The breakfast consist of pan cake and banana, with honey. We bid farewell to the host family and continue our visit to Red Dao people at Giang Ta Chai. The Red Dao women have very colourful red embroideries and coins on their clothing.They wear a red scarf on their head. Some of the women have shaved off their eyebrows because of a nice Red Zao’ Legend. We walk across the terrace paddy field, crossing the hill and reach a waterfall(Giang Ta Chai Waterfall), and rest there. Some of the brave one climb over the rock and sit at the edge of the rock to view the scenery from the top. Our foot were tired, some fell and injured their legs, but despite that we enjoyed our trekking. The view from the mountain is beautiful. We have lunch at a rest house near the hanging bridge at Giang Ta Chai village, not far from the waterfall. Ci prepared the lunch. Again some black Hmong and Red Dzar/Red Dao/Zao girls are around to sell their handicraft. Giang Ta Chai village is inhabited by Red Dzar/Zao or Red Dao people.

We also visited the Red Dzar/Red Dao tribal village, and their school. Ci told us Red Dzar tribal people are the poorest in the town. Looking at the house we believed what Ci said. The house only have bare necessity.

The Dao people
The Dao or Dzao((pronounced "Zao") , known as the Man or Yao(瑤族) in south-west China for centuries, also number a few tens of thousands in Laos ( Lao Tours ), Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma).
The Dao-Mien settled in Vietnam two to three centuries ago, depending on the area. One of the Dao's specific cultural features is their traditional writing system using Chinese characters. Preserved texts make it possible to trace their origins back to the provinces of south China. Their taoist religion is also based on texts. For major taoist ceremonies, the ritual space must be surrounded with painted pictures of the divinities and celestial generals. As a consequence, the art of painting on paper and canvas survives among the Dao. Like the Hmong, the Dao build terraced paddy-fields irrigated by a sophisticated system of canals around Sa Pa. They also have a reputation for pig and horse breeding.
The different Dao groups from the Lao Cai province usually wear red headdresses or red pieces of clothing. The Dao (Ké Mien) from the Taphin and Tavan villages (Sa Pa district) wear flat headdresses, totally red, hung with silver coins. The headdresses of the Dao (Ké Mien) from Muong Hum district (north of Sa Pa) are cone-shaped and made of red flowery material. The Bac Ha (Ké Moun) Dao enhance their turbans with red and pink wool or silk threads. The headdresses of the Dao (Iu Mien) from Van Ban district – south of Sa Pa – are decorated with red and yellow pompoms, and hang low down their backs.
They wear similar hairstyles - long on top, with the rest smoothly shaved. Many women shave their eyebrows as well. Women also wear a distinctive red triangular shaped turban decorated with silver coins and red tassles.

We continue along small paths in the rice fields, cross the Muong Hoa River and trek up to Su pan village of Black Hmong people. The van are at the main road near the village ready to transfer us back to Sapa. Su pan is located at the main mountain road to Sapa.

We return to the hotel at Sapa . Dinner was at the hotel.

At night visit the night market, and the Catholic Church. There is a service in the church. A short stroll in the town.

Tomorrow we are going to visit the sunday market at Ba Ha town.

Sapa, is the most wonderful part of the Vietnam tour, where the tribal people are more friendly and straight forward, unlike the lowland people involved in tourism, which is most of the time unfriendly, after discover if they cannot earned tourist money from you. The Sapa people involved in tourism are English speaking, even the tribal children, they make an effort to learn. The lowland tourism people in Vietnam, most cannot speak English; and there is not much tourist help around, no information brochures at airport, hotel and even a tourist information booth at Halong Bay(with old outdated materials). Vietnam is the most tourist information starved country that I have ever information are mainly from the internet and fellow travelers.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Halong Bay(下龍灣)

This is 2nd day at Halong Bay

25-11-2009, Halong Bay, Halong, Vietnam
Night at the Boat

A bus took us from our hotel at Hanoi to Halong town. En route we have a short stop at the Sao Do center run for and by handicapped children, where there are souvenir shops. Halong town is basically a tourism town flourish just because of the famous Halong Bay. Halong Bay is about 170 kilometers northeast of Hanoi and 3,5 hours by road. There are many nationalities in our tour group. They are a lone retired German teacher, a German couple , a couple from Switzerland,a Vietnamese couple from USA, a young Singaporean , a Indian girl and his US boy friend, and 7 Malaysian. Some took 3 days trip(which include a day at Cat Ba Island), we took 2 days trip. The tour guide is a Vietnamese girl with the name of Mai(it means tomorrow in Vietnamese). She spoke good English and is a graduate.

Ha Long Bay - means "Bay of the Descending Dragon" in the Vietnamese language. It is a body of water of approximately 1,500 square kilometres in north Vietnam with a 120 kilometre coastline, in the Gulf of Tonkin Gulf of Tonkin near the border with China. Halong Bay is one of the world’s natural wonders, and is the most beautiful tourist destination of Vietnam. It was World Heritage listed by UNESCO at the 18th meeting of the Committee of the World Heritages of UNESCO (in Thailand on December 17th, 1994). Halong Bay features more than one thousand awesome limestone karsts and islands of various sizes and shapes along the 120-km coastline of Bai Chay Beach. Its waters are host to a great diversity of ecosystems including offshore coral reefs, freshwater swamp forests, mangrove forests, small freshwater lakes, and sandy beaches. The folk tale has it that the dragons descended from heaven to help locals by spitting jewels and jade to the sea, forming a natural fortress against invaders; these precious stones are represented by the lush green outcrops. Several islands boast beautiful grottos and caves with contiguous chambers, hidden ponds and peculiar stone formations.

The bay consists of a dense cluster of 3000 limestone monolithic islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Dau Go (Wooden stakes Cave) is the largest grotto in the Halong area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th century French graffiti).

Some of the islands support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks. Many of the islands have acquired their names as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes: such names include Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and Mai Nha Islet (roof). 989 of the islands have been given names. Birds and animals including bantams, antelopes, monkeys, and iguanas also live on some of the islands.

The New Open World Foundation has included Halong Bay on its list for nomination as one the World's 7 Natural Wonders. As of July 21 it has reached the finals of the contest (

Once we are in the junk boat, the rooms were allotted to us, and lunch was provided at the boat restaurant. We have a boat trip around Halong Bay, the lime stone islands in the Halong Bay formed a beautiful view and scenery. This is the most interesting part of the tour. Some went for sunbath at the top deck of the boat. Others took great photo of the islands and the bay.

Visit to Cave
The bay consists of a dense cluster of 1,969 limestone monolithic islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Đầu Gỗ (Wooden stakes Cave) is the largest grotto in the Ha Long area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th century French graffiti).

Kayaking at Halong Bay, near the fish farm. The kayaks are lightweight and easy to use and in keeping with safety policies all participants will be issued with water buoyancy vests. The junk will be near us at all times serving as a back up vessel for those that require it. It is fun watching people kayak, many did it the first time, and have fun and laughter in their first try at kayaking.

Watching sun set from the boat at Halong Bay. Imagine the sun slowly go down and the background of the bay and limestone islands, and the orange sun ray; and you are watching from the boat. Isn't it romantic at one of the best bay in the world. My soul feel like flying in the air, like Peter Pan........

Dinner in the boat

There are few boat people rowing with their small boats filled with snacks, drinks, and knick-knacks.They try to sell us drink and food at the side of the boat. One of the boat even bought their baby girl. The boats move from junk to junk.

We spent the night at the boat, the night was calm.I took a early sleep;some went for fishing for squid at night.

26-11-2009, Hanoi, Vietnam
Back from Halong Bay
Night Train to Sapa

We watch the sun rise when wake up early in the morning. The sun slowly raises up, with the limestone islands and the sea, the view is spectacular. The beautiful view really make your morning different.......the going to be new 7 wonder of the world.

Breakfast at the boat. Everyone is enjoy the sail and the food.

Tour of Islets and Island at Halong Bay. Many of the islands have acquired their names as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes: such names include Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and Mai Nha Islet (roof). About 989 of the islands have been given names. The guide, Mai, helped us to identify some islands. There is one schools for the children of the fishermen, and many fishing farms in the bay. We just relax as the boat sail in the bay, along the way we just close our eyes and let the sea breeze blow to your face and hair. Some just lying at the upper desk, enjoyed the boat sail and the views. Sometime there is excitement when we have identified the island, or we discovered that the islet look like something funny.....

At around midday the boat return to the main harbour, and we have our lunch at a restaurant at Halong town. After lunch,we were transferred to the awaiting vehicle for a 3-hour journey back to Hanoi. We are back in the capital at around 3pm.

The last departure word for the would be visitor of Halong Bay; do not litter the bay.

The afternoon was then spend on shopping at the old quarter and Dong Xuang Market. Dong Xuang Market or Cho Dong Xuang , is a wholesale market, normally the wholesalers will not retail their goods to ultimate consumers/tourists. It is located at Hang Khoai of the Old Quarter.

Tonight we are going to Sapa, the mountain resort near the border of China, Lao Chai. We will take the night train at 9.00p.m. from the Hanoi Railway Station. The train will arrive at Lao Chai the next morning at 5.30a.m., after that a hotel van will take us to the Sapa town.

The only thing I am still doubtful on the train tickets purchased, is that the hotel did not give you the real train ticket, the tickets that the hotel gave to you need to exchange for a real train ticket at Hanoi railway station. There is chances that they may not give you the type of coach you booked, just to make the number. I believed that there must be a cartel sort of thing, where the tour operator has book the whole coach, and at the time of departure they will adjust to fill the coach. Even the train tickets given at Hanoi station, it did not disclosed the train fare you paid in the ticket. The price is printed " 0.000 dong". There must exist a system between hotel, tour operator, railway station, a system that is not transparent to the tourists. It make thing worst when there is no English communication in the transaction, it make thing worst, and you become a victim of a established system. I have obtained the feedback from the tourists, this train ticket is the most controversial part in the whole journey to Sapa. You may be overpaid for the train ticket......some one has sucked some money out from the whole transaction or the system??????. This system is the most tourist unfriendly.

Remember to keep the train ticket in Vietnam, as when you exit from the train station, it will be collected from you.

They said Sapa now is cold, may be it will be snowing.....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hanoi(河內市), North Vietnam

Arrived at Hanoi airport at 8.45 am local time in 24-11-2009.

24-11-2009, Hanoi, Vietnam
Arrive at Hanoi

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Hanoi, is located on the right bank of the Red River. It is the capital and second-largest city of Vietnam. The city is a fascinating blend of East and West, with Chinese influence from centuries of dominance, and French design from its colonial past. It is largely unspoiled by modern architecture of the 1970s and 80s, and is now going through a modernization.Its estimated population was 6,232,940 in 2008.

Hanoi has had many names throughout history, all of them are of Sino-Vietnamese origin. During the Chinese domination of Vietnam, it was known as Tống Bình (宋平) and later Long Đỗ (龍肚; literally "dragon's belly"). In 866, it was turned into a citadel and was named Đại La (大羅).

In 1010, Lý Thái Tổ, the first ruler of the Lý Dynasty, moved the capital of Đại Việt (大越, the Great Viet, then the name of Vietnam) to the site of the Đại La Citadel. Claiming to have seen a dragon ascending the Red River, he renamed it Thăng Long (昇龍, Ascending dragon) - a name still used poetically to this day. It remained the capital of Vietnam until 1397, when the capital was moved to Thanh Hóa, also known as Tây Đô (西都, Western Capital). Thăng Long then became Đông Đô (東都, Eastern Capital).

In 1408, Chinese Ming Dynasty attacked and occupied Vietnam, then they renamed Đông Đô as Đông Quan (東關, Eastern Gateway). In 1428, Vietnamese overthrown the Chinese under the leadership of Lê Lợi who later founded the posterior Le Dynasty and renamed Đông Quan. as Đông Kinh (東京, Eastern Capital - the name known to Europeans as Tonkin. The same characters are used for Tokyo, Japan). Right after the end of Tây Sơn Dynasty, it was named Bắc Thành (北城, Northern Citadel).

In 1802, when the Nguyễn Dynasty was established and then moved the capital down to Huế, the name of Thăng Long (昇龍, "ascending dragon") was modified to become different Thăng Long (昇隆, to ascend and flourish). In 1831 the Nguyen emperor Minh Mang renamed it Hà Nội (河内, can be translated as Between Rivers or River Interior) . Hanoi was occupied by the French in 1873 and passed to them ten years later. It became the capital of French Indochina after 1887.

The Chinese conquered the imperial city of of Đại La in 1408 and renamed it Tống Bình. Le Loi repelled the invaders in 1428 and applied the name of Lê Thái Tổ (黎太祖); for his efforts, he received the crown and a slew of legends about his heroic exploits, many centered around the Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter. The Nguyen Dynasty gave the city its modern name of Ha Noi in 1831, but they had transferred power to Hue by then; it remained there until 1887, when the French made Hanoi the capital of all Indochina.

But Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam.

The city was occupied by the Japanese in 1940, and liberated in 1945, when it briefly became the seat of the Viet Minh government after Hồ Chí Minh proclaimed the independence of Việt Nam. But the French came back and reoccupied the city in 1946. After nine years of fighting between the French and Viet Minh forces, Hanoi became the capital of an independent North Vietnam in 1954.

It changed hands again in 1954, when it was ceded to Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh after almost a decade of fighting, and it became the capital of North Vietnam; upon reunification in 1975, it assumed that title for the entire country.

October 2010 will officially mark 1000 years of the establishment of the Hanoi city. It has been named as one of the world's "Top Destinations in 2010"

Note: To learn Vietnamese culture, we need to know Chinese culture and language, Vietnam cannot erase the history of cultural interaction with China, the history of more than 2,000 years influences. To deny Chinese influences, Vietnam is only a new country with 200 years French influences, and its history will be less colorful. I hope Vietnam will not make a mistake of erasing their past for the sake of national identity. When I visited some ancient site, there are sign of replacing Chinese characters with Vietnamese alphabets on the historical relic, this destroyed the actual historical heritage. The old quarter and Hanoi reflected highly the Chinese influence in their daily living, not only the architecture but their living culture.

24-11-2009 Hanoi, Vietnam
Arrive at Hanoi

The weather was sunny when looked from the plane, the view from the sky was beautiful, just like a Chinese water colour painting. The hills and its terrain and the cloud make a beautiful picture of the Hanoi. I think I am going to like this place.

The weather when arrived at the airport was not as sunny as we see from the plane. It is a big dusty. No sunshine but cloudy. The temperature however is fine, not as cold as what had reported by weather forecast.

We have a wonderful welcome breakfast from the hotel, Phoenix hotel. The friendly manager, Mr Kelvin and his staff. Nice breakfast for a hungry guest...

The Hotel
Hanoi Phoenix Hotel, No. 43 Bat Su Street (Hoan Kiem district), ☎ +84 4 9232683 (, fax: +84 4 9263745). Situated in the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter. The 30 rooms offer hot water, private bathrooms, and fan or air conditioning. There is also a fridge, satellite TV, telephone access, internet access free of charge in the rooms and the lobby. At least some of the rooms even have a desktop computer! Prices start at USD 11, plus breakfast. They can also arrange for tour to Halong Bay and Sapa. The only complaint is that there is no lift for 4 storey hotel.

The Old Quarter

Normally Hanoi is divided into 3 areas: (1)Old quarter area which remains from the previous century; (2)Area which was built at the beginning of 20th century and (3) new area which started after ending the French domination in 1954. The Old Quarter Streets area or often called “36 streets and guilds” located right at the centre of Hanoi( central Hoan Kiem District ) and the Red River bank, it is also near Hoan Kiem lake. The Old Quarter is in an area of around 100 hectares, includes about 4,000 houses.

Hanoi's Old Quarter has a history that spans 2,000 years and represents the eternal soul of the city. Located between the Lake of the Restored Sword(Hoan Kiem lake), the Long Bien Bridge, a former city rampart, and a citadel wall, the Old Quarter started as a snake and alligator-infested swamp. It later evolved into a cluster of villages made up of houses on stilts, and was unified by Chinese administrators who built ramparts around their headquarters. The area was named "Dominated Annam" or "Protected South" by the Chinese.
The ideal location was very favorable for trading activities. Therefore since 15th Century, people from many villages in the Red River delta came here and built trading section inside this area. People who sold the same products gathered in o­ne place and established their own merchant guild. During 15th century, 36 guilds were established in the city. The Old Quarter is second only to Hoi An for uninterrupted stretches of colonial and pre-colonial architecture, well-preserved on dense warrens of narrow, wonderfully atmospheric streets. The Old Quarter, has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. Most of the streets in the Old Quarter area were crowded and busy trading places.

The Old Quarter began to acquire its reputation as a crafts area when the Vietnamese attained independence in the 11th century and King Ly Thai To built his palace there. In the early 13th century, the collection of tiny workshop villages which clustered around the palace walls evolved into craft cooperatives, or guilds. Skilled craftsmen migrated to the Quarter, and artisan guilds were formed by craftsmen originating from the same village and performing similar services. Members of the guilds worked and lived together, creating a cooperative system for transporting merchandise to the designated streets in the business quarter.

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Because inhabitants of each street came from the same village, streets developed a homogeneous look. Homes evolved out of market stalls, before streets were formed. Because storekeepers were taxed according to the width of their storefront, storage and living space moved to the rear of the buildings. The houses in the old quarter are generally long and narrow since the streets usually come with the shops at the front and the living areas at the back. Consequently, the long and narrow buildings were called "tube houses". Typical measurements for such houses are 3 meters wide by 60 meters long. There is a narrow alley from the frontage that lead to the living quarters at the back of the shops. The alley is dark and open only to the private resident living there. Behind the shops are the actual Hanoi community.

At the beginning of the 20th century the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter. Each street then had merchants and households specialized in a particular trade, such as silk traders, jewellery, etc. The street names still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. The area is famous for its small artisans and merchants, including many silk shops. Local cuisine specialties as well as several clubs and bars can be found here also. A night market (near Đồng Xuân market) in the heart of the district opens for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening with a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.

We walk around the old town for a little while, before we met the 3 young university students from Hanoikids. The three wonderful people took us around the old city. When you come to Hanoi, just travel light you can get anything here, especially within the old city.

By walking aimlessly in the old city is a thrill itself, learn how to walk in the chaotic street with many bikes moving over you, is a wonderful experience. After a few try, I just boldly walk across the street like the local.

By walking the street, I learn some Vietnamese words, A majority of the street names in the Old Quarter start with the word "Hang". Hang means merchandise or shop, it is actually Chinese word. The guild streets were named for their product, service or location. The old section of Hanoi is often called the "36 Old Streets," there are more than 36 actual streets. Some researchers believe that the number 36 came from the 15th century when there might have been 36 guild locations, which were workshop areas, not streets. When streets were later developed, the guild names were applied to the streets. Others attribute the 36 to a more abstract concept. The number nine in Chinese represents the meaning of longer time or forever, the concept of "plenty". Nine times the four directions makes 36, which simply means "many" for a long time. This is good wording for business as it means profit for a long time, a path to good life. There are now more than 70 streets in the area.

Below is some names of the streets of the old quarter, Hanoi.

Street Name: Description:

1 – Bat Dan - Wooden Bowls
2 – Bat Su - China Bowls
3 – Cha Ca - Roasted Fish
4 – Chan Cam - String Instruments
5 – Cho Gao - Rice Market
6 – Gia Ngu - Fishermen
7 – Hai Tuong - Sandals
8 – Hang Bac - Silversmiths. Bac means silver, and appropriately, this street started as a silver ingot factory under the reign of Le Thanh Tong (1469-1497). Village people, called the "Trau Khe silver casters," were brought into the capital to cast silver bars and coins. After a ceremony to transfer their craft from their village of Trau Khe to Hanoi, they set up two temples to honor the founders of their craft. At one communal house, the silver was molten and poured into molds. At the other communal house, the molds were further processed for delivery to the Prime Minister. The crafters went to great lengths to keep their methods secret to avoid counterfeit products.
9 – Hang Be - Rafts. In the mid-19th century, the guild of bamboo raft makers was located on this street outside the My Loc gate, one of the many sturdy gates to the city. The cai mang raft consisted of 12 to 15 large bamboo poles lashed together by strips of green bamboo bark. Their anterior was slightly raised by heating the wood, and the aft was rigged with three quadrangular sails made of coarse linen dyed with extracts of sweet potato skins.
10 -Hang Bo - Basket
11 -Hang Bong - Cotton
12 -Hang Buom - Sails
13 -Hang But - Brushes
14 -Hang Ca - Fish
15 -Hang Can - Scales
16 -Hang Chai - Bottles
17 -Hang Chi - Threads
18 -Hang Chieu - Mats
19 -Hang Chinh - Jars
20 -Hang Cot - Bamboo Latices
21 -Hang Da - Leather
22 -Hang Dao - (Silk) Dyer. This street is one of Vietnam's oldest streets. It serves as a main axis running from north to south, cutting the Old Quarter in half. In the French Colonial time, Hang Dao Street was a center for the trading of silk products. Hang Dao (Pink) Street sold fabric, silk and also dye cloth but o­nly dye bright color such as red, yellow, pink etc. therefore it has the name of Hang Dao (Pink) Street.
23 -Hang Dau - Beans
24 -Hang Dau - Oils
25 -Hang Dieu - Pipes
26 -Hang Dong - Copper
27 -Hang Duong - Sugar
28 -Hang Ga - Chicken
29 -Hang Gai - Hemp. Han Gai Street offers silk clothing ready-made and tailored, embroidery, and silver products
30 -Hang Giay - Paper
31 -Hang Giay - Shoes
32 -Hang Hanh - Onions
33 -Hang Hom - Cases
34 -Hang Huong - Incense
35 -Hang Khay - Trays
36 -Hang Khoai - Sweet Potatoes
37 -Hang Luoc - Comb
38 -Hang Ma - Votive papers. Hang Ma sold sacred joss (paper replicas of money, clothing, even stereo sets) to burn for the dead. Ma is burned in front of the altar of ancestors accompanied by prayers. It also sold shiny paper products, such as gift wrappings, wedding decorations and miniature paper objects to burn for the dead.
39 -Hang Mam - Pickled Fish. Hang Mam is the union of two old streets: an eastern offshoot called Hang Trung and the original Hang Mam. The name is derived from the various kinds of mam, or fish sauces, that are produced and sold here, as well as other sea products. The street was originally on the riverside, close to the day's catch.street of rattan products
40 -Hang Manh - Bamboo-screens
41 -Hang Muoi - Salt
42 -Hang Ngang - Transversal Street. Connect to Hang Dao is Hang Ngang Street. This street used to dye bluish color such a blue, green, indigo blue etc. so Hang Ngang Street used to be call Hang Lam (turquoise) Street.
43 -Hang Non - Hats
44 -Hang Phen - Alum
45 -Hang Quat - Fans. The street that formerly sold silk and feather fans, now stuns the visitor by its brilliantly colored funeral and festival flags and religious objects and clothing.
46 -Hang Ruoi - Clam Worms
47 -Hang Than - Charcoal
48 -Hang Thiec - Tin, the street of tinsmith
49 -Hang Thung - Barrel, the street of barrels
50 -Hang Tre - Bamboo
51 -Hang Trong - Drum
52 -Hang Vai - Cloth
53 -Lo Ren - Blacksmiths
54 -Lo Su - Coffins
55 -Ma May - Rattan
56 -Ngo Gach - Bricks
57 -Thuoc Bac - Herbal Medicine
58. Dong Xuan Street / Market Street
59. Cau Go Street - Meaning "Wooden Bridge," Cau Go Street is located one block north of the Lake of the Restored Sword, and was in fact the location of a wooden bridge
60. To Thinh Street - connects the above two and is still the wood turner's street.
61. Lan Ong Street - is a sensual delight of textures and smells emanating from the sacks of herbal medicinal products: leaves, roots, barks, and powders.
62. Nha Hoa (Fire-station). In 19 century, all houses in Hanoi were made by flammable material so when fire happened, it burnt down thousand of houses. People set a temple to worship Fire genie to protect people from fire. Later o­n, the area o­n which the temple located called Nha Hoa (Fire-station) street.
63. Tran Hung Dao street used to be called “Nha Diem” (Match) Street as there was an match factory producing match for the whole Indochina area.
64. Hang Chuoi - Banana Street. Hang Chuoi Street used to be a wasteland, o­nly planted banana for elephants of the court soldiers in the old time. When French colonial opened the street, the name was taken after this plant.

Talking about Old Quarter, I remember the Hudong of Beijing, China, some had been demolished for urban development. If the Hudong in Beijing is preserved like Old Quarter of Hanoi, Beijing will definably retain the living heritage of commoners from its ancient history, like Hanoi. Urban development can always take place outside the historical sites. Beijing followed the mistake of Singapore, the actual building is demolished. But I am sad for Georgetown(the new UNESCO listing) in Penang, the old town is gradually losing its living heritage, when residents are moving out to other places ...I hope Hanoi will not follow the footsteps of Beijing(where the building is demolished) and Penang(where the people is moving out), they are both the soul of the city, both people and building are equally important. I hope the Old Quarter of Hanoi will remain for a long time, both the buildings and people, to reflect the soul of Hanoi.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoàn Kiếm Lake in the centre of Hanoi, with the streets of the old town in the background (1999) Tháp Bút (Pen Tower) with a phrase "Tả thanh thiên" [it means "Write on the sky"] next to Hoàn Kiếm Lake (2007)

Hoan Kiem Lake is a pleasant park in the center of town, within easy walking distance from anywhere in the Old Quarter. It's the locals' favorite leisure spot, and a great place to watch people practicing tai chi in the morning or to sit and read in the afternoon. Hoan Kiem means "returned sword", and the name comes from a legend in which King Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later, while boating on the lake, he encountered a giant turtle, who grabbed the sword and carried it down to its depths, returning it to the gods from whom it had come. Rumor has it the giant turtles still inhabit the lake. When we are in the Hoan Kiem Lane, we see the giant turtle surfaced from the lake, the locals said it is rare to see the turtle surfaced, some have never seen it in their lives.

I walk around the lake with the Honoikids. I am thankful to the three young people for taking us around. They have tried their best to show us the places while taking us around. They even proposed changes when they knew that the ladies like to go shopping. They took the ladies to Dong Xuan Market or Cong Dong Xuan, located at Hang Khoai Street(street for sweet potatoes) with the main entrance from the street. The market is actually located within the square of Hang Khoai, Dong Xuan Street, Cau Dong and Nguyen Thien Thuat. Along Cau Dong street it is a busy commercial place, which lead to an alley at the back of the market. The alley is lining with food hawkers of various types. Before they leave us, we have dinner together near the wholesale market,at the corner of Cau Dong and Nguyen Thien Thuat. We took some beef noddle with the familiar herbs and tofu, some more adventure one are trying the snail meat from paddy field. The beef noodle is delicious with the chilly and herb leaves.

Hanoikids, keep it up... we sorry we have make problem for you, on our unexpected demand. Your are friendly lots.

The ladies busy shopping, and I just enjoy looking at the Hanoi people moving around. It is very relaxing, within the French old architecture building , noisy sound, aimless walking, just enjoy it. It is Hanoi.....

Night we watch the Water Puppet Show, just bring along your child character, and watch it like an adult with your memory of your childhood. When is the last time your see the puppet show? and this puppet show is unique, it is water puppet show. Very cultural experience with the traditional music and song. Just enjoy the night with it.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre (57 Dinh Tien Hoang St., across the street from the shores of the Hoan Kiem Lake; tel. +84-4-824-9494, fax +84.4.824-5117). A visit to the water puppet theater is a real highlight of a trip to Hanoi. Live musicians accompany folk legends from Vietnamese history, told with wooden men, women and dragons, dancing and splashing on the face of the water. The narratives are sung in Vietnamese, but a list of titles is available in several languages. Tickets are 40,000 and 60,000 dong. There are several performances throughout the day, but it's virtually impossible to buy tickets for the same day, and most performances for the following day will be sold out as well. Camera passes are an extra 15,000 dong, but whether you buy one or not is purely on the honor system. Don't worry about getting wet, but the seats are very small, and visitors with above-average height will have to squirm a bit. (source: wikitravel)

After the show, just strolling in the street . With the beautifully weather the local young people just come out with their bikes, it is as busy as the day time. Hanoi people come out at night , not to work but to relax and enjoy the night. Hanoi life is a balanced life, time to work time to relax.

Good sleep in the hotel.

Latest Updates 1-12-2009: resettlement program of Old Quarter.

Thousands of local households in Hanoi’s historical landmark Old Quarter will be relocated to the city’s Long Bien and Gia Lam Districts, according to the city’s chairman.

The move is aimed at improving their living standards, Hanoi’s People’s Committee chairman Nguyen The Thao told Vietnam News Agency on the sidelines of the 6th session of the 12th National Assembly about the capital city’s plans last week.

He said that the Viet Hung and Sai Dong urban areas which lie across the Red River would be their new homes.

Local authorities have proposed to relocate 30,000 people outside of the area by 2020 to reduce the population density to 50,000 people per square kilometer from the current 84,000 people per square kilometer.

The first phase of the project, which will cost around VND4 trillion (US$223.21 million), was submitted to the city’s Planning and Investment Department and will be later submitted to the municipal People’s Committee for approval.

About 1,900 households are expected to be resettled in the Viet Hung Urban Zone during the initial phase of the project.


Are we going to say goodbye to the Old Quarter of Hanoi, will the old quarter meet the same fate as Hudong of Beijing, and old colonial shophouses of Georgetown,Penang of Malaysia. Will urban renewal destroy the old quarter? Let us look back at Singapore on their Urban Renewal when many colonial shophouses were demolished, we lost a value living heritage....did we learn from past mistakes? When Rent Control Act was abolished in Penang, there was a large flow of local population out form the old town, Penang old town lost its most important asset of the town, its people....the people of old quarter of Hanoi, like its old buildings is the soul of Hanoi, I hope the city government will be careful not to destroy the germ of Hanoi. Otherwise Hanoi will lost its best and most value tourism asset.......

The first impression of tourism industry, Vietnam need law to protect tourist interest. More disclosure in tour contracts, more English, and ethic & standard practices for tour operators......

25-11-2009 Halong Bay, Vietnam
Hanoi to Halong Bay

Today, I am going to Halong Bay. Will be there for 2 days 1 night, staying a night in a Chinese junk.

Arrive at Halong town and take a boat to the Chinese junk, which took us to the Halong Bay.

Halong Bay is having 3,000 islands.... will continue

Monday, November 23, 2009


I am going to Vietnam, at the wrong time when the monsoon is still around, it will be expected to be wet, windy and cold Vietnam. The climate change and the wind from the North will result in unexpected climate. There may be still flooding around.

Anyhow, rain or shine; I am going to enjoy Vietnam. As most tour members are from the East Coast, the group should know how to enjoy the wet season.

Rain drops keep falling on my head, ya, Vietnam.

View Larger Map

Vietnam used to be very familiar name during my school days in 60s and early 70s. The familiar Vietnam War, Uncle Ho Chih Minh, the bombing at Danang, the tunnel, the R&R of the American GI at Penang, the anti-war demonstration, and the withdrawal of the American was cold war, an unnecessary war, the mistrust of the global politician, the proxy war of Capitalist USA and Communist Russia, the domino theory..... and the suffering of the normal ordinary people. That was the history.

One of my childhood friends married a Vietnamese girl in Melbourne, Australia. During my visit to Melbourne during the Chinese New Year time, I have opportunity to fellowship with them, talking about Vietnam, and the escape in South China Sea, and how they reached Mersing in Johore. It is also time I have Vietnamese food in Australia. The beef noodles soup is good and the steam boat dinner.......and I still remember fondly of the time with them.

Still remember the refugee camp when I was in east coast of Malaysia; the island off the coast of Trengannu, and the camp at Kuantan prior to departure to the 3rd countries. Each days the arrival of the refugee, the stories, it was close to the heart; and yet we are separate by the barbed wires......

The coming of the development to Vietnam, and the Vietnamese foreign workers in Malaysia. We now can see the female Vietnamese beauty wearing hat, walking in the street of Penang, the Viet become very familiar.........

and of course Vietnam is the 2nd largest producer of coffee in the world. Being a coffee drinker, I will need to know their coffee better.

Such a close and familiar country, I should not wait too long to visit them; whether rain or shine. It is an amazing country, very similar to China in their economic development and cultural spirit, and the influence of Hindu and Cham culture, yet maintain distinct difference of its own unique way........

My travel will be from the North to the South. Starting from Hanoi,the capital of Vietnam to the UNESCO listed Halong Bay, and to the mountain at the Chinese /Vietnam border, Sapa. That is very cold now, may be snowing at time, but fog should be common at this time of the year for trekking in Sapa. So it will be challenging against the tough climate.

Leaving Hanoi, a plane will take us to the third largest city, Danang. We will explore the cultural part of Central Vietnam, Hue and Hoi-an. It will be walking in the rain, under the Vietnamese umbrella in the ancient town, looking for their history.

When we have enough of culture and rains, it is time for some change. We will travel by train to the coastal Vietnam. The storm will still be around Nha Trang, a very tourist scuba heaven in Vietnam. We will just drop in to say hello, and go straight to the central highland of Dalat, a retreat for French and American during the colonial and Vietnam war days. A night stay to cool down the chilly body before we go for the real sun shine in Mui Ne, the desert of white and red color will warm us up. We will leave Mui Ne by open bus or if time allow, by ordinary bus with the locals......

Then we will end the Vietnam trip with the excitement and noise of Ho Chich Minh City or HCMC. If time allowed there will be Mekong River tour, or little Cham culture or Chinese culture at Mekong valley.

I personally prefer not to visit the DMZ zone, or the tunnel as I am not interested in the very tourist war zone; and the bad memory of the war. The past should be left only with war memorials for the brave soldiers from the either sides, and the memorial hall to tell the ugly side of the war. It will be more meaningful for the future generations. Ironically, the tour expenses will be paid by American dollars, that Vietnamese like to attract from tourist's pockets. That is tourism..... and Vietnam is following the pseudo-capitalist style of China..... or should be pseudo-communist....

We will experience the cold of the north, the rain of the central Vietnam, and the sum of the south; the coastal and the mountain; the different mode of transport; the food; the culture; the people.....and Vietnam as a whole.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Private Data Protection

Private data is the information on a person's privacy or personal identification information. There is still little private data protection in many countries, where private data are flying everywhere without restriction. They ask for your personal details even for little things, retain your identification cards, and even country at the border pass retain your passport...

Private data involve the right to protect a personal privacy, the data of privacy and identification. Wikipedia defined private data protection as
"Information privacy, or data privacy is the relationship between collection and dissemination of data, technology, the public expectation of privacy, and the legal and political issues surrounding them".

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

—Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12

What are the types of private data? They are financial, medical, lifestyle, political. The latest private data issue, is the IT security on private data in Internet. The e-mail, facebook, and other IT communication channel.

Privacy concerns exist wherever personally identifiable information is collected and stored - in digital form or otherwise. Improper or non-existent disclosure control can be the root cause for privacy issues. Data privacy issues can arise in response to information from a wide range of sources, such as:

* Healthcare records
* Criminal justice investigations and proceedings
* Financial institutions and transactions
* Biological traits, such as genetic material
* Residence and geographic records
* Ethnicity

The challenge in data privacy is to share data while protecting personally identifiable information. The fields of data security and information security design and utilize software, hardware and human resources to address this issue.

Why Data Protection is important?

In Malaysia,there is still no legal protection on private data, our private data information can be obtained easily and disseminate to others. The requirement of detail particulars for contest , competition, survey are one of the easy way the commercial enterprise obtain the private information. They can sell the private information for a fee to either marketing organization or advertisement agencies.

There are many ways of private information abuses in Malaysia, one of it is credit card companies and financial institution. When you terminate the financial relationship with them, do they cancel and destroy all your private financial information? The private information on printout will probably end up with Kacang Putih man; any person with the malicious intention to obtain private information can obtain from the secondary sources easily.

Another source of private database is in government department and agencies, which is the largest. I wonder whether the staff have the high awareness of private data protection for the citizen.

Another source is the surveying houses, which are the one who organize competition and survey to obtain data. They obtain all information for their client with a fee. Avoid enter into competition or survey where it require personal details, all your information will be captured into their database for future usage. Their paper hard copies(application forms & surveying forms) will usually end up with recycle man.

The most dangerous source however is the Internet, your e-mail, your storage, your other communication channels, your web sites are rich sources of private data for others to capture.

So our private data protection is still weak, and our awareness is also equally weak. So, beware.... someone may be using your private data for commercial purpose, or even criminal purpose.... and worst not within the national boundary, with the internet it may be is serious matter, where many people in the developing countries are still did not know their right of protection. The right for private data protection.

It is high time we have private data protection law.....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)

Since 1995, Transparency International has published an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ordering the countries of the world according to "the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians". The organization defines corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain"

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) table shows a country's ranking and score, the number of surveys used to determine the score, and the confidence range of the scoring

• The rank shows how one country compares to others included in the index. The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public-sector corruption in a country/territory.
• The CPI is based on 13 independent surveys. However, not all surveys include all countries. The surveys used column indicates how many surveys were relied upon to determine the score for that country.
• The confidence range indicates the reliability of the CPI scores and tells us that allowing for a margin of error, we can be 90% confident that the true score for this country lies within this range.

Rank Country/Territory
1 New Zealand
2 Denmark
3 Singapore (The highest ranking Asian country)
3 Sweden
5 Switzerland
6 Finland
6 Netherlands
8 Australia
8 Canada
8 Iceland
11 Norway
12 Hong Kong (The 2nd highest ranking in Asia)
12 Luxembourg

Corruption Perceptions Index 2009
Regional Highlights: Asia-Pacific
Countries/Territories included: 32

The global financial crisis and political transformation in many Asian countries during 2008 exposed fundamental weaknesses in both the financial and political systems and demonstrated the failures in policy, regulations, oversight, and enforcement mechanisms. These two factors contribute to a decrease in the scores of 13 countries from the 32 countries/territories in the region, along with a reduction in the number of countries that scored above 5 in the 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index(CPI).

Since 2008, the Hong Kong government and the Independent Commission against Corruption have intensified efforts to fight corruption in the financial sector. New regulations were enacted and new tools developed.

In Taiwan, corruption scandals involving former President Chen Shui-pian and his family membersgripped the public and have resulted in convictions. This has not yet been reflected in its 2009 CPI score, which remained steady.

Malaysia is ranked 56, The decline in the CPI score for Malaysia (from 5.1 in 2008 to 4.5 in 2009) may be attributed to the perception that there has been little progress combating corruption and a lack of political will to implement effective anti-corruption measures. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) appears to focus on “small fish” and opposition politicians.

China has launched a sustained anti-corruption drive and intensified a crackdown on corruption in the public sector, investigating and prosecuting ministers, public officials and employees. Corrupt officials above provincial levels were disciplined and preventive measures to deal with stimulus packages to tackle the financial crisis have helped keep China’s score stable in 2009, though still low at 3.6. But it has improved from1.94 to 3.6.

(extract from Transparancy International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2009)

Singapore is reputed to be one of the few countries in the world where corruption is under control. This is due mainly to the strong political will to curb corruption, firm actions taken against the corrupt regardless of their status and background, and the general public who do not accept corruption as a way of life. CPIB(Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, 贪污调查局) was formed by the British colonial government in 1952. It is a government agency in Singapore which investigates and prosecutes corruption in the public and private sectors. Incorporated within the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the Bureau is headed by a director who reports directly to the Prime Minister. CPIB is therefore independent from the Singapore Police Force and other government agencies to prevent any undue interference in its investigations. It also has the upmost right, similar to the Singapore's Internal Security Department, to detain suspects of corrupt practices without law trial. The only weakness for CPIB is that it is under PM's department, it will be seen as weak to handle political corruption, as it is still have influence by the ruling party, as the head will be appointed as PM who will be head for the civil service. Singapore is able to maintain its high ranking in CPI, as the political leaders are clean, and now anti-corruption is their national culture.

Since its inception in 1974, the Independent Commission Against Corruption(廉政公署)has embraced a three-pronged approach of law enforcement, prevention and community education to fight corruption. With the support of the Government and the community, Hong Kong has now become one of the cleanest places in the world. To know how Hong Kong achieved its ranking, visit their official website ( on the history of how ICAC was formed, even their name included the words "Independent Commission", that is why?. The ICAC is independent of the Hong Kong Civil Service. The Basic Law of Hong Kong stipulates that the ICAC shall function independently and be accountable to the Chief Executive. The Commissioner of ICAC is appointed by the State Council of the People's Republic of China, on the recommendations of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

I personally preferred Hong Kong over Singapore, as there is no opportunity for political influence by the Head of civil service, or the leader of ruling party. So their anti corruption agency has all power to investigate on political corruption including that of ruling party( equivalent to the Prime Minister) and the head of civil service, without fear. Hong Kong's organization pattern focus on independence of its anti-corruption agency, with strong statutory law back up.

The Asian countries should follow the effort of Singapore and Hong Kong , how effective statutory law and anti corruption enforcement has help to fight corruption. The point to note is that their Anti-Corruption Commission is highly independence. Except for Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan; the other countries are with low CPI score. The next highest ranking after Japan is Taiwan, with the score of only 5.6, the other Asian countries are below 5.6. The score will be lower, if corruption scandals involving former President Chen Shui-pian and his family is included for 2009. The CPI score of Asian countries is still a long way for improvement.

Corruption investigation needs the backing of strong laws and sufficient resources because it is a difficult crime to investigate , said Tony Kwok Main Wai, former deputy commisioner of the Independent Commision Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong. Tony said anti-corruption organisations should not become a secret organisation or the police and need to have a check and balance in investigative powers to prevent cases of power abuse(source: Bernama, 12-10-2009). Did Asian countries have strong legal backing for anti-corruption?

The Asian Ranking

3 Singapore 9.2 9.0 9.4 9
12 Hong Kong 8.2 7.9 8.5 8
17 Japan 7.7 7.4 8.0 8
37 Taiwan 5.6 5.4 5.9 9
39 Brunei Darussalam 5.5 4.7 6.4 4
39 South Korea 5.5 5.3 5.7 9
43 Macao 5.3 3.3 6.9 3
49 Bhutan 5.0 4.3 5.6 4
56 Malaysia 4.5 4.0 5.1 9
56 Samoa 4.5 3.3 5.3 3
79 China 3.6 3.0 4.2 9
84 India 3.4 3.2 3.6 10
84 Thailand 3.4 3.0 3.8 9

Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff
Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff, creator of the Corruption Perceptions Index, will no longer publish the landmark corruption ranking, he said in an email to the Transparency International network this week. Lambsdorff wrote: "TI-S will try to continue somehow with a substitute for the CPI. Even though most of them are rather new to the debate, they will try to make the new product look like the old one. This is time for me to let them go their way."

The Corruption Perceptions Index was first published in 1995, and aimed to create a ranking of "the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians." The CPI, alongside the World Bank Institute's similar effort, is widely credited for forcing the issue of corruption into high level international discourse in the 1990s. It has also faced criticism aimed at its methodology and uses.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)

In 2008, the Malaysian Government and Parliament had agreed that a MACC be established in order to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of (its) anti-corruption efforts as well as to improve perception of independence and transparency of the functions of the Commission. The MACC would be simultaneously sustained by check and balance mechanism in ensuring that the Commission operates in line with national laws and the aspiration of the society.

MACC Malaysia is one of the organizations under the Prime Minister’s Department. Even though MACC Malaysia is under the Prime Minister’s Department, it is just for the reason of finance and staffing only. The everyday business of MACC Malaysia is being carried out freehandedly and autonomously by the officers under the supervision of the Chief Commissioner without interferences from any other party.

MACC Malaysia is headed by the Chief Commissioner who has been bestowed by his majesty the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong under section 3(2) Anti-Corruption Act 1997 upon the advice of the Honorable Prime Minister of Malaysia and would be assisted by two MACC Deputy Directors General.

(extract from

The decline of Malaysia ranking is in view of poor perception on Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which is attributed to the perception that the commission is not seen to be really independence. As a government agency their governing body is Government of Malaysia, which is controlled and influence by ruling political forces. MACC appear to focus only the small fishes, and petty cases of opposition parties.

Opposition MPs were concerned over the independence of the MACC since it will not have any power to prosecute. A former minister and senior UMNO leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah also hit out at the MACC for investigating minor cases while ignoring major examples of graft. The Teoh Beng Hock case has badly affected the image of MACC in the eyes of Malaysian public.

As a tax payer, we are ashamed that the ranking of CPI has fallen, and we are behind many Asian countries; Sungapore, Hong Kong,Japan, Taiwan, Brunei, South Korea, Macao, and even Bhutan. The sad thing is our CPI score is only 4.5......It was the worst ranking, in 2001 Malaysia ranked 36th with score of 5, why are we not improving.....but declined... Our tax monies are wasted and got into the pockets of corrupted people, at the time when the world is facing global financial crisis, at the time the country need badly the development fund.

This corrupted people should be seriously dealt with, may be we should followed the policy of China....the highest penalty should be death sentence for corruption or at least life imprisonment. The punishment for the corruption cases are light with no deterrent capability.

The MACC should not be a government agency, it should be an fully independent commission under the parliament or the King. The MACC should have the tooth to go after the corrupted politician of ruling parties, and high ranking government servants. MACC should then be ready for the big fish.....

Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal(where costs had dramatically risen from an estimated RM1.1bil to RM4.7bil, and may balloon further to RM12.5bil.), Lingam video clip" case(The judicial corruption), 2008 Auditor-General's Report,RM32.4 million contract for flowers and plants to decorate the City Hall's office tower, RM30 million to buy used trains, 1000 RapidKL's buses costing RM500 million had been left to rust, double-track railway project which costs RM1.43 billion higher that the worth of the original contract...... the former MB's residence.... the big fish......

The high cost building of many offices of government department and agencies(both head office and state offices), the land approval(alienation of land for development),the timber concession, the award of government contracts, the related parties transaction(Association under MB's wife, government and its staff cooperatives, ruling party's business venture, etc)...........there are many loopholes for corruption and all our tax monies are wasted many more remained unknown.... the potential big fishes.......

The lack of action that has been taken despite the Auditor-General's annual report which highlighted extraordinary public fund abuses, case like PKFZ, which had been highlighted by the previous auditor general reports, yet the cost was escalated without any investigation by MACC... an example of big fish overlooked by MACC.....which the tax payers and citizen do not understand.......

Why waste our resources on small fishes when there are so many big fishes around; MACC should failed the KPIs for not capable to allocate its resources to meet its objective...

.... and we still have no resources to touch on private sector corruption; the business sector, the charitable and non-profit organization, the NGOs, religion institution......which derived their income from donation and fund. Are they accountable for the public fund abuse? Can the CEO of non-profit organization living a life like a millionaires? The public and MACC should be aware of National Kidney Foundation Singapore scandal, Ven. Shi Ming Yi(释明义)& Ren Ci Hospital case in Singapore; and aware of private sector corruption before it is too late. (Note: On October 7, 2009, Ming Yi was convicted of four charges of conspiracy, misuse of funds and forgery. It was revealed in the court that Ming Yi bought luxury cars, race horses, country club membership in Perth, Western Australia and lived in lavish lifestyle, an unusual trait amongst Buddhist monks. Ming Yi is set to be sentenced on 21 November, where Ming Yi faces seven years in prison and possible removal from the Buddhist sangha. Source: wikipedia)

Furthermore, if MACC is a government agency, it is not free from the influence from the civil services, their head, the ruling parties. They will always be perceived as biased if they investigated on political corruption, especially on opposition parties.

That is the reason the citizen want an independent, strong and clean MACC.....without fear and favour....

Related articles:

1. Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission,
2. Official website of Transparency International,
3. Ku Li slams MACC, says witnesses shouldn’t end up in coffins ,,Malaysian Insider. 2009-02-22.
4. Corruption Perceptions Indexes,
5. LEVELS OF CORRUPTION IN MALAYSIA : A COMMENT ON THE CASE OF BUMIPUTRA MALAYSIA FINANCE, by R.S. Milne, ASIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION. This is an interesting article on famous BMF case, if you are interested in the case.
6. Eradicating Corruption—The Singapore Experience(2000), by Mr. Muhammed Ali,Acting Assistant Director Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, Singapore; Presentation Paper for The Seminar on International Experiences on Good Governance and Fighting Corruption , February 17, 2000
7.CPIB( The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau) official website:
8. National Kidney Foundation Singapore scandal,
9. Shi Ming Yi,
10. CORRUPTION PREVENTION - THE HONG KONG EXPERIENCE(2000), by Thomas Chan, Director, Corruption Prevention, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong,
11. The official web sites of ICAC(The Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong) ,
12. Independent Commission Against Corruption (Hong Kong),

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bagan Ajam( Butterworth), Air Force Base, and the Jet Noise

I have the opportunity to visit the family friends in Bagan Ajam, Butterworth, Penang State in Malaysia. The house is located near the Malaysian air force base and St Mark Secondary School. At the time of the visit, two fighter jet planes were flying low for practice at the area. The noise from the fighter was very loud to human hearing.

On Saturday, RMAF public relations officer Maj Kamarulzaman Ali said the aircraft in question was one of eight USAF fighter jets participating in the Cope Taufan 2009 exercise along with RMAF aircraft from Nov 9 to 20(The Star).

But according to the resident, even the normal flying of Malaysian air force fighter jets are equally loud.

There are residential houses, schools and small and light industries in the area.

As reported by The Star on 16-11-2009, two houses lost their roofs on Wednesday following a tactical flight by a US Air Force (USAF) fighter jet.

It reflected that the area is no longer safe and healthy for human activities. It can caused hearing impairment for the residents and students there.

There is plan for relocation of the 250 squatters , but there is no plan mentioned for relocation of the school. I wonder how the students are going to study in the noisy environment.

Immediate precaution and safety measures need to take up by the federal government to resolve the issue.

What is noise pollution?
Noise can be define as an unwanted or undesired sound whereas environmental noise is any unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human activities that is detrimental to the quality of life of individuals. It is now well established that exposure to noise levels of relatively high degrees can lead to direct hearing loss and/or hearing impairment. Noise can also cause annoyance and sleep disturbance are considered to be the most important environmental noise effects. Noise also could lead to human annoyance, reduces life quality, and might affect health and physiological well-being.

High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects and exposure to moderately high levels during a single eight hour period causes a statistical rise in blood pressure.

The source of most noise worldwide is transportation systems, motor vehicle noise, but also including aircraft noise

Aircraft noise

Aircraft noise is defined as sound produced by any aircraft or its components, during various phases of a flight, on the ground while parked such as auxiliary power units, while taxiing, on run-up from propeller and jet exhaust, during take off, underneath and lateral to departure and arrival paths, over-flying while en route or during landing. Jet noise is a large section of the field of Aeroacoustics that focuses on the noise generation structures caused by aerodynamic jets. The primary source of noise comes from the turbulent eddies generated by shearing flow. Such noise is known as broadband noise and extends well beyond the range of human hearing (100kHz and higher). Jet noise is also responsible for the loudest sounds ever produced by mankind

There are health consequences of elevated sound levels. Aircraft noise can cause hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance, sleep disturbance, and decreased school performance. Although some hearing loss occurs naturally with age, in many developed nations the impact of noise is sufficient to impair hearing over the course of a lifetime. Elevated noise levels can create stress, increase workplace accident rates, and stimulate aggression and other anti-social behaviors.

In the 1980s the U.S. Congress authorized the FAA to devise programs to insulate homes near airports. While this does not address the external noise, the program has been effective for residential interiors. Some of the first airports at which the technology was applied were San Francisco International Airport and San Jose International Airport in California. A computer model is used which simulates the effects of aircraft noise upon building structures. Variations of aircraft type, flight patterns and local meteorology can be studied. Then the benefits of building retrofit strategies such as roof upgrading, window glazing improvement, fireplace baffling, caulking construction seams can be evaluated.

Since the Jet noise or pollution will caused bad health effect on the residents and will affect the performance of students in the schools nearby; government should relocate them immediately.

(source: wikipedia)

Bagan Ajam

View Larger Map

Bagan Ajam is a small town located in the district of Seberang Perai Utara, Seberang Perai(formerly known as Province Wellesley). Seberang Perai was a British colony in 1800 and its administration was then located in Penang. In 1913, Rural Municipal Council were form for the North, Central and South of Province Wellesley, together with the Municipal Council of Butterworth. On 1st of July 1974, all three North County Council, Centre County Council and South County Council, Seberang Perai were unitized and known as a Local Authority Managing Body, Seberang Perai. Finally, under the Local Government Act 1976, history was created on 15th Dec 1976 when the Board was succeeded by and recognized as the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai or MPSP, the largest local authority in Malaysia. MPSP now administers three main Districts with 54 localities, including Bagan Ajam.

The 3 districts under the MPSP or Municipal Council of Seberang Perai (formerly Province Wellesley):

* Northern Seberang Perai District (Daerah Seberang Perai Utara)
* Central Seberang Perai District (Daerah Seberang Perai Tengah)
* Southern Seberang Perai District (Daerah Seberang Perai Selatan)

Bagan Ajam, under Northern Seberang Perai District, grew out of the village of Kampung Bagan Ajam which is located near the coast of Pantai Bersih.

Bagan Ajam can be reached from Butterworth through Jalan Bagan Ajam. Today, the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR) goes right across Bagan Ajam.

Among the prominent buildings in Bagan Ajam include the Thean Hock Keong Temple, Masjid Jamek Bagan Ajam, Sekolah Kebangsaan Bagan Ajam, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Dato Onn, Sekolah Menengah St Mark(established in 1958) and Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (C) Li Hwa. The RMAF Butterworth base is also located near Bagan Ajam.

RMAF Butterworth air base

RAF Butterworth(1941-1957)
RMAF air force base was formerly RAF Butterworth air base. RAF Butterworth was commissioned in October 1941, as a Royal Air Force station which was a part of the British defence plan for defending the Malayan Peninsula against an imminent threat of invasion by the Imperial Japanese forces during World War II.

During the Battle of Malaya, the airbase suffered some damage as a direct result of aerial bombing from Mitsubishi G3M & Mitsubishi G4M bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service based in Saigon. Brewster Buffalos from the airbase rose to challenge the escorting Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters but was mauled during several of these engagements by the highly trained and experienced Japanese fighter pilots.

The airbase was subsequently captured by units of the advancing 25th Army (Imperial Japanese Army) on 20 Dec 1941 and the control of the airbase was to remain in the hands of IJA until the end of hostilities in September 1945, whereupon the RAF resumed control of the airbase and Japanese prisoners of war were made to repair the airbase as well as to improve the runways before resuming air operations from the airbase in May 1946.

During the Malayan Emergency that was to last from 1948 to 1960, RAF as well as RAAF and RNZAF units stationed at the airbase played an active role in helping to curb the communist insurgency in the jungles of Malaya by attacking suspected hideouts and harassing the communist guerrillas. The base also served as a vital front-line airfield for various other units on rotation from RAF Changi, RAF Kuala Lumpur, RAF Kuantan, RAF Seletar and RAF Tengah

RAAF Butterworth(1957-1988)
In 1957, the RAF transferred the control of the base to the Royal Australian Air Force and it was promptly renamed as RAAF Butterworth, the base became the home to numerous Australian fighter and bomber squadrons stationed in Malaya during the Cold War era. Two of the notable RAAF units were 3 Sqn and 77 Sqn which saw service with their CAC Sabres during the Malayan Emergency through the Confrontation with Indonesia. From August 1964 onwards, these Sabre jets responded on several occasion to incursions by MiG-21 fighter jets of the Indonesian Air Force flying towards Malaysian airspace but the Indonesian aircraft always turned back before crossing the international boundary, thereby averting possible escalation.

As of October 2008, the Australian Defence Force continues to maintain a presence at RMAF Butterworth as part of Australia's commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), with No. 324 Combat Support Squadron and a detachment of AP-3C Orion aircraft from No. 92 Wing RAAF being located at the base. In addition, the Australian Army maintains an infantry company (designated Rifle Company Butterworth) at Butterworth for training purposes.

Note: The film was shot in 1964 by John Parsons. John was a Navigator with 60 Sqn based at RAAF Butterworth & is featured in the film at 3:40 donning his helmet.

RMAF Butterworth/TUDM Butterworth(from 1988)

On 30 June 1988, the base was handed over by RAAF to the Royal Malaysian Air Force and was again renamed as RMAF Butterworth. The flying squadrons stationed at the airbase are as follows:

* No. 3 Squadron RMAF, with S-61A4A Nuri helicopters
* No. 12 Squadron RMAF, with Northrop F-5E, F-5F & RF-5E
* No. 15 Squadron RMAF, with BAE Hawk 108/Hawk 209 & Aermacchi MB-339AM
* No. 18 Squadron RMAF, with Boeing F/A-18D Hornet

(extract from wikipedia)

Thean Hock Keong Temple, Bagan Ajam

The Thean Hock Keong Temple in Bagan Ajam is one of the oldest temples in Butterworth, Penang. It was founded in 1888. A prominent Penangite Khoo Thean Teik was a major benefactor who contributed to the construction. The current Thean Hock Keong Temple was completed on January 3, 1997.

The patron deity at the Thean Hock Keong is Kwan Kong. Like many Taoist deities, Kwan Kong, whose name is Guan Yu (162-219), was a deified military general under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period. The historical account of Guan Yu's life has since been mixed with legend and fiction, passed down the generations as folklore, and was depicted in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

( extract from

Food at Bagan Ajam

1. 323 seafood restaurant is popular seafood restaurant located at Bagan Ajam. The restaurant is just beside the sea, and have a great view looking over the Penang Island.

323 Seafood Restaurant
Bagan Ajam , Pantai Bersih,

2. Lobster Village Seafood Restaurant

Lobster Village Seafood Restaurant,
Bagan Ajam Pantai Bersih,

Tel : 016 4322833 & 016 5920229

Related articles:

1. RMAF base too close for comfort, by TUNKU SHAHARIAH, The Star, Monday November 16, 2009
2. Aircraft noise,
3. This website contained some old photo of RAAF Butterworth.
5.Fond memories from ex-RAAF staff, by YENG AI CHUN, The Star Online, dated 27-5-2008,