Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tam Dao - Three Islands

Tam Dao

My friends, Misa and I went to Tam Dao last weekend to get some relief from the noise, dirt and the motorbike horns in Hanoi and of course, to release the work stress.

Tam Dao

Even though the name means "three islands",this place is not surrounded by ocean. This is just a Vietnamese name that we translated to English. This is a lovely mountain town set in lots of small hills, a 20km climb up a windy road. It took us 2.5 hours to get there from Hanoi. Because the roads are being widened, they are very dirty which meant we got covered in dust all over our clothes and bodies. I didn't wear a helmet because it was too hot and my face was covered in dirt by the time we reached Tam Dao.

Tam Dao

Tthe first time we came here was 4 years ago, everything was so fresh and full of green. Nothing has changed much with their main business still growing Susu vegetable(spinach). Nowadays, there are a few taller hotels, which are quite expensive. We stayed at the Thanh Binh guest house, the same place as our first trip and it cost the same price 100,000Vnd(Us $7). The rooms are very clean, with hot water and we had a mountain view and the owner brought us hot water for making tea.

Tam Dao

There are so many cute old houses and broken down buildings besides lots of amazingly crazily houses designed without thinking of the landscape around, but this mixture makes Tam Dao special. If you look down Tam Dao from the top of the mountain or from your hotel, it's easy to see that this is a green town which grows not only Susu vegetable, but also pumpkin, bamboo and other wild plants. Su su is a great green spinach. Only the top of the plant is eaten as it is young and tender and can be stir fried with garlic or steamed to eat with soya sauce. It's really healthy, and similar looking to the pumpkin leaves and stems. We paid only 10,000Vnd for 1 kg. Beside all of the green veggies, the second popular product inTam Dao is wild bees, wild birds and products from wild animals. Some special wine and honey can be bought, too.

Honey - Tam Dao

We had such a great time eating wild meat, drinking beer and being wild. We went to several cafes and bars hunting for cold beer and most of the shops didn't serve cold beer. One of the shop owners told me that sunday is the last day of the busy time so that they don't put too much beer in the fridge because they know they won't sell all of it. I told her that here we are and we will drink all of them for her. Anyway, we finished her beer and she had to go to another shop to get more cold beer for us. She had a great day with her drink business and she looked happy. In one coffee shop that we came across, the toilet was really clean and the water is from the stream so we don't need to turn it off but we could only use it for a pee. Hilarious, don't you think?

Toilet -Cafe- Tam Dao

One annoying business in Tam Dao is Karaoke, which is everywhere. People sometimes start singing very early in the morning till late at night. We went to a beautiful old rock building which might have been a church in the past, thinking that it would be a nice bar for a drink. We sat down and realized that there were many boys and girls already waiting for their singing turn. They sang all instant crap music and they also mixed the words up and the rhythm, so we had to move on.

Silver water fall- Tam Dao

Misa had a good time running around playing with the other dogs, even though one grumpy old dog in front of the hotel tried to attack him every time we went past.

Su Su sellers- Tam Dao

The best time to go to Tam Dao is during the week when there are not many tourists and you will have a peaceful time.



That was a lovely shot from the top.

Sandy Hatcher-Wallace said...

I really enjoyed reading your post and looking at all the pictures. That town certainly is very green. I can't imagine the dog running along with you when you are on you carry her on your bike or does she actually run all the way?

My husband & I take daily trips on motorbikes to different towns to sight is very relaxing to let the wind blow through your hair and to feel it on your face. I like it because you can smell all the flowers & trees blooming.

It sounded like you had a wonderful time with your friends and I'm so glad you posted all these pictures to show us of your trip.

junebee said...

One doesn't think of tall trees in Vietnam but there they are.

Sounds like a great weekend. Good to know some bars in Vietnam have cold beer!

GoingGlobal said...

Looks like an interesting little place. I love places that are so green and lush.

sunkissed said...

I love Tam Dao! That's where I did my research on butterflies for Earthwatch. We stayed at Caythong Hotel. The restaurant across the hotel served yummy Vietnamese food. I will never forget that place. The weather is very pleasant!

Buddhist with an attitude said...

God, Susu is not spinach, but a variety of snow peas, where only the tips and the young leaves are eaten.

Crystal said...

Biting dogs scare me, and I just read today that China ordered 50,000 dogs to be clubbed to death because they had a rabies outbreak. That Tam Dao looks really lovely, very lush and romantic.

Cergie said...

Going to Tam Dao must be great with memory of old buildings. Perhaps are they from French time. More than W-end, there is one best month to visit there isn't it ? Turists must be plenty then and it's quite normal. If I'ld come I'ld be turist too.

Tim Rice said...

Thanks for sharing about your travels and letting us see things through your eyes. I value that.

Van Cong Tu said...

Thanks for all comments. I driven and my friend hold my dog on the back between us. We all love beer and we had great time.
Buddhist with an attitude, susu is like a kind of spinach, green leaves vegetable and it's not snow peas.

slurp! said...

always love places with green green surroundings ... any tips for renting motorbikes in Vietnam? thks!

Van Cong Tu said...

It costs about 80,000Vnd per day and you can rent easily from the hotel or on the street.

Vietnam travel guide said...

Tam Dao beautiful, I like susu

Vietnam tours said...

I like rau susu.