Archive for May, 2009

The Sapa fashion directory & guide

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 24, 2009 by MOUSUMI DUTTA

Darlings,  That weekend excursion to Sapa…well guess what…it got extended… between the tranquil atmosphere, the ambience & the colorful local attire…why rush to leave ? And so, more postcards of what I oogled over walking around Sapa. Caught these Hmong Women pondering…

faces

and then the 3 children sporting Sapa style capris Continue reading

A weekend excursion to Sapa, Vietnam

Posted in TRAVEL, Vietnam Travel with tags , , , on May 17, 2009 by MOUSUMI DUTTA

Darlings, When Summer heat arrives to the city of Hanoi, what better place to escape to than tread the path of French Colonialists & venture North to Sapa – Vietnam. 

sapa

 A world away from the city & these days, most if not all travellers arrive there by overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai which takes 8 hrs. You have 3 choices – the 1st class Victoria express complete with your own Cabin, white down comforter, white curtains & exclusive meals. The downsize being that the end of the journey will have you contemplate turning into a train setter as opposed to jet setter. Then there’s 2nd class cabins with 2 bunk beds per compartment with wood panelling & lastly for the budget traveller – the 4 bunk  cabin with minimalist chic metal panelling . As for the ride itself…this can be compared to a NYC subway ride with all the jerking, sudden stops & starts…well being a night train the driver might have had his share of opium!

The arrival into Lao Cai is greeted with pre dawn views of billowing clouds giving way to this panorama

early am sapa 2

Terraced mountains, cooler temparatures, summer picnics & hiking is how I picture French Madames et famille.

Oh my & take a look at the locals in their native attire !

red headgear

 The Vietnamese refer to them as “Minorities” & why on earth one would refer to their own citizens as Minorities is beyond me but Tribal people do tend to take a 2nd class place in society.  On weekends / market day, this is the scene

sea of heads

A sea of heads as the  tribal groups flock to Sapa to stock up on supplies & sell their wares / handicrafts. There are 2 distinct tribes

black hmong

Black Hmong with their hand dyed linen Indigo outfits & who are also referred to as the “Blue People” with their blue hands from constant dyeing…no rubber gloves here

dsao headgear

And then theres the Dzao (pronounced Dao) with their elaborate Red woolen headgear, shaved eyebrows & also shaved heads

dzao

Their handmade creations sold at the weekend market, where …yes…I’ll hassle you until you purchase type scenario exists & indeed amazing handicrafts to purchase…a crafters shopping mecca of sort

sellers

Bedspreads, hats, aluminium jewelry, a Cottage industry well worth the visit – made in Vietnam & not in China! Infact the volume of handwork might be considered labor intensive for any duplication.

blue bedspread

Easy to become a gawker here but once you are over the Tribal attire, there’s Vietnamese meals to be sampled in the local market

chef

…here’s a chef ready to whip up a spicy concotion, made to order… FDA rules & regs’ appears to be MIA in these parts!

Shopping not your thing…the panoramic vistas of the terrain are all a natural wonder. Roads being repaired from years of war…can you imagine having a war in this verdant landscape ?

early am sapa

Somehow, don’t see any Colonial buildings & wonder where the French would have stayed…don’t get the feeling they stayed in a cabiny lodge like these that are dotted around.

lodge

Manmade developments  are a miss in these parts…authentic & rural

 rural

…an escape from modernities as contemplating the vastness of natural beauty envelopes the traveller…to which I will digress until the next set of postcards. Au revoir darlings &  please bear with me as I am in the process of updating this layout for something more appropo to the vibe of these postcard excursions.

A visit to modern day Indochine

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 11, 2009 by MOUSUMI DUTTA

Bonjour Darlings, I’m always looking for Travel inspiration being that I don’t exactly have a list of places to visit (can you belive no list) & so after watching the movie ‘Indochine”, what better place to journey to than Vietnam, in particular Northern Vietnam to experience the French Colonial & Vietnamese Communist stronghold as seen in the movie.

Our First stop would be to fly into the city of Hanoi from NY on Cathay Pacific into Hong Kong & then on Vietnam Airlines to Hanoi which takes 1 hr. Love those small destinations after an 18 hr hurdle…

First glimpse of early morning in Hanoi, the flower seller with long stalks of gladiolus…such the Francais touch

flower seller

Then the fruit seller balancing baskets laden with clementines & wearing a conical straw hat for protection against the sun.clementines

more clementines

You know you’re in Asia when you see locals tucking into soup for breakfast, sitting on low plastic stools barely 12″ from the ground

soup

And here’s the soup station itself with its concotions perfuming the air. Here its called “Pho”, a rice noodle soup with chicken & greens…mild or spicy…made to order.soup stationj

Infact, street side dining on those low plastic stools & catching up on gossip appeared to be the norm for the youth of Hanoi

sitting

Not only the youth but also the elder community were seen sitting on those low plastic stools having coffee & a smoke…the Hanoi style corner smoke shop …so cosy…

tea

ofcourse, the French left their mark & patisserie / bistros abound with cane chairs et all, someplace that Catherine Daneuve would have hung out while filming “Indochine’, although only part of the film was filmed in Hanoi but these were the local haunts.

cafe

 Left over from French colonialists were these quaint French colonial buildings now turned into galleries, cafes & quaint boutiques. Quintessential emerald green French shutters & faded mustard yellow buildings all reminiscent of Hanoi’s heritage. Elaborate doorways leading into

door

the Vietnamese world of handicrafts, embroideries, lacquerwork abound

ofcourse to maneuver oneself amongst Hanoi traffic with all its mopeds is an art for the traveller & far worse than anything elsewhere in Asia  but isnt that part of the thrill ?

viet traffic

You know after a day of walking around the Old Quarter of Hanoi…we’ve only just seen a glimpse…there’s more but those will be another set of postcards …au revoir darlings…

Rites of Spring, Earth Celebration in New York

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 3, 2009 by MOUSUMI DUTTA

Darlings,  The month of May not only starts with May Day but all over the World, people are celebrating something or other to herald the arrival of Spring. In Asia this week, its Family Week & in New York, its the rites of Spring festivities in the East Village section of town. The pageantry starts with elaborate fairy tale like costumes donned with paper mache figures worthy of viewing in a Soho art galleryeast-village-procession1

Under the guidance of a Shaman Woman, the pageantry makes visitations to each NYC Community Garden with bessings to follow

shaman-woman

 The ever so watchful Sun Goddess towering above

sun

And what garden would be complete without a She Devil to becon those weeds

she-devil

And lets not forget the Moon Goddess

moon-god

Magical Floral beings to rival annuals & perennials

flower-girl-front

No matter which way you lookflower-girl-back

All this created my hand…even our feathered friends were not forgottentoucan

 even the newest wee garden additions insisted on joining in

little-one

the pagentry ended with a show of color, a folkloric tale in itself

show-of-color

until this time next year when new invitations would be handed out for another Spring Season to mark a new beginning

next-year-invite

And so I wish you all a wonderful Spring, happy gardening & I’m planning our next flight of fancy…so until the next set of postcards…au revoir