Colours Of Life
The Yongs' Pic Album since 1998
World Seva 2011
Robyn's Diary
About the Yongs


8th Year: 2006
- Welcome Year of Dog
- Baby Lucase & Ice Skating
- Jin's Birthday @ Mt Faber
- Rock Climbing & Kid's Kampong Excursion
- Mother's Day, Kranji Park & Jurong Reptile Park
- Driving Tour to Fraser Hill, Ipoh & KL
- Climbing Fun for Families
- Skye's 1st Birthday
- Kid's Central LIVE Show
- Robyn's 8th Charity Birthday
- Bowling @ SAFRA Yishun
- Pasir Ris Park & Vietnam Adventures

previous   Dec 2006 (8 yr 2 mth)  next

9 Dec 2006 - Photo Shooting @ Pasir Ris Park

It was a cool afternoon when Alvin and Robyn went photo shooting at Pasir Ris Park.

Robyn at Pasir Ris Park

Robyn at Pasir Ris Park

Robyn at Pasir Ris Park Robyn at Pasir Ris Park
Robyn at Pasir Ris Park
Alvin at Pasir Ris Park


18-28 Dec 2006 - Adventures in Northern Vietnam

For this year end trip, we headed to Northern Vietnam to soak in the fast-developing city of Hanoi, trek in the Sapa highland and immerse ourselves in the serenity of Halong Bay over Christmas.

Travel Plan
18 Dec - S'pore to Hanoi
20 Dec - Trekking in Sapa Highland
23 Dec - Hanoi
24 Dec - Christmas at Halong Bay
27 Dec - Hanoi
28 Dec - Hanoi to S'pore

MRT - Vietnam Airline - Hanoi

The very first thing that hit us was the haphazard traffic! Cars, motorbikes, bicycles, tricycles, pedestrian and occasion buses all come and go in all directions, and endlessly. It's a fine display of orderliness within seemingly chaos.

Hanoi's maddening traffic

Robyn at Ho Hoan Kiem

Jin and Alvin in Hanoi

Taking in the morning calmness of Ho Hoan Kiem or Lake of the Returned Sword, which is situated right in the middle of the city. It was a stark contrast - thousands of motorbikes and vehicles dashing in all directions around the entire circumference of the lake but the calmness within remained unmoved.
Street-side baguette seller

The unique sight and sounds of Hanoi are everywhere. We watched as bystanders a very different type of livelihood in the Vietnamese. More significantly, we experienced a quiet resolve amongst the people there, each working purposefully and patiently towards some collective progress.

Hawkers seem to set up shop anywhere along the street - they sell baguettes, vegetables, meat, etc.

Street-side vege seller

Street-side butcher


We were elated to meet with Nhung, whom we haven't met for 3 years. She took us to experience one of the best Hanoi dish - Cha Ca. The restaurant, Cha Ca La Vong, has a 5-generation history of serving only this single dish. Oh, it must be one of the best food we've ever tasted!

Robyn, Jin, Nhung & Alvin

Cha Ca

Robyn, Jin, Nhung & Alvin

We were happy to have met Hanh and Giao from Sapa Trading and they were really nice to show us around the Hanoi city - the French Quarter and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (in pic).

Our motorbike journey in Hanoi

Riding in the exposed motorbikes and getting head-on into the haphazard traffic was more exciting than any Disneyland rides, especially when these two riders took onboard all our heavy luggage. They said, "Can. No problem. Come!"

Dessert by the roadside
We enjoyed trying out the interesting variety of food by the roadside. Most of the time we didn't know what they were... Well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do! Eating out from a tiny stool, we got additional spices from the passing motorbikes' exhaust...
Robyn sketching in Hanoi

Alvin, Jin & Robyn in Hanoi's Highland Coffee

Enjoying mid-afternoon coffee from the Highland Coffee, a local Starbuck-lookalike. Robyn did some sketches of the surrounding old buildings.

Next: overnight train to Lao Cai which is just 2 km from the Chinese border, then bus to Sapa Highland.

Robyn in Hanoi

Robyn in Hanoi

19 - 23 Dec 2006 - Sapa Highland

Sapa is a beautiful, mountainous town in northern Vietnam along the border with China. The highest peak in Vietnam, Fansipan, is located here. It's also rich in cultural diversity with numerous hill tribe people and villages.

We arrived in an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai Train Station. From there, we caught a bus and wound our way up the highland to Sapa town.

Mystical highland of Sapa
Sapa town

Sapa town gave us the feel of a ski resort - cool, relaxing and alpine-like. It reminded Alvin of Kathmanthu in Nepal.


The Sapa market was an interesting place - colorful and buzzling with life.

Sapa Market
Robyn, Jin & Alvin - the trekking family Hiking in layering contour country

We took a short 3-hour 3-km hike from Sapa to Cat Cat Village on the first afternoon just to warm up to walking. The air was cool and refreshing, the scenery of rolling hills and the vast expanse of nature and mountains before us was just breathtaking.

Then we went on a 2-day 15-kim trek to TaVan Village to really soak in the mountainous environment of the hills, paddies and the hill tribes. The stepped terrain, painstakingly created by the locals here for farming, was picturesque.

Alvin, Jin & Robyn with a local farmboy

We kidnapped a local farmboy for photo!

Picturesque farmscape

Picturesque farmscape!

black H'mong
Black H'mong

The hill tribes: the Red Dzao, the black H'mong, and the Dzay people.

Little black H'mong
Little black H'mong

Little Vietnamese boy
Little Vietnamese boy

Red Dzao hilltribe

The trek was moderate except for some steep stretches of terrain to negoitate. Robyn covered the 15km like an adventurer.


Red Dzao hilltribe

This terrain is the best place to teach navigation - the contours are unmistakeable.

Contoured hillslopes
Crossing suspension bridge
Robyn, the little trekker
Jin & Alvin in Sapa Valley
Enroute to TaVan Village

Enroute to TaVan Village



Trekking through stunning landscape

Trekking through stunning landscape
Robyn & Jin with our guide-cum-chef, Dung

Thanks to our competent guide, Dung, we learnt a great deal about the history and culture of this wonderful place. He's also a great chef so our tummies were also very happy.


Robyn with 2 black H'mong ladies. They went all out to help Robyn cross the paddies safely. Robyn also learnt how to descend with speed from them. We reciprocated by buying some crafts from them.

Robyn with her 2 black H'mong  friends & guides
Getting warmth in the kitchen Farmstay with a Dzay family We stay for a night at a farmstay with a Dzay family. They were very nice people. It was freezing cold that night so we all cuddled around the kitchen fire to chit chat after a wonderful dinner.
Crossing the river

Crossing the river

A picturesque sight of two local ladies carrying firewood and holding hands to cross the river.

Proud parents: Alvin & Jin Alvin and Jin were very pleased with their little angel's trekking performance - this was the longest distance - 18km - that Robyn has ever trekked in 3 continuous days to date. Daddy and mummy knew in their hearts that Robyn will grow into an even more capable and daring adventurer than they have ever been. Robyn in Vietnam


24 - 26 Dec 2006 - Halong Bay

On 24 Dec, Christmas Eve, we travelled by bus from Hanoi to Halong Bay and boarded a junk to sail out into a magical wonderland.

The scenery at Halong Bay seems surreal. There are thousands of limestone mountains dotting the seascape. The multiple layering and shades of the islets gave a feeling that we were living within a PHOTOSHOP creation. It's simply heavenly!

Magical Christmas at Halong Bay
Halong Bay

Halong Bay has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is often touted by proud Vietnamese as the world's Eighth wonder. And we agree!

Ha Long literally means descending dragon(s) and according to local myth, the story goes: Long ago when their forefathers were fighting foreign invaders from the north, the gods from heaven sent a family of dragons to help defend their land. This family of dragons descended upon what is now Ha Long bay and began spitting out jewels and jade. Upon hitting the sea, these jewels turned into the various islands and islets dotting the seascape and formed a formidable fortress against the invaders. The locals were able to keep their land safe and formed what is now Vietnam.

Heavenly Palace at Halong Bay

The Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace) Grotto was our first stop. This is one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay.

According to legend, a beautiful young lady named May (cloud) caught the eye of the Dragon Prince and he fell in love with her. They were betrothed and got married in the very center of the grotto. All of the scenes of their wedding, which lasted for seven days and seven nights, have been seemingly fossilized in the grotto.

It's been a mighty great choice to spend Christmas on a junk afloat in the middle of nowhere in Halong Bay!

This was our sleeping cabin onboard the junk. A little cramp but comfortable.

The water in the bay was so calm that we didn't feel that we were floating in the sea nor did we hear any wave slapping on our junk.

Silent night on Christmas Eve... Peace and tranquility on Christmas Day...

Sleeping cabin onboard junk
Alvin & Jin Merry Christmas, Robyn

Floating 'kelong'

We stopped by a floating fish farm, akin to our "kelong". They offered us seafood and our chef onboard would cook for us. But no one was game enough to purchase any.

Little Vietnamese fruit seller-cum-rower

These Vietnamese boatgirls were not only highly skilled at handling their boats, they were also highly enthusiastic little entrepreneurs.

Little Vietnamese boat girl Little Vietnamese girls selling fruits

We met many wonderful fellow travellers, heard many fascinating tales and learnt many new things. Travelling and sharing add depth, width and colors to our life!

(1) Robyn with Ryan & Dee, newly grads from Sydney, Australia.
(2) Jin, Robyn with Christine Fabre, a professor and artist from France.
(3) Jin sharing bread fruits with Korean sisters Yoon-Seon & Hyo-Seon.

Robyn with Ryan & Dee from Sydney
Jin sharing the bread fruits with Yoon-Seon & Hyo-Seon from Korea
Jin, Robyn & Christine Fabre from France

Climbing up the highest point in Cat Ba National Park

Robyn near the summit

Climbing up limestone cliff on Cat Ba Island

After hiking 18km in Sapa, trekking in the Cat Ba National Park was chicken feed for Robyn. But the ascent up the limestone cliff to the peak was a good test of Robyn's rock climbing skills. Some stretches were rather exposed and perilous, and a fall would mean a long way down over sharp edges of limestone rocks.

The photo top-right photo provides a good perspective of the expanse and distance - the guide is that tiny figure sitting on the faraway lower rock at top centre of the picture.

Down-climbing was even more treacherous but we handled it just the same. Robyn did sustain a fall that bruised her knees though but it was at a most unsuspecting gradual sloping stretch near the foothill.

We are pleased with Robyn's maturing sense of courage, confidence and sure-footedness on the rock.

Challenging down climb for Robyn
Robyn & Jin near the summit of the highest peak in Cat Ba Island Robyn with Alvin and Jin near the summit of the highest peak in Cat Ba Island. Robyn & Alvin

Sunset @ Halong Bay

It was a most romantic sunset as we watched the glowing ball descended in silence, punctuated only by the clicking sounds of the cameras...

Sunset in Halong Bay
Near dusk

It was on Christmas Day that Robyn had her first go at canoeing, and it's in the calm water amidst a stunting seascape in Halong Bay!

Robyn's first canoeing experience Alvin & Robyn canoeing in Halong Bay

There's so much to reflect and treasure in this 11-day Northern Vietnam Travel. Robyn started learning to keep a travel journal. She has recorded some scenes in the form of drawing, and captured some thoughts in words.

Robyn writing her travel journal

We love Halong Bay

As we sailed back to Halong City on Boxing Day, we knew in our heart that we shall return here again some days in the future. And Daddy has an inspiration to create some climbing havens out there amongst the limestone islets...


Robyn in Vietnam



previous   Dec 2006 (8 yr 2 mth)  next

back to top