To Vietnam: Touchdown – Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) or Saigon, used to be the erstwhile capital city of South Vietnam, prior to the reunification of the country. It used to be a French capital town too during their reign over the Cochinchina colony. Now, HCMC is the most populous city of the country. A city bustling with traffic, energy and food.

Air Asia Flights parked at KLIA 2

We landed at the Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport (SGN) on 1st of  April, 2018 at about 1300h local time. We had a layover at the KLIA2 (Kuala Lumpur International Terminal 2) and onward flight to Saigon. At SGN, we had to clear the immigration first to get to our baggage.
Immigration procedures were fairly simple. There is a window where you submit your passport, the approval letter and the filled form (attach 2 photos with the form) and then you wait. Your name shall get called out from another counter, where you need to pay USD 25 and receive your visa affixed passport back. Then you go the queue for the passport control, they stamp your inwards date, maybe ask a couple of questions, done!
We retrieved our luggage, bought a couple of local sim cards, costing us each 9 USD and came out. We also converted 100 USD to VND, which turned out to be about 2.2 million VND. Be careful of the denominations though. I found that they have currency notes of the following denominations (in thousands) – 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. It is easy to confuse amongst the zeros and sometimes the notes stick together too. Just take your time to count and pay, simple.
We had booked our stay with the Chill Box hotels. It was a couple of kms away from the airport and the best way to reach there seemed to be using Uber. Later, we found that Uber was indeed the best way to travel within the city for they are quick to respond, and the cost is quite reasonable. The local taxis do rip you off real bad.
We dropped our bags, bathed, refreshed for a bit, and were out on the streets by 1700h. Since we were famished, the first place where we saw something being cooked and served, we went for it.

Sticky rice, vegetables and a pork sausage

What you see above is fried rice, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and a pork sausage. I do not remember what it was called, but it tasted quite nice. The sausage had a slight sweet taste to it. The rice, when mixed with the soup, soya sauce and some chilly paste, became absolutely amazing. Chicken, egg and beef options were also available for the same dish.

A street in Saigon

Umbrellas in a street in Ho Chi Minh CityNext, we were headed to towards the town centre. Since we werent scheduled to be in HCMC for a long time, we concentrated only on the places within the city. It was past 1730h, so we could not go in the museums.
One of the museums which we could not get toWe went to the Notre Dame Cathedral and found it very beautiful.The Notre Dame Cathedral, SaigonRight beside the cathedral is the post office, which has been operational since the French were there.The Central Post Office, Saigon

There were street performances in progress in the lanes and we progressed towards our next destination for the evening, The Hard Rock Cafe, Saigon!

Long exposure outside the Hard Rock Cafe, Saigon

Since it had become quite late by then, we decided to head back, and retire early.

Dried fish for sale, Saigon

A sculpture in an alley, Saigon

For dinner, that night, we gave Pho, which is basically a bland-ish noodle soup with choice of meat, a try. I did not like it much and in the trip, never did we have another bowl of Pho.

A Bowl of Pho Bo, Saigon

We retired for the day by 2300h and had planned to visit the Ben Thanh market, The War Remnants Museum and the Bitexco Financial Tower before we flew out the next day.

The trip continues in the next post.

Cheers!!

Diwali Night – 2017

This Diwali, I was at Mumbai. Had just a day of holiday, so it was out of the question to go home then. Instead, I came to office that night, went to the terrace, which is on the 42nd floor for a view. Looked quite nice, I must say, the photos didn’t come out to be that amazing though.

But, I wanted good photos, so, I went to the Marine Drive to watch the fireworks. With the rounded curve of the road, it is always amazing to watch the light trails. The glow from the lights add to the beauty, and the occasional police van on a patrol, makes it an interesting picture.

Fire works on Diwali Night at Marine Drive Mumbai
Fire works on Diwali Night at Marine Drive Mumbai

This, here is a composite image of 5 to 6 photos, each of 30 seconds exposure, and then stacked on photoshop. While I am not very deft at photo manipulation, it does help to know bit of retouching.

A bit of advise dear readers, always use a tripod and remote while shooting long exposures for stacking. No matter how stable the surface is, each time you press the button, the position shifts just a tiny bit, and that shows up blurred in the final stacked image.

Cheers!!

The Mega Event: BNLF 2015

It all started when a new tab opened up on the Indiblogger website, with a weird name, #BNLF. Curious, I checked it, turned out to be a blogging event to be held at Mumbai during Oct 31 and Nov 1. I liked the dates, as I would be available, so I joined in.
As days went by, the buzz began to pick up. Slowly and steadily, I found a lot of people whom I follow were attending this event, so the interest got stoked. Ultimately, on the event days, it was a mega hit. Approximately 500 bloggers from all over the country had come. Some of the major motivational speakers, keynote speakers, professional trainers, celebrities, all were there. What more, I was also the part of the Indicrew, which was basically a volunteer group which was formed with the bloggers to help in the smooth functioning of the event. With the camera with me, and in the company of a few more photographers, we covered the event and came up with some shots I can feel proud about.

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Welcoming the bloggers

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A detailed report of the event can be found here.

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Arnab Ray – Guest Speaker, Blogger, Social Influencer
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Kanan Gill – Guest Speaker, Vlogger, Comedian, Engineer

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As for the photos, I am sharing approximately 150 photos covering various events of the meet. Some are solo photos, some are group and some are abstract. You, my dear reader, are allowed to view the photos and also use them in your social media sites and blogs, with due credit being given to me. The photos are copyrighted. Also, understand and respect your fellow bloggers and be responsible while you use the photos. Use them in a way, that would be fine with you, if your photos are used in the same manner.

Should you choose to accept and abide to the above conditions, proceed here. In case you have certain doubts, be a good citizen and turn back from this page.

It was one of the best experiences till date. To meet with so many like minded people and have an amazing interaction with them, a lot of networking, and making new friends too.

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Bruce Dickinson – Guest Speaker, Singer( Iron Maiden), Pilot, Entrepreneur
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The Fangirls
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Met as strangers, parted as friends!

Am waiting eagerly for the next iteration, where I am sure, it shall be bigger, better and be more disruptive than ever.

Cheers!!