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Frankfurt That Wasn’t In Our Itinerary

Our flight from Prague would connect at Frankfurt for our flight home to Kuala Lumpur. It has been raining all morning in Prague and continued so while we waited for our plane to arrive at Vaclav Havel airport. The gloomy weather apparently covered a large part of eastern Europe and has disrupted flights all around. Our Lufthansa plane finally arrived on what was supposedly been the departure time. By the time we departed, it was already a little more than an hour late. The 2 hours transit time we would have in Frankfurt for a change of plane, would now turn to be an amazing race as we would effectively have less than an hour to do so.

Gloomy evening at Prague Vaclav Havel airport.

While the weather has sort of calmed down when we departed Prague, it wasn’t so for flights across Austria and Germany. Our plane had to circle Frankfurt for a good 2 hours for a break of clear weather or probably had to wait long for it’s turn to land. By the time we got to the departure gate for our connecting flight, the gate has been closed and our plane departed on time. Presumably, it would have taken a different route to avoid the bad weather or the weather had improved.

Our flight LH1399 arriving on what supposedly to be the departure time.

OMG, we are now stuck in Frankfurt! We were instructed to go to Lufthansa counters to make arrangement for the next flight out. The line to these counters were long as Lufthansa had to make arrangement for hundreds or possibly thousands of stranded passengers. Two thoughts played in my mind. It wasn’t the airline’s fault … so, do we have to purchase new tickets AND where are we going to put up for the night? Airport chairs aren’t actually comfy.

Lining up at Lufthansa Frankfurt airport counters to get the next flight connection.

While lining up to be attended, trolleys of mineral water, fruit juice, energy bars and breads were made available and promptly replenished. Such were German efficiency. When I got up to the counter, I was told that Lufthansa will be making alternative flight arrangement for the next day at NO additional cost and we will be put up at Maritim Hotel at Lufthansa expense. To top it up, taxi and hotel meal vouchers were also handed out. This is SUPERB service.

FREE overnight stay at Maritim Hotel courtesy of Lufthansa.

Arriving at Maritim Hotel, a long line of passengers were already waiting to be attended. This stretched from the reception till outside the entrance door. The registration was smooth and by the time we got into our room, its past mid night. More passengers affected by the delays were still coming in.

Lining up again at the hotel reception for room assignment.

The room assigned to us was decently large. The amenities in the room was good, the room was quiet and the drapes kept the lights out. Naturally we had no extra clothes with us, but the bathrobes was good enough for the night. By the time I finished messaging my office about the missed flight, had my bath, it was almost 1am. This hotel with 542 rooms also caters for a number of airline crews.

King size bed. The room is decently large.

Writing table with water boiler for tea/coffee making. CTV was in another corner.

Bathroom amenities. Bathroom comes with bathtub.

At 07:30 the next morning, Frankfurt was still raining that doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon. We had a late breakfast at 09:00 and then went up to our room to prepare for check-out at 12:00. Our flight home will be at 21:35 and upon check-out, we left our backpacks at the hotel and took advantage of the remaining time to explore Frankfurt. We had no idea where to go as we had not visited Frankfurt nor made any research of the attractions it has. Staff at the hotel reception suggested taking the underground metro nearby for a visit to Romerberg.

At 07:30 the next morning, the gloomy weather continues.

It later drizzled till late morning. That’s Marriott Hotel to the left.

Breakfast at 09:00 in the hotel.

We weren’t the only one having late breakfast.

As if the weather knew of our intentions, the rain turned into drizzle and later stopped. From the hotel, we walked a little bit to the Festhalle/Messe underground metro (U-banh). Along the way, we came across a 21-metre-tall contraption of a ‘Hammering Man‘, a reflection of the new Frankfurt reborn after WWII. The motor driven right arm hammers rhythmically on an imaginary anvil.

This contraption of a ‘Hammering Man’ was close to our hotel.

Public rental bicycles.

First experience of Frankfurt while walking to the Festhalle/Messe metro station.

Messe Frankfurt (Frankfurt Trade Fair) is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser. This building is just behind the metro entrance.

Escalator down to the metro platform.

A rather simplistic Festhalle/Messe metro station.

Useful Frankfurt underground metro (U-Bahn) map.

After a couple of stops on the metro, we reached Romerberg, a public square. It is located in front of the Romer building complex, the seat of the Frankfurt city hall since 1405 to this day. The Romer are medieval buildings in the old town of Frankfurt am Main and one of the city’s important landmarks. Historic timber-framed buildings also fronts this square.

Fountain within the square at Romerberg.

Statue of the ‘Lady Of Justice’ in the fountain facing the the Romer buildings.

Historic timber-framed buildings. Towards the right, is the structure of Nokolai church.

Visitors enjoying lunch at an outdoor cafe.

Past noon, light drizzle continued on-&-off.

From Romerberg, we walked along the boulevard that leads to Galeria, a department store. This walking route will pass Haagen-Dazs and besides it, is a small square with a tall obelisk like reddish stone Liebfrauenberg fountain. Most people would just walk past it not knowing the structure dates back to 1770. There is no info board on the significance of this fountain, although there is a small bronze plaque in German.

The boulevard from Romerberg to Galeria.

Haagen-Daz is about 5 minutes walk from Romerberg.

Liebfrauenberg fountain in a square besides Haagen-Daz.

Galeria is a huge department store a further 5 minutes walk from Haagen-Dasz. Outside the building, you’ll find a contemporary sculpture of David And Goliath which is a little difficult to comprehend. Having limited time, we did not venture inside the department store.

Galeria department store is 5 minutes from Haagen-Daz.

Contemporary sculpture of David And Goliath. Which is David & which is Goliath ?

At one end of the Galeria towards our right, in the distance we noticed a structure that looks like a castle tower right in the middle of an intersection. This is Eschenheimer Turm (tower) with a height of 47m located in-front of Fleming’s Hotel. It used to serve as a city gate during the late medieval fortifications of Frankfurt am Main. The tower was erected at the beginning of the 15th century and was completed around 1428. Currently a restaurant and a bar operates there. Yet another landmark of the city with a metro stop near the base of the tower.

Eschenheimer Turm (Tower) was a city gate in the late-medieval times.

From the Galeria, walking the opposite direction (left) will take you to St Catherine church. It is the largest Protestant church in Frankfurt am Main, It was completed in 1681, damaged in 1944 during WWII and rebuilt in the 50s.

St Catherine Church, a minute’s walk from Galeria.

Across St Catherine church you’ll find Cafe Hauptbache built in 1729 originally as a guard house and prison. In late 1860s, the building became a police station and in 1904 became a cafe. Located in a busy plaza, this is the place to watch people go by and to ponder about the criminal history that took place right under your feet. It is one of Frankfurt’s most beautiful buildings albeit dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers.

Cafe Hauptbache is just across St Katharine church. Formally a guard house, now a cafe.

Walking route from Romerberg to Galeria.

Our next destination before returning to our hotel is to head to Munchener Str for lunch. This street is near Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof and is where one should go to look for Halal food. A number of Halal Food outlet can be found here ranging from Turkish to Indian food. Prices are about standard across Europe ranging from €7 – €10 for a decent meal.

Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof. Central train station.

After lunch we returned to Miritim Hotel to collect our backpacks and after a short rest, headed to the airport. We weren’t able to get a direct flight as it was fully booked, thus we will transit at Changi, Singapore before heading home to Kuala Lumpur. From Changi, we will be flying Singapore Airlines. All this has been pre arranged by Lufthansa. Kudos to Lufthansa for their brilliant service.

One of the lobby inside Frankfurt departure level.

The A380 that will be flying us to Changi.

Attractions Di Dalat, Vietnam

Januari 2019
Alright, lawatan ke attractions di Dalat bermula kul 8:30 pagi dengan van pick-up oleh pihak tour agent dari hotel. Dalam van sudah ada beberapa pelancong lain yang akan join tour ini bersama kami, tapi menginap di hotel berasingan. Itineray ground package bagi attractions2 di Dalat adalah seperti berikut.

  • Bao Dai’s Summer Palace
  • St. Nicholas Cathedral
  • Van Hanh Pagoda
  • Dried Flowers Showroom
  • Datanla Waterfall
  • Truc Lam Meditation Monastery
  • Cable Car ride from Truc Lam to Robin Hill
  • Robin Hill

Memula ke Bao Dai’s Summer Palace berhampiran pekan Dalat. Ini adalah Istana Di Raja Vietnam. Ya, dulu Vietnam ada Raja tapi tiada lagi sekarang walaupun keluarga di Raja masih wujud dan tinggal di Perancis. Memandangkan iklim Dalat yang dingin, Istana untuk musim panas di bina sini. Istana ini lengkap dengan pejabat, bilik meeting, dsb dan ianya adalah sebuah ‘working palace’ masa dulu.

Bao Dai’s Summer Palace

Pemandangan dari luar Istana Bao Dai

Bao Dai’s Summer Palace

Sebahagian taman di Bao Dai’s Summer Palace.

Bao Dai’s Summer Palace

Taman yang nyaman dan relaxing di Bao Dai’s Summer Palace.

Bao Dai’s Summer Palace

Pejabat di Raja Istana Bao Dai.

Bao Dai’s Summer Palace

Bilik mesyuarat Istana Bao Dai

Bao Dai’s Summer Palace

Antara kamar tidur yang terdapat di Istana Bao Dai

Selepas melawat Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, kami berhenti seketika di sebuah gereja besar tepi jalan pekan Dalat. St. Nicholas Cathedral adalah sebuah ‘working cathedral’ dan yang terbesar di Dalat. Kami hanya bergambar di hadapan gereja ini.

St. Nicholas Cathedral, Dalat

St. Nicholas Cathedral.

Dari St Nicholas cathedral, kami di bawa pula melawat Van Hanh Golden Buddah pagoda. Tinggi patong ini ialah 24m dengan tangan kanan nya memeganag sekuntum bunga lotus. Ia di bina pada tahun 2002

Van Hanh golden Buddah pagoda, Dalat

Tak pasti lah patong ni di perbuat dari emas atau di salut emas atau di cat emas.

Van Hanh golden Buddah pagoda, Dalat

Patong sleeping Buddha di pekarangan temple.

Van Hanh golden Buddah pagoda, Dalat

Pintu masuk ke dalam temple.

Ok, next attraction Dried Flowers Showroom on the way balik dari Golden Pagoda. Tapi apa tour guide beritahu, visit flower garden. So, semua orang excited nak tengok bunga di taman. Betapa hampa keseluruhan van yang actually, showroom tu untuk bunga2 kering. Phuiii. Ada satu Vietnamese couple yang sudah berhijrah ke US, pun kecewa juga. 

Dried Flowers showroom, Dalat

Entrance ke Dried Flowers showroom yang di kendalikan oleh Dalat Flower Forest Biotechnology Corporation.

Dried Flowers showroom, Dalat

Showroom dried flowers agak luas tapi tak banyak dried flowers pun.

Dried Flowers showroom, Dalat

Pemandangan belakang bangunan showroom. Tak tau lah kalau bawah lembah tu ada taman bunga. Yang pasti, ada tasik.

Sejurus lunch (sendiri), kami bertolak ke Datanla Waterfall. Ia adalah sebuah air terjun 6km laur dari pekan Dalat. Honestly, waterfall ni nothing to shout about. Air terjun di negara kita lebih awesome dari ni. Yang menarik di sini, kami mencuba pertama kalinya menaiki sled yang mengelunsur mengikut rail. Landasan dari entrance hingga ke waterfall bawah bukit, jarak nya dalam 1km. Menaiki sled ini pergi & balik, di kenakan bayaran tambahan (VND60,000) yang tidak termasuk dalam harga pakej. This is about the best experience of our entire visit to Dalat!

Datanla Waterfall, Dalat

Ticket office dan entrance ke Datanla Waterfall.

Datanla Waterfall, Dalat

Tempat naik sled sejurus masuk entrance.

Datanla Waterfall, Dalat

Mengelunsur 1km dari atas ke waterfall di bawah. Senang aje control benda ni, ada brake.

Di Datanla ni ada juga aktiviti sukan air tapi kita pelancong bukan nak engage benda2 ni kan. Lagi pun, masa yang di beri di sini tak sampai 1 jam pun. Jika kita tidak menaiki sled, berjalan kaki ke waterfall mengabmbil masa 20 minit. Tapi nak naik balik mendaki bukit, mau 1 jam kut. So no choice, tak boleh jimat belanja, kena naik sled juga ke waterfall. Jika tidak, di tinggal van nanti.

Datanla Waterfall, Dalat

Dah kata dah, waterfall Datanla ni nothing much.

Datanla Waterfall, Dalat

Pandangan dari waterfall ke arah gerai2 di bawah. Tak banyak mendaki, tak tinggi mana pun air terjun ni.

Last attraction for the day adalah lawatan ke satu lagi temple, Truc Lam Monastery on the way balik ke Dalat dari Datanla Waterfall. Tak taulah apa ada dalam monastry ni sebab kami tak masuk. Selesai mereka yang masuk semua keluar, kami di beri option oleh tour guide jika hendak menaiki cable car berhampiran monastery ke Robin Hill atau balik hotel terus. Memandangkan kami kurang puas pada attractions2 yang telah kami lawati, ramai memilih naik cable car. Fees VND60,000 one-way tanggung sendiri ya. Van akan menanti kami di penghujung belah sana di Robin Hill.

Truc Lam Monastery

Pemandangan entrance ke Truc Lam Monastery dari parking lot.

Truc Lam Monastery to Robin Hill cable car

Self service cable car ride from Truc Lam Monastery station.

Truc Lam Monastery to Robin Hill cable car

Cable car ni tak seberapa tinggi lah, jadi tak gayat pun.

Truc Lam Monastery to Robin Hill cable car

Pemandangan pekan Dalat dari cable car.

Truc Lam Monastery to Robin Hill cable car

Dari station Robin Hill, overlooking pekan Dalat.

Selepas cable car ride, kami di hantar pulang ke hotel masing2 dalam kul 4:30 petang. Kami yang telah check-out awal pagi tadi menunggu van yang lain pada kul 6 untuk menghantar kami ke stesen bas Dalat untuk pulang ke HCM. Sementara itu, pihak hotel telah baik hati memberi guna satu bilik kosong untuk kami solat. Perjalanan pulang bermula kul 7 malam dan on the way, bas berhenti di rest-stop yang sama semalam. Kami tiba HCM hampir kul 1 pagi, pejalanan awal 1 jam mungkin kenderaan kurang waktu malam.

Jadi, apa kesimpulan kami tentang ground package ni?
Jika anda seorang yang baru mula travel dan baru cover 1-2 negara Asean, mungkin anda akan merasa puas melawat tempat2 yang di bawa. Kepada yang telah banyak cover negara Asean, anda mungkin merasakan tarikan2 ini lebih kurang sama yang terdapat di negara Asean lain malah dengan negara kita sendiri seperti pasar malam, gerai2 tepi jalan, hutan tebal, dsb.

Kepada yang telah merantau lebih jauh, your perception mungkin berlainan. For me, seperti telah saya nyatakan dari awal, saya hanya follower trip ini. Pada saya, tidak banyak tarikan yang awesome atau setaraf tarikan2 yang telah saya experience tempat lain. Anyway, it depends on one’s own interest and expectations. Perlu dinyatakan, ada lain2 attractions yang mungkin lebih menarik di Dalat ini kami tiada kesempatan cover kerana kesuntukan masa.

Bas Dari HCM Ke Dalat

Januari 2019
Lawatan ke HCM di selitkan dengan 2D1N ke Dalat, bandar peranginan tanah tinggi 300+ km dari HCM. Kami mengambil Grab ke office tour agent yang tidak jauh dari hotel. Agent kemudian menghantar kami ke stesen bas express untuk ke Dalat. Perjalanan menggunakan ‘sleeping bus’ bermula jam 9 pagi dan perjalanan mengambil masa 7+ jam. Kami menaiki bus express awam tanpa di temani tour agent. Visit ke Dalat ini, adalah pakej yang di beli oleh SIL yang akan cover attractions di sana termasuk penginapan satu malam.

Bus station to Dalat in HCM

Ticket office untuk bas ke Dalat dan mungkin ke beberapa tempat lain.

Di stesen bas HCM, barulah tour agent belikan tiket bas kami ke Dalat. Harga tiket bas sudah termasuk dalam harga pakej. Mereka yang berbadan besar, uzur atau umur dah banyak, make sure pilih seat bawah, tak perlulah nak panjat2. Dari stesen bas, kami naik pula van untuk ke bas kami yang parking tepi jalan tidak berapa jauh dari ticket office untuk mengelakkan kesesakan jalan raya.

Bus station to Dalat in HCM

Stesen bas dan tempat beli tiket. Ala2 tahun 60an di Malaysia.

Bus station to Dalat in HCM

Tu dia, tiket bas 4 orang dewasa yang amat simple. Tempat duduk bahagian bawah 12A,13A,14A,15A.

Ok, ini dia air-conditioned sleeping bus Vietnam. Well maintained dan dalam keadaan bersih. Ada 3 rows and each has a lower and upper adjustable reclining seats. Kaki boleh lunjur ke hadapan tanpa sekatan. Safety belt di sediakan serta selimut dan 1 bottle air FOC. Sebelum naik, penumpang wajib tanggalkan kasut dan bag plastik di sediakan untuk kasut kita. Jadi kita naik bas berstokin atau kaki ayam. Luckily tiada bau yang tidak menyenangkan dalam bas sepanjang perjalanan. Tempat untuk simpan bag adalah bawah bas dan hampir tiada ruang atas bas. Bas ini adalah NO SMOKING.

HCM to Dalat sleeping bus

3 barisan single seat atas & bawah.

HCM to Dalat sleeping bus

Pandangan seat paras bawah (lantai) & atas.

Dalam perjalanan, bas akan berhenti rehat 30-45 minit sekali sahaja. Dalam bas tiada toilet jadi ambil kesempatan ini untuk toilet-break. Rest-stop bas ini ada kedai makan, tapi tiada yang halal. Gerai buah2an ada di stop ni jadi bolehlah beli untuk alas perut atau makan bekalan sendiri yang di bawa.

HCM to Dalat sleeping bus

Perhatikan bakul hijau & biru tu. Ada slipper dalam bakul. Di rest-stop, kita guna slipper yang disediakan bila turun. Bila naik bas semula, tinggalkan slipper dalam bakul tu.

HCM to Dalat sleeping bus

Kedai makan di rest-stop macam ‘tuck-shop’ di sekolah dulu2. No halal food. Ada gerai jual buah2an yang siap di potong.

HCM to Dalat sleeping bus

Toilet yang sungguh primitive tapi BERSIH.

Dalat bus station

Stesen bas di Dalat.

Setiba di stesen bas Dalat dalam kul 4 petang, kami di sambut pihak tour agent yang kemudian menghantar kami dan yang lain2 ke hotel masing2 dengan van. Kami terdiri dari group2 yang berasingan mengambil tour package dari HCM. Perjalanan van ke hotel mengambil masa 30 minit kerana stesen bas di pinggir pekan. Hotel kami Hoang Gia, berdekatan dengan pekan Dalat. Sampai ke hotel, kami berehat seketika and rest of the day is Free & Easy. Lawatan ke attractions bermula esok.

Dalat

Tasik Ho Xuan Hương di pekan Dalat.

Hoang Gia hotel, Dalat

Hotel kami di Dalat.

Hoang Gia hotel, Dalat

Lobby hotel.

Hoang Gia hotel, Dalat

Bilik double kami yang luas.

Time kami pergi bulan Januari, suhu siang hari panas dan lewat petang suhu mula dingin. Light jacket memadai waktu petang dan malam jika kuar bersiar. Untuk makan malam, kami mengambil Grab ke restoran halal Kampung Pandan terletak 3.5km dari hotel. Kami order nasi putih, Tom Yam campur, sayur goreng, telur, dsb. Honestly, Tom Yam tu rasa ‘flat’ tapi yang lain2 OK aje lah. Average RM20 makanan halal sorang di luar negara, kira murah tu. Harap mereka boleh tingkatkan rasa masakan mereka agar lebih menyelerakan.

Halal Kampong Pandan restaurant, Dalat

Restoran halal Kampung Pandan, Dalat.

Halal Kampong Pandan restaurant, Dalat

Ruang makan restoran agak luas. Ada satu bas besar group Malayisa sedang makan.

Halal Kampong Pandan restaurant, Dalat

Kami order Tom Yam campur.

Halal Kampong Pandan restaurant, Dalat

Order juga telur dan sayur goreng.

Halal Kampong Pandan restaurant, Dalat

Bill untuk 4 dewasa makan, hampir RM80

Selepas makan malam, kami pulang ke pekan dan berhenti di Dalat night market berhampiran hotel kami. Pasar malam ni semacam terdapat di Malaysia jugalah. Kebanyakan di sini menjual pakaian sejuk. Sengal siapa yang beli untuk pakai kat Malaysia. Makanan juga banyak di jual tapi tiada yang halal. Berhampiran night market ni, banyak hotel2 yang nampak ‘standard’ juga lah. Hotel kami kebelakang lagi dari sini. Kami hanya ronda kawasan ini tanpa membeli apa2 dan berjalan pulang ke hotel. Bilik hotel ada hot shower, no heater and no air-cond, tapi suhu dingin just nice untuk tidur berselimut.

Dalat night market

Night market dengan hotel2 berhampiran.

Dalat night market

Gerai2 tepi jalan di Dalat night market.

Dalat night market

Spanish Steps versi Dalat.

Dalat night market

Antara kedai yang menjual sayur dan buah2an yang segar.