Currently traveling
March 2018 - January 2021
Currently traveling
  • Day67

    Final stop Hà Nội ❤️ Goodbye Vietnam

    May 21, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Everyone was a bit delicate for breakfast. We were all so excited for our doughnuts, but today it was noodle soup!! The look on everyone's face was classic. The noodle soup was very delicious but it just wasn't the fun carby breakfast we'd been having previously and needed after a beer sesh!

    We then packed and said good byes before jumping on the bus back to Ha Nội. We did a big wash in preparation for our flight tomorrow sorted out some logistics and then headed into town for one last wander. The hardest decision had to be made. What was our last meal in Vietnam going to be?! How can we even choose?! If I could choose anything I think I would go back to Ho Chi Mình and eat Bun Thit Nuong, Bạn Xéo and a Banh Mi. Well actually we saw a street seller with various starter picks, including a crab spring roll which was super tasty and then we went for the one and only Phở, it would be silly not too! It was scummy!! We then spent the evening wandering round the old quarter, the lake, watching kids break dance on the street and soaking in the lively evening culture. It was a lovely end to our time here.

    But that's not all! We still have one morning left before the flight so we got up early and decided to head to the sky deck to have a 360 view of the city and a reflection of the past 9 weeks. A truly beautiful end to our time here. We then went for one last coffee before the craziness of picking up our luggage, dropping off keys and heading to the airport. I can't believe this is our first flight on this trip! I soo much prefer going by land as you don't have to worry about security and luggage...

    On our way to the airport now... waiting in anticipation... We've decided to fly with just hand luggage and for air asia it has to be under 7kg. Nightmare! Hoping our bags are under 7kg...

    Update... So... All luggage weighed 21kg, so we did the typical backpacker thing and wore everything. I wore a dress, a tshirt, a skirts, trousers and a thermal top, wore the coats and stuffed all pockets full to the brim. Will even wore two pairs of shoes! (Look closely at the picture!). But we got through!! 😂 When we got past security we were so hot and sweaty and instantly trimmed down again. We then went to meet a couple we met in Cat Ba who happened to be getting the same flight. Typical...the flight is delayed luckily we have good company to pass the time.

    I can't believe it really is the end of our time here. There is so much we still want to see and do. Ah well it just means we will have to come back!!

    What an incredible journey we have had here. We've eaten the most fresh and tasty food ever, we've seen some incredible landscapes, we've driven bikes and come away injury free, we've had a few funny bus and train journeys, we've learnt Vietnamese, I've been converted to a coffee drinker, we've swam in the sea and kayaked, but the thing that has truly made our time special in Vietnam has been the people we have met along the way, travellers and particularly the locals. Mỹ Tho, Họ Chỉ Mình, Huế, Bac Ha, Ha Giang and Cat Ba were just a handful of the places where we met the most loving, friendly and generous people. They are places we felt like we lived and were part of a family, not just another tourist. If you're reading this and we met you along the way thank you so much for being part of our journey.
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  • Day65

    Cruising around and haircut time!

    May 19, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Today we had a very chilled morning. I forgot to talk about the homestay! The family are super lovely with 2 super shy children, one girl and one boy. The breakfast in the morning is incredible. So first we got fresh Vietnamese coffee then out came salad, omelette and bread. Normally that would be all, but then came out a freshly made doughnut, a cream bun, watermelon, mango and sticky rice! Let's just say we didn't need to have lunch while at this homestay!

    In the afternoon we hired a scooter to go to the national park. We drove to the tip of the island, I drove the scooter (Yey I can do it!) and then walked up to a viewpoint. Did I mention its hot?! It was only a 45 minute walk and I felt like I was in a shower and my lungs were going to collapse and it was 4:30pm! It's 88% humidity and 33 degrees here. 😭

    In the evening we met up with the guys for dinner and beer hoi. Honestly before I came here I would never choose to drink anything lighter than a Guinness, now having a cold refreshing lager at the end of the day is just what you need!

    The next day we had our feast breakfast and started planning for Malaysia. We are flying to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday with Air Asia, who have a 7kg limit for handluggage... Crap... Currently our bags weigh 11-15kg... Looks like we will be wearing everything on the plane 😂 We borrowed some scales and were able to get our bags down to the bare minimum. Hopefully it's OK!!

    We then headed out in search of a haircut for both of us. We found a man on the street cutting hair so Will was sorted. The guy was so delicate and detailed with the cut. Will got a makeover, eyebrows shaped, nose hairs trimmed, the works!

    Then we found one for me. Haha it was an interesting experience. I do need to remember that it was only a fiver so I was expecting something simple. First he looked at my hair as if he had never seen curly or thick hair before. (He probably hadn't!). Then a girl washed my hair as if there was no tomorrow, throwing shampoo everywhere including down my ears. Then he sat me on the chair and began to cut. Well to be honest this was the OK bit. After the cut they washed my hair again or should I say she scraped my scalp with her sharp claws. I don't really understand why but she just kept scraping and scraping for about 10 minutes!! It was rather painful. Finally she stopped and then the blow drying began. I had 2 people blow drying my hair at once, the guy and the girl that washed my hair. The guy did one side very gently and calmly while the girl was just burning my scalp and pulling my hair out of my head. Again, I just sat and had to remember it's only a fiver... Eventually my hair dried and they began straightening it. They might as well have just pulled my hair straight! The straighteners were pretty cool so they just did a light touch. Actually the end result wasn't too bad for a fiver, but obviously in 88% humidity it lasted about 2 mins before the frizz and curls let loose. So glad to have shorter hair again though!

    We then jumped on the bike to watch sunset and meet up with the others in town. I think we got a bit carried away with chatting and drinking beer! We tried a floating bar too which was fun and then quickly drove back for family dinner. We had sashimi with a soy and wasabi dip. We kept making the dip spicier and it just blew our faces off. It was fun 😂 Then we had fish soup, rice with a flax seed crumb, potato and pork and of course plenty of rice wine! As it was our last night we of course had to go back to our local bia hoi place. When we got there he was literally closing the shutters. We knocked and he saw it was us and happily opened up again for us! He was so sweet. 3 more beers and a couple of card games down it was definitely time to let him and us go to bed! Such a fun night.
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  • Day64

    Boats boats boats!

    May 18, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    It's time for a day on a boat, let's be honest that's why you come to Cat Ba! Cat Ba is one of the larger islands within Ha Long Bay home to the endangered Cat Ba Langur. The best way of seeing this area is by boat, so off we went on an all day boat trip. We swam, we ate amazing seafood, we saw the biggest fish I'd ever seen, we kayaked through caves, we chilled out and the weather was stunning, hot, very hot but perfect. Kayaking is sooo much fun!! I loved every minute of it 😁

    When we came ashore we decided to visit the Canon Fort and watch sunset at the top. Did I mention its hot???! Woweee it's just impossible to walk at all in this heat. Well actually it's the humidity, it's just killer. When we got to the top obviously the clouds came in just as the sun was setting, but it was a lovely view of the boats and the bay anyway.

    In the evening we went for Ban Xéo (the pancake filled with mushroom and pork) dinner and met Fabian and Katie who were staying in our homestay for Bia Hoi (beer) at what became our local for the next couple of days.
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  • Day63

    Cat Ba Island

    May 17, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    The next day we had booked a bus to go Cat Ba, our last destination before heading to Malaysia. So we got up super early to see Ho Chi Chi Minh Mausoleum. Even though we got there super early there was already a queue an hour long. As we didn't have much time we decided to skip seeing Ho Chi Minh and just wander round the grounds, see the Botanical Garden (actually just a park), have Bun Cha for lunch (yummy meat pattys, noodles and herbs in a fish sauce) before seeing Svenja briefly for one last time! I'm so glad we bumped into her, she's been an absolute gem and shown us how people really live in Hanoi even in all the tourist places. We then headed for our bus to Cat Ba. I think we are getting lucky with our transport. It was really efficient and quick! We arrived in Cat Ba and after a bit of an ordeal finding our homestay we were finally able to sit and chill. We met a lovely couple from Brighton, Fabian and Katie, and after a chat we headed out for dinner. We were in the local area of Cat Ba and when walking down the street in search of food we found an evening English Class. The kids were aged 12 and 13 and their level of English was very varied for only basic words to discussing the Illuminati and conspiracies theories of Donald Trump. Seriously, Will actually had this discussion with a 13 year old kid who genuinely believed in the Illuminati and that Hillary... God knows how they got onto that! I was just talking about our travels and showing them different countries and the Google maps of London! It was about 9:30pm when we realised the time and we still hadn't eaten so we walked back to the homestay as nowhere was open and the owner leant us his scooter to go to town for dinner.Read more

  • Day62

    Hà Nội - More food glorious food

    May 16, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    The next day we went for breakfast on the street and ate an array of tofu, noodles, meats and herbs. Then we headed to pottery village, Ba Trang. It was soo nice. There was so so so much we wanted to buy 😭 we couldn't though as we can't justify carrying it all for another 2 months, so I just took pictures of what I wanted. We then headed back to see Ngoc Son Temple, which is a small temple in the middle of a lake. After we went shopping and did a couple of chores before heading for a lemon tea and then dinner.

    Dinner was really fun. We decided to go to a famous barbecue restaurant. Even though one waiter spoke English we didn't have a clue what we needed to do. In the end we went for the set menu which we thought we chose a couple of meats from. Nope... We were very wrong. You actually get all the items from the menu, there must have been over 10 different cuts of meats plus you can order different salads, bibinbap, tea and endless desserts. It was crazy!! I thought I was losing weight in the south of Vietnam... Definitely not in the north!!! We were so full we decided to walk home from there.
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  • Day61

    Hà Nội - Food!

    May 15, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    So we originally had big plans to do lots in the morning but this wasn't realistic... We had a super chilled morning, ate yummy Banh Xeo and then visited the Temple of Literature. I'm probably going to say this everyday and you're going to get bored of it, but seriously... It's bloody hot. I just cannot stop sweating. It's just disgusting!! After the temple we jumped in an uber to town to meet Svenja for the famous Hà Nội Egg Coffee! It was such a relief to get into the air-conditioned taxi. I didn't want to get out!! Egg Coffee, so it's really nice, but I still don't think it's as good as the coffee from the old men on the street which is so thick and chocolatey. We then headed to the old quarter to see the old market. We stayed there a while in the sweaty indoor market and Svenja bought a couple of things.

    In the evening we headed back to the flat... What an ordeal, so the addresses in Hanoi aren't so useful as Google maps doesn't have half of the tiny streets and alleys. We were walking in circles for ages befote eventually finding the flat. All the tiny alleys and buildings look the same. Phew! We then headed out for Ban Cuan dinner. It is normally a breakfast dish but Svenja knows where to go. It's a pork and mushroom mix rolled in rice noodle and eaten with dried onions dipped in soup. It was super yummy!!

    After that we wanted to experience Hà Nội at night! First we went to Ta Hien Street which is where all the local Vietnamese go for drinks with a quick stop at Roti King. It was fun, we drank beer and ate super spicy dried beef and pork balls. Then we went for Bo Bia which is sugar cane and coconut wrapped in rice paper (oddly super nice) and then for more Bia Hoi. Bia hơi is a daily beer that is brewed and must drank on that same day. I think we need to get the recipe for this.

    We then headed to Phúc thần bar. We walked all the way to find it was closed!! We then headed to a rice wine bar and would you believe it... It was closed too. It was a clear sign it was home time 😊
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  • Day59

    Ba Be Lake

    May 13, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We are so so tired. The Ha Giang Motorbike trip has really took it out of us. We had quite a reasonable lie in but a neighbouring house were singing karaoke all night so we had very little sleep. In the morning we were had plans to do a 15km hike, but it was too much so we decided to take a 4hr boat trip around the lake with the owner of the homestay. It really is the hot season at the moment just sitting still makes me sweat relentlessly!! On the boat it was nice and cool for most of the journey so it was definitely the right thing to do. We even spent sometime planning our next steps!

    In the evening we booked our flight to Malaysia (woohoo we go in 2 weeks) and then had yet another super yummy dinner at the homestay. They grow and catch their own food and it's just super simple and tasty!

    The next day I woke up with once again very little sleep. I know it sounds ridiculous but I'm actually beginning to worry about coming back, getting a job and having a "normal life" again. I think if I hadn't gone through a redundancy it would be fine, but annoyingly it does still upset me. The plan for the day was to get up super early, pack and go for a hike. We had no idea if we could make the bus back to Hà Nội at 1pm or whether we would need to stay another night. It all depends on how long the hike took.

    Well we were up early and began hiking. It was hot, really really hot. I felt really nausea and had to keep stopping. We ended up cutting the walk early and booked our trip back to Hà Nội instead. Our main reason to get back to Hà Nội as soon as possible is to see Svenja again and be guided round by a local!

    So having had only a pineapple we jumped in the minivan, which dropped us off at a boat, which dropped us off at a bus. The bus is an absolute dream!! We have the whole bus to ourselves!!! There is no way this will last for very long. I'm sure he will drop us off on a street corner where we will be picked up by a bus full of people, animals and furniture... let's see...

    Well I can confirm that the bus was empty the whole way! Everytime the bus indicated we held our breath waiting for the driver to tell us to move bus. I honestly cannot believe it! We couldn't sleep for 6 hours as we were just waiting to be randomly kicked off haha how ridiculous. The journey was great and it dropped us off right in the old quarter. I think today is our lucky day as Svenja's friend has a spare room which she has let us stay in too. So we are sat in our cosy room just chilling. We were going to meet Svenja but ended up just going to bed!
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  • Day58

    To Ba Be National Park

    May 12, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    So today we started yet another crazy adventure to our next destination, Ba Be National Park. Most people book organised tours from Hà Nội or drive a motorbike for 2 days to get there, but us, we go the local way! Our journey started at 5am and just when we would have liked to have been on a quicker bus it was like being on a sloth! They stopped for breakfast, coffee, lunch and god knows what else but it took 7 hours to get to our first changeover spot and of course this was on a deserted road. I find it incredible how things just work here. The bus driver dropped us off and said you stay here and a bus will pick you up. We barely waited 5 minutes and sure enough on the other side of the road a bus stopped and waved us to get on! The second bus is full of Vietnamese watching what I can only describe as Vietnamese Got Talent. It's pretty funny.

    OK so that was a horrid bus ride. People were being sick all around, the bus was unbelievably bumpy and it was an unexpected 4 hour long ride. When we finally stopped and got off we were on the complete opposite side to where we needed! So then we caught a boat and then finally after another 20 min walk we arrived at the homestay. Shattered is not the word... I think it's time to rest!! I couldn't ask for a more peaceful surrounding to be resting in 😊
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  • Day57

    Saving the best till last!

    May 11, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We gelled so well as a group and decided to meet up in the morning for breakfast and then head to the local waterfall for a spot of swimming. The rest of the guys either had more powerful motorbikes or only one person on them, so catching up was difficult with 2 on a 110cc! Swimming in the waterfall was really fun, so we stayed for a couple of hours before heading back to the homestay for a change, lunch and then heading off on the 72km journey back. So in previous days when we have done this it would take 5-6 hours. But with Will playing with the big boys and trying to keep up the whole way we were back in 4! There were a few sketchy moments, a few moments where I nearly flew off, a few moments when he would slam on the break and I'd fly into him, a few moments where I had to get off as the road was just too bad for 2 people on the bike but the most horrifying of all was when we were stuck in traffic and saw why... A huge truck had clearly gone too fast around a corner and drove off the cliff. It was horrific!

    In the evening we all went back to our homestay and had dinner together before they all headed to Hà Nội. Next stop for us is Ba Be National Park. We aren't quite sure how to get there but I think it's going to be another fun multiple bus adventure!
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  • Day56

    Bit of a grey start but a lovely end!!

    May 10, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Well today we got on the bike and it was looking quite grey. So raincoats were at the ready, let's be honest we've had 3 days without rain so we've been very lucky! It is rainy season after all. So off we went and the views were so different today. The mountains still super epic but with so many small villages dotted around. We met soo many cute children who wanted to give us high fives along the way. And guess what... The sun came out!! It was soo soo peaceful and lovely.

    We got to Du Gia and wow our homestay was in the middle of rice fields, the sun was shining and we had a celebratory beer. ☀️😁 A super lovely last night before travelling back to Ha Giang and finishing our motorbike tour.

    I thought that the rest of the evening wouldn't be worth writing about but actually I was wrong...

    So we were chatting, having a beer in the homestay and slowly but surely lots of others came and 2 couples joined us, one from Paris and the other from Amsterdam. The couple from Amsterdam had literally just got engaged a couple of hours ago so naturally we had to celebrate! The beers rolled in, corn wine was drunk, gymnastics was done and a ninja game was played. It was all hilarious and to be honest you really had to be there, things escalated haha!!!
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