North America, Asia · 15 Days · 29 Moments · November 2017

Thailand and Vietnam 2017

29 November 2017

continuing... experiencing everything in what seemed like a short 2 weeks was more than I expected. I am thankful I was able to make the trip and am excited to share what I have in photos and what memories I am able to portray into words, with my friends and family. Until the next adventure I am able to take - I will never forget this experience and wouldn’t have done it any differently. từ biệt (Farewell) Jordan
As I walk into my apartment after the long trip - I am relieved to be home yet still want to explore the world. I am thankful to do laundry and have clean clothes, make a home cooked meal that does not include noodles, shower without worrying about getting water in my mouth and risk getting typhoid fever, having cell phone service that does not cost me $100 to check Instagram and text friends/family, not fearing crossing the street as there are driving laws here, easily communicating with people, and not worrying that every mosquito is going to give me Malaria or “bone crushing disease” (as the doctor warned of this). But overall wouldn’t trade it for anything. I was able to experience a completely different culture and way of life across Thailand and Vietnam. It’s cliche to say I am more thankful for the things I have but it is true - people live with the absolute minimum of things as I was able to see. Grinding every day with a medium monthly income of $100 USD.
The last day is here. Nothing too exciting happening. We went to our free breakfast at the hotel which was surprisingly more noodle dishes and some under-baked pastries that were actually my favorite. We went out and bought some small gifts and fech bought a fake North Face backpack that later ripped. Cannot complain about the flight sitting next to 2 small again women. About an hour of turbulence had me a little scared but nothing another NyQuil could not help me out with! Another side note - Guangzhou airport in China is the absolute worst.

28 November 2017

The island we stayed on and certain parts in general have a limited supply of electricity. Went through multiple random power outages and nearly all places constantly have a generator running. Most places also had flashlights, whether in a hotel room or hostel.

27 November 2017

Second to last day. Sailed back while being fairly hungover so most of the day was traveling. Spent our final night in Hanoi finding some good food. We went to a nice Belgium restaurant, ate some fondue followed by more noodles since we were still hungry. I had to get some authentic Matcha ice cream for dessert that was decent. Kind of green tea flavoring, maybe it actually means green tea I don’t even know anymore. Interesting part of the ice cream was how delicious the cone was. Looked like a normal sugar cone but it had some cinnamon mixed in AND the cone was filled with some sort of Frosted Flakes which was a nice surprise. We ended by going to a few bars, including a nice rooftop bar at our hotel and also a trendy bar that reminded me of SF. Side note - everyone smokes cigarettes indoors!

26 November 2017

Another note from the first night in Halong Bay - they serve balloons full of nitrous in nearly every bar. But most people were inhaling these balloons all night. Interesting party idea.
Day 1 cruise through Halong Bay was great! We booked a 2 day, 1 night cruise and stayed out at a private island. Took a 3 hour bus out from Hanoi and jumped on the “cruise” ship, which was honestly kind of sketchy. Our tour guide, Hua, or Flower, as she wanted to be called, kept telling us about how it is the fastest ship out on the water, faster than any other cruise in Halong Bay which I still do not believe. Either way, they served us yet another serving of noodles for lunch and dinner. We met a couple from the UK/Germany that we hung out with most of the time. Also were some interesting guys from the UK that were absolutely wasted on the boat, smoking weed, which is highly restricted in Vietnam. We stayed the night on a private island and we ended up paying an extra 20 bucks for a private bungalow, adding more questions around whether or not the 2 San Francisco guys were actually a couple. Very fun happy hour where we got to meet (drink with) everyone else on the cruise.

26 November 2017

Continuing on the first night in Hanoi - we checked out the night market which was so fun. Basically a huge farmers market where the close off the main strip and all the street vendors are selling food, clothes, most likely drugs, whatever you need. They sell fake Nike stuff and basically any popular brand for like an 80% discount. Did not get anything but I did have some nice cinnamon fried potato chips, sounds strange but they were tasty.
The first day in Hanoi was pretty great! I definitely felt the most at home here - it seems kind of like a third world San Francisco. A lot going on everywhere but not like Bangkok where everyone is trying to sell you something. Everyone is doing their own thing. We had the highest quality meal at the top rated restaurant on TripAdvisor. Which by the way As many of you may know I’m a huge Yelp guy, but they do NOT leverage yelp out here so I turned to TripAdvisor and that apparently is the most trustworthy site to find places to go. Anyways I had some deep fried veggie rolls with some insane tofu. Quick rundown of our day - Highway 4 for lunch, Army Museum, 2 temples I forget the names, checked out the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and ate some street corn which was great! We last minute booked a 2 day 1 night cruise to Halong Bay that night. Also went out for a few drinks and checked out the night market.
Taking this plane from Dong Hoi up to Hanoi. Not looking like it can fly very well. Didn’t know it was still legal to fly in propeller planes. Send positive thoughts.
Updating from our day in Dong Hoi. Overall it was definitely worth going to Dong Hoi for the caves. We were there for less than 24 hours before flying to Hanoi. We stayed at a boujee beach resort and we may have actually been the only people there. The staff would watch us from afar while we ate, a guy who worked there kept mysteriously popping up to chat at random places and times (I.e. in the gym), so at first I was scared they were going to poison us, but in the end they were just super nice. We drove aways out to Paradise cave which was insane. It looked fake since they had to put up lights inside so ppl can see when you get further in. Side note there were cows everyone. Like in the street and wondering by the beach. The cows that were contained were also chained around the neck to these weird poles in fields. Very strange.

25 November 2017

Another noteworthy thought - in Vietnam when we are eating at restaurants, which is every meal, when the waiter/waitress hands you the menu they do NOT leave until you order. We tried telling this lady we needed a minute and she said ok and continued to watch us read the menu that was like 20 pages... no Uber eats here either.
Another thought - actually 2... 1. There are zero driving laws in Thailand or Vietnam. Most people ride motorcycles and as I mentioned a few days ago I think, horns are constantly blowing, people are passing each other in oncoming traffic, the few traffic lights are ignored, And the bikers are completely un-phased when they are near getting hit. I don’t think there are traffic cops either - yet to see a cop car. Only military officers on foot and a few ambulances driving around (which are essentially Astrovans). 2. I’ve noticed this is Vietnam more-so than Thailand. But people have no sense of patience or personal space. Assuming this is because it’s constantly busy. But people just walk up to the front of lines and sneak in. Also in any sort of line I’ve had people with their hands on my back giving me a bit of a push.
Also have to mention - I had Burger King at the airport before this flight. Egg/cheese croissant. Could not physically eat anymore noodles for breakfast - I have broken...
On the flight now to Dong Hoi after a long night of travel. We caught a sleeper bus from Mui Ne back to Ho Ho Minh airport - about 5 hours. Left at midnight and a sketchy van picked us up to bring us to the bus. First time I’ve been a bit scared as we unknowingly went to pick someone else up and pulled into a broken down alleyway and had to load up some big boxes. We ended up making it to the bus stop where cows were wondering the road, wouldn’t let us on the first bus, and after about an hour, we got on the right bus. Sleeper bus was great though - would def take one again. We may take the night train from Dong Hoi up to Hanoi tonight if we can get enough activities into today.

24 November 2017

Just was grabbing lunch down at the pool and a blacked out Russian guy comes up and sits extremely close to me. Started talking to us that he is in the Russian Federation and loves volleyball. He then followed us over to our pool chairs so we ended up leaving the pool to eat in peace. He touched my chest multiple times and flexed at me. Needless to say lunch was ruined. I’ll put up pics of my lunch. The green tea blended latte was so great. Mushrooms - questionable.
Had to add this as I was feeling a little bummed about missing my first ever Thanksgiving. It is always one of my favorite parts of the year getting to see everyone and enjoy some time together. This is my Thanksgiving meal in Mui Ne, Vietnam. I was able to FaceTime with my mom, Kailey, and Uncle Mikey and it was great to see them.
Mui Ne was incredible. We had not initially planned to come here but last minute decided to stray from our plan and make a trip out here. We stayed at a great bungalow, caught the sunset at the Red Sand Dunes, and I had the best time riding 4-wheelers at the White Sand Dunes! So glad we decided to make it out here and met a Vietnamese friend along the way that rode with us.

23 November 2017

Woke up at 6am and literally just made this train to Phan Thiet. Heading over to MuiNe now to hit the white sand dunes and to celebrate thanksgiving on ATVs.
First night in Ho Chi Minh was the biggest culture shock so far. Our hostel was in a residential area so we went to look for an authentic place to grab food. Fecher ended up getting a haircut at a place that spoke no English. Decent haircut but not as good as mine. Walking around the neighborhood it was hard to distinguish what was a family eating dinner out on the sidewalk/in garage vs the small and few restaurants in the area. I assume we looked very out of place as we got a lot of points, laughs, etc... Finally found a nice place where (by the way learned it was disrespectful not to take off your shoes when entering a building in Vietnam) we sat on floor cushions to eat dinner at low tables. Had to use a Vietnamese translating app to order food and it ended up being the best ramen I have ever had! Not much of a ramen guy usually, but given the limited menus, I’ve had to make adjustments. At this point it would be great to have a veggie sausage and tofu burrito like I’m used to.
Drivers in Vietnam use their horns more than anyone I’ve ever seen/heard before. So much that I had to make a journal entry for it.

22 November 2017

Forgot to mention this but when I flew from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh - I was malnourished and there was a McDonald’s, subway, and Starbucks open. I went for Starbucks hoping to grab a nice egg sandwich - something simple. They have very odd eggs on their sandwiches. It’s like a fried egg but also looks like a mound of burnt scrambled eggs. Will order another just to get a picture of it. Also their lattes are not good. No almond milk or artificial sweetener. What the hell.

20 November 2017

Koh Samet was an absolute couples retreat island. Perfect for 2 male co-workers. Had a great time enjoying the sun and warm ocean ( I DID swim multiple times). We got beach massages before dinner one night and Fech’s masseuse was a ladyboy, figured I’d throw that in here. We rented mopeds to explore the island and found a pretty remote spot on the southern top of the island that was one of my favorite places. On the tip of the island looking out in the sunset looking out into the Gulf of Thailand to me was a surreal experience. Overall a great time and much needed relaxation/exploration after the madness of Bangkok.

20 November 2017

Finally leaving Bangkok after an unexpected third night. After a few nights of drinking and lack of sleep, we had to book at night at the Hilton across town away from the madness to rejuvenate and relax for a day. Currently on a bus down to Rayong to grab a ferry over to Ko Samet island.

19 November 2017

Spent the entire day at the Hilton Millenium in a different area of Bangkok. Was feeling sleep deprived and sick but got a workout and sauna in. Grabbed a drink at the rooftop bar and paid way too much for 2 glasses of sauvy B.

17 November 2017

First 2 days/ nights in Bangkok - very interesting. First night we went to the hostel happy hour and proceeded to go out on Khao Sahn road which was essentially like Cabo during spring break if you add street vendors selling scorpions to eat, people trying to sell you literally anything from toys to tailored suits, mayhem on the streets with kegs, loud music, Thai children running around pick pocketing, etc... it is geared for partying. We were able to check out some temples and famous Buddha figures along the way. Had a few near death experiences in the local Tuk-Tuks, met some cool people from around the world, and as unfortunate as it may be, went to a ping pong show, which I will not add details, but will reluctantly explain in person.
Fech pumped as we descend into Bangkok
First authentic (airport) Chinese food. 7/10. Brittney also does not know how to use chopsticks

15 November 2017

So we begin...