United Kingdom, Vietnam · 31 Days · 42 Moments · February 2017

Naomi's tour through Vietnam

6 March 2017

We also took a trip to the Ho Chi Minh memorial (pretty boring) and the botanical gardens.. A lot more interesting! It was filled with Vietnamese working out and playing sport, they have the same outside gym equipment you find in parks in England apart from instead of them being vandalised and broken they're used regularly by people of all ages!
On our final day we took a trip to the prison museum, something we all found pretty interesting. It was first opened by the French to detain Vietnamese people in the early 1900's where they were kept in awful conditions. Following the world wars it was closed then reopened by the Vietnamese to detain American soldiers during the Vietnam war. What was quite interesting was the information given of how the Americans were treated.. Nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton it was a place where American detainees were kept but given what can only be described as hostel treatment.. Good meals everyday, a canvas type bed, proper medical care, contact to home etc.. This was quite shocking given what we had seen at the Ho Chi Minh war museum and how the Americans treated the Vietnamese. At first we thought perhaps it could be propaganda however given further thought it was perhaps used as a power position and the fact that a current American senate was detained there suggests it is true!

5 March 2017

After leaving Monkey Island we decided we weren't ready to leave Ha long bay yet so stayed at Capa island for a night where we spent the majority of the time sunbathing on the beach which was needed as the tour was pretty activity intensive! Then the final couple of days we've spent back in Hanoi, drinking, eating and taking in the culture! The weekend is much better in Hanoi as they have a big night market and on the weekend all the children play games by the lake and seek out tourists to practice their English with! We spoke to a group of university students about whether money can buy happiness among general chit chat and then a little 8 year old and his mum about music. It's so heartwarming to see how keen they all are to learn English and how good they are at it! It made us feel slightly shameful almost as England barely teaches languages. It was also so lovely to see so many people on the streets playing and joining in in all the games which happen every weekend!

3 March 2017

So the past couple of days we've been on the Ha long bay central backpackers tour.. It's been amazing. We started off with a bus ride then boat ride to capa island (the biggest most touristy island in Ha long) followed by another bus then another boat ride/tour of Ha long. They stopped and put the anchors down for us where we then just got to jump off the boat from the top deck which was awesome.. I've never done something like that so it was loads of fun apart from the water was freezing so after the first time that was me done haha. There was about 20 of us on the boat and all youngish people so everyone got involved, one girl cut her foot on a barnacle and the tour guide advised her that putting tobacco on it was the best thing to do to stop the bleed.. From this point on it was pretty obvious health and safety isn't taken very seriously in Vietnam aha. After that the boat took us to the kayak stop where we got to kayak round all the beautiful lime stone islands which was amazing..

2 March 2017

Second day consisted of waking up early for breakfast where we then went to Capa island for a what we were told was a nice bicycle ride round the island and a trek up the hill. All we were told is to wear trainers which luckily me and Emily now have after losing our others! What we were actually in for was some old bicycles with no gears, fairly large hills to bike up bearing in mind Harry didn't really know how to cycle, it was hard work. This was followed by the 'hike' which can only be described as a mountain climb hell taking an hour to climb a 268m mountain right to the top.. There was lots of rock scrambling, moaning and sweating where we finally got to the top expecting cable cars down to find there was only the same way down. The view however was absolutely incredible and definitely worth doing.. However after a little while at the top one of the girls told us we all had to go back down as the tour guide had sliced his leg open on a loose rock!
That wasn't really something we wanted to hear but luckily the climb down was slightly easier, yet still pretty terrifying! But once we'd reached the bottom and made sure the tour guide was ok and had an ice cream it all seemed worth it! We rode back to the other side of the island with a bandaged and limping tour guide and had lunch on the boat. We then got dropped off back to monkey Island where we relaxed and had another bbq style dinner and party!

1 March 2017

Although slightly hard work as Sparky wasn't a massive fan of the paddling leaving me to do all the work! After that the boat took us to a little island where we heard the ancient stories of how Ha Long bay was created. Apparently from dragon bones although the big rock islands looked pretty lime stoney to me! It's very hard to explain how beautiful it really is without seeing it in real life, but it's 100% the most beautiful place I've ever been. After that we got the boat to Monkey Island where we had lunch and got shown round. It's literally just one main reception/restaurant then a few bungalows/huts and then our dorms. So nice to be somewhere with such few people. After that we just relaxed and had dinner which was lovely.. BBQ seafoods etc then we just partied on the island!

28 February 2017

Hanoi has been nice and chilled, me and em have finally bought some other shoes so we no longer have to walk round in sliders (flip flops) had a nice walking tour with the hostel so learned a bit about Hanoi and got a bit of an idea where's what. On route to our halong bay tour, 2 nights and 3 days on a boat with a island stop..
Wahoo we've escaped the cold and rain of Sapa and come to Hanoi, the city we fly home from. Arrived on the night bus after quite the journey but we all got on the bottom bunk together and played songs and drank some pre drinks, I love night buses! We're still planning on going to halong bay but we're waiting for the nicer weather. We've got a great hostel called Vietnam backpackers centre I think, probably one of the most swish we've stayed in.. Sunflower shower heads 🌻 much appreciated after our adventure in the muddy mountains with the shed shower and toilet hole! Had a little explore tonight which was slightly eventful as it included an angry Vietnamese man and some English/Australians who had set up a new bar.. Think turf wars. We just left and got out of the trouble but they didn't look too happy! Otherwise a lovely evening with me and Em styling our new outfits! Also look at my tum in the first dress pic, the Vietnamese food and beer is definitely getting to me!

27 February 2017

So this is Sapa, one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam..

26 February 2017

Unfortunately the weather has treated us badly and we didn't really get to experience this at all. We were recommended a home stay called Mama T and told you can't find her she finds you.. So for the first time we didn't pre book a hostel we just arrived. Once we got of the bus we were greeted by some very friendly small ladies with headscarfs who followed us round.. We asked if they knew mama T which they said no but one of them was Mama Chi, seemed legit enough so we got in their car with a live chicken on the roof to their home stay. This was a nice barn with a tarpaulin front side and some lovely floor beds in the rafters. They made us a lovely dinner and we sat round their fire as they feed us happy water (rice wine). We were supposed to go trekking with them today but with 100% humidity essentially sat in a cloud it wasn't really the best weather for it. Instead were going to Hanoi for a few days to wait for the weather to pass then to Hay long bay..
Back on the night buses to Sapa!

25 February 2017

Then today we went on a little adventure to the other caves, you can do the organised tours but they're very expensive for things you can do yourself once you get to the caves so we hired bikes and drove ourselves there. So thankful we did as the roads we went on to get there were absolutely amazing, maybe even better than the Hi Van pass.. Didn't get any pictures though as I was driving! First was paradise cave which involved a lot of walking, stairs and a bloody big cave.. Apparently only found recently in 2006 or something! Then once we'd finally gotten back down to the bottom we decided to drive to the dark caves, but as per usual the bike Jake was riding wouldn't start, tried to kick start to no avail so we sacked it off and left it there and Jake got on the back of Harry's! The dark cave was a lot more adventure than anything else, we zip lined 400km then swam to the entrance where we walked through to a mud bath type thing which was v.cool then kayaked back! V.fun day!

24 February 2017

Pho Nah Ke Bang has been pretty cool, there's not much here apart from the caves it's a bit strange. Obviously just somewhere they've been like oh tourists will come here to see the caves let's build a few restaurants and hostels. Still a very beautiful place. Yesterday we went on a boat tour around the local cave here which was used to store amo in the Vietnam war. Which was pretty cool, we saw lots of stalactites and stalagmites then I just slept for the rest of the afternoon as was v tired then woke up for going to the local bar/restaurant with everyone and todays special happened to be a chicken parmo!! Not quite the same as the ones from Middlesbrough but close enough for me!
Praying for our lives

23 February 2017

Yesterday me and the boys went to the imperial city, it's pretty pricey but definitely worth seeing! Regret not getting s tour guide but we read from the book and gave each other pretty good ones. Arrived back to the hostel to find Maddie, Harry's girlfriend there which was lovely. Went out for an Indian as we were all craving one then had an early night! Now currently on a very shady bus on the way to Pho Nah Ke Bang staying in Van Arh hostel.. Fingers crossed we make it on this very bumpy bus!

22 February 2017

Just got back from a pretty cool day consisting of visiting an abandoned water park and a temple watching some monks pray. Went on an off road expedition which was some what successful.. We got to see a calmer more realistic view of Vietnam away from the city but then got a little lost! Back at the hostel now chilling, apparently there's a party tonight but not sure what that actually consists of.. We will see!

21 February 2017

Ok so we made it that's the main thing and we're all still in one piece with no crashes and I'd say the Hoi Van pass was a must see.. Some unreal views which cannot be done any justice with photos but it wasn't half stressful at times! Before we'd even got on the pass Jakes bike cut out in Danang.. Rang the guy who came to fix it then went to unlock one to find the key wouldn't work. They managed to fix jakes but after lots of swearing it Vietnamese they gave up trying to unlock the other and em got a new bike. Managed to do the whole of the pass with no issues and beautiful sights.. On the highway Jakes bike cut out again but we got it kick started. Then I lost the group and just as they found me my bike cut out.. But they still thought I was behind.. Nightmare. Managed to get help from a Vietnamese man who took my bike to the nearest fuel station refuelled then still didn't work so had to kick start mine too then Sparky found me wahoo! Me and Jake then had to play the game of...
Not stopping the bikes which isn't too easy but traffic lights how count downs so it becomes a bit of a game. Managed to get to Hue then lost Harry but got to the hostel and eventually he turned up! Everyone's now having a well deserved beer and shower to get rid of the muck of Vietnam roads! Also sparky bought 'factor 90' sun cream from the local shop cos it was the cheapest.. Used it on him Jake and Em and now they're all lobsters. Hilarious. I'll try get pictures to follow..

20 February 2017

Today consisted of picking up my dress, going to Mrs Thu's (our favourite street food vendor in the old town market) and doing a bit of shopping followed by happy hour cocktails and cheesy chips, I was pretty keen to see the water puppets show but we gave it a miss as I'm not sure we would have enjoyed it. Booked bikes and hostel (Tigon hostel) for Hue tomorrow.. Bring on the Hoi van pass 🏍 apparently it takes about 4 hours but I have a feeling it might take us a bit longer but we'll see! Gonna miss Hoi An though!
My dress!

19 February 2017

It's been a chilled couple of days, we love Hoi An it's a beautiful place, it has an old town which is so lovely to just get lost around which I've done quite a few times haha. There's some bars which we've become locals for a few days and got a little bit drunk at but nothing too silly. The bar tender thinks we're hilarious so takes pictures and videos of us doing silly things. We're still with our friends from Da Lat who are lovely and managed to get a dorm room to share with them which is much better as it makes everything a lot easier! Hoi An is known for getting thinks tailored and is so so cheap so all the boys got suits made and a few shirts and I've got a dress made but no pictures yet as its being made tonight! It's kinda traditional Vietnamese style but with a twist! Not sure when I'll wear it but I defs will! Jake and Harry got matching Bee tattoos which are amazing but still no tattoos for me.. Don't worry mum and dad 😂

17 February 2017

Yesterday consisted of driving to the end of the peninsular (think that's what it's called) down the coast which was nice. At the end we found a nice hammock/beach/drinks place so we chilled out there for a bit then rode the bikes back. We took a lovely scenic route back through paddy fields which was great until Jake ran out of fuel, not so great, luckily a nice man was on hand to show us how to push the other along. Lots of traffic round the rice paddys in the form of cows but they were very friendly. Later on we met up with our friends from Da Lat who had just arrived and we went out for a few beers with them! Found a place that does them for 3000 dong.. Near enough 10p a beer ha.
More of My Son/me and my bike and then last nights beautiful little boat trip in Hoi an me and Em took to make wishes for us all.. It was so so beautiful. At night the whole of the town is filled with lanterns and full of colour..

16 February 2017

So.. Today was a lovely day. Had lots of coffees when we arrived at the hostel and had some breakfast then took a bike ride to My Son.. An old religious building ruined by the Vietnam war.. Took about 2 hours both ways with food stops and now just having a chilled evening at the hostel!

15 February 2017

Today we went on a boat trip snorkelling to see the fishes, it was pretty choppy so it was only 60% visibility but still managed to see lots of different fish and reefs.. Quite fancy scuba diving at some point but it looks like a lot of hard work to learn the breathing techniques before you can even start and v.expensive. They plated us up a lovely buffet and gave us some beers for lunch aswell which was nice! Back on the night bus to Hoi an, luckily this time we've managed to book the 5 back seats. Big fan of the night buses as they're pretty comfy and you save a night paying for a hostel!

14 February 2017

Arrived in Nha Trang at around 12pm after a lovely bus ride down the mountains, saw an overturned pig truck though which was sad but the pigs seemed ok just sleeping hopefully 🐷 Got to the new hostel called Mojzo's dorm and then headed down to the beach and just had a nice chilled time there with some of our friends from the last hostel who came with. About to have a nice buffet at the hostel and hit the town for a few beers later!

13 February 2017

Crazy house..
So today we went on our first bike ride to some waterfalls, I went to go pick up the bike with Jake and show them/learn how to ride the bike.. Didn't go so well, crashed it into a wall but only really slowly cause I forgot to brake rather then accelerate.. Lesson learned though but they only gave us 3 bikes. Spent most of the day riding on the back with sparky who's world class biker after having proper lessons.. Arrived at elephant falls and climbed all around that which was pretty spectacular. Then we set off on a trek to the next waterfall and since the road was nice and straight I decided I would learn.. This time successfully so I'm fully safe to drive now wohoo. At the next waterfall we had a rolacoaster ride down to it but it was a bit less exciting then the first. Once we got back to Da Lat we checked out the crazy house which is pretty cool.. But not as good as the maze bar we went to.. All in all 10/10 day!
So today we actually got up nice and early surprisingly to go canyoning.. Best activity ever. So so scary and probably could have died but the tour guides were great and new exactly what they were doing.. Always double harnessed etc.. So we did a couple of dry climes down, then some waterfalls.. One called a washing machine for obvious reasons. Had free dives/jumps off cliffs but I was a scaredy cat and only did the 7m one.. Didn't fancy the 11m drop.. Then finished with some zip lining! Fully expected Da Lat to be a boring mountain town but it's great!!

11 February 2017

Also our new hostel host is the best person. Not only did he put us up on his bedroom floor when we arrived at 4am as there were no beds and we weren't booked till the next day (All 5 of us and 2 dogs made an interesting sleep) but he also makes us breakfast every morning and takes us out for dinner and pays.. For literally £2 a night! We love Lucky!
Arrived in Da lat, went on a little swan pedalo tour with some wine then came back for a food tour with our hostel then went to probably the best bar I've been in ever.. Think wacky warehouse/forbidden corner.. Unreal.. Earlyish night for canyoning tomorrow!

10 February 2017

Last day of Ho Chi Minh, sad times as it's an amazing city! Definitely somewhere you could stay for a week but I think we've managed to fit in quite a lot for the amount of time.. Today we went to the Chu Chi tunnels, a must see if you visit Ho Chi Minh. It's like a hours bus ride away but worth it for the trip although I forgot I was recommended to get the boat there and we didn't but oh well! It's very touristy there but still really interesting.. We got to go inside some which was pretty interesting, I probably wasn't dressed to appropriately though and kept flashing my knickers at Em as we went through the tunnels 🙈 as part of the museum you can shoot machine guns, rifles, rocket launchers etc.. Something I wasn't so keen on, I feel it so contradictory to have a museum set up to show the horrors faced by the Vietnamese yet to allow people to play with lethal weapons for fun.. Hey ho! More pictures to follow.. For now I'm currently on my first sleeper bus on route to Da Lat!

9 February 2017

Day 3 of Ho Chi Minh, we had a lively one the night before with some hostel friends and people that Sparkles had met from traveling so we woke up quite late much to my disappointment as I really wanted to try the free banana pancakes the hostel makes for breakfast! Luckily we hadn't booked or planned anything so we just went for more of a mooch round Ho Chi Minh, went to the cathedral which was slightly disappointing, maybe as it was during service time so we couldn't look around then we went to the post office which is pretty big, expect some mail! We had a walk down the river and decided we'd have to go to the sky bar as had it recommended by a few people! Pricey but completely worth it, the views were amazing!

8 February 2017

Went to the war museum today which was a bit of an eye opener.. Definitely should have done a bit more research before going as I was extremely confused by it, that's what they should teach you in History not about Henry IV and all his wives..Luckily Jake was on hand to explain it all for me! The torture that the Vietnamese were subjected to was absolutely unbelievable.. And what's even crazier is that it literally happened 40 years ago and things like that still happen now. Whats heart warming is despite everything that happened, the Vietnamese are so friendly and lovely even to Americans.. Didn't manage to get any pictures actually inside the museum but these were outside!
First night in Ho Chi Minh was great, arrived at the airport and went outside to the taxi rank to be greeted by hundreds of people sat waiting for others but it was so surreal. We then got a taxi to the hostel and had a bit of a tour of the city, thought of a new drinking game of taking a shot for every bike we saw, after about the 100th in 5 minutes we decided even if we were shotting water we'd probably die! All the streets are covered in lights which must be from their Tet celebrations which apparently last for 10 days! The taxi dropped us off just near the hostel street and after quickly realising waiting for the traffic to stop is not a thing in Ho Chi Minh we manovered our way to the other side. As we arrived at the hostel Harry and Sparkles were waiting for us with a little sign and our free happy hour beers! We had a quick catch up, shower, freshen up then decided to go explore the city!

7 February 2017

3 February 2017

All packed now, well kind of. I've probably forgotten about 5 things and packed a load of things I won't even use.. Apparently the packing list I used from a travel blog wasn't very good as I was told off for packing eye drops in my hand luggage essentials 🙄 It literally feels like last week that we were discussing the idea of going to Vietnam after a few too many drinks and now here we are! Crazy. T-2 days..