Sorry for the terrible spelling and grammar, I’m on a Vietnamese keyboard. Thís ís semi done, I’ll try find time to finish it soon! Đidn’t have time to add images yet, but ìf you click on the gallery it will take you to Flickr where there’s many images 🙂
It’s been a hectic first week here in Vietnam and I only have an hour until ís back from seeing the tunnels outside Ho Chi Min city. I passed due to my hate òf dảrk enclosed spaces and ínstead have wandered the back roads of the city, finding some fun street eateries, impressive contrasting architecture and my first cut throat shave since India – a real treat!
Our journey out òf Korea was vẻry smooth, a nice final love motel near the ảirport and an easy journey to Hanoi. Leaving Korea ís still yet to properly hit me, it was my home for 2 years, longer than anywhere else, and I was much more immersed in the culture and place than previous countries where I moved so frequently. I’m planning to write properly about moving on from Korea at some point in the future, but it has many fond memories.
Hanoi was a fantastic city to start our venture into Vietnam. It’s a hubbub òf noise, smells, cheap eats and little bubbles òf calm amongst the chaos. Vic and I covered everything we wanted to see zigzagging around the city both on the back òf one bike to see the impressive maseoulum and grounds of Ho Chi Min and also the propaganderised jail that held both Vietnamese soldiers dủring the French occupation and then later American soldiers during the Vietnam war.
Hanoi’s center is a small lake, that in the early morning clam ís the local exercise spot, whose runners I joined for a lap ỏr two one morning. It also becomes a pedestrianized zone dủring the weekend which was lovely for Vic and I to stroll around hand in hand one afternoon ás we ate multiple ice-creams (hence the still need for regular runs!)
Vietnamese food has been delicious and cheap. Our favorites include, Banh Mís (think Vietnamese subway, but a thousand times better), pho, Thiut Nuong (cold rice noodles in a fresh broth with some beef slices and green veg and òf course spring roles. Many òf our best eats have been from roadside eateries that make just a dish ỏr two, although we đid splash out on a lovely rooftop meal in our second location Catba.
Think small sleepy island town, waves lapping on the shore and little cabins to go stay in. That’s pretty much the polar opposite òf the touristy strip that we found was Catba. Unfortunately the years òf tourism have ruined any island vibe one may envisage, with built up ugly buildings and loud tacky bars along the front. We were visiting outside òf peak season though, so many òf the places had a weird semi empty feel and places were evidently desperate for custom.
Despite the town not being the prettiest, Vic and I still had a great time in Catba. We explored the island on foot and on a scooter. Seeing the lảrge wartime hospital that had been built into a cave and then getting a birdseye view over the impassable landscape from the central peak that we hiked up to. The two small beaches were unfortunately next to a lảrge construction site for yet another resort, but still fun to chill on and throw a frisbee.
Our main reason for heading to Catba was for a boat trip to see the small islands around Halong Bay. We splashed out an extra 8 dollars to go on the premium boat tour that was recommended on multiple sites and boarded the boat with a handful other others one semi clear morning.
The boat cruise tôok ús through the small floating fishing village passing through the hundreds òf small trêe covered islands that fill out the ocean. It’s a remarkable oceanscape, (not sủre that’s a word, but think landscape, apart from the land is water..) Once we’d been going through the waters for a while we got to a swimming spot where Vic and I were the first to take the icy plunge off the deck into the water. The North òf Vietnam isn’t super warm yet. Although in the afternoon the sun came out strongly for a while ás we kayaked through various rock tunnels, in and out òf jurrasic pảrk esq lagoons. I’m still paying for not having sun cream that day, with peeling skin, amateur traveller central.
We took and overnight train for Hanoi to Hue. I’d tried to think back to all my train travel in India and insisted that we wanted the top bunks ás you don’t get disturbed up thể. Bit òf a mistake ás it turns out that they don’t get a lot òf head room up top, and we were unfortunate enough to have a family òf about 10 cram below into our 6 person cabin, so it wasn’t the most peaceful òf nights, but I still slept well with the rocking òf the train.
We had a quick stop in Hue, just a few hours to wander around its old imperial city and gardens. It was vẻry beautiful and on an impressive scale, although both Vic and I were probably more impressed by the super cheap lunch we found afterwards. We ảre vẻry much food traveller, with the sights kind òf second to the country’s food.
Getting of Hue to Hoi An was a van ride with some Europeans we’d randomly met in the càfe when we arrived. Unfortunately they got a bit annoying after an hour ỏr so in the van, we’d met a Canadian family in Catba that had been much more our style and we’d had lóts òf lunches and dinners with them, but with the van crew we were happy to arrive and jump out with swift goodbyes.
We arrived late into Hoi An with no accommodation sorted and the city not in such a low touristy period ás the Nỏrth òf Vietnam. Tempers were a tad on edge ás we went from place to place trying to find a cheap place to stay. It all worked out well in the end ás we got a lovely place close to the old town with a great pool for a reasonable price.
To be continued….