Mornin’ Vietnam

Gooooooooood Morning Viiiiiietnam (if you’re not imagining Robin Williams saying that then WHO ARE YOU). I won’t lie to you, getting to Vietnam on a budget was a total shit show – I highly recommend not being a broke biatch and just getting a direct bloody flight. You’ll lose some money but you might just save some of your sanity. When we finally did land in Hanoi and were on our way to our hotel, we for some reason couldn’t keep the smiles off our faces and kept looking at each other as if we just knew we were going to love it here. Our hotel was located right in the centre of the Old Quarter – no question, the best place to stay – and were greeted by smiling faces and recommendations on where we could get a traditional feast (usually our first question upon arrival). Our dinner this night did not disappoint, proven by the fact that we went back to the restaurant (okay, it was an all you can eat buffet) another three times. If you’re a hungry vegetarian, then An Lac Chay is your best friend – think rice noodles, Vietnamese salads, fresh spring rolls, sweet potato… and I’m drooling. We spent three days exploring the streets of Hanoi, getting a VERY bizarre pedicure and indulging in spring rolls, which for us was a pretty perfect way of spending our days. From Hanoi, we caught a sleeper bus (the whole bus is made up of single beds and unusual disco lights) to Sapa where we spent the next few days. Sapa is an extremely beautiful town surrounded by hiking trails and rice paddies – if you’ve ever been to a ski village you’ll understand the sort of atmosphere this town has… minus the snow. As the independent (broke) women we are, we opted not to get a tour guide for trekking… I highly discourage you from doing this. You’ll see way more of the mountains and villages if you have a local showing you around and it’s a good way to support them also. Basically, we fucked up. Sapa also has a bunch of really beautiful shops selling clothing and antiques which are worth a looksie for sure, as well as some freakin’ delish restaurants – we may or may not have had noodle soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After Sapa we made our way back to Hanoi for a couple of nights, partly because we loved it and partly because, to be honest, we really hadn’t researched enough to decide where else we wanted to go. Making our way south, we headed for a place we actually had done some research on and were very, very keen to get to – Hoi An. As comfortable and affordable as the sleeper bus was, a top tip would be to either sleep with one eye open, or to sleep with your possessions down your undies – my poor friend got her phone and credit card (AND backup credit card) stolen whilst she was asleep. Not the best thing to wake up to. Being the trooper that she is, we got on with our trip and fell in love with Hoi An. Our home stay was recommended to us by a family friend and did not disappoint at all – Minh Phat is owned by a beautiful young family who will go above and beyond to make sure that you’re comfortable, as well as providing free bikes to ride around on as it is the best way to see the town. Hoi An is known for it’s tailors and there’s one basically everywhere you turn, which makes it tricky to know which ones will actually do a good job and not leave you looking like a kid who’s mum made them a spare of the moment Halloween costume. We lucked out with a company called Two Ladies – check out their website, they posted our pictures as they wanted customers to know that they can make “sexy” clothes too. I’m not sure what they were insinuating by that, but nonetheless they did an incredible job! Hoi An is also known for it’s cooking classes and if you’re a big fan of Vietnamese dishes then it should definitely be on your list – most restaurants offer them but I can totally vouch for ‘Karma Waters’, friggin’ delish. If you’re up for a decent bike ride, the beach at Hoi An is beautiful also and much needed in the humidity that is Vietnam. Learning from our mistakes, we opted for a one hour flight to Ho Chi Minh instead of a nineteen hour bus trip – you’d think we would never have made that mistake in the first place. To me, Ho Chi Minh was great for couple of days, particularly if you are a bit of a history buff – the war museum is one of the most interesting, full on and informative I’ve ever been to, and if you’ve got a full day free I highly suggest going and experiencing the Cu Chi Tunnels (not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic). If neither of these interest you, there’s some pretty damn tasty restaurants goin’ round. Ho Chi Minh was my last stop with my beautiful buddy Tasch before we went our separate ways – her to Japan to meet up with her sister and myself to Thailand with my mamma. I just want to say here how completely grateful I am for Tasch – she’s a friend that feels like home, has a heart of gold, loves to laugh with me (and at me) and inspires me in so many ways. Don’t let the horror stories of friends travelling together discourage you from doing so, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Also one of the best things I’ve ever done – seeing my incredible, hilarious, beautiful mum walk through my hotel room in Bangkok. Brb, cuddling the heck outta her!

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