Apologies for the blog being quiet for over a week. I was mean’t to post before we left on the 10th December but with work commitments to finish up and pack and then be up early to catch our coach to Manchester airport, I’ve just not had time!
So, as you can see we have been backpacking around Vietnam & Cambodia! We decided last year we wanted to be away for Christmas (and from Christmas as we’d had enough of the tackiness and superficiality of it all) and I’ve been saving small amounts each month of 2017 to be able to be abroad right now. We were initially going to just concentrate on Vietnam and travel up the country however the weather in the middle of Vietnam is not so great, its typhoon season and heavy rainfall in that area, so instead we opted for a multiple entry visa in order for us to visit Cambodia for a short while.
Our Itinerary began with a couple of days in Ho Chi Minh city (also known as Saigon) in Vietnam, then we travelled to Cai Be and Chow Doc to travel along the Mekong river to get to the Cambodian boarder. Here we spent a day in Phenom Penh- Cambodia’s capital city before heading up to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat of which we we stayed for four days to really soak up the vastness of the ancient temples. After that we flew out of Cambodia back to Vietnam, Hanoi but we plan to see more of Hanoi a few days before we leave the UK so we didn’t stay there too long and ventured to Cat Ba Island to enjoy the famous Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay. Soon after that we ventured to Ninh Binh which is our current location and where we plan to stay for four days, including Christmas Day, shortly after we’ll catch a sleeper bus up to Sapa and the IndoChina Mountains for a few days before heading back to Hanoi to explore the city properly and do some last minute souvenir shopping. We fly back to be in the UK for New Years Eve.
So far its been a tiring but awesome experience, I think in the beginning we were slightly culture shocked, not because we’re new to travel or backpacking but the last real backpacking adventure we had out of Europe was two years ago in Nepal and we were spoiled by that trip because everything was easy going and the people on the whole were really lovely. Vietnam and Cambodia are tougher because the people are much more money grabbing, there are more scams and most often than not the friendlier the person the less likely you are to trust them- one guy tried to steal my bag at Hanoi’s airport by simply walking up to us saying he wanted a photo with a pretty white girl, to which he then said “I’ll hold your bag, no need to put on floor.” Both Jon and I abruptly said “Hahaha erm, No!” the guy walked away quickly and sheepishly, we are pretty savvy with this kind of thing anyway, sadly though ITS EVERYWHERE IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD, so you can imagine how tiring that is on top of traveling and carrying heavy back packs around- you also have to meerkat everything and everyone for potential threats.
Most things in both Vietnam and Cambodia are also set up so you HAVE to book a tour or a taxi or a bus or something just to get where you want to be- you can’t just do it on your own with a local bus because it doesn’t exist and if it does you’ll be scammed so if you want the real backpacker feel in these countries where you are left to freely and independently travel around yourself these two countries are not for you.
Needless to say we are having a good time, it’s been exhausting just trying to find genuine people here however the landscape and temples and general culture whilst walking about is rather stunning. It is lovely just watching local ladies in the rice paddies, the children passing you by to say hello and the men buzzing about on their moped’s balancing an array of objects behind them as they drive past.
Cat Ba Island and Tam Coc (Ninh Binh) are current favourite places and I’ll discuss them both in later blog posts in the New Year.
Having pretty good grounding now of traveling outside of Europe (Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia) I do feel pretty confident about traveling to Thailand and the Thai Island I hope to do my Yoga Teacher Training on in the Spring of 2018, I also hope to add on a trip to Bali for a couple of weeks too as local flights from Bangkok to Ubud are pretty cheap and easy and I feel that once I’m qualified I may be able to do a couple of guest teachings at yoga studios in Bali before I venture back to the UK? Who knows right?
Either way I am happy to be here in Vietnam- this part of the world is beautiful, so happy to be away over Christmas- its a dream come true for both Jon & I and I am also happy for what the future will hold for 2018!
Happy Yule Tide (Christmas) and I’ll catch up with you all in the New Year!