I got home and life took over and my blog fell by the wayside. What’s new? well I got a new job, I hiked the highest mountain in Scotland, ran a 10k, lost 3 stone and of course took a couple of trips!
I feel like I do need to round off Asia though, after Hoi An we drove to Hue. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a big fan – anything in comparison to Hoi An was going to be anti-climatic though. After Hue, we arrived in Ninh Binh. Ninh Binh is on the very outskirts of Hanoi, we arrived late here. The next day was our last day with Stray – we stopped at Trang An, where we got a boat around and I nearly fell in on more than one occasion!!
Trang An is where King Kong: Skull Island is filmed, which was pretty cool to see. Each boat had a local doing the rowing and steering. But we had to help too, whenever our lady thought we were getting too lazy she would give me a nudge in the back with her oar and laughed every time I had to get on or off the boat because I was so clumsy and clearly just do not have boat legs. I also want to note, each boat was big enough four only 4 westerners, but they were squeezing atleast 9 Vietnamese onto each boat It was a great last activity before Hanoi where our tour with Stray ended.
When we arrived in Hanoi Mia (our Stray guide) took us on a walking tour and to the railway that runs through a street, she told us that this is where the poorer people live, which really makes you see the quality of life some people have. We took a walk round Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum.
I loved Hanoi, frankly I loved Vietnam. I’d love to go back and revisit and stay for longer – hopefully I get to!
After Vietnam, we headed back to Singapore. I love love love Singapore. It’s so clean and modern and it has my one true love – Innisfree. We spent our time in Singapore at the night zoo, shopping and going to the free attractions at night – the gardens by the bay and the water show. We also went to Universal Studios Singapore which is well worth the visit!
Singapore was the end of the road in Asia for me. I was ready to be home though, ready to get back into a routine and stop living out of a backpack! 6 months on and I’m dying to be living out of that backpack again!!
Once again, I’m well behind on my blog… This time, I’m actually home. Oops!
Bai Xep is a quiet little fishing village where the bus couldn’t even drive down to the “main street”. The main street was like an alley in the UK and on either side locals were selling meat and fish. Our guesthouse was right on the beach and was called Haven Vietnam. This was probably our most expensive 2 nights accommodation apart from when we were on the island. The guesthouse also owns the next door hostel called Big Tree Backpackers, this is where there restaurant was and no joke this was some of the nicest food for me on the entire trip!
We had dinner with the group that night and went to bed early because the bus journey had tired us out so much. The next day, we thought we would walk along the beach. The sea around us was the South China Sea and holy hell it was cold, almost as cold as the North Sea! Walking on the beach was hard going so we gave up after a little while and returned to the guesthouse and lounged on sun beds reading for the rest of the day.
In Bai Xep, the fishermen use conical boats to reach their fishing nets and row in a way which makes you think you wouldn’t be able to move far, but they do. That night we had dinner with the group again, we got speaking to the older couple in our group – Marie and Joe who were from Canada and had done the lot pass already but had loved Vietnam so much they had come just to spend 2 months there, reliving their favourite parts.
The next morning we walked back up to the bus and hopped on to go to Hoi An, Mia had often told us that this was her favourite stop and I was looking forward to seeing why.
We left Dalat at 7.45am but not before the hotel manager forced us to at least take some bread with us so we wouldn’t starve. The drive was pretty long we were on the bus from 7.45am till around 5pm with only stops for lunch and happy rooms. We felt like we must have covered such a large distance but when we checked it was only 201 miles. That’s like Aberdeen to Edinburgh.
The first part of the journey was through a mountain pass with long twisty roads. Along this part of the journey Mia told us about Vietnamese burial traditions.
In Vietnam, they do not cremate they only bury. There are 2 sections to a graveyard: a community area and family areas. When a family member first dies they are buried in a wooden coffin in the community area for the first 3 years after they pass. After 3 years the family then dig the body up and clean the bones and put them into a ceramic pot within in the family’s area. They do this because they believe that our flesh belongs to the earth and what belongs to earth should return to earth but our bones belong to our family and they should return to them.
After a parent dies it is the sons job to worship to the ancestors every day as it is believed that the ancestors of the family help the family with their lives in the present.
We continued on the road stopping in Nha Trang for lunch. Nha Trang is a popular Russian holiday destination in Vietnam with beautiful beaches. Although Stray does not stop for long here we could have hopped off and caught the next bus later on. Apparently it is one of the most expensive cities in Vietnam.
We continued on toward Bai Xep after this, the only hiccup in this being our bus tried to fit on to a bridge that it was not built for it and the top of the bus scraped along the metal and the fan hatch was hit. Once we got through we were told no and had to reverse back under it.
Once we finally arrived at Bai Xep, we had to leave the bus at the top of the village and walk down as the roads were not built for cars only mopeds. We stayed in a cute little hostel/hotel called Haven Vietnam right on the beach. We had dinner with the group and made an early exit as we were so tired.
The next day we had the laziest day ever. We got up around 12pm had breakfast and then had a walk along the beach. I put my feet in the South China sea (which felt as cold as the north sea) and we walked back. The rest of our day pretty much revolved around eating.