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Vietnam

16th December
2011
written by Justin

While we were in Vietnam, Hazel had a realization – we weren’t having that much fun anymore!

You can think whatever you want, but it turns out that after 9 months being a tourist just isn’t that easy to do.  You start to want to just hole up in a single place, do nothing, see nothing, and relax.  Hazel, being an excellent problem solver, came up with a solution to our problems – we’d just plan every day to the end of the trip, and that way we would have all the great bits about being travelling (seeing other cultures and landscapes, experiencing food and drink traditions, etc) without all the work.  So the goal was to have plans set for the remaining 77 days of our trip.

Organized!

Organized!

It turns out that planning 77 days is no picnic!  To get organized, we do what we always do – make a Google Doc!  We have a spreadsheet where each row is a day and it details where we’re sleeping, what we’re doing, and how we’re travelling if we have any plans.  Days where the accommodation is not figured out are marked in red, and successful days we’ve already had get marked in green.  At first we had a lot of red, so Hazel and I each picked one big idea, and worked our hardest to make it happen.  I wanted to scuba dive at another world-class location, and Hazel chose to walk the Overland Track in Tasmania.

Figuring this out was great for us.  We saw exactly how it would happen, and even figured out how to make it to the Melbourne Lindy Exchange in Australia after going on the track.  So we rang up Qantas and changed our flights around to give us a lot more time in Oz, a lot less time in Thailand, and a lot more time in Singapore.  Though it took forever to get booked, we ended up with a schedule that we knew would work and could concentrate on doing stuff we wanted to do instead of stuff we thought we ought to do. Sweet As!

23rd November
2011
written by Justin
Bánh xèo

Bánh xèo in Saigon

I had decided, before we arrived, that the main purpose of my trip to Vietnam would be to sample as much local food as humanly possible, and to learn to cook some of it!  Even though our trip was a whirlwind, I am confident that I succeeded in my goal.   (more…)

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15th November
2011
written by Hazel

Our time in Vietnam was a bit of a blur as we only had one week and we spent all night every other night travelling.  Unfortunately, this left us a bit exhausted and I really wish we had had a lot more time to enjoy this amazing country.  I cannot say enough good things about our time in Vietnam.  The people were awesome, the food was awesome, the scenery was awesome…all in all, awesome.

So, this post will probably feel a little crazy, but I’m just going to throw a bunch of photos of the places we went at you, and maybe the crazy rush along the country will come through.  We started in the south in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and worked our way north by a series of long bus and train trips, ending up in Hanoi.  If we had just a little more time I would have liked to see more of Hanoi.  If we had a lot I would have been very happy to just keep exploring and to make many more stops along the way.

View from hotel

View from hotel - Hoi An

Hoi An

Hoi An

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14th November
2011
written by Justin

 

Leaving Cambodia

Leaving Cambodia

So after we finished seeing temples in Cambodia, we didn’t want to deal with another border like the last one we dealt with.  So we flew to Vietnam, the land of delicious food and a really long coastline!  In fact, it was so long that we spent about half our time travelling!

We ended up not being so happy about this, but c’est la vie.  We used a number of different modes of transportation – trains, planes AND automobiles!  Our favorite was the train, where we took a first class sleeper car from Da Nang to Hanoi.  There were four people in the cabin and nice comfy beds to sleep in, along with air conditioning (though the weather was pretty mild anyway).  We’ve found that trains gently rock you to sleep whereas planes and cars don’t have nearly the same relaxing feel to them.

Our least favorite mode of transportation was the bus.  We took two overnight buses in Vietnam, and one was definitely better than the other but they are both suboptimal when it comes to rest quality.

Sleeper Bus Vietnam Style

Sleeper Bus Vietnam Style

At first it seems really cool!  Everyone (almost) gets their own bed, separated from the others, and there’s a bathroom on board.  But the truth comes a little later when the reality of Vietnamese roads sets in – the driver is going crazily fast, causing you to float out of your bed on occasion, and he doesn’t hesitate to use his really loud horn (at all hours of the night) to warn other drivers of the speeding bullet hurtling down the road at completely unsafe speeds.

Then you find that your second overnight bus has no bathroom and that you are shoved into a communal platform-bed with 4 other travellers in the back of the bus where it’s even more bumpy.  At that point you become convinced that the train is worth the extra cost!

The plane was pretty much as expected.  It was convenient, reasonably comfortable, and most importantly it was fast!  The only downside is that airports tend to be really far from the downtown areas of town.  But if you have the cash, this is the way to go!

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