It’s hard to believe we have only been in this beautiful country for a week – there is so much to see! Writing this, we are sitting on a sleeper bus headed south, back towards Hanoi, and onwards to Cat Bah Island and Halong Bay.
Although not unexpected, my first few days in Vietnam have had their ups and downs. A combination of jet lag, a nervous stomach and really different food means that eating has been tough – especially the local dishes that I have been dying to try out! But the theme of the week is ‘mind over matter’ and I am persevering. Some of our favorites so far include delicious Bun Cha – noodles with grilled pork, and a sweet, rich broth – and Bahn My – a type of snack sized sandwich, loaded with herbs and other condiments. Apologies for the complete lack of proper accenting!
Besides eating – which we have done a lot of – we have also visited the city of Hanoi, and the town of Sa Pa, which is a trekking hub in the north of Vietnam, near the border of Southern China. How did we get there you ask? You guessed it – sleeper bus!
Our view of the Old Quarter in Hanoi.
Horse races and 25 cent beers in Hanoi.
Sa Pa is a beautiful place with lots to keep you busy. If you get lucky with the weather like we did, rent motorbikes and explore the mountains on your own! The views are incredible – just don’t forget to put sunscreen on your face like I did.
One of the many views along the road from Sa Pa.
The water buffalo know when to get out of the way. Tourists coming through!
If you prefer to use your own two legs, arrange a trek into the mountains and visit the Hmong tribes that live in the hills. There are multiple ways to do this, from arranging tours to finding your own guide, which we did. Talking to our hired guide, Dom, we arranged a ~13km hike. On top of being our guide, she fed us and took us in for the night, letting us explore her village and home, and meet her family. The walks there and back were well worth it! Don’t forget your hiking boots.
Sharing pictures from home.
Rice terraces in Dom's village (proper name to follow).
From the villages we brought back pictures, some handmade Hmong goods and a pack of head colds. So far, only Matt seems to have escaped.
And so it’s been a week in Vietnam! Already we have seen so much, despite only scratching the surface of this wild country.
I won’t lie, I am a bit homesick. Feeling sick all week has turned me into a bit of a baby, but the time is meow to suck it up and keep going! Coming up: Halong Bay, Cat Bah and warmer weather! Bring it on.