Another beautifully lost dreamer with an incurable case of wanderlust.

Whasuuuup Vietnam (#1)

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Hanoi has a really familiar feel about it. Not sure why, but it almost seems like I’ve been there before. The first thing I thought was how crazy busy the roads are. Motorbikes everywhere. I’ve never seen so many in one place in my entire life. ‘How the hell do you cross the road?’ was a question I frequently asked myself during my time in Hanoi. Walk into the middle of it is the answer. I’m not even joking. Forget everything you were ever taught as a child- that little safe crossing hedgehog, the look both ways business. Just walk into the road, in the hope that the traffic will go around you. Maintain a steady pace and you should be fine. I was only almost hit twice, so I guess that wasn’t too bad?!

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Hanoi has a great ambiance about it. It’s busy, with the hustle and bustle, yet not too crazy that you can’t soak up the atmosphere and admire the, almost, European looking streets. The huge lake in the centre of the old quarter kind of looks out of place. It’s so beautiful, with lush green gardens surrounding it. The peaceful central escape contrasts the beeping horns of the packed streets just a couple of roads away.

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There’s plenty of exploring to do in the city. We had a look around the prison, which was interesting. Although I feel that some of the historical information is perhaps a little bias! The water puppet show is a must. It isn’t amazing (don’t get your hopes up) but it is entertaining, with traditional live music and singing.

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No trip to Vietnam is complete without a visit to Halong Bay. Halong Bay is stunning. I’m sure you would have seen it on postcards, but it isn’t until you are actually there, do you appreciate the full extent of it’s picturesque beauty. We set sail with Papaya cruises on a two night break. Our first day was spent visiting caves, sunbathing on golden beaches and kayaking around floating villages. The first night was spent on the boat, in this adorable little cabin. We ate like kings and got surprisingly addicted to squid fishing! There was a lightning storm that was pretty cool to watch. Although I did wake up thinking we were in the eye of a storm and sinking. A bit dramatic, as the water was still perfectly calm the whole time! Day two was a little more choppy. Stunning weather again, but muchos sea sickness happened. Not me (thank goodness) but the sound of somebody being violently sick didn’t really fit with the beautiful views surrounding us! Bless her. We cycled around an island and visited a local village, then travelled to Cat Ba, where we spent our second night. Cat Ba island surprised me. The beaches were full with locals and the nightlife was pretty upbeat, for a tiny port town, that is. Halong Bay has definitely been a trip highlight so far.

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Once we were done in the north, it was time to move to Hue. That meant, it was time for the dreaded night bus. I’m not going to talk much about the ‘hell bus’ as I have now named it, as I will be here forever. But all you need to know was it was horrendous. And every time I get off one of those sleepers, I am genuinely grateful for being alive.

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Hue is an odd little place. I’m pretty sure that it was the capital of Vietnam back in the day. There’s isn’t a great deal to do, but it’s worth a visit. The Imperial City is the main attraction. The ruins date back to 1804, when the emperor ruled! It’s nice to walk around and imagine what it would have been like to live or work there. Or, if you’re like us, you can make idiots of yourselves and actually dress up as emperors and have your fifteen minutes of royalty sitting on the throne and pretending you rule the world. I enjoyed that, I think that I should probably have some kind of Princess status back home.

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Read Vietnam part two here!

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