V I E T N A M P T. 1

23:23 Natasmack 0 Comments

This is take two of my attempts on writing about the short travel I did in Vietnam. Before I go into a full depth explanation about my experiences, there are a few things that need to be said. 

Firstly, my 60 day visa for Thailand had expired and I needed to leave the country. I really didn't want to leave cause I was having so much fun. Secondly, Jen and I had planned Vietnam to be a  beach vacation for a month. We imagined parking our glowing white asses on soft sandy beaches to flourish into bronzed, coconut drinking, salty haired babes. Thirdly, we did not research what to expect. Which ultimately supported terrible packing decisions, startling culture shock and two hungry vegetarians.

After collecting our belongings, Jen and I headed to the Bangkok airport to fly to Hanoi. We flew out at 6am on January 1st. Yes, you can assume we did not sleep and may have had remnants of spilled Leo on our bodies. Despite our graceful exit out of Thailand; we were excited to see a new country, try the ever coveted pho, and hit up the white sandy beaches we have been lusting over. 

We flew from Bangkok into Hanoi. This city is located in northern Vietnam. Being off season, and where its geographically located. It was farking cold. I'm talking an easy 20 degree difference then Bangkok. "No problem!" We said. Well just bundle up in our warmest clothing and work to head south as fast as we can. Unpacking my bag, I realized I left all my warmest clothes in sweaty Bangkok. When I was packing all I was thinking was "BEACH" not "CANADA". Luckily I had one pair of cropped yoga pants, and a sweater. Which I so stylishly wore with frilly hiking socks and dirty berkinstocks for days. Remember how I went to fashion school? My inner diva was crushed and shes still trying to recover from that revolting style challenged moment.

Hanoi, which we cleverly renamed "Hanoisey" is quite a interesting city. The down town is a grid of busy streets, filled with Bun Mi and Pho restaurants, cafes, and specialty shops offering decorations, souvenirs, and knock off H&M. C'mon Nam.. Knock off H&M? Immediately we noticed the commuters. Not because of flashy cars, but because they were so loud. Hence "Hanoisey". Everyone was beeping their horns. I could not figure out why. It seemed that instead of using an indicator, they just used and abused their horns. Not only are the commuters loud but scary. We nearly lost our life every time we crossed the street. Scooters are the primary mode of transportation. Every which way we were being circled by scooters. The driving rules in Vietnam is there are no rules. Just go, and go fast. Crossing the street became a game for us. The trick is to walk into on coming traffic and trust that the driver knows what their doing. This may sound like I'm being sarcastic, I'm not. 

Due of our attire and need for sunshine was stronger then ever. We moved on from Hanoi quickly. Headed south we  used our open bus ticket to explore Phong Nha. This town is small and slightly turned out by tourists. We were disappointed by this, but being in a touristy town for a few days isn't that bad. Especially because of the killer mountainous views and lush jungle forests that surrounded the town. We stayed at Easy Tiger hostel, which we loved. It had amazing veggie options for food, extremely clean rooms and a wonderful social scene.  It also has free bike rentals and incredibly helpful staff who helped us plan our days. 

The first day in Phong Nah we rented bikes and explored the country side. I absolutely love biking, this was such a highlight for me. On the dusty streets we passed cows, chickens, and children yelling out any English words they knew. We watched farmers work on their fields and dogs playfully chase us. It was so peaceful in comparison to Hanoi. 

The next day we rented a scooter to explore Paradise Cave. Jen was the masterful pilot and I was the gravel paranoid backseat driver. I've seen so many backpackers with bandaged feet and hands due to scooter accidents and I was determined not to be one. After a while I loosened up and told Jen I no longer required her to tell me whenever a bump was approaching. 

Arriving at Pariadise cave we were excited. I've never been in a cave before and I didn't know what to expect. We hiked to the cave mouth, and after scaling the steep wooden stair case. We were officially spelunking. We were welcomed by glorious stalagmites and stalactites. These bad boys are monstrous. It felt like we entered Dracula's cave which prompted us to spend the whole adventure talking like vampires. By throwing our Dracula voices we discovered a mind boggling echo. We defiantly were those obnoxious tourists playing with nature. I unfortunately forgot my camera, so google images will have to be your Paradise cave tour guide. 

After a bit of a culture shock in Hanoi, then seeing the beautiful scenery in Phong Nha. We had some mixed feelings about Vietnam. We weren't sure if we liked it or disliked it. It had only been a few days so we couldn't make a fully informed opinion. We weren't getting exactly what we wanted, we decided to be patient and see what the rest of Vietnam had to offer.




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