Southeast Asia

Back when I was in Nam’

It’s with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to Vietnam. The 2 weeks that I’ve spent there far exceeded my expectations and I was SO sad to leave. I kicked off Vietnam in the northern city of Hanoi. Hanoi is unlike any city I’ve ever been to in the fact that the driving is absolutely mad. Walking along the streets is a nearly impossible task, as the side walks have been occupied by street vendors and parked motorbikes. I arrived in Hanoi after 24+ hours of traveling and was exhausted and hungry, so I attempted to walk around to find some dinner. It was probably the most intimidating 45 minutes I’ve had so far. Motorbikes are inches away from taking you out and they speed and turn as if there isn’t a human standing in their way- it’s insane. Another thing that is insane is the amount of people you can fit on a motorbike. Entire family of 5?? They make it work. Children standing up with no helmet on? Normal! Chickens, pigs, huge metal rods 30 feet long? All transported by motorbike; it’s actually impressive.

I spent the first couple of days in Hanoi exploring the Old Quarter and indulging in as much Vietnamese food as I could- the food is SO good. I then decided to arrange a Ha Long Bay trip through my hostel and I’m so happy I did. My hostel had their own private island called “Castaway Island”, very original, I know. The 3 days spent in Ha Long Bay were unreal but exhausting. Nothing but swimming partying and admiring the beautiful limestone rock formations coming out of the water around us. The best part of Ha Long Bay which a lot of people don’t know is the bio-luminescent plankton! At around midnight everyone on my group jumped off the pier to witness such glowing plankton. When you’re standing still you see nothing, but as soon as you start to move your body, millions of tiny plankton glow around you- it’s AMAZING. Unfortunately, one obvious down side of  Ha Long Bay is that it is very polluted. This is because the water comes from the Chinese Ocean and all of the waste builds up in the bay. Also, there are tiny floating fishing villages throughout Ha Long Bay and a lot of the Vietnamese people are not educated on the environment and pollution, so a lot of it comes from them. In the end, the best part of my Ha Long Bay trip were the people I met. There were 11 of us in my group and 35 others on the island. Out of my 11, 9 boys from England Ireland, and Brazil, and 2 girls from Germany and me (thank god for the German girls ? )
When we got back to Hanoi a couple of us decided we wanted to do the trip up to Sapa, which is northern Vietnam and is stunningly beautiful. You’re completely engulfed in mountains and rice fields and the vibe is way more laid back than busy Hanoi. We spent our second day in Sapa trekking through rice fields and through a few local villages and we were able see how the people there lived. The trek wasn’t too bad, however it was sunny and extremely hot and humid so we were drenched in sweat even more than usual. That night we were able to stay in a home stay. The whole experience was awesome. A lot of people that I meant weren’t going to Sapa, and I think that’s because Ha Long Bay over shadows it, but Sapa is soooo worth the trip!!
My Vietnam adventures ended in Hoi An, a coastal town about half way down the country. I LOVED Hoi An, it’s seriously looks like a fairy tale town. I spent most of my time in the Ancient City getting lost and eating street food (the best kind of food). At night the city comes alive and it’s beautiful. Hoi An is famous for its lanterns and the streets are filled and lined with them. Everyone is out and about at night, either eating at one of the many restaurants that line the street or walking around the famous night market. There’s so much to do. I planned on being in Hoi An alone, and I was until I ran into my German friend from my Ha Long Bay tour the first night. We ended up spending the few days I had together and it was so much fun!! We lucked out with the weather and were able to go to the beach 2 days in a row, and we also rented motorbikes (I rode on the back of one because I was obviously too scared to drive myself) and drove to a mountain for the sunset.
My time in Vietnam was amazing and I wish so badly that I didn’t have to leave so soon. However, I will DEFINITELY be back!
A Hanoi classic, Pho Bo- noodle soup with beef for 30,000 dong..about $1.50
Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam- known for its many rice terraces
Ha Long Bay selfies!
 
Hoi An lanterns
 
An Bang beach in Hoi An, Vietnam

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