Skip to main content

Blog

Saigon & the Mekong Delta

The first thing on the agenda when we got to Saigon, was to go to the War Remnants Museum, this is a museum aimed at educating the world about the atrocities committed during the American / Vietnam War. The first thing you notice when you start looking around this museum is that there is nothing withheld from public view here, there are graphic images and depictions of the horrifying events that occurred throughout this country with many stories and interviews alongside the images to tell of the devastation that occurred.

It’s a really difficult museum to walk around, as the images of death and destruction are on every wall, there is an entire exhibition dedicated to showing the photos that journalists managed to take during the war, unfortunately many of the journalists were killed later on during the war.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram

Mui Ne

We were told by a guy that we met a few weeks ago, that if we went to Mui Ne, a coastal town about 5 hours from Dalat, we had to stay at the Mui Ne Hills Resort. We booked a private room in the budget part of the resort, but after reading lots of reviews of people saying they got upgraded to the nice hotel next door, we were quietly hoping we would get the same.

After the same old bus scam from Dalat, whereby the bus company drops you nowhere near where you need to be and there’s a hoard of taxi drivers just waiting to take you to where you are going and scam you out of money in the process, we learned that you just have to get used to this in South East Asia, it happens everywhere.

We got to the resort, and sure enough they upgraded us to the nice hotel, so we had got a really nice room, in a really nice resort, with three swimming pools and a bar / restaurant by the main pool that was very reasonably priced even for travellers, 50 pence for a beer resulted in quite a few beers being drank by the pool in the 5 days we spent there. We had only booked 2 nights here but ended up staying 5 in the end as it was so nice and chilled.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram

Dalat – the Central Highlands

We arrived on the train from hell to Nha Trang, a beach-side town, that seemed to us like it had passed it’s best. Unfortunately the weather was bad for us, raining and cloudy, the sea was rough, so if we couldn’t go to the beach there wasn’t much point in staying. We had booked 3 nights at the hostel, but within a couple of hours we knew we didn’t like the town so cancelled two of the three nights and booked a bus the next day to Dalat in the highlands.

The bus journey to Dalat was pretty horrific, we got the back row, it was the bumpiest and most horrible bus journey yet for 6 hours up to Dalat, from sea level to 5,000 feet, with a crazy driver. We just about managed to keep our breakfast inside us though and  survived the journey to get to Dalat.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram

Hoi An & the Night Train Bushtucker Trial

We arrived in Hoi An to a brand new hotel we had found on the internet in advance, we had booked two nights, but as soon as we got there we realised we would be staying longer. It had only been open for two weeks, so was really cheap at £15 per night, this was cheaper than almost anything else in Hoi An because the old town is famous for being a UNESCO world heritage site.

The hotel had every luxury we hadn’t had for the previous month and a half, a big room with a comfy bed (in Asia, this is as rare as rocking horse excrement), a balcony, a bath, a swimming pool, free use of bicycles and free breakfast. It was so nice to just relax somewhere comfortable for a few days after 6-7 busy weeks of travelling quite quickly, so we stayed five nights in the end.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram

The DMZ, Huế and the Hai Van Pass

We got on a bus from Phong Nha village to Huế which would stop a couple of times along the way in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) in central Vietnam, the area that was used as the border and separation between North and South during the American / Vietnam War. The first stop was at the Vinh Moc Tunnels, this was a village in the DMZ that was famous for building a network of tunnels, in three stages to take the entire village underground away from the bombing by the USA.

This full network of tunnels housed areas for sleeping, eating, working, even a maternity area. The tunnels were a few KM long in total and went down to depths of 23m at the deepest. We walked through the tunnels and came out through one of the exits straight on to a beach on the South China Sea. There was also a small museum here to show all of the tunnels in the region that were built during this time, of which there were dozens.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram

Phong Nha National Park

We left Hanoi around 7pm to head to the train station for the overnight train to Dong Hoi, around 10 hours on the train. We had never done an overnight train before, but we had promised somebody very special that we would do one in Vietnam one day and this was to be the first. We were excited and nervous in equal measures, not really knowing what to expect, we even text the best friends to find out if they recommended beer to make the journey easier, of course they did so I headed straight to the shop to stock up.

The train was bumpy, rocked a lot when moving, stopped and started all the time and I barely fit in the bed so sleeping wasn’t very easy, and the toilet was the worst smell I’ve ever experienced, but overall it was actually fine and a good experience to have achieved (not like the next one we did, but we’ll come to that another day). Ten hours later we arrived in a town called Dong Hoi, knowing we had to catch the local bus to Phong Nha national park, we had no idea where the bus stop was, but we set off walking towards the bus station on the map. We got to a dual carriageway with no paths, so decided a taxi might be a better option than walking, as soon as we got in the taxi we both doubted he knew where he was going when he drove straight past the bus station and ignored our repeated calls to stop.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram

Hanoi and Halong Bay

Following two quick days in Hong Kong, we then flew to Hanoi to start the Vietnam adventure. On arriving we plan to spend about five weeks here travelling from north to south by trains and buses, before crossing in to Cambodia overland from the south.

We checked in to quite a nice hotel in Hanoi, nothing too expensive, but we thought we would treat ourselves to a hotel with it being our anniversary while we were there. The staff were so friendly, and after a day of travelling and walking through the manic streets of the old quarter to get to the hotel, it was a welcome relief to see really friendly and happy faces.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram

Hong Kong; The Sequel

We left the Guilin hotel about 7am and walked to the train station. It was one train to Guangzhou for three hours, then we had 20 minutes to connect to our other train in what is surely the largest train station in the world, bigger than most airports. Thankfully we made it as we could just transfer straight to the right platform we need for the next 30-minute train to Shenzhen. Then it was a metro across the city for 30 minutes to the border between China and Hong Kong, we got stamped out of China, walked a little, then entered Hong Kong at the other side then it was another metro train for an hour in Hong Kong to get to the centre.

So after about six hours on five different trains, lots of transfers and some walking we weren’t too impressed when we arrived at the hostel in Hong Kong and were told to wait in a queue of people to check-in. It was one check-in desk for many hostels, so lots of people waiting, but it didn’t take long thankfully and we were soon out in Hong Kong, a little more civilised than we had for the last three weeks and we were actually really happy to be here.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram

The Great Wall of China and Staci Turns 26

On Stac’s birthday, we had arranged for a driver to take us to the Great Wall Mutianyu section to save taking the multiple buses that are needed in the off-season. It’s a 1.5 hour drive direct so it was definitely a good choice and worth the money. We set off about 6.30am so we were there for 8am and were just about the first people to that section that day. Most people do the cable car up and down to the wall from the base where the bus drops you as it is easier. But we had been suggested on Facebook to look out for the toboggan that can be done down the mountain from the wall.

I’d looked in to this before Stac’s birthday so hadn’t told her about it, but this was why we went to this section of the wall. I didn’t know how to get up to the top but knew the slide back down would be a great experience. So we arrived, I went and bought the tickets, found out it was an open ski-lift style rope-way up to the top and knew immediately Stac was going to want to kill me for doing this.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram

Guangzhou, Yangshuo and Guilin

From Beijing, it was time to fly south to Guangzhou for some (hopefully) warmer weather. We flew in the morning so landed in Guangzhou before 1pm, it was just about the scariest landing we have ever had, windy and very foggy so you couldn’t see the ground until seconds before touching the runway, but we survived, and Guangzhou was warmer, if a little rainy.

We had three days here in Guangzhou in a decent hostel, but didn’t do too much other than eat the local food (Dim Sum) and walk around the city. The Dim Sum we had was amazing, and quite similar to what can be found in Dim Sum restaurants at home, although here you have to wait for a table for a while along with hundreds of other people waiting for the best restaurants. These places are usually huge, on multiple floors with 100 or more tables, they must get through so many dumplings each day.

Read More

Facebooktwitterinstagram