3 Amazing Islands in South Thailand to Visit

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Thailand was our first stop when hitting South East Asia. In the first part, we travelled North from Bangkok to Pai. However, in this blog, I cover 3 amazing islands in South Thailand. The beautiful people and beaches made the trip worthwhile.

Our first Thailand Island – Koh Tao

We had about a week planned here as my friend was off to do her PADI diving certificate. It is famous for its scuba diving. The name Koh Tao literally translates into ‘turtle island’. How cool because who doesn’t love turtles? The 21 km hilly island is surrounded by gorgeous white sandy beaches. With insane coral reefs come an abundance of fish to see.

The gorgeous beach in Koh Tao, one of the 3 amazing islands in South Thailand
The Gorgeous Beach in Koh Tao

Exploring the Beaches around the Thailand Island…

I didn’t mind being on this little paradise island for the week. The beaches here are amazing. Our hostel was right on the beach and came with a swimming pool too. It was perfect. The beach that stretches along the back of our hostel gave us the best sunsets. The colours were bright and bold. Watching the sun go down most nights was picturesque.

Hiring a Scooter to Explore…

Like all places across Asia, it is really easy to hire a scooter to explore different places. So, with my friend settled in scuba diving lessons, I rented one. I explored the island with someone from the hostel. When you travel it is that easy to make friends. There are lots of people with the same mindset as you. As this was a hilly island there were hills to go up.

The Koh Tao sunset over the beach with fishing boats lining the shore
One of Many Picturesque Sunsets

As we were driving up to a viewpoint a bike was coming down. The road was basically one way, so you would have thought they would have stopped. No, they didn’t. I had to stop whilst going uphill. Coupled with the fact I can just about hold the weight of the bike, let alone two people on it. I so nearly dropped the guy on the back of the floor. Luckily, he jumped off in time. Phew. Close call. There are lots of travellers walking around Asia covered in bandages. So, when hiring be confident you can drive and take it easy.

We reached a couple of different beaches. We reached a viewpoint overlooking Koh Nangyuan beach. It was beautiful. The water is crystal-clear, the white sandbars joining three mini islands together.

What is Koh Tao Like After Dark…

When the sun goes down the drink flows more. The scene is fun. Everyone is having a good time. No one is really out of control. The place on the beach by us played music for everyone to enjoy. The drinks are cheap. The food is too. Koh Tao was my favourite out of the three islands in Thailand we visited.

Our next Thai Island – Koh Phangan

So, this island is where the famous ‘Full Moon’ rave happens. Unfortunately, there was no full moon during our time there. People plan their time here around it. I must admit from the pictures I’ve seen it does like insane. This island for us was about yet more amazing street food and markets.

Me on a swing at Manhi Beach, Koh Phangan, one of the 3 amazing islands in South Thailand
Swinging into the Weekend

We did go to the beach in the North called Mauhi beach… apparently the best on the island. It has my vote. The sand was white, the sea clear and warm. Great food and a swing to top it off. It is definitely worth spending a day relaxing here. Topping up the tan. After, a nice day, we headed to one of the famous sunset spots, Amsterdam Bar. Just like all other sunsets in the South of Thailand another corker. The sky was light in colours as the sun disappeared. Perfection.

Our Final Thai Island – Koh Phi Phi

Me standing on a Koh Phi Phi beach, one of the 3 amazing islands in South Thailand
Admiring the View of This Gorgeous Beach

This island took a little travel time to reach. First was a ferry, then from that port a bus to Krabi. The last leg was a ferry from Krabi. Then, finally, we reached Koh Phi Phi. Our hostel was the furthest one away. We were staying in a bamboo hut. Again, being a budget traveller, you have to sometimes pick the cheapest. However, yes it was basic but we didn’t need more than that. There was yet another amazing sea to swim in. Koh Phi Phi was still getting over the devastation. They had only just started to rebuild. Yet, even after something so bad the people were still so happy and kind. A common trait in Asia.

Summary of the South of Thailand

Well, you can see why these 3 amazing islands in South Thailand are so popular. Paradise is the word I would use, to sum up, all the places we explored. The sun is hot, the water warm and the people are very welcoming. Plus, the food is cheap and very tasty!!! Definitely worth a trip!! 

What to See in Bangkok and the Remarkable North?

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My first adventure in Thailand was starting in Bangkok and travelling North. The second part was exploring the Islands in the South of Thailand. The north is different from the south. Well… for one we didn’t see a beach. However, it was still so beautiful.

Exploring Bangkok By Day and Night

Once refreshed from the flight we started the next adventure with a cruise on down the river. now, we were hitting the heat in Asia whereas India was slightly cooler. I didn’t mind I loved the heat. Also, here you can wear shorts!

A building at The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand
The Grand Palace

Our first stop was the grand palace and with all our hast for adventure, we forgot appropriate clothing. Luckily here they have spares that you can borrow. Looking like I was in a school uniform we explored the grounds. Looking like a schoolgirl didn’t stop people from wanting our pictures, just like in India. We happily obliged. It did us no harm. Yet, made them so happy.

The Grand Palace was home to the Emerald Buddha. The architecture was insane. Every bit was covered in coloured tiles or stones. The time and patience that has gone into making the temple were astounding. This place left an impression. My first Asian temple. And what a treat it was.

Walking Along the Bangkok Riverbank…

The Gold Reclining Buddha  at the  Wat Po Temple in Bangkok, Thailand
The Reclining Buddha, Wat Po

We came across a massive flower market in Bangkok. The flowers smelt amazing as we made our way past. Also, a fish market… the smell did not the same effect as the flowers! And a normal market. I had never really been to markets before Asia. Let’s say I miss them. The bartering of the price. The wonderful colours and smells throughout.

Finally, we made it to our next Bangkok temple. Wat Po. The home of the only reclining Buddha. All gold and laying across a whopping 42 metres and 15 metres in height. This was cool to see. To learn about their history and religion from both temples was a great start.

What night entertainment is there in Bangkok?

You have the famous Bangkok road; Koh Son Road. Famous for partying and buckets of alcohol. Cheap street food is just like everywhere. This was my first experience with Thai food. I had been really missing out on amazing flavours. Everything was tasty. No complaints. Pad Thai is still my favourite to this day. Also, I love using chopsticks.

The other must-do when speaking with people is the famous ‘Ping Pong Show’ when in Bangkok. So, diving into the culture we did that. However, I would say if you want to experience this, pick a mid-range priced show. Ours cost us 150, a beer. It was okay. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I found it disgusting. Never again. Once is enough just to say you ticked it off.

Heading up to the North of Thailand

Riding the Death Railway train along the River in North Thailand
The View From the Train Carriage, Death Railway

As we caught buses North our first stop was Nom Tok Train Station. We only got here after our taxi driver took us to the wrong place. He took us to a train station instead of the river. For, Nom Tok station we needed to cross the river. It was early before 6 am. I was tired. Luckily, we left a lot of time and didn’t miss the boat. As well as driving us to where we didn’t want to go. He tried to say I gave him the wrong money. We agreed on a price upfront. I gave him that. Another scam. This time it didn’t work. I just left the taxi.

A Ride Along The Death Railway

Me playing Dobble with local school children on the Death Railway train in Thailand
Playing with Local Children

I really wanted to ride this train there and back. Just because. It was built in World War 2 and at the time we rode it. No work had ever been carried out. Hence its name. The Death Railway (Burma Railway).

Also, it runs alongside a cliff with only sleepers drilled into the cliff with no vertical support at one point. It was meant to take 5 hours but took 8. 5 on the way back. The scenery was beautiful. On the way back a group of school children were on the train. My friend and I were playing ‘dobble’… a snap game.

The school kids joined in. This is why I wanted to travel to mix with people from all over the world. Experience what they experience. This is one of my favourite times. Irrigating with the locals.

Next on Our Adventure North…

We visited a less popular touristy place. Erawan National Park. this beautiful bit of nature was incredible. A seven-level waterfall. Truly amazing at each level. We set off slowly climbing making our way past each stage. Barefoot. I love being barefoot and as it was mainly mud underfoot it was possible. It was a tough hike in the heat. We pushed on to level seven. A place we ate lunch and had a swim.

One of the seven waterfalls at Eaewan National Park just north of Bangkok in Thailand
A Waterfall Stage at Erawan

You did have to keep moving as those fish that eat your skin call this level home. After some time relaxing and recovering, we then made our way back. Stopping by a couple more levels for a swim. Level 4 was fun. One of the rocks covered in algae acts as a natural slide and with the water deep enough we slid in. it was quick but so much fun!

This place was truly magnificent and picturesque, I would recommend stopping by.

Exploring Ancient Ruins in Sukhothai

Sukhothai Ruins Historical Park in the North of Bangkok, Thailand
Free Sukhothai Ruins

This town broke up the bus journeys. We spent a day exploring the ruins. We rented our first scooter and drove around to find the ruins that weren’t in the historical park. There are plenty you can find for free. Our first time on scooters was going great until we stopped. I was still sitting on the bike after about 5 minutes I fancied some water. Yep. You guessed it. The bike fell on my ankle. Luckily, I got away with a cut. Remember to be careful and take it easy on the roads. All in all, a fun day exploring.

The Popular Chaing Mai

Arranging late at night with nowhere booked never had been a problem until we hit Chaing Mai. The only place in Thailand not to have 24-hour reception. We wandered the streets for hours. Yes. All our belongings. Then we found a place that would take us. ‘The White Horse’. We had planned to arrive in light, however, like every it of transport in Asia, we were delayed for whatever reason. You just roll with it.

Me and a random waterfall in Pai in the north of Thailand
A Stop by a Waterfall

After, minimal sleep, my friend set off to find a cheaper place. We were lucky to get the last bed in a place closer to everything. This is one town where booking accommodation in advance is a must. Perfect. All moved in we explored.

The markets here were insane. They were massive. New flip-flops check. Bartered to the correct exchange. Oooo… very nice rings. We bartered. The woman was happy. We were thinking… why they cost us £5 for two. Turns out were worked out the cost on the wrong exchange. We switched back to the Indian currency rate. Silly mistake. I guess a few travellers may be able to relate to this. Still cheaper than home though.

Choosing the Right Elephants…

We didn’t. we made a mistake. So, when doing a very popular tourist attraction make sure you research the company more. Something we failed to do. Pick a good place. A good place will not let you ride them along with other things. Please, learn from my mistake and many others before me. I wish I knew what I know no back then.  

The Last Stop in Thailand…

The Pai Canyon rim surrounded by trees in North Thailand
A View in Pai

Pai. A relaxing, chilled place. We stayed at a hippie hostel. These were bamboo huts in a field with a restaurant and a swimming pool. A great place with night entertainment. Our second scooter of the trip. Again, please be careful as we drove around visiting sites, we noticed our brakes weren’t as sharp as they should be. We took it easy and slowed on our approach.

It is worth getting a scooter to see the spread-out sites. The first stop is a Pom Bok waterfall. Beautiful. Another stop was a canyon. I had to hold my breath as I approached the thin strip joining two mountain tops together. My fear of heights got the better of me. Plus, it is so thin it was dangerous too.

A fun day exploring! Pai, I would definitely recommend it.

People travel to Thailand for the Islands but sometimes forget the North. I liked both as they were both so different from one another.

How to Spend a Week Exploring Wonderful Laos

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Next on the great South East Asia backpacking trip was Laos. This was similar having just come from the Thailand Northern region. Laos is a landed-locked country meaning no beaches to explore. This was okay. I’m here to explore the culture. From first impressions, everyone was happy and very welcoming. A common theme throughout Asia. The first impressions didn’t change.

Luang Namtha – The Laos Town Next to the Thai Border Crossing

This northern Laos province was full of jungle and peaceful. It was located on the Nam Tha River. This town wasn’t covered by tourists. The quiet streets were a welcome relief. Here, you can opt to zipline through the jungle. If you chose. We went for a more relaxing kayaking experience.

The River Nam Tha, in Luang Namtha, Laos
The Nam Tha River

The guides were two early-20s boys and a small group of 6 tourists including us. The first stop was the market to pick up some fresh fish, rice, and vegetables for lunch. The peaceful kayak down the Nam Tha River was very enjoyable. The banks were lined with booming green trees and plants.

Where to Eat Lunch Along This Laos River? Spoilt for Choice…

For lunch, we stopped along the river. a swimming spot too. That was a blessing as the sun was out in full force. Nice to cool off. The fish was cooked on an open fire. Don’t ask me what fish we had. I couldn’t tell you. However, it was so tasty and just flaked straight off the bone. Perfect views and perfect lunch!

Me eating the fresh fish for lunch on the banks of the Nam Tha River in Luang Namtha, Laos
A Delicious Lunch

The second part of kayaking was a little trickier in places as the water shallowed. However, that meant we did get stuck. Luckily, for us, it was only twice on some rocks. Easy. No problem.

The Second Stop… Luang Prabang!

Luang Prabang is a very popular stop along the backpackers’ route through Asia. To reach here from Namtha was the most unpleasant bus ride to date. The journey was non-stop bumpy. We choose cheap to mid-range buses depending on the length of the journey. This one was a mini-bus. But still not comfortable.

The Mekong River is normally a popular way to travel from Thailand to Laos. It takes something like three days on a wooden plank to sit upon. We didn’t have the time to do this route but apparently, it is amazing.

Witnessing the Alms Giving Ceremony…

Luang Prabang was home to the easiest to witness the Giving of the Alms ceremony. The Alms ceremony is a long-standing tradition in Laos Buddhist religion. People line the streets to give offerings of food to the monks. It takes place at dawn as the sun starts to rise. A must-do to experience their culture.

Alms Giving Cremony in Luang Prabang
Witnessing an Alms Giving Ceremony

Also, we took a tuk-tuk bus to explore some waterfalls. These tuk-tuk style buses leave when they are full. So, the more people you can gather the quicker you leave. These are a must in Luang Prabang and when staying at hostels it won’t take you long to get a crowd. They are a truly magnificent part of nature.

A Bus Ride to Vang Vieng

A hillside view from the bus ride to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang
A View from a Pit Stop on Our Way to Vang Vieng

The favourite town among backpackers. Once there you will see why. This town is 4 hours north of the capital Vientiane. The Nam Song River runs one side of town. This river is popular for tubing. Basically, floating down the river in a rubber inner tire tube. You can rent them there. Also, with the rental, a bus will pick you up and take you back in time.

This is a dangerous thing to do. Fun though. When we went they had stricter rules. Only four bars per day are open. There were too many drunk people making bad decisions. You can rope swing or jump into the river, however, the water is shallow. Therefore, accidents were happening. I am not sure if any of the bars are there now. We went back in 2015.

The Night Life in Vang Vieng…

The other reason backpackers flock to this otherwise sleepy town. Laos has an 11 pm curfew. Everything closes down. Yet, if you time your night you can hop from bar to bar for happy hour. Free Laos Whiskey. Again, a dangerous game. Alcohol is cheap across Asia. This place is fun and when you get to know people there is always an unground party happening. We spent about three nights dancing the night away. Good times.

The cave rock in the middle of a field in Vang Vieng, Laos
Hiking to Explore Some Caves in Vang Vieng

It was hard not to say no. remember, to stay with people you know and not take drinks from strangers. Yes, in Thailand I got drugged. Lucky for me, I was with my friend. The drugs were meant for her. We switched drinks. She is a lightweight. I drank a little then I couldn’t tell you what happened. So please be aware.

Summary of Wonderful Laos

I didn’t know much going in. This is one of the poorer countries in Asia but they are so happy. You can’t help but be happy and relaxed. Laos is definitely up there as one of my favourites. So many temples to explore, waterfalls, jungle, and rivers. The time here can be well spent getting to know the local culture just as we did when we weren’t drinking and dancing the nights away.

Next Stop Vietnam…

A Visit to The Astonishing Golden Triangle in India

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Where do I start? This was the first country I travelled too. I grew up in Western culture and I was ready to experience what the world had to offer. I was ready to throw myself into learning and experiencing the world to become more open-minded. So, here we were starting at The Golden Triangle in India.

The Golden Triangle, India: Delhi – Round One

What a shock we had after landing! Yet I feel this experience helped toughen us up and be wiser going forward. We fell for the classic taxi scam. The one where your taxi driver can’t find our pre-booked hostel. So, they took us to their friends’ hostel instead. The hostel was in a sketchy part of town so for new travellers it was quite overwhelming. We tried to go out for water and food. We hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since our flight meal. However, the teenage boy begged us to come back as it wasn’t safe to be out there.

So, with no food or water after a long flight from England, we decided to go to sleep… well we tried too. The noise outside could only be described as a riot happening; although ‘safely’ inside it was still quite scary to experience.

One thing was clear we needed to get out of there. We made the decision to wake at 4 am to ‘escape’. Luckily, there was a tuk-tuk with a driver who was more than happy to help. We made our way to the train station to catch a train to Agra. Ready to take on a new city in the Golden Triangle.

Agra: The Second City in the Golden Triangle

Okay. Not the best start. However, I was not going to judge India on this experience alone because there were a couple of bad people. We only lost £30 between the three of us. It could have been a lot worse. I have read stories about people losing hundreds of US dollars. We considered ourselves lucky.

A side street in New Delhi

The Street in Agra

The train took over 5 hours. It was only meant to take 3, however, the fog made it impossible to see. Therefore, it slowed us down. That along with people on the tracks at various points meant the train wasn’t able to pick up any speed. It wasn’t the greatest journey as we were could only get cattle class tickets… turned out we sat in the wrong area (not in cattle class). However, the conductor just made us pay the difference in price No trouble.

Agra is a much quieter city compared to Delhi; a better place to get your bearings. The hotel\hostel we stayed in was pretty average but everything worked. Here, was where are adventures really started and before long we met some more travellers.

Finally, we got some much-needed food, hunger was real but at least we were happy and healthy. Later that day, we visited our first tourist attraction.

Agra Fort – The Red Fort

By the time we arrived in Agra, it was hitting late afternoon so we went to the Agra Red Fort. We paid for a guide. I think he was one of the unofficial guides from outside. Nevertheless, he was perfect and we got him at a very good rate. He was funny and full of knowledge, whether or not it was the truth about the place who knows. Here, in India, the price is always a negation from hostels to food. Cut their price into a third… most take that offer if not never pay more than half of their original bid. I quite enjoyed bartering in the end. Anyway, this man was good so we gave him more than the agreed price. He deserved it.

Taj Mahal, Agra – A Must See in the Golden Triangle

The Taj Mahal in Agra within The Golden Triangle of India
The Foggy View of The Taj Mahal

The main attraction here is the Taj Mahal, one of the new seven wonders of the world. And this prestige marble building was incredible. One of the most popular tourist attractions in India and as you enter through the gates you can see why. This religious place is impressive. The detail on each block of marble was impressive. The time and patience that had gone into making this masterpiece shawn through. I was in awe.

Jaipur – The Last City in the Golden Triangle

Jaipur or ‘The pink city’ was where we left the cool climate and entered some sun for the first time. We arrived in ‘comfort’ in the first-class carriage of the train from Agra. Don’t ask how long this train took but I can assure you it was longer than the time given. That’s okay. I was filled with joy as I experienced the culture India has to offer. This is what I wanted, a new culture to learn about.

A day driving around…

We set off in a tuk-tuk. My favourite form of transport, now. Yes, the roads in India are crazy and filled with no structure. Yet, somehow don’t ask me how but it works. Motorbikes using bumpers of cars to stop. Cars edging all the time and people darting across the road. After a couple of days, we did learn how to cross the road without getting hit. You ‘simply pick your gap and walk as fast as you can without stopping. If you hesitate then you could be in trouble. What looks completely crazy is beautiful and unique at the same time.

Me sitting in a Tuk-Tuk driver seat in India
My Favourite Mode of Transport

A Broken Down Tuk-Tuk…

The nice tuk-tuk driver drove us around the city visiting The Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, feeding elephants, and stopping at all the unwanted shops. Yet, if you just say ‘NO’ firmly and do not leave the tuk-tuk they drive on. However, this driver ran out of petrol… dusk was starting to set and from all we read and got told… “Don’t be out at dark as two females”. We were a little on edge.

This moment was scary… we were broken down on the side of the road. Then, all of a sudden, many men surrounded us offering a lift. My friend screamed ‘NO, back off’ to which the men did. I told the tuk-tuk driver he wasn’t getting paid until he got us another tuk-tuk back to our hostel. Take-away the money and quickly we were on our way home safely.

Round 2 in Delhi…

Me eating an Aloo Gobi Curry with my hands in New Delhi within The Golden Triangle of India
Embracing the Food

We had our flight to Bangkok, Thailand from here. So, we had to face our fears. Round one wasn’t so great. However, in round two we nailed it. By this point, we were ‘professionals’ and full of confidence after the success in different cities. We found our hostel… by ourselves. We spent the day wandering around the city… this part was much nicer than the last time we were here. Also, this is where we ate the best Aloo Gobi curry. I can still picture it today and know what the taste was like. Finally… Success.

Summary of My Two Weeks in India

Well… I wanted to experience different cultures and India certainly did this. India was a mix of emotions but I got what I wanted. India is definitely a unique country. It was hard work. Many negatives but many more positives. People spitting at your feet and people always trying to sell you something as you walked down the streets. Yet, all you had to be was firm. No. A stern voice and they will go away. Yes, things didn’t go to plan yet that didn’t stop this country from becoming one of my favourites. Nevertheless, The Golden Triangle was insane and a true learning experience.

A picture taken with local Indian School Girls in The Golden Triangle
One of the Many Pictures Taken With Locals

Overall, the food never disappointed, the flavours were so well put together you just wanted more. Therefore, curries elsewhere will no longer be the same. The colours and detail in the saris and other traditional dresses were very beautiful. We saw many wedding parties lining the street with painted elephants and dressed to the max. The impressive buildings. It all was incredible. Everyone was happy, where ever you went. Kids were playing cricket with sticks and stones. The happiest kids I have ever seen. This country has taught me you can be happy with so little.

However, two weeks only touched the surface of what this country offers. I would go back to experience different areas. Despite all this, I come away with fond memories of the culture and the people I met along the way.

This amazing country opened my western eyes to a whole new world. What a start to my first adventure in The Golden Triangle, India. Next up was Thailand.

Vietnam – Exploring from the Amazing North to the South

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After Laos we entered Vietnam, two weeks travelling from SaPa to Ho Chi Minh in the south. For us UK Nationals we need a visa in advance. We had this. Yet, it didn’t stop us from making an error. We got to the airport to fly from Laos to Vietnam two days before our visa started. Luckily, for us, the airline spoke to the embassy and we were allowed in. It just meant we had to leave two days earlier. Result. As a traveller, you are always booking buses or flights so little errors like these will crop up.

Flying into Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi was a busy and stressful city which I don’t really enjoy on the whole. So, we found a ride out of the city on a sleeper bus. These are common in Asia. You get a little coffin-like bed for the night. Perfect if you are my friend’s height at 5 foot 2, you fit right in. I struggled at my height of 5 foot 5. So, any taller… I wish you luck. However, night buses are great as you save on accommodation. Perfect for the budget backpacker.

Hiking… The Reason We Are in Sapa, Vietnam

I was not expecting it to be so cold in SaPa. It was very cold. Also, foggy, you couldn’t see more than 15 feet in front of you. I was here to hike however my friend wasn’t down for this. Luckily I found another traveller who wanted to do the hike. So, the next day we set off. It was as if we set off into the abyss. The fog was still strong. The hike was an easy one but very slippery in places. It wasn’t long before we reached our first village where we had lunch. This village was home to The Black Hmong Tribe.

After a Tasty Lunch…

Rice Fields in SaPa, Vietnam, South East Asia
Rice Fields in SaPa

We visited a school on the way to our homestay. A homestay is staying at a local’s house for the night. We were staying with the Zai Tribe. The school was fun and all the children got distracted from learning and ran outside to greet us. Our homestay was basic but felt homely. The family were great hosts and very welcoming. Our dinner was cooked on an open fire and the little girl kept us entertained with a game of monsters and drawing.

The Second Day of the Hike

The conditions on the trail were a lot worse. As we made our way through the bamboo forest. It felt like we were basically skating on clay for three hours. It was an adventure but it did wear thin towards the end. Luckily for me, I didn’t fall. Although, there were many near misses. Even one with the guide catching me. The guide is from the local Zai Tribe and she was fantastic throughout the trip. This is a great experience with the locals to learn about the two tribes.

Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island

In the famous Halong Bay, again the weather impacted this experience as the fog was still out in force. Although, it gave off a magical feel as we went across the water to Cat Ba. An island where we rented a scooter and explored. The views throughout the day were breathtaking. I was always at the back, driving slower to be able to take in the surroundings more. We decided to hike to the peak of some mountain on the trip around the island. The hike up was a little tough in places but rewarding when we got the view at the top.

Te Back of the Cat Ba Ferry with views of Halong Bay in South East Asia
The Foggy Halong Bay

Also, here we had to do boring tasks such as laundry. However, this time around this was a major inconvenience because it meant all our warm clothes were sent for washing. Speak about bad timing. All your warm clothes in the wash when it’s cold. The joys of travelling with the bare minimum. You don’t get the luxury from a wardrobe but I don’t care. I kind of enjoy living out of a backpack. It feels like part of me at this stage.

The Town of Ninh Binh

We only had a day here. Basically, we caught a night bus in and caught another out the same day. During the day we rented a scooter to visit a national park. Renting scooters is the easiest way to explore around South East Asia. The trip today was about roughly a 45 km drive north. So maybe an hour but this is Vietnam. We found the national park we were looking for after 3 hours. It was a great park once there. Full of plush green forests which you can drive around… well some of it. So, we did. As we rode our scooter down the road, out of nowhere a dog appeared. This dog must have thought we were dinner because it chased us down the road relentlessly. Wow, this dog was so quick and had plenty of stamina. It was trying to bite my ankles so I had to use the selfie stick to keep it away. It followed for sometime before finally giving up. When I tell the story, I say it was a wolf. It’s way more dramatic.

Again, on the way home, we took a three-hour detour. Don’t ask how we did it but we did! Luckily, we came across a random place which had petrol or we wouldn’t have made it. This is the joy of travelling, finding your own path. Once we took our sunglasses and scarf off. It still looked like they were on as the rest of our faces were black. Oh well… another fun day out!

Another Night, Another Night Bus…

The Inside of the Phong Nha Caves on a River in Vietnam
Inside Phong Nha Caves

This time the bus was very late. However, we are used to this by now. Phong Nha was our choice of destination this time. This area had massive cool caves to explore by boat. So, we did just that and these caves were magnificent. Well worth a stop by. It was a good day exploring and we were finally back in the sun. That night… yep, you guessed it. Another night bus. However, this one was different. Different because instead of being late… it just didn’t turn up at all. After, finally getting our money back a group of us made different arrangements to get to Hoi An in the morning.

My Favourite Town in VietNam

We spent a good few days in Hoi An. It was super relaxing. We stayed at the Sunflower Hostel which included the best breakfast of all the hostels, ever. Here, we hired bicycles and slowly explored the beaches, old city, rice fields, and the Japanese bridge. It was nice to change the fast pace to a slow one. This town is famous for making clothes to order. So if you want to pick up a nice dress or suit made to your measurements this is the place to do so.

The Last City was the Capital of Ho Chi Minh

Firstly, we tackled the sombre side by visiting the war museum. This was an eye-opening experience to learn about what Vietnam had to go through with the Americans and the effect it still has on the Nation today. For me, I went on a day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels, again another eye-opening sombre experience. History is sometimes a challenging subject to learn because you can’t help but think about how can people be so cruel.

The Chinese New Year…

The streets lined with moped's ready for the Chinese new year fireworks in Ho Chi Minh, South East Asia
Blocking Traffic for The Fireworks

This was an amazing experience to be part of welcoming the Chinese New Year in Asia. Everyone filled the streets on foot or on their scooters. Traffic was at a complete standstill as roads were fully blocked. We were all waiting for the fireworks display over the river. Still to this day, I would say it’s the best fireworks display I’ve witnessed. The fireworks made shapes like smiling faces and love hearts! I had never seen them before and haven’t seen them since. What a way to end an incredible Vietnam backpacking trip.