Adventures in Asia

My trip to Vietnam in 2018

Hanoi

This trip marks my first visit to Asia, my first time crossing the dateline, and the farthest time zone I’ve been from home (both Vancouver and St. John’s). I was dreading the flight there, but it was actually a lot better than expected. We flew out of YVR at 2am and we were just so tired by then that we both passed out as soon as we got on the plane and slept for a solid 7-8 hours. We had a short stopover in Taipei and then landed in Hanoi the following morning at 10am.

We took a cab to our hotel in the old quarter and were greeted with a message from my friend, Sarah, as soon as we arrived. She was finishing her honeymoon with her husband Nick, and we had one day of overlap, so they picked us up at our hotel and gave us a pretty fantastic food tour of Hanoi!

The food here is fantastic! I havent even had pho yet because there’s been so many other exciting things to try (update: I had it since writing this!). Sarah and Nick took us for Bun Cha and Banh Xeo, which are a grilled pork and noodle soup and these fried pancakes stuffed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. We’ve since also tried Banh Mi and Cha Ca, which are vietnamese sandwiches and a grilled fish dish. I loved it all except for the Banh Mi sandwich. Mine was just listed as a “meat” sandwich and ended up being what I think was pork fat, so not a favourite for me. But everything else has been delicious and Sarah introduced me to an iced tea thats topped with cream cheese (so much yummier than it sounds), which is so refreshing in the heat.

On our first day we visited the Temple of Literature with Sarah and Nick and spent some time walking around Hoan Kiem Lake and the old quarter. The temple of literature was first constructed in 1076 and was a university for many years. We continued touring Hanoi on our second day and visited Tran Quoc pagoda, Ho Chi Minh’s mauseleum, Dong Xoun Market, and went to see a water puppet show. We didnt know what to expect from the water puppets, but it was actually a really fun show about rural life and culture in Vietnam. Plus its mind blowing trying to figure out how they move the puppets so fluidly!

We’ve been adjusting pretty well to the time difference with early nights and early mornings. Our hotel has a breakfast lounge on the top floor which boasts gorgeous views of the lake and I loved spending my evenings up there writing and looking at the city.

However, the traffic in Hanoi is truely frightening. I’m glad we had Nick to show us the ropes our first day because the city is totally overrun by motorbikes and scooters and crossing the road (and just walking in general) gives me so much anxiety. There are crosswalks everywhere, but no one ever stops, so you literally just have to walk out into the road and let the bikes avoid you. Finding Dong Xoun Market was probably the worst because there’s vendors everywhere and so many people, but motorbikes still insist on driving through the crowds.

My favourite part of the city though was probably Friday night. In the evenings on weekends, they shut down all the major roads around the lake and its open only to pedestrians. There’s a night market with tons of vendors and street performers. The lake is all lit up and it has the nicest ambiance without all the cars and honking!

Next up is Tam Coc, Sapa, and Bai Tu Long Bay!

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My Next Adventure

Hi Friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve gone on a trip out of country. My last trip outside of Canada/US was in 2016 when me and Emily travelled to Costa Rica and Panama for 2.5 weeks. I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time hiking over the past few years, so last year I decided to stay local for a year and did some traveling around BC and Newfoundland instead.

But I’ve been itching to visit Asia since I moved to BC 4 years ago and I decided to finally make it happen this year! Seth and I have decided to visit Vietnam as a bit of celebration of him finishing up with his thesis. Vietnam has been on my bucket list for a long time and I’m really excited to explore part of the country.

We’re going for just under 3 weeks, and while we are traveling the whole length of the country and doing lots of really awesome stuff, I still feel like we have to skip so much.

We’re flying into Hanoi and spending some time in the north. We’re going to visit the rice terraces in Sapa and go on a cruise of Bai Tu Long Bay. It’s a little ironic because the main reason I wanted to go to Vietnam was to visit Ha Long Bay, but I’ve since learned it’s super overcrowded and polluted, so we’ve decided to visit nearby Bai Tu Long Bay instead in hopes of escaping the crowds. I do have a bit of trepidation about skipping Ha Long Bay, but Bai Tu Long Bay looks pretty gorgeous as well. (They’re both part of a series of islands whose towering cliffs extending up out of the water makes for a dramatic landscape).

After that we’re starting our journey south with an overnight train ride to Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park. Phong Nha is known for it’s karst topography and intricate caving system. It has some of the largest caves in the world, and while we’re not visiting these, we will be doing a lot of caving and boating in the river!

Next we’re planning to see some cultural attractions with stops in both HuĂ© and Hoi An, with a little bit of birding for Seth in between. We haven’t totally nailed down our itinerary for this part of the trip, but we’ll probably be visiting some pagodas and touring the historical centres of both cities. I’m hoping to fit in a trip to the beach in Hoi An and cooking class or food tour.

For the last leg of the trip, we’ll be flying to Ho Chi Minh City as a home base and doing some other trips from there. We’re planning to do a 2 day tour of Cat Tien National Park, which looks to have some really cool wildlife, and a day trip out to the MeKong Delta.

As usual, I’m going to try and do some travel blogging along the way, which I’m really excited about since I haven’t done it in ages. I may try and get in the habit of blogging more about my hiking adventures, because I do get a lot of joy out them, but we’ll have to see whether that’s manageable on top of the book blogging. In any case, I got a fancy new camera last year with bluetooth and I’m pumped to not have to use crappy hostel computers to upload photos anymore. I hope you’ll come along with me for the journey! Here’s a photo of me and Seth in Peru circa 2013, back when I still wore glasses and he still had hair (shhh)!

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