Tag Archives: Vietnam

One year of Travelling… Our trip in numbers!

ONE YEAR AGO ago we set off from Australia attempting to get back to the UK without flying and so far we have made it to China! So how exactly have we done it? Well heres a short post on our trip so far in numbers….

Countries Visited:  10 (Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and currently in China)

Distance traveled without a plane: 47,000 km or 29,200 miles (6,500km longer than one full loop around the earth)

Beds slept in: 177

Transportation – we have used:

111 buses, 41 boats, 21 cars (taxi, private or rental), 32 trains, 13 subway systems, 6 mopeds and a variety of tuk-tuk type vehicles.

Our most expensive accommodation (per person): £28.54 ($55 AUD) – Boss Legend Hotel, Hanoi, Vietnam (Christmas Treat)

Our cheapest accommodation (per person): £1.27 ($2.33 AUD) – Aman batik house, tuktuk, Sumatra

Our Most expensive meal (Per Person): £13.98 ($27 AUD) – Moose and Roo Pub for Christmas Dinner, Hanoi, Vietnam

Our Cheapest Meal (Per Person): £0.24 ($0.44 AUD) – 1 Naan Bread, 1 Bowl of Curry, 1 Fried Bread Pastry and a cup of coffee. – White Cafe in Hpa an, Myanmar

Books Read: 30

Bed Bug Experiences: 3

Pairs of sunglasses Broken: 13

Pairs of Flip-Flops worn out: 9

Celebrity Spottings: 1 (Hugh Dennis in Laos)

Free Things we have been given: 4 x Free bus rides, 2 x Ice Tea, 1 x Longhi (traditional Myanmar skirt), 1 x Free lonely Planet guide book, 6 x pieces of fruit, 2 x Bars of Chocolate, Free clothes wash, 2 x Bowls of traditional Thai Fish soup, 5 Malaysian Ringet, 1 x key ring, lots of flowers (mainly little Myanmar girls giving them to Ella), 2 x Cups of coffee, 1 x toilet fee (The last two were from a monk), 1 x free night of accommodation, 4 x bottles of water, 5 x noodle soups, 1 x free breakfast, free rice and chilli sauce, 2 x free coconuts, 2 x silk scarves, 1 x free tuk-tuk journey, 1 x free snake (edible), 2 x Banh Mi Sandwiches, lots of free potatoes and bananas, 1 x free tote bag, 1 x free ferry ride, 1 x free tourist boat trip, 2 x free ice coffees,  beer (we have actually lost count of how much), 1 free stick of BBQ goat’s udder, 4 x free dinner, 1 x taxi ride, 4 x bananas, 1 x chocolate dessert, rice wine…, 1 x free use of a motorbike, 2 x Jagermeister shots, 1 x free xe om journey, 2 x free bike hire, 2 x bowl of noodles, 1 x blueberry juice, and even more rice wine…..

We will keep writing stuff like this down and update it again in another 3 months…


One Year Ago…




The Middle Kingdom…Hanoi to Beijing in two trains

Bleary eyed and confused we were waiting in line, at 3am off our train from Hanoi, to be allowed across the border into China. The young border guards searched our bags and we held our breathe to see if they’d find our guide-book and confiscate it….they don’t like bits about Tibet. But it made it through and we were in…well after the immigration official had a laugh at Ryan’s passport photo and passed it around to all the other officials! We were in….well though we had another 30 hours on the train… but we were in!


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Hanoi…the city where drag artists accidentally set themselves on fire

OK I’ll explain the title…we were walking around the old quarter on a Saturday evening when the police close off some of the roads for stalls and small concerts. A crowd had gathered around one stage, mainly because the drag artist singer was throwing out packets of crisps into the audience. Our heroine, dressed in full traditional costume, decided to up the drama and took up two lit candles and put them in her mouth. Unfortunately this must have been the first attempt at the routine with a fringed headdress because within seconds the whole of her head was ablaze. Luckily the gasps of the crowd altered a colleague who set about hitting the flames out with a towel. As a true professional our singer didn’t drop a note and continued on with the song as though she didn’t just almost lost her eyebrows… if only we had a our camera at the time….


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A Rising and Decending Dragon…Cat Ba Island

Every hotel and travel agent in Hanoi and most of Vietnam want to sell you a tour to Halong bay. It is probably the most famous destination in the whole country and so there are dozens of companies to choose between, each with various durations and options for your trip. To be honest we were a bit overwhelmed with choice…we didn’t  know what style of boat we wanted to take or what canoe trips we wanted to do! Couldn’t someone just pick one for us?


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Up North…Sapa and Bac Ha

Sapa is probably one of the most well-known sites in Vietnam, famous for its hills upon hills of  rice paddy terraces, tended by ethnic minority ladies all dressed in multi-coloured traditional clothes. Unfortunately for us, due to be it being winter in Vietnam the whole area was covered in cloud and looked more like a set from a sci-fi movie rather than photographers paradise. As the fog loomed in the town you could barely see the other side of the road, and as the street lamps came on you could almost imagine Humphrey Bogart wearing a raincoat and Trilby in a film noir movie appearing or an alien coming out of the mist for E.T. contact. But film parodies aside…we were in a cloud on a cold hill.


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Getting cold in Mai chau…plus an impromptu talent contest

In broken english the girl explained to us that we had to cheer when she went on and we wished her and her friends good luck. We had landed on the village football pitch in the middle of some kind of performance or talent show with different groups trying their luck with dance routines and songs. The clear winners were the group dressed as chickens and the cross dressing dance routine…which was the nearest thing we saw to a panto this Christmas. All in Vietnamese really we had no idea what was going on but when a rival group turned up with their own speakers for karaoke we felt this was our que to leave…


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A renegade boat rower…Ninh Binh

We had almost given up on haggling for the boat ride for the day and had started to walk away disappointed, when the boat lady stops us in our tracks. Through broken english and exaggerated hand gestures she explained that if we cycled up river and away from her boss, she could pick us up and charge us less. Playing it super cool we did just that and waited as the lady turned up on her motorbike, payed someone else for their boat and with a mischievous laugh, beckoned us onboard and rowed us on through the limestone Karsts of Ninh Binh. Was she a criminal mastermind? Were we part of the Crime of the Century? Judging by her schoolgirl giggle…. I think so.


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Swimming in Chocolate…well kinda…Phong Nha Caves

We were setting off from Hue to go north and inland to Phong Nha caves, famous for being part of the largest cave system in the world and for a geologist like Ryan an all round amazing stop on our trip. Our hotel wanted to charge us $8 for the very great privilege of taking us there directly, including picking us up from right outside. We were having none of it, convinced we could do it cheaper under our own steam. So we set off in a taxi to the local bus station, caught a bus to another town called Dong Hoi, got lost, fought off a travel agent who really really wanted to sell us an organised tour, walked across town in the rain to wait for another local bus to take us to Phong Nha caves. Guess how much it costs all together? You guessed it $8! But hey that’s what travelling is about…right?!


Its a pretty big cave….


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An old capital and mussel rice… Hue

As we pushed our rented bicycles through the muddy rice field, almost loosing our flip flops on the way, the rain started to fall. We were probably lost and Ryan’s bike had a puncture…this trip was not going well. Once we found the main road again and washed our feet in a nearby puddle we walked to the nearest building to ask for some help. This roadside shop appeared to have a tyre outside and with some gestures and sound effects (the hissing of the flat tyre) the owner realised what the problem was. And in no time at all he’d fixed the two punctures and only charged us 60p for his services! All with minimal english from him and less Vietnamese from us…


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A yellow city and dinner with Albus the non wizard…Hoi An and Da Nang

As the local mini bus hurtled up highway 1, swerving between vehicles, running every red light, all while the driver was making phone calls on two mobile phones, not for the first time on this trip, I felt this could all end badly. But to be fair to the driver we did arrive in Hoi An an hour early…

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