Let me start this blog by saying… I love love love Vietnam. This trip was life-changing for me, truly. It took me out of my stuck-up, elitist, American way of thinking, and allowed me to see how others live.. and turns out that when you think you have it right, you don’t.

Sean and I started our backpacking excursion in Hanoi, Vietnam. We arrived in the morning and had hoped to walk straight through customs… Sean could (United Kingdom) and I couldn’t (American), so I had to wait and fill out my visa form. Ended up taking almost an hour, keep this in mind if you head over there with an American passport.

After Customs, we made our way to the hostel and immediately needed to eat. Grabbed some delicious pho, which is everywhere, with some spring rolls. Sean and I went to Vietnam in the summer and let me tell you: It’s HOT. I try to make a solid effort to visit museums, and we found this one. (Click Here) which talks about the history of Vietnam, I enjoyed it but hearing the perspective of the war from their side of things felt different than how I learned it or even taught it in school.

We were waiting for Sean’s friend to arrive so we did what we usually did when we get to new places.. wander around and try to find locals who are willing to talk to us. The people here are incredibly friendly and offered us places to eat often. The allies, markets, and streets, are alive with personalities and the hustle and flow of the world. I loved it. the very next day, Emma arrived.

Poor Emma, she had barely dropped her backpack off before we whisked her onto a sleeper bus headed to the mountains of Sapa Valley. Lucky for us she did not seem to mind it at all, I picked up a Bánh mì (my third of the day) and boarded. I’ve never been on a sleeper bus before, but we need them in America. They may look cramped, but small enough to squeeze a person in. Our bus was packed, so we didn’t get to spend a lot of time chatting with one another, just as well, it was late and we were tired. The rocking of the bus and my headphones lulling me through a lullaby did not help either.

Sapa Valley:
Amazing! My pictures and words will not do it justice. I can not say enough about the beauty and splendor of God’s work. Even the air has a personalized perfume. Getting off the bus we are given breakfast and a tour guide… mine was pregnant… pregnant. I was stunned she was going to trail the mountain so close to giving birth. She seemed unbothered and started on with her walk. These green rows are filled with ice and the occasional water buffalo. Not deterred by our presence, but not welcomed for petting either… I should know.

They put the travelers in a house at the bottom of the mountain. Minor lightbulbs and rationed water. We took turns to get the day of trekking off of us, Emma and I were the only women, but that didn’t concern us. After eating a fresh meal with the rice found in the fields (nothing like it, and I’ve never come close to the taste since) we made our way to our beds. Covered in mosquito nets, we found our beds on the ground and snoozed.

Hạ long bay:
Morning time meant we were bound for the next stop, a bus came and got us so we didn’t have to trek back up the mountain, we were all pretty sore. Next, we were bound for Hạ long bay! We hitched a ride on a party boat with a few others and enjoyed the ride. Our captain played us music, let us get out to kayak, and fed us small local bites. This trip was one for the books, taking a boat out to Hạ long bay is a must!

Hai An:
This place is a major tourist stop so beware of tourist traps. We picked a hostel that was near a beach and took much advantage of it. Aside from the fresh seafood, the people were most accommodating. I wore my Korean hat so many traveling Koreans came up to let me know my hat was Korean and not Vietnamese and I had been scammed. (I bought this hat a year ago in Korea, and it’s still my favorite to wear.

Parting words:
As usual don’t visit a place without tasting the local beer.
While in Vietnam make sure to visit:
The Ch Chi Tunnel Tour (Click Here) Not the faint of heart.
Taste Durian
Visit the white sand dunes (Click Here)
*** I attached Viator websites for you to take a look, be advised there are literally hundreds of travel shops for you to haggle a better price***
Hostels I stayed at, all of which were fantastic:
Remember to make sure to download the Hostel app, it makes it easier to book and see the reviews.
Cocoon Inn Hanoi (Click Here)
Mui Ne Hills Budget Hostel (Click Here)
Till next time!

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