Coming up…

Now it’s time to stop looking back, and look forward… In just over a week I’m flying down to Langkawi, Malaysia. I’m spending 2 nights there, and then 3 nights on a crazy small Thai island, Koh Lipe, and after that… I have no set plan. I’m going at it alone, for the first time in my life; I’ll be travelling (for more than 5 days) on my own. Just me. No childhood best friend. No travel buddy I met in China. No one. It’s been something I’ve always wanted to do, and do slowly. When I was a teenager I dreamed of picking up, leaving, and having no life plan. I wanted to travel to different countries, working as I went along to earn enough money for my next destination. Sadly, as I got older, and some might say wiser (?), I realised, for me, that’s not a feasible way to do it. And you know what? It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that that’s okay.

Being in the kind of environment I’ve found myself in, surrounded by travellers, people who only know how to live internationally, people who spend every weekend, every holiday, every day off going out to explore new places… it makes you view your own adventures and plans very differently. I sometimes feel inferior to the people around me, a lesser “ex-pat” or “traveller” because my list of ticked off countries isn’t as long as theirs… You live in this constant different mind-set that the only reason you’re here, the only reason you’re working 40 hours a week and living in a country that makes every task difficult, is to get that next stamp in your passport. And, please, don’t think I’m Continue reading

Summer 2017 #10 : Hanoi #3, Vietnam


Arrived: Wednesday 2nd August 2017 [Day22]

Departed: Friday 4thnd August 2017 [Day24]

Hostel: Hostel: Central Backpackers Hostel: Original

 It was a long and bumpy journey from Sapa to Hanoi in the dark. I spent it reading, listening to music, messaging friends and just lying there. We got dropped off in Hanoi again at around 9:30pm, and walked to our 2nd home: Central Backpackers – Original. We were both a bit grump and snappy with each other (definitely hangry). I messed up the directions walking back to the hostel, and Alice kept flapping the towel which made the lift doors open again, and again, and again before I snatched the towel off her. We dumped our bags, gave each other a look, and agreed we needed to go get some food before we lost it with each other. We went to a place just down the road and had a much needed burger and chips before going back to room #7 and getting some sleep (as much as we could with the worlds loudest snorer in our room).

We woke up, grabbed some breakfast (back to our standard of eggs and bread), and then chilled in the room until around 10:30am (I felt the need to write down in my journal that I brushed my teeth downstairs in the lobby area… Again, so much pointless Parker!) At half 10, Nathan, the hostel rep who had done the Halong Bay thing with us, came to the hostel to round up the troops for the free walking tour. (This hostel was definitely one of the most helpful and handy hostels we’d stayed at. Free towels, free breakfast (even when leaving super early), a warm welcome every time, free beer hour, great Halong Bay trip, free walking tour, reserving a table for us at the Indian, and helping us book and sort out busses.)

There were quite a lot of us (maybe 20-30) on the walking tour, and Nathan led us a few doors down to a small hidden temple which was roughly 900years old and one of the oldest standing buildings in Hanoi. We couldn’t go in if we were wearing shoes or had our shoulders or knees on show (standard practice). So most of us just stood in the little opening and looked at it from the outside.

Next up was the huge cathedral. “What do you guys think? Do you like it? Think it’s beautiful? Huge? Awesome?” Nathan asked us, we all responded with nods of agreement… “Well, you’re going to feel real bad about that when I tell you it’s history!”  St Joseph’s Cathedral was Continue reading

Summer 2017 #9 : SaPa, Vietnam


Arrived: Sunday 30th July 2017 [Day19]

Departed: Wednesday 2nd August 2017 [Day22]

Hostel: My Tra Homestay, Sapa

 The journey from Hanoi to SaPa was around 5 hours long, and we were lucky enough to be on a sleeper style bus again. I’ve been laughing to myself while I’ve been re-reading my journal because I really do write down every last little stupid detail. Let me give you an example, here’s a direct quote from my journal about the bus journey from Hanoi to Sapa:

I slept a lot, read a lot, lost my banana, and just enjoyed the insane views of the greenery, valleys and mountains.

Yep, I lost my banana. The hostel had given us a banana to takeaway for breakfast, and I dropped mine on the bus within the first hour or so. I took it as a lost cause, and clearly thought it was important enough to write down… I also thought I’d lost my shoes or pillow or something, but it turns out both had fallen down onto the guy below/opposite me. As we were getting off and I climbed down from my bed/seat, he sheepishly handed me a banana and my other lost items… Only slightly embarrassing! Poor fella spending 5 hours getting attacked by my falling belongings… fair play to him though for not munching on the banana!

So, yes, the journey was beyond beautiful, as you’d expect heading further north in Vietnam. We even skimmed past the Chinese boarder and both Alice and I joked about putting our multi-entry Vietnamese and Chinese Visa’s to good use and just nipping over the boarder! When we arrived into Sapa, it Continue reading

Summer 2017 #8 : Halong Bay & Hanoi, Vietnam

Halong Bay

Arrived: Fri 28th July 2017 [Day17]

Departed: Saturday 29th July 2017 [Day18] (my birthday!!)

Hostel: Central Backpackers Hostel: Hideaway

When you think of Vietnam, you think of the stunning Halong Bay (or the war, but let’s try and keep things positive). There are literally hundreds of different ways you can see this natural beauty. The tours come in all different shapes, sizes, styles and packages… but all of them are expensive. We knew this when we were looking at our options, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, there were a few things we knew we wouldn’t be able to scrimp on, there were some things that there is no way around it, you just have to pay the money to get the experience. We’d both heard a lot about the Castaways tour. A friend of mine who gave us his itinerary for when he went in 2016 said this was one of the highlights of his whole South East Asia trip. But… we weren’t sure it was for us. It was super super expensive, 2 or 3 nights, and we just didn’t have the time. So, we with the tour that the hostel we’d stayed with in both Hanoi and CatBa offered called Halong Hideaway Tour. They offered a couple of different options, and we went with the 2 day, 1 night experience. We were pretty proud of ourselves that we’d managed to work the timing of it that we would wake up in the famously stunning Halong Bay on my birthday… I’ve had some pretty epic birthdays (that tends to happen when you’re born in the middle of the summer), but, honestly, this one was one to remember…

We were picked up from our hostel on CatBa Island at around 11:30am. Nathan (an English hostel worker) took us to the coach with all our bags. The bus was full, apart from the 2 seats spare (one at the front, one in the middle) for me and Alice. We made a right mess of the whole thing, trying to get on with both our giant bags and day bags while everyone was just sat there staring at us, waiting for us to sit down. It was not our smoothest moment of the trip… I was sat next to a Canadian girl called Erin, and when we arrived at the port, we had to sit and wait for ages for the boat to arrive. We got chatting to a few other people: Jean & Nicolet (both Canadian and friends with Erin), and Abby (a British girl who I couldn’t figure out if she was young or old…).

When the boat finally arrived everyone headed down into the boat, but me and Alice were the first ones upstairs to the top, open sun deck. People soon followed us, and then Dyl (no idea if that’s how you spell it) an Irish Rep for the hostel, gave us all the lowdown of what our day entailed. After he finished his little speech, the Continue reading

Summer 2017 #7 : Hanoi & CatBa, Vietnam

So, I’ve got 5 weeks until I leave China for the next stage of my life. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but, it’s true… After living in China (Suzhou or Guangzou-ish), for two and a half years, I’m just over a month away from packing everything up, shipping it home, and going out into the world with no plan, no agenda, no clue… As I’m sure you can imagine, I have a crazy amount of stuff to do and sort out between now and the 2nd of February (which is when I get on my one way flight to Malaysia). I’ve got Visa issues, packing issues, money issues, work issues, bank issues, apartment issues, and, honestly, the list goes on… I also have to try and finish writing up about Vietnam somewhere in this time. I still have two weeks of travel and adventures to write and tell you about, so, I’m going to try and fit in as much as I can, and skip out the dull bits! (Fingers crossed… I do have a horrible habit of going into painstakingly boring detail about each day, I’m sorry about that!)

So, without further ado, let’s get going on part 7 of my Vietnam travels from the summer of 2017. This one starts with a 6am walk through Hanoi after the night bus from Phong Nha, trying desperately to find our hostel and a toilet to use before both our bladders exploded…



Arrived: Tue 25th July 2017 [Day14]

Departed: Wed 26th July 2017 [Day15]

Hostel: Central Backpackers Hostel – Original

So, the walk to the hostel was a quiet one, we were both still tired and that bathroom couldn’t come quick enough. We eventually found a super posh hotel we raided and sorted ourselves out in before getting to our hostel at around 7am. Obviously it was way too early to check in, so we just went up to the (pretty crap) communal room and chilled for a bit. Eventually we headed a few doors down to get allllllll the food at Joma Bakery. We seriously splurged and indulged ourselves here, a couple of times, but after the night bus, we were feeling sorry for ourselves, so we went all out… and my god, it was so good!


After sitting in a food coma for a while and getting our bearings on the map from the hostel, we decided it was time to see some of Hanoi! Sword Lake was just around the corner so Continue reading

Summer 2017 #6 : Phong Nha, Vietnam

Phong Nha

Arrived: Sat 22nd July 2017 [Day11]

Departed: Mon 24th July 2017 [Day13]

Hostel: Heritage by Night

So, after arriving in Phong Nah by bus the night before, we gave ourselves a fully chilled day, waking up to no alarm and heading down for our free breakfast by the pool… One awesome thing about arriving somewhere new at night, is that when you wake-up, you see where you’ve arrived in daylight for the first time, it’s like going somewhere blindfolded to experience a big reveal in the morning.


We were a little apprehensive about where we were staying, as so, so so many people had told us the only place to stay was Easy Tigers, but, after going down for breakfast by the pool, and seeing our view, we were blown away and so damn happy we’d chosen this place! The back area consisted of a bar, tables, pool, deckchairs, and all looking out on a towering cliff face. It was stunning, we had no idea how we’d stumbled into this amazing find!


After showering, changing and putting in a load of clothes for washing, we decided to take a stroll around town/down the street and see what we could find… nothing. We found nothing. There is absolutely nothing to the “town” of Phong Nah apart from the tours you can take or go on yourself. We walked down to the river, where we found… not a lot, and then we decided it was time to look what our options were for Continue reading

Summer 2017 #5 : Hai Van Pass & Hue

Hai Van Pass & Hue

Arrived: Fri 21st July 2017 [Day10]

Departed: Sat 22nd July 2017 [Day11]

Hostel: Why Not Hostel


I can’t quite believe I’m writing this while sat in Christmas pyjama bottoms with Christmas music blasting out my laptop while I wait for Molly to arrive so we can put up my Christmas tree. How it’s got to be December I really do not know… It feels wrong to be reading through my travel journal and looking at my pictures from the summer while I have panda’s in Santa hats on my socks and Mariah Carey tells me what she wants for Christmas… It just shows how damn far behind I’ve fallen with these blog posts. I still have over 2 weeks of travel to write up about, ideally before I start out on my next adventures (which will commence in EXACTLY 2months… shit.)

I guess we best get down to it then ey’?


On the morning of the 21st we were up super early, packed and ready for a day we’d been both excited and nervous about since we decided Vietnam was our destination. We were down at reception by 6.55am and we waited for half an hour before deciding we would make the most of our last free breakfast at Tribee Cotu, Hoi An. At around 7.45/8am (pretty much an hour late) a worker from the Top Gear Tour company arrived to talk us through the basics of what we’d need to know before we would RIDE ON BIKES ALONG THE HAI VAN PASS. Neither of us were that familiar with how to drive a petrol bike… I’d had a few “lessons” in the compound that I live in here in China, but, that was all our experience combined. Neither of us had told our parents or many other family members that we were about to embark on this trip, because, let’s face it, they’d only freak out and worry for the whole day until they heard off us. So, better to ask forgiveness than permission right?! How could Continue reading