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

Summer 2017 #4 : HoiAn

Arrived: Tues 18thth July 2017 [Day7]

Departed: Fri 21st July 2017 [Day10]

Hostel: Tribee Cotu

Hoi An… I feel like we stayed here for a good while, like, a solid chunk of time. Looking back it’s where I would say our trip really took off and we properly got into the swing of things. It’s also somewhere we got to know really well during our stay, and we loved it. Realistically, we only stayed there for 3 nights, but after staying in 3 different places in less than a week, it felt like we made ourselves at home here.

It’s also here that I let my awkwardness and uselessness shine bright [not for the first or last time of the trip]. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that there are a few things I’ve learnt about myself during my little bits of travel. 1 – the sea cures any hangover, 2 – I am beyond crap at remembering people’s names and faces (to be fair, I’ve always known this, mention someone we were in school with for 10 years and I probably only have a 50% chance of knowing who you’re talking about), 3 – I am one of the most awkward humans you will ever meet. I somehow manage to make any task look difficult. I have a magic gift of creating awkward situations out of the most normal things. This is something I used to struggle with, but thankfully now I’ve just learnt to accept it and get on with it, I’ve made it part of who I am, because let’s face it; it always was, I just ignoring it! When we were in Tokyo and Seoul, Kyle couldn’t quite believe how bad it was, but again, thankfully he just laughed it off after the initial frustration. Alice, thankfully, has known me my whole damn life, so she’s known this is a part of me and my personality, but, again, I don’t think she realised how bad it had become (blame China), until Vietnam. She’s a pretty laid back lass though so it was all good!

Anyway….Let me tell you about our arrival at the hostel. I’m going to put this incident down to the serious lack of sleep we’d managed to get on the sleeper-bus… that’s what I’m going with anyway.

So, after awkwardly waiting in the wrong hostel (behind a massive group of French [?] students), we finally made it to the right Tribee hostel a few doors down. We were way too early to check-in, so we sorted out some laundry at reception (thankfully there weren’t many people about), and then we sorted ourselves out a bit, changed and rented some bicycles. It was during this time that I proceeded to walk into the bathroom on two different guys, within about 20 minutes. Now, “walk in” is probably the wrong term here. I practically barged the door down, I genuinely almost broke the Continue reading

Summer 2017 #3 : Dalat

If you’re only here for some travel tips or want to read about/look at pictures of what me and Alice got up to on our summer travels, please skip ahead and ignore these first 1000 words or so.

If, however, you’re happy to sit through and read a little about myself and my life/thoughts right now, then go ahead and enjoy this intro into my 3rd instalment of my Vietnam travel posts!

 

Overwhelmed.

That’s the only word I can think of, to describe how I’m feeling at the moment. In literally every aspect of my life, I feel like I’m struggling and at risk of drowning if I let things get on top of me too much.

That may sound slightly dramatic (and it most definitely is, BUT) I’ve been lucky enough to live a very fortunate life with few/no issues or problems, so I guess that’s made me soft to hurdles when they do present themselves and stand in my way… It’s just little things really, like work, colleagues, feelings of isolation and distance, too many unknowns in my immediate future, a serious lack of direction in my life, and to top it all off, a mouse problem in my teeny tiny kitchen…

Most of the time, feeling overwhelmed is a terrible, terrible thing, which causes you to struggle and to simply get through the day and figure things out as you go. There is one thing which has been overwhelming me recently, but in a crazy crazy good way: my memories of summer and Vietnam. I’ve been looking back through my photos, journal and going over everything we managed to do and experience in 4 short weeks… and quite frankly, it’s fucking insane. I’m totally stunned by the fact that I was able and lucky enough to be given that opportunity. How did this happen? How the hell did I manage to be in a position where I can spend 4 weeks of a 6/7 week holiday travelling such a beautiful and unique country… I seriously don’t get it. If I sit and think about it too much, I start to freak out.

Am I doing enough to take advantage of this life I’ve been given?

Did I really see and do as much as I could/should have?

Do I deserve this life of adventure and excitement that I’ve been dealt?

It’s strange to think that Continue reading

Summer 2017 #2: MuiNe

Sorry guys, no time for an introduction, I’m about to head out and drink some wine and eat BBQ food, enjoy my 2nd post about my pretty awesome summer!

MuiNe:

Arrived: Fri 14th July [Day3]

Departed: Sun 16th July [Day5]

Hostel: LongSon MuiNe

 So, we’d booked this place while enjoying one of our free beers at Hangout Hostel in HoChiMinh. We’d not really had any recommendations from people for MuiNe, and to be honest, hardly anyone we’d spoken to had even bothered to go there. We were trawling through Hostelworld when we found it, and we booked it in a second. The reason? For both of us, for one night, ON THE BEACH was 1 USD… WHAAATTT?! 1 USD is roughly 75p. 75 pennies for the both of us to stay on a beach, in Vietnam. Erm…YES PLEASE. We couldn’t believe it. Sure, we were going to be staying in a tent, with no AC or fan, in an Asian country in the middle of summer, but, it would be totally worth it right?….Right?!

After we got off the bus in the strange little nothing town of MuiNe, we dragged our bags into a restaurant where we sat for a little while, trying to figure out how we were supposed to get to the hostel. It was hot, really hot. We were hungover, really hungover. And we were about 15km away from our destination… We spoke to a few taxi drivers and they all gave us an extortionate price, because “it so far! Very very long way. You know how far?! Very far!”…. We eventually Continue reading

Summer 2017 #1 : Intro & HCMC

I did it… for the first time in my life I managed to keep a journal/diary of my WHOLE summer! Ever since I was a kid I’ve been told, pushed and encouraged to keep [at the very least] notes of any holiday or adventure I go on. I remember having to complete holiday books/diaries for school and it always felt like such a chore… As I’ve mentioned in many posts, I’ve never been a writer. I’ve never been one to keep a wordy documentation of my life… I keep bits, things and photos, but never words… that is, until this blog came along.

My Granny and Grandad Parker have done more than their fair share of travelling in their life, and my Gran could tell you which restaurant they went to, where they sat, and even what they ordered, from a place they visited anywhere between 20 – 50 years ago (don’t quote me on those numbers). This is not only down to incredible memory, but down to her piles and piles of travel journals. She’s always been so committed and dedicated to them; I was both envious and (shamefully) judgmental towards her books when I was younger. But now, after hearing her speak to my dad (about his recent trip to Canada with Nat), I can see how beneficial it’s been, how it’s made those adventures into part of who she is. Those memories haven’t faded, they’ve stuck there for who knows how many years… and I want that. I want to be able to sit down one day, talking to my children, niece, nephew (no pressure Sam & Dean), friends, grandkids, whoever… I want to be able to answer their questions about the beautiful countries I’ve been so damn lucky to visit, to be able to engage them in stories, and maybe, just maybe… even inspire them.

So, now let’s finally get down to it… The last few weeks at work were both crazy busy and insanely boring. We socialised a fair bit, doing a few fun things (HK Camping #2, River Trek #2 & floating down the aqua duct, Mojito parties, beer pong tournaments, comedy nights, quiz nights etc etc.), and generally wrapped up the year saying “goodbye” to friends/students. Work officially let out on Sunday the 9th July, when a Continue reading

Happy Anniversary to me…

This was supposed to be posted in June.

So, read this, but imagine you’re reading it 2 months ago… I’ll leave this here for now while I get on with writing up my summer adventures.

The other day I got the notification telling me that I’d been a member of the WordPress community for a whole year… a whole year of finding my feet in this never-ending online world of blogposts. I had two overwhelming feelings: pride, and disappointment…

word press

I felt proud that I’d stuck something out for that length of time, something semi “creative” too. Over the past year, this blog has changed quite drastically in content, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I mentioned this in an earlier post somewhere; my posts started off very personal and a way to help me understand and work through things (the Trainee Medical Photographer position), and then when that was over, it was just somewhere for me to tap away during my office hours, drawing inspiration from the Daily prompts, and I really enjoyed writing those; it was fun and interesting to see where my mind went and where I’d end up at the end… but then came the summer of 2016. Only a few months after I started my WordPress account, summer 2016 was my first summer after living abroad and having travel (and then family/friends) as a main priority. I wrote my first “travel blog” after my initial whirlwind experience of Thailand with the interns (Lea, Lisa and Susann)… then as me and Shelby ended up stranded in rainy Patong Beach, Thailand (the poor girl was not well), I wrote my 2nd travel post about our experience so far and what was to come.

When I arrived in Guangzhou at the tail-end of August 2016, it went back to being somewhere to rant, work things through, and generally inform my family of what the f*ck was going on (it was all a bit messy back then)… Then, a good thing for Continue reading

Things to come

[Picture: my first view of the incredible beach we are lucky enough to camp on in Hong Kong – excuse the poor quality]

In two weeks I’ll be heading to Guangzhou airport, driven by Sam-the-man (our trusty driver guy), and I’ll be on my way to start my busy summer holiday…

(I so almost wrote vacation then, lord help me…)

I’ll be taking an early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh where my childhood best pal, Alice HD will be waiting for me in Hangout Hostel after embarking on a very long flight the previous day. So far, we have no plans. We’ve booked to stay at that hostel for 2 nights together (Al will have been there for 3), so we plan on spending that first day we’re together planning, organizing and getting SOME sort of idea together about all the places we want to definitely hit on our trip. We have roughly 4 weeks to make it from Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok. That’s a pretty solid length of time, especially as we don’t plan on doing Thailand itself. (Alice has never been there though, so we’re going to fit in a couple of days in Bangkok if we can!)

We were stuck for ages trying to decide whether to go North to South (the original idea), or South to North… in the end we decided to start in the wetter area of Vietnam (the south), and head for drier times and days at the end of our trip (the north). SO, after comparing flight prices, weather reports etc., we chose to start in the south (Ho Chi Minh) and head north to Hanoi before we have to make our way to Bangkok (either by crossing through Laos on land or flying over.)

My research for this trip has been minimal to say the least… I’ve skimmed over a few blog posts describing others routes and suggestions, I’ve stared at a Continue reading

Let’s get back to it…

[Photo: a glimpse of my time on Lamma Island, HK, while sipping a Fresh Lemon Soda and writing in my travel notebook]

The other day I got the notification telling me that I’d been a member of the WordPress community for a whole year… a whole year of finding my feet in this never-ending online world of blogposts. I had two overwhelming feelings: pride, and disappointment…

Anniversary w. WP

I felt proud that I’d stuck something out for that length of time, something semi “creative” too. Over the past year, this blog has changed quite drastically in content, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I mentioned this in an earlier post somewhere; my posts started off very personal and a way to help me understand and work through things (the Trainee Medical Photographer position), and then when that was over, it was just somewhere for me to tap away during my office hours, drawing inspiration from the Daily prompts, and I really enjoyed writing those; it was fun and interesting to see where my mind went and where I’d end up at the end… but then came the Continue reading

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

This is not a travel blog. This is not an adventure blog.

This is a Charlie pours her head and heart out into the internet blog… just like old times…

[Also, if you didn’t read that title in the beauitful unique voice of my beloved Bowie, please stop right here and listen. I was torn between him and the Scorpions for this one…]

At this moment in time, I’ve decided to start making changes to myself. Improvements in some way… Now, when someway say that, you tend to think they you’ll soon be bombarded with gym selfies, healthy meal updates and half naked before and after photos. Well, don’t worry I’m not talking about those kind of changes. That’s not me, I mean; anyone who knows me knows that that is the polar opposite of who I am.

I’ve actually decided to change myself mentally… now, this isn’t even changing myself mentally as in I’m going all zen, I’m starting yoga and meditation. No. I’ve decided it’s time to change and improve myself in a different way, a better way. A way that I haven’t done in quite a few years… I’ve decided to start doing some online courses. I’ve come to the point in my life at the moment, and especially during my time here, that I’ve started to feel like I’m not using my brain as much as I’d like to. Yes I’m a teacher so I’m using it in that sense every day to ensure the kids understand what we’re working on. But, it’s not as mentally challenging in the educational way as I’d thought and hoped it would be (which is ironic as I’m still in the educational system). Although I’m thoroughly enjoying what I do and am very happy doing it, it’s not challenging my brain as much as I’d like. So this is when I decided to take it upon myself (with the help of a suggestion from a friend) to start to improve myself on an academic level. I’ve started an online course titled Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching.

I’ve never had any experience in this before, apart from the numerous times in my life I’ve been told I should be tested for dyslexia. But, I signed on anyway, because my friend and colleague Emilija, who is actually very involved in this area of study, had a conversation with me about dyslexia while we were grading test papers a week or so ago. I mentioned something about that when I was a kid, and sometimes Continue reading

Day 6: Tokyo – Asakusa, Tokyo & Ikebukuro

The day had come… our final morning, our final walk to the bakery (just to find out it was closed), our final trip to Burger King…

Check-out day.

A day Kyle was not quite ready to see. “This is so sad, I don’t want to leave! Is it always like this when you travel?!” Answer: yes and no. Yes I’m always sad to leave somewhere that I’ve only been able to scratch the surface of, but also, I’m [mostly] always ready to move on to the next place and see what else is out there. As much as I’d loved Tokyo and had had an amazing time, I was definitely ready to get on a plane and explore somewhere new. Before we could do that however, we had the majority of the day left, and after we’d packed up, checked out and put our bags at reception, we headed on over the bridge to walk around the big market area by the temple in Asakusa which we’d seen on the first day.

A guy who spoke very good English offered us a ride in his cart thing that they pull and run with (like a horse drawn carriage, but drawn by one poor bloke), he promised to show us the sights of the “oldest streets in Tokyo”, and as Continue reading