Summer 2017 #9 : SaPa, Vietnam

SaPa

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 #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 #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

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

Day 2: Tokyo, Akihabara & Shibuya

Day two was a busy one, we decided to try and find the nearest cat café to have brunch in before getting onto the metro and heading off for the day. Unfortunately, Kyle had some money issues with the weird Japanese ATMs and we also had to head back to the hostel for warmer clothes (it was actually snowing a little and we weren’t prepared for a day out in the city in the cold!). After a bit of a frustrating morning, and a trip to our local bakery, we got down to the metro and headed to the world renowned Akihabara.

We didn’t really have a set destination in Akihabara; it was more of a place we just wanted to experience. There are 100s of themed cafes in Tokyo and we knew of a few in the area that might be worth a visit (and the entrance fees). We wandered around for a bit, and then a bit longer, and then even longer, until we eventually stopped to try and get our bearings as there was nothing of major interest on the streets we were meandering down… Turns out we’d been heading in the wrong direction for god knows how long, so about turn and back to our original starting point we went. Once there, we continued in the right direction and the difference was insane. The buildings were huge, streets were crazy, and the shops were infinite. There were sooooo many figurine shops selling everything from cute little creatures, to giant complex beast figures, and yes, unfortunately, even sexualised cartoon characters in skimpy little outfits in provocative poses. We had a look around a few, amazed by the vast amount of things on offer, and then, we happened to stumble upon somewhere we had Continue reading

Day 1: HK & Tokyo

It still seems crazy to me that when searching through SkyScanner for the cheapest flights, I have the option of selecting my departure location as either Guangzhou, or Hong Kong. This time, it actually worked out cheaper to get the ferry over from Shunde to HK and fly out from there, rather than leaving straight from Guangzhou, which to me seems mental. So on Wednesday 18th of Jan, that’s exactly what me and Kyle did. We grabbed a quick Subway sandwich, had our rucksacks on our backs and off we went…

I won’t spent too much time chatting about the transport and our few hours in Hong Kong, I have a habit of describing every detail of a trip, and if I don’t get out of that habit for this post, we’ll still be here in 2018 listening to how me and Kyle had 3 seats to ourselves on the Ferry, a coco-pops McFlurry from Kawloon Park, or about how we enjoyed a sausage roll and a cider on Lan Kwai Fong… Anyways, I’ll skip straight ahead to the crrazzzyy city that is Tokyo….

hk - tk.jpg

The flight was only about 3 and half hours and we landed at roughly 4.30am (local time). It was freezing, we were tired, hungry, and low on battery, so we sat down for a while to recharge our phones, and ourselves. We soon hopped onto a metro after a very friendly and well-spoken guy helped us with our tickets, and off out into the world we went. The closest metro stop to our hostel was Asukasa (A18), we walked over the bridge, heading towards the SkyTree, and a curious looking building which throughout the trip we

Continue reading