Dec 6th-8th Ho Chi Minh
Left Dec 6th from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh, before we did that, had to go through the struggle of dropping off the rest of our luggages at a storage place in some hostel somewhere in Singapore because we were getting kicked out, or our checkout date is the 10th, but we would still be travelling so had to check out earlier. After all the struggle, and the delay in our flight due to rainy weather ( so much for tiger airlines delivering 99.99% of their flights on time), were able to land in Ho Chi Minh safely. Much to our surprise, one of our friends Anh, from our UC EAP singapore program, was able to pick us up with her uncle, and was such a nice convenience for us, to have someone pick us up, not go through the hassle of getting lost and figuring out all these stuff. Took us to this amazing pho place, which kind of puts most of the pho restauraunts in Cali to shame haha....had some bomb pho, some random meat rolls that taste like beef jerky, egg rolls, and etc. Despite all the msg in pho, I think all the extra greens in the food would make up for it. So after all that, she took us to our hostel, helped us check in, dropped our stuff off, and she showed us around the neighborhood, city, and taught us a good amount of Vietnam that we should know, along with some travel advise. Was a really nice way to start off our trip, then the next few days we would walk around trying to see all the sights within HCM, such as the reunification palace, war remnants museum, notre dame cathedral, and the Cu Chi Tunnels. Despite not being able to shoot a gun at the tunnels :(, still really appreciated it, cause felt like I learned so much more this time around compared to the when I visited in 08, probably because we didn't have a tour guide, and we were just walking around on our own trying to see/learn what's what. Had a pretty interesting tour guide (Mr.Bean), whom was a Vietnam War Veteran, yet was fighting on the US side, so had a lot of interesting stories to tell us, as well as sharing his story from a different perspective. Think he made the tour and the cu chi tunnels lot more exciting, compared to us just going on our own, as well as sharing random facts here and there, and telling us how lot of things portrayed at the tunnels are BS hahahaha...and it's not 100% accurate. Well besides all that, we also had a chance to meet up with one of our friend's roommate, once again showing how small the world can be even being at a completely different country. Was nice catching up, grabbing a drink, and just enjoying the nightlife in Vietnam, which is not what I expected at all....on the 8th, after seeing a good amt of HCM, was able to book a sleeper bus for Nah Trang, so we can make our way towards Hanoi, by the 11th haha....Time was kinda short for us, also before we left, checked out this pretty sick observation deck (avengers tower) haha, chilled at the bar up there, saw the night view of HCM, and bounced right after to our next resort city (Nah Trang).
Our bus ride was kinda interesting, had some interesting australian? I think people on the bus, bus driver might have left a person behind during one of our pit stops and stuff? which we still don't know to this day...but got there safely after riding in our pods.
Dec 9th-10th. Nha Trang
After our 8 hourish sleeper bus, arrived at the nice coastal city of Nha Trang, where our plan was to just have a nice day at the beach, relax a bit, and just enjoy ourselves before our hellish 30 hour train ride to Hanoi.....since we arrived at 6am, couldn't really check in, so had breakfast at the hotel, walked around the neighborhood, and went to the train station to book our train for the following day to Hanoi, since we would only be staying in Nah Trang 1night 2 days. After we booked it, were able to check in our hotel, was quite nice, relaxed a bit, headed to the beach, enjoyed the sights, read a bit, took a nice nap, and avoided the Sand people ( vietnamese locals with raiden hats, and covered themselves up completely, and goes up to you trying to sell you stuff without saying a word) haha......not much happened in Nah Trang, was very relaxing, ate at the backpackers district, was a very quiet, and small city compared to HCM, but was nice either way since we were able to relax, and just be away from the hustling city.
Next day, headed towards the train station, preparing for our 30ish hour ride, had no idea to expect, and our low expectation we had was even lowered. hahaha...expected food to be provided but wasn't, so survived 30 hours living off cookies and 1 bottle of water haha.....while trying to sleep in our ridiculously below freezing sleeper compartment with hyperactive babies, some roaches hustling around here and there along with some rats....just the usual..no big deal...think that's how I started getting sick....haha.....
finally landed in Hanoi, and everyone had this ridiculously relieved look on their faces as the train finally stopped and we finally exited haha.....
Dec 11th-14th Hanoi- Halong Bay Cruise
Finally arrived in Hanoi, checked in our hostel, met up with Ashika and Xiao Zhen, and went out to explore/eat dinner in Hanoi before we head out for our Halong Bay Cruise the following morning till the 13th.
Made some new friends at the hostel, explored around the city, and was very chill....I guess that's one of the things I like so much about travelling, just meeting new people, hearing their stories/adventures, getting new tips and even lessons as well from people all around the world. Even though I've traveled quite a lot throughout my life, travelling with just friends, on my own, and the life of a backpacker was something I have never done before and one of the highlights throughout the past few months. Just the idea of travelling became something that I really started to enjoy and appreciate so much, especially the culture shock we would experience, the types of food, and talking to backpackers as well and how common everyone's mindset is when we're all in a foreign country.
Our Halong Bay 1night 2 day cruise was something I really enjoyed, despite being a bit under the weather. Thought it was the perfect way to end our adventures in SE Asia, a nice relaxing cruise with amazing sights, good friends, and even new friends as well. There's over 1000 islands around the Halong Bay, and it is one of the world heritage sights as well. Throughout our trip, was able to explore one of the caves in one of the islands, check out a local beach, try some "fishing" ( though we didn't catch anything), ate some bomb food and etc. Enjoyed our time on the boat, don't really know what happened the last night on the boat, ended up with some markings on our face, and etc...but yeahh haha couldn't have asked for a better way to end my adventures in SE Asia, besides the fact that my camera had passed away ( fell in the water), well it was time to get a new camera, and the memory card wasn't damaged, so was all good.
Don't know when i'll be back in SE Asia again, but I'll definitely be back, and Singapore as well...so thanks everyone for following throughout the months, much appreciated and thanks to all the people I've met in, definitely hope we can meet up one day again, whether it's in your home country or something.
not sure what this building is..but seemed important
Vietkong soliders just chilling
can't forget the pho in vietnam
always nice seeing a familiar face
huge cathedral in the middle of the city
bummed we can't get in
one of the highest observation decks in the world...looks a bit like Avengers tower no?
our spaceship/sleeper bus
nice day for the beach
our cruise boat...looks a lot nicer on the inside....
Halong Bay Cruise...over 1000 islands
last pic..before I dropped my camera :(