I'm on a bus to Hue at the moment. Since I wrote last I've crossed just about halfway through Vietnam, slowly making my way south. A group of the worst kind of British 20-somethings are on the same bus as me and a baby in front of me has been crying for about an hour. Luckily 'Buena Vista Social Club' is playing in my ears and drowning out the noise.
Anyway here's what you missed since the last check-in. Honestly, it isn't much: I've been feeling the consequences of travelling in the rainy season and as a result, have had some forced (and probably much needed) lazy days. I spent two more days in Hanoi before continuing on. The first of the two days I spent with Jannah, Jordan and Eden, walking around Hanoi and in the evening going to Train Street to see the train pass by twice. We all ended up falling in love with an adorable baby and her grandma, who we spent a good 30 minutes playing and sitting with. We ate a late dinner and went back to play cards at the hostel.
Picture: Jordan, me, Eden, Jannah & Rose
The following day Jannah and I said goodbye to Eden and Jordan and went to an incredible cooking class together. Our teacher, Mai, was a sweetheart, I got to make delicious vegan versions of everything and she taught us everything worth knowing at the market tour before the class began.
Jannah and I completely stuffed ourselves and spent the rest of the rainy day talking in the hostel. In the evening we went to Manzi Art Gallery in a newer part of Hanoi
and then to Unicorn Kafe to drink sugary drinks, have fun and talk.
Much later we headed back, got a late dinner and watched a movie together. It was such a fun and cosy girls night and even Steven couldn't persuade me to join his pub crawl instead.
The next morning I (sadly) hugged Jannah goodbye and hopped on the bus to Trang An, about 3 hours South. It was weird leaving Buffalo Hostel that by now felt so homey - the staff knew me by name and I always ran into people I knew, daily having a little chat with Steven or Tammy. I got dropped off at Green Mountain Homestay around 1 pm in the middle of nature.
It was a very idyllic place and after relaxing a little I jumped on a bicycle and explored the area close by, cycling to the ruins of ancient capital Hoa Lu. There wasn't much to look at so I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and relaxing, a woman named Eileen joining me for dinner.
The following day I had planned to spent outside on a boat tour and hiking up a hill, but neither happened since it rained and thundered all day. Instead I read for a while, before being swept into games and talks with a group of travellers also hiding from the rain at the hostel.
It was a nice way to spent the day and I almost accepted their offer to jump on the back of Lucas' scooter and go with them to the hill for sunset. But the thought of mixing an inexperienced driver, water and gravel didn't really appeal to me and I instead chatted to a Swiss guy, Matt and a Belgian guy, Bernard in the hammocks.
At dinnertime, I joined an Israeli guy, Jonathan at his table and quickly befriended the rest of the odd group: Canadian Robert and his friend Marvin as well as a very drunk Scot named Ralf and his French girlfriend Camille. Matt and Bernard later joined us for a family-style dinner. Within hours we were all apart of the "fam" - very drunk Ralf had by now thrown up over himself from the bowl of rice wine I'd given him and Marvin had managed to slip in said throw-up. We had a hilarious evening none-the-less, for a night playing a very dysfunctional, though loving, family. And the food tasted much better shared in good company. My last day in Trang An I finally managed to do the boat tour that I had initially come for. We all set out on bicycles around 9 am and soon sat down in two different boats paddled by Vietnamese women. I spent the next three hours being paddled around with Bernard and Eileen, on the way passing through three caves and stopping at three temples as well as the Kong: Skull Island movie set.
It was a nice trip, without being mind-blowing, and there was definitely quiet moments of beauty and idyll when we weren't surrounded by 10 other boats.
I cycled back, ate lunch at the homestay and watched the downpour from a hammock together with Eile