So much seems to have happened since I wrote last and at the same time I really haven't been doing much. But I have been surrounded by great people, spent most of my time in cafés, biked and walked a lot and spent way too much money.
When I first got off the bus in Hue on the 26th of August I ran straight into Jonathan, whom I'd first befriended in Trang An. We promised to meet up at some point.
I found Shark homestay and the lovely woman there helped me plan out my days in Hue. I then went to incredible local "chay" (veg) restaurant Thanh Lieu just down the street, where I got com dia (rice with a bit of everything) for under 3 DKK!
I then cycled to the Citadel and after some confusion found my way into the Imperial City - the place was huge and I spent just around three hours walking around the many temples, palaces, ruins and gardens. It was super hot but really interesting.
When I got out of there, my bicycle was gone and I looked for it for about 20 minutes, before being waved over by the guy who had taken it because I had refused to pay him for parking since I was fairly sure it was a scam. Scam or not I did pay when I arrived at the Thien Mu Pagoda a long bike ride later.
I rode back to the hostel by the beautiful perfume river.
At 7 pm I met up with Jonathan and we walked around the city chatting for an hour before sharing an amazing vegan meal at Lien Hoa and then sitting down for a drink after.
I really like the lazy atmosphere of Hue, it reminds me of a lot of Laos.
The next morning I went for brunch at the Nook and just as I was about to leave, someone called my name from behind me. Eden and Jordan, whom I'd done the Ha Giang loop with had just walked in and I joined them and their friends for a while, chatting and catching up. It was really nice to see them and such a surprise.
I then took a grab scooter to the abandoned waterpark that wasn't an official tourist attraction, but that most backpackers knew about. After a drive through the countryside, he put me off at a big 'no entry' sign, where I paid the guard 20.000 dong (around 5 DKK) and proceeded to follow a small path through a forest.
A giant dragon building came into view before long and I walked through it, exploring the now run down and completely ruined building that must have once served as an aquarium.
It was an eerie place and the graffiti exclaiming that the crocodiles were still here didn't help, so I quickly started up a conversation with a girl who was also walking around alone. I explored the rest of the waterpark with the Dutch girl, Marieke.
Picture: the slide was very hot
After having spent two hours exploring and chatting, Marieke asked me if I wanted to come to explore a couple of things she had been recommended in the area. I said yes, paid my grab driver and hopped on the back of her scooter. First stop was a roadside restaurant for lunch, but soon after we started out on the real adventure - I guided her, while she drove slowly and carefully further into the countryside.
First stop was a viewpoint over the river by some old war bunkers.
After paying a Vietnamese woman to go get more gas for the bike (since it wouldn't start), we set off for the longest graffiti wall in Vietnam (that no one had heard of) - we were far out on the countryside and saw no other tourists on our way. Some of the graffiti was beautiful, while a lot of it wasn't anything special, but the wall was indeed very long.
The final stop was a mind-blowingly big graveyard at the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. Colourful graves spread out as long as the eye could see and the view was incredible - it was a beautiful and peaceful place.
We rode slowly back to town, surrounded by rice paddies and locals still working and the amazing ride was almost my favourite part of the day.
It sure was nice to get away from all the typical tourist attractions and see a more authentic part of Vietnam.
On the 28th I was up and out early and met with my easy rider who would be driving me to Hoi An. The trip to Hoi An was beautiful and we stopped at various places on the way. First, we drove through the countryside, stopping at a fishing village.
Next stop was the Elephant Waterfalls, where I swam around for about an hour,
before continuing to a beach where I ate lunch and relaxed in a hammock.
Finally, we took the trip over the infamous Hai Van pass, which was stunning when the sea wasn't hidden behind bushes.
Picture: my easy rider was a huge fan of taking pictures
We arrived in Danang city around 3 pm, drove over the dragon bridge
and had our final stop at the marble mountains, where I got a full work out from walking up and downstairs to see the different pagodas and caves on top of the mountain.
We arrived at my hostel in Hoi An, the Imperfect hostel, around 4.30 pm, where Quyng (the sweetest woman in the world) greeted me and got me checked in. I soon set out to explore the old town and went on my own food tour, trying out snacks at the night market and getting com dia at the amazing local "chay" eatery, Quan Chay Dam.
On my second day in Hoi An, the storm had hit and it kept pouring down the whole day. I braved the weather though and walked around the town for most of the day, exploring in soaked shoes and a rain cover.
I had brunch at incredible Rosie's cafe and spent the day in galleries and small shops.
That is actually how I spent most of my days in Hoi An - going from cafe to cafe and just walking through the charming yellow streets.
On the 30th I was up and out by 8 am and walked to Tuong tailor that Quyng had recommended me, to order the clothes I had designed the night prior. It was an easy and exciting process of talking over my ideas, choosing the fabric and getting my measurements taken.
I walked through the local central market, ate lunch at Quan Chay Dam and explored the many shops.
Hoi An had gotten some long-forgotten shopaholic out in me and back at the hostel, I ordered two clothing pieces of linen for Quyng to sew me and befriended a sweet Brit, Kate, who had just checked into my room.
Back in my room, after eating dinner at Quan Chay Dam and chatting to Quyng, I met Danish girls Mette and Reeti who I spent the rest of the evening getting to know.
The next couple of days were absolutely amazing, even though I had to get used to speaking Danish again (I kept accidentally speaking English to Mette and Reeti without realising).
Saturday morning Quyng had bought me sticky rice with corn from the street for breakfast after a conversation we had had the day prior (she is actually one of the kindest and most genuine women I have met) and I ended up spending my entire day with Reeti, since Mette was meeting up with some guys they had met earlier on in their travels.
We went sightseeing for a little while, walking over the Japanese bridge, going into an ancient house and visiting temples.
It was really hot so we ended up getting a smoothie at Coco box and sat talking there until I had my first fitting at 1 pm.
Until now I hadn't realised how much I had missed the Danish humour and I had an amazing day with Reeti, just laughing and talking all day. The fitting was also 10 times more fun with an audience as Reeti came with opinions and exclamations througout the whole process. The clothes blew me away and all my expectations of fit and quality had been exceeded.
We then walked to Rosie's cafe, where we met up with Kate for lunch. We all went to Coco box afterwards to hide from the rain and were joined by Mette soon after. We stayed and chatted there the entire afternoon until I had my second and last fitting at 7 pm. This time I had an entourage of three amazing girls, who all ooh-ed and ahh-ed at my clothes. I even got Reeti convinced to get the same dress made and we all helped her choose a fabric.
We then went to an incredible veg restaurant Minh Hien, where we ordered a huge family-style dinner and shared a bottle of wine. It was a magical end to one of the cosiest days I'd had in a long while.
The next day we were up at 8 am and went for a delicious breakfast at Ellie's cafe, before saying goodbye to Kate, who was flying to Ho Chi Minh. I spent most of the day with Mette and Reeti walking around and sitting at cafes. I got Christopher's suit designed and ordered. At 4 pm and 7.30 pm it was my turn to uhh and ahh at Reeti's beautiful dress (she looked stunning!)
and in the evening we went to Am vegetarian restaurant for another incredible family-style dinner.
We sat and talked until the restaurant closed.
The 2nd of September was the National Day in Vietnam and Mette, Reeti and I were up early and took a car to Bana Hills close to Danang city. We took the cable car up to the top of the 5 km high mountain.
And whatever we had thought Bana hills would be, it definitely wasn't the crazy unreal place we found. It was like we had stepped into another world where everything was completely fake and luxurious, a facade specifically designed for tourists. We started out in the indoors fantasy park, where staff members walked around in customers and there were different rides and activities everywhere.
After trying out a few we went for lunch at a giant Vietnamese buffet, where we stuffed ourselves completely full. The fog hung heavy over the fake and beautiful French village that we proceeded to explore afterwards (Reeti making sure that Mette and I got pictures everywhere).
We then walked over the incredible Golden Bridge that was the whole reason we had come in the first place
and after getting coffee we met up with our driver who took Reeti and Mette to the airport and me back to Hue.
I got everything sorted with the tailor and shipped it back home, before going to bed early.
The next morning I spent at Rosie's cafe and then at Coco box (escaping the rain).
I chatted to Quyng, before hugging her goodbye and jumping on a grab bike, soon after reaching the hostel 'Sun Paradise Villa' just by the beach. I got checked in, chatted to a guy who was checking out of my room and then went to a quiet little beach nearby.
At 6.30 pm I went down for the free family-style dinner at the hostel, meeting up with David (who I had met at the full moon party in Thailand) and his friends. It was really nice seeing him again and around 11 pm we all took a grab into town for drinks and dancing. It was a nice night and we all had loads of fun together as I blended seamlessly into the group.
The next day David and I went for a bike ride towards the beach, chatting and listening to music on the way. He turned around about halfway (he had to go to a fitting) and I continued to the vegan restaurant 'The Fisherman' by An Bang beach, where I spent the rest of the day, joined by Birgit (I met in Trang An) around 4 pm.
We cycled back home together, chatting and getting a bit lost on the way - like Birgit pointed out, it felt like one of those evenings just at the end of summer.
We jumped in the pool at the hostel and had a quick chat with David and his friends before going to bed.
The following day we spent in the same way: swimming in the pool in the morning, cycling to Nourish for a delicious brunch
and then spending the day at The Fisherman and in the sea, reading and relaxing, before cycling back home when it had gotten dark, jumping in the pool and relaxing outside with a cup of tea.
Today we've just been spending the whole day at Nourish, reading and writing and eating delicious food. The surrounds are serene here, as we are surrounded by rice paddies. At 5 pm I said goodbye to Birgit and jumped on the sleeper bus to Da Lat, where I am meeting up with Mette and Reeti. I can't wait to see them again and it seems that almost everywhere I'm going from now on, I'll be meeting up with old friends. And I'm so excited for all of it. I've been so happy and relaxed since Ha Giang, and the feeling doesn't seem to go away in the slightest. It's a happiness that wants to bubble over most days and has no specific reason.