Well I was right, a month is not long enough. Entering Vietnam from the cave-hole at the back of a sleeper bus does not seem so long ago.
From Ho Chi Minh City with the country’s brutal history displayed and the sprawling city displayed from a sky bar with 15 dollar drinks, to Mui Ne with sand dunes, sunrise and a fairy stream. On to Da Lat to form the dream dorm team, climb mountains, ride roller coasters and explore a crazy house and an even crazier bar.
Onwards with the dream dorm to Hoi An, the City of Lanterns, Hué with it’s citadel and Phong Nha national park to explore enormous cave systems set amongst jaw dropping limestone cliffs reminiscent of Southern Thailand.
Then North, where the constant fog kept us chilly and damp. Halong bay in all it’s beauty, trekking through Sapa (both rice paddies and climbing Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam at 3143m where we also camped out overnight, brrr) and finally the bustling city of Hanoi.
Bucket list items ticked: climb a mountain (twice), camp out in Asia/a foreign country, kayak through Halong bay, walk through rice fields in Sapa.
Opportunities missed: Tam Coc (“Halong Bay on land” just outside of Hanoi), seeing Ho Chi Minh’s mummified remains (also Hanoi. We spent our last three days together getting smashed potatoes and I neglected to be a tourist) and getting clothes made in Hoi An (just gives me an excuse to go back).
Vietnam gave me motorbike accidents, a burnt leg on a bike exhaust, a near tumble down a cliff and a badly cut toe. Sleeper buses in the day that were more comfortable than sleeper buses at night, journeys where you arrive at 3am when you’re told it will be 6 and journeys that involve 6 different vehicles to get you to your final destination. Meat more times than I care to mention, utter chaos and ridiculous shenanigans. Two pub quizzes, one won one second place and glorious buildings with nothing but alcohol and games consoles. Enough cold to warrant my favourite hoody, bars with 100 rooms and 100 laughs a day. Ring of fire and runsies (card games, not what you are thinking) and the runsies (what you are thinking!)
And, most importantly, three new lifelong friends.
And now only three weeks for Laos! Wish me luck