All Aboard For Halong Bay !!

All Aboard For Halong Bay !!

As I continue my journey north to Hanoi I was in love with Vietnam and definitely a place I could spend a lot longer. I love travelling by train and even though it’s a bit more expensive than the bus I feel it’s more comfortable and you see a lot more. The train line in Vietnam is called the ‘Reunification Express’ as it resumed service on December 31st 1976  following the time when the country was divided to north and south during the war. The picture below is the part of the line between Danang and Hue and follows the South China sea climbing up through the cliffs and jungle with fantastic views of the coast. This part of the line is called the Hai Van Pass which means Sea Cloud Pass and I loved every minute of it. I tried to do most of my train journeys during the day as I loved sitting watching the world go by taking in the scenery. This to me was part of my travels and not just a way of getting from a to b. The journey from Hue to Hanoi was the longest part at 14 hours so decided to experience the sleeper train as part of my adventure. I booked a soft bed which wasn’t very soft so wouldn’t like to imagine what the hard bed was like!! There were 4 beds in by cabin and all the locals were friendly even though they couldn’t speak English but smiles and sharing my pringles got me some smiles back!! I read about scams all the time and only had good experiences on my travels so far. I arrive in Hanoi at...
Spirit Of The Mountains

Spirit Of The Mountains

Iv’e always loved the sunshine but the weather is Vietnam is very hot at the moment so it was nice to escape the heat for a while to the cooler climates of the mountains in Dalat. Unfortunately there is no train up to the mountains but a very scenic bus trip and 4 hours later […]

Iv’e always loved the sunshine but the weather is Vietnam is very hot at the moment so it was nice to escape the heat for a while to the cooler climates of the mountains in Dalat. Unfortunately there is no train up to the mountains but a very scenic bus trip and 4 hours later I arrived. Dalat is referred to as the honeymoon capital as it’s a quaint town with lots of flowers everywhere. Dalat I felt was off the tourist trail and met some amazing people and really got to know the locals. I went on an amazing cable car ride to a local monastery and lake and spent the afternoon wandering around and just enjoy being in nature. It was a great place to get out of the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities and do some walking meditation in the peaceful countryside. The train in Vietnam only runs north to south along the coast and Dalat doesn’t have a train journey for long distances but it does have a 30 min trin trip to the nearby village of Ma Trai. This was a nice adventure and got to experience life in a rural village while visiting the Linh Phuong Pagoda.   This was really a glimpse of village life and nice to come back and relax at the Dalat Train villa & café where they’d turned a train carriage into a café. My favourite meal here was the ‘Dalat Pizza’ which used rice paper as a base and then topped with onion, garlic, chillies & cheese….yummy !! The best thing was I sat with the family...
Let The Train Take The Strain

Let The Train Take The Strain

Arriving in Ho Chi Minh city was a bit of a shock after a quiet night in the homestay in the village. I stayed in District 1 which is the backpacker area which has a great buzz full of bars trying to entice you in with happy hour and restaurants for Vietnamese food. I loved […]

Arriving in Ho Chi Minh city was a bit of a shock after a quiet night in the homestay in the village. I stayed in District 1 which is the backpacker area which has a great buzz full of bars trying to entice you in with happy hour and restaurants for Vietnamese food. I loved the buzz for a few days with the madness of the motorbikes and no real system for crossing the road. I was definitely getting my quota of exercise with my sprints across the road which was most definitely needed after all the wonderful food and Saigon beer!! I had a lovely few days in the city and my train was booked and the next stop would be Nha Trang further up the coast. There are lots of transport options within Vietnam with flights being reasonable and buses but my preference is always the train. I’m not someone who see’s travelling as a chore but part of the adventure. I booked a soft seat as it was a long journey and it was mostly local people on the train but they had the blinds down to sleep  so I missed a lot of the amazing scenery. I stood inbetween the carriages for the last part of the journey and gave my seat to a local guy who had been standing most of the way. It was funny as a few of the locals came to see if I was ok because they thought he’d taken my seat and I was forced to stand!!  The communication was limited but with my smiling face and thumbs up they realised I was ok....
Adventures Through The Mekong Delta

Adventures Through The Mekong Delta

I spent 3 amazing weeks travelling around Cambodia so now it was time to head to Vietnam. I decided I wanted to travel by boat down the Mekong river and then stumbled upon a 2 night/3 day tour which sounded like a great deal. I’m not usually a fan of tours and always sceptical there’ll […]

I spent 3 amazing weeks travelling around Cambodia so now it was time to head to Vietnam. I decided I wanted to travel by boat down the Mekong river and then stumbled upon a 2 night/3 day tour which sounded like a great deal. I’m not usually a fan of tours and always sceptical there’ll be some hidden extras but this time I worked out the price of the boat only and the boat plus accommodation and tour so I was sold. The picture below shows my route Phnom Penh – Chau Doc – Can Tho – Vinh Long – Ho Chi Minh city!! There’s something really relaxing about the water for me and I can sit on a boat for hours so sailing down the Mekong river was the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. We sailed for around 4 hours and then goat to the border with Vietnam so the boat had to dock and then a quick scramble up the river bank to a little office to get our passport checked and get stamped out of Cambodia. We then had to change to a speed boat and 100 m further down the river we had to get our passports and visa checked to get stamped into Vietnam so all pretty straight forward and definitely easier than land border crossings!! Another 2 hours we arrived at Chau Doc at the border and time for lunch watching local boats on the river until I was getting picked up by bus. The tour guide gave me a piece of paper with something written in Vietnamese and told to give it to the...
Live Like A Cambodian !!

Live Like A Cambodian !!

It was time for me to leave Siem Reap and travel by bus to the French colonial town of Battambang where  was picked up by a tuk tuk and taken to the village to stay in a homestay. The family were so welcoming and showed me to my room that would be my home for […]

It was time for me to leave Siem Reap and travel by bus to the French colonial town of Battambang where  was picked up by a tuk tuk and taken to the village to stay in a homestay. The family were so welcoming and showed me to my room that would be my home for the next couple of days It was a fantastic wooden huts on stilts on the riverbank and a great way to experience the slower pace of life. I found the homestay on booking.com and a previous review said it would be a good way to experience Cambodian life first hand. The price to stay also included meals which was great as it was quite a way from the town. On my first evening I sat with the family and had traditional soup, meat and rice and great to find out about their way of life. The following morning I was woken up by the Muslim prayer call followed by some drumming at the local temple. We walked to the village and had a traditional breakfast of noodle soup washed down with some jasmine tea. Today I decided I would go on the famous bamboo train which was great fun and felt like a roller coaster through the countryside. You sit on the bamboo slats so thank god for cushions !! It was amazing that when the trains passed each other they had to manually take them off the track and put them back on after the other train passed!! The train was like a rollercoaster through the countryside and was a lot of fun...