Greetings from Hanoi! Where the food, the beer and the rooms are amazing and cheap! I love this place :) I've made so many food discoveries here, it's hard to believe.My trip ends in two weeks, so this post will probably second to last. I'm leaving for Bangkok tomorrow and we will probably spend our last two weeks relaxing and eating. I'll also make an update post about my bucket list soon! I have achieved most on there already and anything I haven't done is now off the table. Anyway, I'll make a detailed post about with pictures for proof ;)
So enough rambling, I'll start where I left off last time which is when we left Bangkok for Cambodia. I said last time that we didn't have such a good time in Cambodia. However, that story will have its own post because it's not only very long to explain, but also I'd like to be able to warn other travelers in case it can be avoided. Plus, if you're not interested in me complaining for a million paragraphs then you won't have to read it :P You can read about it here if you are interested.
So in Cambodia we headed straight for Siem Reap where the famous Angkor Wat is located. It is such a large site that you need more than one day to visit it and walking is almost impossible. Instead it is recommended that you hire a guide and tuk tuk for the day to bring you around which we did.The site was impressive and filled with history. We only went for one day though, since we were getting more and more anxious to move on (if you've read my post about the issues we had you know why by now). We then headed for Phnom Penh to arrange our Vietnamese visa. We paid a surchage to get it within the hour and left the next morning for Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
In saigon we did a bunch of activities. We visited the China Town (which wasn't as impressive as we would have thought from what we had read in our guide book), went to the mall for a couple games of Pump it Up, visited the Sky Deck of the Bitexco Financial tower for a few good shots of the city's sky line, went on a dinner cruise, to a water puppet show and finally did a cooking class.
My favorites were the puppet show which was simple, but fun and traditionnal and the cooking class which taught me loads about the vietnamese cuisine. We cooked four dishes : pho ga (noodle soup with chicken), Banh Cuon (steamed rolled cakes), Ban Xeo (savoury sizzling crepes) and a beef, starfruit and banana salad (don't know the name), plus three different dipping sauces made from fish sauce. Love!
The cooking classes are always great because they help you understand the ingredients and dishes better. It sorts of demystifies them for me and makes me more eager to be adventurous and try dishes I normally wouldn't.
We left Saigon after a couple of days and I was starting to feel under the weather. Once we got to Nha Thrang I was pretty sick already and all I wanted to do was rest. So we spent almost a week there doing nothing but sleep and eat. Didn't get to enjoy it all that much, but at least the food was good and I had a margarita bigger than my head :P (not all by myself lol).
By then, my birthday was getting near and we decided to go see the best beach in Vietnam : Mui Ne. We booked a cute and comfortable bungalow directly on the beach in a nicer resort to celebrate. For my birthday we watched the sunrise on the beach, ate seafood and watched a movie. Pretty low key, but we still both needed rest. We also went to check out the sand dunes that week. It was our first time in anything close to a desert and I was really impressed. We did some sliding on the dunes and watched the sunset. After that, we left Mui Ne and backtracked to Saigon to catch a plane for Hanoi.
We arrived in Hanoi about 4 days ago. Since then, we have made incredible food discoveries, walked around the old quarters, rode around in a cyclo and bought snake wine and a traditionnal vietnamese hat. Among the amazing food we've had here are : Bun Cha, Banh Cuon (which was surprisingly hard to find in the south), Crab spring rolls, vietnamese iced coffee and vietnamese Iced tea.
Yesterday, we left for Cat Ba, an island near the famous Halong Bay. However, when we got there the weather wasn't on our side (we should've checked beforehand, because the weather forecast for the whole week was horrid). One the night we were there, there was a rainstorm with violent winds (trees were uprooted), the electricity kept going off, rain was leaking in our room, all the restaurants were closed because there was no electricity (hence no food for me that night) and to make it worse our room was full of tiny ants. The next morning was no better and since it wasn't any kind of weather we wanted to do outdoor activities in, we decided to come back to Hanoi right away, where electricity is thankfully a little more reliable.
We ended up moving our flight back to Bangkok to tomorrow morning so that we could go back to thailand right away since we really have no other destination in mind for Vietnam right now. I'll update on how it's going once we're there!