Destination One: Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An

I can’t believe our trip has already come and gone! Eight months of planning and waiting and it’s all over and we are back at home and I’m starring out the window on the third day of spring looking at the three inches of snow accumulated last night. Sad face :(

Although I love the snow, I LOVED the 90 degree weather and 100%  humidity we were in as well!

Don’t be sad, I say to myself. Now I get to relive my trip all over again by sharing it with you!

Where shall I begin? Hmm, well, we all know how it began really. With this! 

So, I will begin after this part of the story and start here:

This was my first time EVER flying in b.class. We happened to have enough airline miles between the two of us (it’s kind of scary to think of how much we had to spend over the last couple years to get there!).  I have to admit though, I have been ruined. I already forewarned D that I have officially been spoiled and there is no going back.

After about 4 glasses of Champagne and a couple Bloody Mary’s (who doesn’t love a good old Bloody Mary on a plane?) we were off and flying! Just kidding! I only had TWO glasses of Champagne! Anyway, in celebration of our engagement we did part take in a few adult bevs and then because we left LAX at midnight, feel asleep only to awake right before landing in Hong Kong. I wish! Neither D or I slept all that much but that’s okay cause we lounged out and watched a few movies, slept a little, and then landed in Hong Kong to transfer to Ho Chi Minh City 13 hours later!

As I’ve mentioned before, I lived in Taiwan about two years ago and thus the shock of Asia upon arriving wasn’t as eye opening to me as it was to D. But, I LOVED watching him with wide-eyed amazement as we walked out into the open air and 100% humidity to wait for our taxi to take us to our hotel. Not only were we sleep deprived but a little out of our sorts from the time difference. We arrived in Ho Chi Minh around 7AM.

Have any of you been to SE Asia? Goodness, there are so many distinct traits that I love about it. The smell in the air (hard to explain but once you’ve smelt it, it will forever be ingrained in your mind), the thousands of motorbikes passing you by, the way the taxi drivers drive (me holding on for dear life praying that I make it to my hotel in one piece), the noise, the craziness, the bright lights and signs. I could go on and on.

When we arrived at our hotel we had to wait a bit for our room so we sat down for lunch and discussed what we were going to do for the rest of the day. When we were planning our trip, for some reason or another we decided that we would leave Ho Chi Minh the next day and go north to Hoi An and work our way up. We thought, for reasons I can’t remember, that we wouldn’t really want to stay in a big city for more then a day because we’d be jet lagged and overwhelmed. I know. I know. If we could do it over, we would have stayed in Ho Chi Minh for a few days then worked our way north. Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda!

After we got settled in our room, we decided to walk around a bit to try and shake off some of the jet lag. We didn’t get any pictures of the city. Lame, I know but in our defense, we were so stinkin’ out of it. I’m surprised we even made it back to our hotel after our walk! When we did though we found ourselves covered in a nice layer of sweat and decided it would be refreshing to take a little dip in the pool. And that is what we did…right before our massages. It was the least we could do for ourselves after a long fight :) .

After our swim, massage and a quick bit to eat for dinner we decided amongst ourselves that it was in fact late enough for us to go to bed. Proud of ourselves that we even stayed up as late as we did, we crawled into bed and fell into a deep and restful sleep at 6:59PM.

At some point this was me:

Me: “Babe? Are you awake?”

D: “Yep. Wide. What time is it? We should get up and get ready” (We had a 8AM flight mind you)

Me: “2:30AM”

(this little trend lasted about five days, each day going to bed and waking a tiny bit later.)

To kill some time we decided to face time D’s mom who was house-sitting for us with her best friend for the first week of our trip. After chatting with them for a bit and talking to the dogs who had no idea what to think of us talking to them from an iPad, we decided to just watch TV until it was time to get ready and leave.

We left Ho Chi Minh where it was 90+ degrees…see, bright sunny skies! Oh how I had been craving warmth and sun!

After a quick little plane ride of about an hour, we arrived in Danang (central Vietnam) and were met with 50 degree and drizzle.

See, rain and drizzle… Oh how I was not craving this!

But, I was determined that it was only going to get better from here. There was always tomorrow and I just knew those blue skies and bright sun from Ho Chi Mihn were dying to come out and play with us in Hoi An.

If you haven’t heard of Hoi An it is largely known for it’s famous streets lined with tailor shop after tailor shop where you can literally have anything you want made. They’re ability to recreate your favorite article of clothing brings people from all over and leaves most of them needing to buy an extra duffel bag to get everything they purchased back home. This is all great and wonderful if you are a shopper. Which I am not. In fact, D and I laugh because HE is way more into shopping then I ever have been. But I can appreciate it all.

As we drove the hour long taxi ride from Danang to Hoi An we sat in silence and once again griped the door handles for dear life. If we made it to Hoi An in one piece it was ALREADY better there!

I should mention that one of the things D and I really wanted from this trip was to fly by the seat of our pants. We didn’t want to have to make arrangements prior to arriving certain places. We thought that it would add some adventure to our travels since our lives are so planned back in the states. Mistake number one.

We had ran into two Canadian women at the airport and decided that since we were all going to the same place that we’d just share the cost of a taxi and drive together. They had booked a hotel so when we arrived in Hoi An we just had the taxi driver drop us off in front of their hotel. After saying good-bye to the two ladies we stood in the middle of the street realizing for the first time we had absolutely no stinkin’ idea where we were!

What we didn’t realize was we were just coming off of one of the busiest times of year traveling around SE Asia and as we went from hotel to hotel we soon began to see the mistake we had made. Cold, hungry and still rather jet lagged, D and I walked the streets for what seemed like and hour until we finally found a hotel within our budget that had one room available.

Right away D and I had a weird feeling. Kind of like we weren’t suppose to be there. Hoi An had a completely different feeling then Ho Chi Minh City and we wanted that feeling back! Now I’m not trying to be all negative about Hoi An. I know several people that LOVED Hoi An when they traveled there. I’m sure during the right time of year it is a wonderful place. It does have a beach near by mind you and I’m sure it gets nice and warm enough to go play on it but for us, it just had a feeling that we couldn’t really explain.

After we got settled in our hotel, D and I decided to go on a long walk to get to know the area a bit. We had planned on staying in Hoi An for a couple days and at this particular hotel for a night so we needed to find another place to stay as well.

We also realized we were starving and walked around the corner to a street lined with tailors and restaurants and sat down at the first one that have a few vegetarian items to choose from. We needed to recollect ourselves and talk about a few things. As soon as we parked our bums in chairs it began to pour. I mean it dumped big old rain drops and we watched as people scrambled to take cover. D and I decided we’d just stay there until the rain let up but realized after 30 minutes that it probably wasn’t going to and we were just going to have to brave it if we wanted to see anything.

To be honest, as happy as I was to be in this new country the weather was becoming a problem for me and D was finding out rather quickly that I wasn’t exactly happy thus far. See, I’m a sun bunny and having just left the midst of winter back home, I needed my sun.

At this point we both were wondering why we had left Ho Chi Minh in the first place. After another quick stop at wine bar (seriously, there was a little wine bar there!) to get out of yet another down pour I had a momentary melt down telling D that I just couldn’t handle the cold and rain. First of all, I didn’t pack ANY cold weather clothes and I was freezing. Second, this wasn’t really what I had in mind for our trip, walking around in torrential rain with a poncho on. He agreed that it wasn’t really what he had in mind either not to mention the charm and authenticity of the city was some what lacking as it was obvious it was build around tourism. Another one of our goals was to try to stay out of the super touristy places. So, the decision was made. We would head back south to the warmth and sunshine on the little bitty island of Phu Quoc.

But, we still made the most of Hoi An while we were there…

And that night when we got back to our hotel room D assigned me the responsibility of getting our tickets back to Ho Chi Minh and then to Phu Quoc Island…

I did forewarn him I had been ruined :)

Just kidding! This was a complete mistake that only happens when you are rushing to book a flight at 9pm for the next morning!

Stay tuned for our next destination: Phu Quoc Island! Oh heavens it WAS a little slice of just that!

my top five travel blogs and our impending trip

Photo collage is from my trip to Thailand in 2010.

I haven’t talked too much about it but on Wednesday, February 15th,  D and I leave for SE Asia for just under a month! Back in July we booked our flight to Vietnam and have been planning our trip ever since. Sort of. Actually, we haven’t planned much of anything except where we will be staying when we get to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and where we fly out of when we come home (Bangkok). We decided that we didn’t want to be tied down to a certain itinerary and aside from a few places we know we want to see for sure,we are leaving it all up in the air! To fate if you believe in that sort of stuff.

With that being said, I will be updating from wherever we are, internet access permitting,  a couple times a week. I do hope you stop by while I’m away and say hi and see where in SE Asia D and I are!

{Source}

In the spirit of our travels, I thought today’s Feature Friday would be travel related. When we were researching where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see, there were a few travel blogs we loved to reference and I want to share them with you in the event that you shall need to plan a little trip for yourself!

My Top 5 Favorite Travel Blogs

 The Everywhereist

Written by a woman who lost her job and decided to follow her husband around the world. One part travel blog and one part love letter to her husband. And a lot of humor!

 Travelfish

A place strictly for those interested in traveling to Asia. You will find information on anything from places to visit and how to get there to why travel insurance is important and where you can get it. We used this site A LOT!

 The Uncornered Market

A couple who likes to travel off the beaten track and chronicle their journey along the way. If nothing else, looking over their blog makes you dream of the places you could one day go!

 Nomadic Matt

On a budget? Who isn’t! This is an awesome blog written by a guy who left his cubicle to live his dream of traveling. He offers tips and secrets on how to do it on even the most extreme budget.

 The Art of Non-Conformity

This isn’t just a travel blog. It’s a little about international travel and a little about life and how to make the most out of it.

Each offers a different perspective and are full of information for whatever your needs may be. Happy planning and I do hope you stop by while we are gone and say hi. I just may get a little homesick and need see those lovely comments from all of you!