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Friday 30 Oct 2015
Hanoi, Vietnam

On the road again...

This is my first big trip abroad since getting back from my Big World Adventure last May.  The past 18 months have seen me spending the summer with my parents, getting to know my 18-month-old nephews, looking for and finding a new job back in the world of medical sales, moving south to Berkshire, playing softball again, making new friends and meeting a fella, finally getting my things out of storage and living in my own place again.  It has taken a while to get used to 'real life' again after so long on the road, but I am very happy with my new life.

The one thing I haven't done much of is travel.  It has taken so long to process how much I actually did, the places I visited, the people I met and adventures I had, that even contemplating another trip was too much for me for a while.  Thankfully, my best friend and travel buddy Ailsa, who knows me better than anyone, persuaded me to book a trip to Vietnam back in January, knowing that by the time the trip came around I'd be ready to go again.  She was right.

Those of you who've read my Galapagos blog will remember us meeting Juliette.  We got chatting at the start of the trip and discovered she'd actually grown up in the next village and went to the same school as me, albeit a couple of years ahead.  She and Ailsa have since been to Tibet and Nepal together. Juliette booked this Vietnam trip with her Mum and was happy for us to gatecrash too.  

I met up with Juliette and Deidre at Heathrow on Friday morning, my rucksack back in use and ready to fly.  I knew I would be bringing back souvenirs on this trip, so I have deliverately packed lightly.  I'm looking forward to getting clothes made in Hoi An now that I had a job to wear them for.  I gave Deidre my seat on the plane so she could sit by the aisle.  When they came around to confirm my special meal, they asked her as she was sitting in my seat. As it happened, she is also coeliac, so confirmed the Gluten free meal request, as did I. However, it turned out her GF meal booking hadn't been sent through to the airline so we ended up with only one GF meal between us. Fortunately there was enough for us both to get by.

Juliette and I started the 13-hour flight to Bangkok with the travel tradition - Gin and Tonic - before settling in for a movie marathon.  I got through Inside Out, The Fault in our Stars and the Maze Runner on the way out.  We tried to sleep a little but gave up after dozing for a couple of hours.  We had a quick turnaround in Bangkok, which gave us just enough time to find our transfer gate before boarding.  The second flight was only 90 minutes, which wasn't long enough to fit in a whole film, but I started watching the Age of Adeline anyway, thinking I'd be able to watch the rest on the flight home - Spoiler alert: they changed the films at the end of the month, so I didn't. D'oh!

We landed in Hanoi at 9.30am on Saturday 31st - my birthday!  Intrepid met us at the airport and took us into the city.  We were staying at the Ngnoc Hong Hotel.  I'd expected us to be in the Old Quarter, but we were actually some distance away.  The hotel was a very typical Intrepid base - smart and clean, but not too much personality.  Ailsa arrived two hours later and I ran out to meet her with a big hug!  it was great to join in with her adventure this time, after she came out to see me on mine.  We found a street cafe nearby for lunch.  One of my favourite things about Vietnam last time was the food, enjoying the whole eating experience in the street cafes, sitting on tiny plastic stools and watching the world go by.  We ordered Pho, the typical noodle soup with slices of beef, spring onions, herbs and beansprouts.  

As we ate, the weather finally broke and the threatened thunderstorm arrived, rain pouring down and flooding the sides of the streets in no time.  We were sheltered under a tarpaulin strung out and tied to a couple of trees, but had to shuffle progressively further in to avoid getting wet.  It seemed we were not the only ones trying to escape the rain.  I felt something on my shoulder and automatically put my hand up to it.  I felt something large and spiky under my fingers and instinctively hurled it away from myself, leaping up out of my seat at the same time.  It wasn't until it hit the ground and wriggled around on its back, trying to right itself, that I realised it was one of the biggest cockroaches that I'd ever seen.  Eeek!  The ladies running the shop laughed at my reaction and nodded understandingly at me. Before long there were cockroaches everywhere scuttling across the pavement out of the rain.  Ailsa had one run over her foot, then the waitress started jumping around and shaking her leg - one had run up inside her trousers!  It is a sign of how much I have travelled that I'm not at all bothered by cockroaches any more (except when they jump on me, that is), whereas I still run from wasps like a child.

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment for this Travel blog entry

Erin Says:

29 November 2015

Off to a great start.

zobeedoo Replies:

30 November 2015

I'm working on it! :)

Scenic Vietnam 2015

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18 months after I came home from my travels, I finally dusted off the backpack and set out for Asia again. Vietnam was one of my favourite countries and remained high on the list of places to revisit. This time, I went back on the road with Intrepid

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