On acccount of having to stay longer in Thailand I only had 3 weeks in Viet Nam, instead of a month (because of my visa), so I made the rash decision, in a moment of weakness, to book, yet another, tour through Vietnam backpackers. Usually I’m not really into organized trips, but I thought it would be a good way to see a lot of things in a short amount of time.
The Vietnam Backpackers website does a very good job at explaining the trip in detail, so I will not bore you by being repetitive. I will, however, share my personal pictures and experiances (that’s much more interesting) over the 6 night 7 day trip!
* It may help to have both the website and this page open at the same time so you can refer from one to the other*
Our accommodation for the night was a little hotel we biked 20km to get to. It was very basic and the first time it was necessary to sleep with a mosquito net (this is something I would grow quite used to in the weeks ahead). I actually like them, they make me feel protected from all the critters!
The itineary called for a night walk which took place at about 9pm. I passed on that. When I asked our guide (Chung) what we would be seeing he informed me since it was still a bit rainy and cold we would probably only see some spiders and insects… you can see why I made the decision to stay behind and get an early night’s sleep.
We all took turns helping the ladies paddle the boats, but they took control when we went through the tiny caves, sometimes making sure we ducked in order not to hit our heads on the low hanging rocks. I was impressed by how easily they maneuvered these boats! At one point I turned around and our lady was paddling with her feet!
This bit was probably one of the most touristy things we did on the trip. It was full of Chinese tour groups who treated our boats (full of westerners) like celebrities (we had some blonde girls in our group which attracted extra attention). As our boats passed theirs they would wave and take pictures with us/of us. We didn’t mind, though, it was pretty funny.
We had to take a night bus to bring us to our next destination, Phong Nha, but had about 4 hours to kill. It was nice that the tour arranged for us to be able to take showers and hang out somehere with wifi and outlets to charge our devices before boarding the 12 hour bus. However, the shower rooms looked like a scene from a horror move. Very interesting set up. What in the world is that box with a chair in it?! I wish I could say it surprised me haha. Nevertheless, the shower water was hot and it did the job.
I was acually excited to take the overnight bus, as it was my first one. They have “bed” seats that almost recline all the way flat. Being small was an advantage in this situation because the seats are not the largest things in the world! Night buses are pretty common in South East Asia and in the weeks following this I took several (the excitement has definitely worn off).
Slept for a few hours in a normal bed before heading off for another day packed with activities. Starting with the Paradise Caves.
We only walked 1km in, but they go 30km deep. It was hard to capture just how massive these caves were. Here’s me for comparison!
The more south we went the hotter it became, so the next stop was more than welcomed!
After swimming and relaxing at this little secluded water hole, what would be better than a nice cold beer? Well, actually, for me… pretty much anything else, but that was the only option. To the pub we went!
Day 4: St. Pattys Day
Before going into the tunnels they had us watch a documentary about the history behind them. This was the first time I was faced with the reality about what happened to the Vietnamese, and what they were forced to do because of the U.S. For years a small population resorted to living underground, and in these tunnels, as a result of the tons and tons of bombs we were dropping on them. People died, babies were born… they had to continue their lives in anyway possible.
We actually got to sleep in for the first time on our trip. which was much needed as the night before was St. Patty’s day and we all, obviously, had to celebrate! Luckily, this day was pretty relaxed. Pagoda and beach!
Huè to Hoi An via motorbike was on of the highlights of this trip! If anyone plans to go to Viet Nam, this is a must do! I wasn’t completely confident about riding a scooter on the windy mountain roads, so the tour arranged for me to have a driver (Quyn)! This wasn’t without lack off me attempting to learn on the crazy, scooter filled, streets of Hue. I nearly took out a pedestrian, or two, and probably gave Chung a mild heart attack (who was brave enough to get on the back with me). It ended up working out well that I had Quyn, though. I was able to relax and take in all the views without worry. As a bonus, Quyn was a bit cheeky and would take me on some side adventures, which were the best parts!
From what I was told, boat taxes in Viet Nam are pretty steep. So the fisherman started making, and using, these circular bamboo floating baskets in order to avoid paying. Technically, they don’t count as boats! Well played fisherman.
Thus bringing us to the end of our whirl wind tour! We had many, many, great times, and saw some incredible sights, all while discovering the beauty that makes up Viet Nam.
The trip wouldn’t have beeen the same without our cheeky tour guide, Chung! Putting up, and dealing, with our quite difficult group that consisted of a vegitarian (me), a few injured people, a sinus infectin, a case of food poisoning and many other issues along the way, was no easy task. He really made our trip memorable! Thanks Chung, we love you!