We were nearing the end of our trip and trying to decide how to go about visiting the Mekong. We shared with our friends Jade and Michael our interest in going to the Mekong but that we were really not interested in being part of a tour. After going on a couple of them already, we just wanted to do our own thing and have the flexibility with the boys.
They told us that they had taken a bus from Ho Chi Minh down to My Tho and arranged their own tour of the Mekong once down there. This sounded like something that we wanted to do. So we caught a bus from Ho Chi Minh. As we waited we thought we’d get Mr 4’s haircut fixed. It was quite funny how people were doting over the boys and taking pictures with them like celebrities.
We finally made it to our last destination by train!!
on the train to Ho Chi Minh
Having dinner NYE
Reflecting upon the ambitious journey we set out to do from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh by train, I was somewhat nostalgic of the fact that the excitement and anticipation had come to an end, and yet I also felt so accomplished because we did it!
Out of all the night rides we have done, this trip from Quy Nhon to Saigon wasn’t the best I must admit. We almost had an entire carriage to ourselves as this train was not full, and whilst this was a bonus because it meant there were fewer people to spoil a toilet, the train rocked and shook pretty hard the whole journey. I can still hear the train toot every couple hundred metres and will never forget that distinct smell of Vietnam trains.
We arrived at 4:30am on new years day feeling pleased with ourselves but also a little sad it had all come to an end (I know, I already made this point), but surely you would understand why we were feeling this way.
pronounced: “oui nion” as in ‘filet mignon’.
Where to go after Hoi An? That was the big dilemma haunting us. Should we go to Dalat or should we go to Nha Trang? Why not go to Nha Trang and then go to Dalat as well?
We asked locals and we asked people we met about what they knew about Nha Trang. Most came up with the same conclusion that Nha Trang has become a big city and whist has some very nice resorts, it is renowned for having some bogans, as we would call them in Australia. After seeing Da Nang, we weren’t sure whether we wanted to see another city like it again.
Hoi An is a beautiful quaint town, beautifully lit at night and decorated with smiles during the day. Unlike Danang the place was swarming with westerners and locals keen to sell all kinds of knick knacks. Hoi An actually feels like a place that we want to spend time in.
I was a little reluctant when I heard Jason had booked us into a homestay for what seemed to be so cheap. The common phrase “you get what you pay for” kept running through my head. But so far we have managed to stay at some very inexpensive places that were decent. I trusted Jason’s judgement on this one.
We had to guide the taxi driver to the road of our homestay. I could tell by the tone of his voice and look on his face as he pointed down our street that he must have been saying “are you sure this is the place?” It was late evening, dark and rainy. Not quite the weather we were expecting nor hoping for.
Minh the homestay guy greeted us warmly and the place was thankfully great value for money. The homestay is a family run business and all are so friendly and helpful. We were also pleased our boys were not the only children, as Minh had a 2 year old daughter, plus there was a Dutch couple with 2 boys slightly older and then another sweedish family with two boys – we were well surrounded!
I love my children. I am a mother – they are my world, but today I have really felt that I have just about had enough of them! I am trying my best to be understanding and I know that we are dragging them along at our pace. I have tried to lower my expectations as they are just little – I know! But there comes a point when you question whether your children are defiant because they like to see your reaction? Maybe they’re just bored? Or possibly they are not as bright as you thought they were!
I find myself cursing more than often and I have wished more than once how wonderful it would be to find a babysitter and just leave the boys sleeping, while hubby and I go and have a romantic meal, walk at a proper human pace, not have to carry a little person because they’re tired, no dragging of the feet, enjoy a drink or two or three or FOUR, stay out as late as we want, not have to hear “WEE WEE!!” yelled out at the most inopportune moments, enjoy the night without ANY whinging/whining/crying, and not feel like I have indigestion post dinner! Am I a terrible parent for wishing this??? Continue reading
We were picked up early for the tour of Paradise Cave and Phong Nha. To be honest, I hadn’t done much research on it. I knew they were meant to be amazing but I hadn’t looked into them much. I kind of just gave up by this stage.
We go on a 1.5 hour bus ride to our first stop – Paradise Cave. Our tour guide, a quirky 24 year old jokes how we will see angels and that they are named paradise because we will feel like we have reached paradise. Continue reading
We bought our tickets to Dong Hoi early this morning and chose to risk just purchasing 2 seats. We were a little concerned as there was another German couple catching the same train, who told us they had difficulty purchasing tickets a couple days ago to Hue. Thankfully we managed to score two other empty seats the whole journey – phew!
It was a long train ride. Leaving Ninh Bing at 8.20am and arriving at Dong Hoi at 4.30pm. Continue reading
We travelled overnight from Sapa and arrived at Hanoi at 4.30am. I didn’t sleep well as Mr 3 woke up a couple times during the night. Unfortunately I tend to sleep lightly when the boys are in the same room as me 😣
Up until the morning we were not quite sure where we were going after arriving to Hanoi. Our options were to go to Ninh Binh or continue further south to Dong Hoi. We decided last minute based on people’s opinion that we met along the way, that Ninh Binh would be a good place to stop at first.
We also considered that after travelling the entire night by train it would be wise to only travel another 2 hours to get to Ninh Binh rather than travel another 10 hours to Dong Hoi.
Today was a slow start to the day. The boys enjoyed having some more downtime and playing with their new friend Connor who lives in Hong Kong. His parents Belinda and Guy were also lovely and we enjoyed meeting them. Connor taught the boys how to play darts and pool and at every chance they got, they would go to the bar downstairs and roll some balls on the pool table and throw a few darts. Continue reading
This morning has been a chill out day. The boys have basically been backpacking with us all this time and I think they have needed some playtime and interaction with other children. They played darts and snooker with Conner (a 12 year old boy from Hong Kong, originally from Africa) who was also staying at the same hotel with his parents. The rest of the morning was spent letting them run around the main square and play ball with some local children – particularly a little boy and his older sister. We let them run around and kept our distance from them, as I think they are also sick of hearing us tell them “don’t do that, don’t touch that, be quiet”. I also enjoyed playing ball with the cute little boy who would have only been 2 years old. I had some random guy come up to me and steal a selfie photo with him. It was totally weird as he slobbered me with a kiss as took the photo! 😱 I guess people do things differently here 😂 Continue reading