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#3 Vietnam

Tuesday December 22nd Today we packed our bags and went to town to eat some lunch. And grab snacks for our 27 hour bus ride from Luang Prabang Laos to Hanoi, Vietnam. I ate a rice and vegetable dish and so did Adam. And Oliver had a chicken dish. We got to the bus station around 6:00pm, and I went to the bathroom to pee before I got on. Once we were on and left, my stomach rumbled, and not in a good way. There was no bathroom on the bus, and I knew right then and there that I was going to be sick with some type of food poisoning. My stomach aches so bad, and all my meds were under the bus. I kept asking our driver to pull over so I could go to the bathroom. I was throwing up in the back of the bus even. It was a miserable first 8 hours. Our mean bus driver did not like me what so ever, especially for all the pit stops. He ended up giving me about 15-20 little brown pills which I ate immediately. He told me it would be good for my stomach. About two hours later my stomach felt much better and was able to get some rest. Only 17 more hours to go. We were relieved to get off the bus when we arrived to Hanoi.the next day. Wednesday December 23rd We arrived in Hanoi around 7:00 and got checked into a nice guesthouse. And decided to go out and explore the night scene in Hanoi. We went to a club where it had lots of high energy. We had fun, and enjoyed the experience of what the norm club experience may feel like in Hanoi. We left around midnight to go back to our guesthouse to go to sleep.

Adam chose to stick around a bit later to enjoy the rest of the night until the club closed. Thursday December 24th It was Christmas (at least in Hanoi it was). Adam informed us that his phone was stolen the night before. He was showing someone his gps on his phone for a ride back, and they took the phone for a closer look and just took off. All of his photos of his trip were taken. He was bummed, we went out to get a new phone for him and then adventured around the city. We went on a walk around town to the Ho Chi Minh Mousoleum and saw many interesting things along the way.

Ho Chi Minh Mousoleum.

Later that evening we enjoyed the free Christmas meal and drinks from our guesthouse. It was great catching up with other travelers. We all decided to go out to explore the bars. And celebrate Christmas with one another. Friday December 25th Oliver, Chris and I did some training and took photos around the city on a walk around town.

Then later we had a Christmas dinner at a nice restaurant overlooking the local lake. It was fantastic. Jorden gave us all Christmas presents of matching shirts that said the adventure team. We had called our group that several times, and she made it official by gifting us the shirts. We were beyond excited and proud to wear the shirts, so we immediately put them on. That night we took it easy knowing we would be up early for our trip to do Halong Bay.

Here is a photo from the top floor of the Hostel we were staying at (Rendezvous Hostel, very nice accomodation)

Saturday December 26th We woke up around 7:00 am to leave to go to Halong Bay by 8:00 am. We arrived around noon. We stopped by this incredible disabled art studio. We were all blown away with the wonderful art we saw.

Upon arriving at Halong Bay, we were informed of our in depth itinerary. On the boat we ate lunch, had happy hour and then went aboard to explore some caves on one of the islands.

We then got back to the boat to have dinner and then an evening swim in the bay. It was great mingling with everyone and in the evening we were allowed one hour of free beer drinking. The crew allowed us to put on the music of our choosing, and we all seemed to have a really good time. Sunday December 27th We woke up at 6:30 to go kayaking through the bay. Oliver and I decided to team up and go together. We thought our tour guide told us that we would have an hour and a half to travel. It turns out after we left he told the rest of the group we would have to be back under an hour. Oliver and I paddled to a close by piece of land to explore and take photos. We had a great time adventuring. We found a cave and kayaked through for a bit until we could not go any further. When we returned back, our tour guide was pissed. He told us we had been gone for 2 and a half hours. Whoops.

We then did a cooking class when we returned and learned how to do spring rolls, which we then ate for lunch later. Did some acro yoga on the boat on the way back to the harbor, and was able to introduce it to a good amount of new people. We then hopped on a bus from Halong Bay and rode to Ninh Binh. Monday December 28th Today we woke up at 8:30 and had a breakfast at our guesthouse and then rented motorbikes and adventured to the Mua Cave and hiked up to the top of the mountain to get a fantastic view of Ninh Binh. It was fairly foggy and overcast, but it was nice to see the cascading rocks. This place is known to be the land of Halong Bay.

Our classic Power Ranger pose.

We then road to Hoa Lu (ancient capital) but turned around to try and catch a night bus to go to Sapa. The ride was beautiful along the way offering us really nice scenic views for riding. Stefanie and I split up from our group to go visit Sapa. It was a place I did not want to miss and almost did not go because I heard it was rainy, foggy and overcast, but I did not want to regret not going. So we both rode together. Our group wanted to move South where it would be warmer. And we told them we would meet with them in Hoi an for New Years hopefully. Stefanie and I then took a taxi from Ninh Binh to Hanoi where we ate dinner and took a VIP sleeper bus to Sapa.

Tuesday December 29th

We arrived in Sapa at 4:00 am, and were allowed to sleep on the bus until 6:00am. When we got off, there was a nice woman offering us a stay at her honeymoon hotel. We did not have many options, so we decided to check it out. We were very lucky to get good accomodation there for $5.00 US each per night. We checked in and then found a spot lose by to get some breakfast.

Around 9:00 we decided to get a motor bike and venture around town and see what we could. It was very foggy with a light drizzle here and there. We were in the clouds. We rode the bike down the hill for aout 20 km or so until we came out of the cloud and the visibility became much more decent.

At some of the viewpoints we stopped at, we were harrassed in a way by the local children and local adults to purchase some crafts. It was almost too much. we did buy a few things from a few people, but we then noticed a sign later further down the rode that told us to not purchase anything from the local children. Woops. There must be some type of curruption hapening here with children and selling items. They definetly know how to pull on a tourists heart strings.

This photo of me was taken by Stefanie Czap from her camera.

This photo of me was taken by Stefanie Czap from her camera.

This photo of me was taken by Stefanie Czap from her camera.

We bought some bracelets for ourselves and friends before we had a chance to read the sign.

I also bought a new bag for a gift.

This as a warm day for us traveling. I think I had two pairs of pants and three sweatshirts, a beanie and no gloves.

This one of me capturing my art is taken by Stefanie Czap with her camera

This one is taken by Stefanie Czap with her camera.

This one is taken by my camera on my tripod :-)

We rode back to our hotel and got warm from the ride. We both took cold showers to warm up. haha. The hot water lasted just a few minutes before it went freezing. It was a good thing that our beds had electric blankets which was the real trick to keep warm.

In the evening we went out to a cute part of town and enjoyed a few glasses of hot wine by the fire. When we decided to get food, I ran into two others that were on the boat in halong bay with us. They told us that they were having a Hot Pot for dinner, and we decided to all eat together. Wow! What a meal this was. It was endless soup for al of us consisting of a variety of meats, veggies, tofu, and noodles. We kept throwing into the pot all the ingredients, and in a just a few minutes it was all cooked and ready to eat. We ate soup and talked for a few hours until we were all so full and exhausted.

Wednesday December 30th

Today, the weather was too poor to want to go exploring much. We were going to go to a waterfall, but decided not to and to use the internet in a cafe as we had some snacks and drinks.

When we got back to our Hotel we were informed that a large group would be coming the next day for the holiday and will be using all the rooms so we would have to leave. Finding accomodation for cheap at this point was very challenging.

Thursday December 31st

Today we were woken up around 3am because the bus had arrived early and the people who came in were so loud and we jiggling the handle on our door. When we left, we went to another guesthouse that we found to have vacancy and was in our price range. On our way walking there, someone invited us to his guesthouse which was in the part of town in which we liked most.

(This one is taken by Stefanie Czap with my phone)

The rom was a little more expensive, but an upgrade indeed and we thought why not. No real other options and it is New Years.

We found out we could only stay the night, so we seeked accomadation down the street and got booking for the next two days at the Mountain View Hostel which seemed to be a pretty good place. Very feiendly staff and with great advice. We rented a bike from there fro a half day for $4.00 US and then decided to ride up to see the waterfall and hopefully get out and over the clouds to see a view.

I a shirt and two pairs of pants, three jackets, a full body raincoat, a beanie, and gloves that I purchased the day before. I was freezing toward our ride home. The clouds became more dense as we rode up the mountain. I was so fortunate to have my beard on my face. I could feel it get wet with mist and my forehead became hot with the cold as we rode the motorcycle up into the hills to view the waterfalls. When we arrived, it was so dense it was not worth it to go in.

This one is taken by Stefanie Czap from her camera while I was driving the motorbike.

Us at the waterfall. Brrrrrr.

We returned back and got a few drinks at the supermarket (best deal for supplies around town). I got an expired bottle of vodka for $2.00 US and we used that to celebrate New Years.

We enjoyed a New Years Buffet at the Mountain View Hostel in hopes to meet some other friendly travelers which we did. We had a great and filling meal for about 120,000 dong or $6.00 US. And we played trivia and all drank some beers and mingled.

We had some shampayne and "happy water" which is rice wine... which is not really wine at all, it is a hard alcohol from wine. And this particular shot was a homebrew from one of the workers here, and it smelt awful, and tasted even worse. The whole group did not want to partake in this shot, but we all did in celebration. It tasted as if it was seaped with an old gym sock.

We then went out to the Hmong Sisters Bar, where the New Years Party was going to be. It seemed as though the whole town was in there. Barely any wiggle room, and very hard to get a drink before New Years.

The energy was great tho, tons of people happy and drunk ready to welcome in the New Year together. We had a great time with the group we had dinner with there.

Friday January 1st 2016

We woke up around 6:00am to the sound of Honking out the window. The traffic on the street was busy and loud. We packed up and walked over the the Mountain View Hostel and got checked in, then went for a walk about the town. The weather today was very cloudy (and by cloudy I mean we are in the clouds, so it appears foggy and visibility is only 50 yards or so) We have decieded to stay for the weekend markets and have already booked our VIP bus back to Hanoi for Sunday evening after the Bac Ha market.

It is really something to be known about being a turist here in Sapa. YOU WILL BE HARRASSED DAILY BY THE LOCAL VILLAGE WOMEN.

It is only a few minutes of walking down the street before you hear "Hello, where you from?" "What's your name?" "You buy something? You go shopping?" "You buy from me?" - reply from me. "No thank you" response to my no is "yes" and then we play the yes - no - yes game for a minute or so while they walk with you down the street. Of course if you don't buy anything, they want to encourage you into trekking with them to their village. And if you have already purchased the same thing that they are trying to sell to you, they reply that you buy a second one. From them... It gets old really quick ( and I like to believe that I am a patient person). It is nice to not be harrased so much when you have a motorcycle, but when you are just walking around the town it will guaranteed happen. and at the lookout ponts too Look out for there to be a group of locals ready to get in your face about purchasing things. Almost to the point that you cannot take a picture of the view or enjoy the scenery, because you have the nagging please purchase this, or something being shown to you in front of your face.

This one is taken by Stefanie Czap with her camera

This one is taken by Stefanie Czap with her camera

Saturday January 2nd We woke up and booked our ticket for the Bac Ha Sunday Market, and at the same time I purchased a hop on hop off bus ticket which is one of the cheapest ways to travel Vietnm from North to South. It only costed me around 1,500,010.00 Dong (around 67 US). I purchased it for 7 stops with my end point being Saigon (Hochi Minh City) to enter Cambodia from. The people working at our hostel were so helpful for travel tips and bookings. We went on a walk trekking to Cat Cat Village, which is a tourist village. It was a close by walk from our hostel and the weather was nice today, so it was great to get out and get moving.

As we were walking through the village, a Vietnamese family asked us if we could talk to his children in English, so they could practice. We walked and talked, and the people out here are just so friendly. We got down to the bottom of he village where there was a waterfall, and took a few pictures. I feel like some type of movie star, because everyone wants to take picture with me, it must be because I am a friendly American.

We walked a bit further with the boys and I thought I may take a photo, but decided not to. Just at that moment, we realized one of he kids went climbing on the rocks over he River and slipped and fell in. He hurt his knee, lost his camera, and worst of all was sobbing wet and cold from getting drenched in river water. Note, it feels about 40 degrees out. I ran down and helped pull him out, he was fairly Bumbed. At this point in the trek, there is no easy quick fix. You must trek partway out to have the option of getting a lift on a motorbiike the rest of the way. We got him stripped of his clothes and his parents and some locals helped providing him with some warmth and dry clothes. The family was very grateful for our help. We kept trekking back up to the hostel to be in time for the evening market in Sapa, which we had heard good things about. We made it back in time with walking back up the hill. (It must have been 50 times we were offered rides on motorbikes back while we were walking). We went to the hostel and dropped off a few things and met up with a friendly German group that we had hung out with on NYE. They decided to join us for dinner and checking out the market. We ended up getting another hot pot (feels like we ordered the tastiest bottomless soup). We got it mixed, so it had everything from greens, to mushrooms, tofu, beef, pork, chicken, veggies and noodles.

This one is taken by Stefanie Czap with her camera of our group and delicious hot pot.

At dinner a neighboring table came by and provided us shots of rice wine from his village, he was drunk and very nice. We all respectfully joined him. (Again, the people here are SO friendly!)

We ate the whole hot pot. I was really impressed with our accomplishment in this. I was also really full (we all were). There is a saying from Austria and Germany that is you don't finish your plate, the weather will not be good. We all did our very best to finish, because we desired the best weather on our last day in Sapa. After dinner, we strolled around town and walked around the night market. I was a little unimpressed, only because I was comparing it to the other night markets I have been to in Thailand and Laos. This night market was a little sad. There was not goood lighting, so the locals selling the goods had to use headlamps and lights. There were no tables used to display the goods, it was all on the floor, and thank god it wasn't raining, but the floor was really wet. It was not a good situation for a night market, I think it would have been much better as a day market. In the town square stadium area, there was lost of unique dancing of the men and women and boys and girls. The boys would play this type of bagless bagpipe instrument called the hmong flute and spin in circles playing it, and the girls would spin in circles with an umbrella. It was described to us as a way for the singles people to meet one another. And the dance that they were doing was a traditional love dance of the Hmong people. It was very unique watching this, and it seemed traditional and difficult to do. Thea boys and girls would spin nearly 100 times while playing an instrument (it sounded like he same note was being played) and then tap feet with each other in a dancing fashion. There was also the new age version of this traditional dancing and it was a group of boys with a boom box doing popping dancing individually and in unison. It was entertaining to watch. Like a street performance, but without the asking of donations, it was just for fun. Sunday January 3rd Today we woke up at 6:20 to get our 6:30 free breakfast from our hostel. It was a very nice breakfast. We left at 7:30 to go to Bac Ha which was about. 3 hour bus ride to go visit the market. This market was very cool and mostly for the locals there, selling everything from livestock, meats, tools, toys, clothes and food. It seemed to have everything here.

I bought a few bags and instruments as gifts, and a new shirt at a good price. We then had lunch with our tour group, and headed out to visit a Hmong village. The village was pretty cool, but very tourist driven and it lost the authentic feeling. They were trying to sell some very cheap corn wine (hard alcohol) for $1.00 US per Liter. The Hmong village had beautiful corn fields to produce their wine locally.

We then visits where the Hmong King used to live. It was once his home and place of business.

This is a picture of our guide that we were with for the day to Bac Ha.

I gave my camera to someone there to take some pictures of us.

After our visit there, we went to the Border of Vietnam and China (which is now he farthest north we could be in Vietnam). After we returned back to Sapa.

Monday January 4th I was able to do some photo editing on the VIP bus for the frist hour or so, and then went to sleep. I was woken up at 3:00 am to someone htting my leg and telling me Hanoi Hanoi. I thought we had arrived. When we gathered our things, I found out at the front of the bus that we were not quite there yet. We had about another 30 minutes to go. So we arrived at 3:30am. Not the best time, to arrive anywhere, but it was the quitest I have heard this city yet. We walked to the same Hostel that we purchased out hop on hop off bus passes from and were allowed to crash out on the couch from 4:00am to about 8:00am until we woke up. We were allowed to take a shower at the hostel which was revitalizing since we were quite tired from traveling through out the night.

After, we found a local place to get smoothies, coffeee, and internet.

In the evening we got back to the bus station and took the night bus to Phong Nha National Park from 8:30pm to 5:00am.

Tuesday January 5th

5:00am was actually a really great time to arrive. We walked to the Green River Guesthouse and got checked in close to 6:00 am. After dropping off our bags we got a motorbike and went the the Easy Tiger Hostel for breakfast. The food there was great, I had breakfast tacos and iced coffee. It was great, and looked like a fantastic place to stay. It came highly recommended by the Backpackers hostel in Sapa, but it was fully booked.

After breakfast we mapped out our day and decided to go to the Botanical Gardens first, then the Paradise Cave, and last the Dark Cave.

We had no idea how expensive it was for entrance to the caves. Paradise cave was 250,000 dong entrance fee ($12.50 USD) and Dark cave was 350,000 dong ($17.50 USD). I know it really doesn't sound that expensive, but when your out here comparing everything to eachother, it was way more expensive than other things to do. We decided to just do the Paradise Cave and miss out of the Dark Cave. (I later fund out how much fun the Dark Cave Was - zipplines, mud, water, and tons of smiles and adventure)

We went to the Botanical Gardens and it was great. It was one of the main ways to actually go trekking through the national park and we visited a pretty cool and slippery waterfall while we were there.

At the Gio Waterfall.

A picture of us I took using my tripod. I am wearing my awesome mosquito net top. The mosquitos were out in FULL FORCE. I constantly had like 15 flying around my face. A few times they flew into my eye.

A selfie in the Nature :-) The beard is starting to really come in.

After trekking in the botanical Gardens for several hours, we hopped back on the motor bike and went to Paradise Cave. The ride through the park was so beautiful. Not really anyone on the roads, the roads were in good condition, the skies were blue and the trees were green. It was wonderful.

Paradise Cave is without a dout the largest cave I have been in. It was set up like a museum inside with a walking platform that went for 1km into the cave. There was an aditional 6 km more to explore, but at a cost that was nearly 4 times more and took the whole day to explore.

Int he evening we ate at our Green River Hostel. It was nice, the staff was so wonderful. I was told that I would be given a ride to the bus station in the morning at 4:00am. It was so nice of them to offer that type of service.

Wednesday January 6th

I woke up at 3:50am and was down staris ready to go at 4:00am. He met me and greeted me with a breakfast sandwhich for the road.I got to the bus station and waited two hours. It was supposed to pick us up at 4:30am, but arrived at 6:00 am. I saw the German group that we hung out with in Sapa and when they got off they bus, they explained to me that the bus driver kind of slightly crashed and took out the side mirror. So he pulled over for an hour or so. I arrived in Hue around 12:30pm and got checked in at the Ngoc Hung Hotel. I met Phong the owner, he was such a nice man and really made me feel welcomed at home. I immediately rented a motor bike and went out to explore the Thien Mu Temple Pogoda.

Afterwards, I went to the Imperial City to explore. It was 150,000 dong to enter. It was quite nice to walk around and there was plenty of information to read about the history of the land. It was a historic meusum in a way.

In the afternoon after visiting the imperial city I was hungry, so I went to go get some Pho. I pulled into one place and it was not open yet, so as I left my kickstand was still down. Another rider came up I me and let me know. He was thrilled to meet me and asked if I would join him with for some food. He said he knew the spot for Pho. So I followed him. We had a bowl of soup and a beer and kept cheersing over New Years. He was sooo happy to meet me and have me join him for lunch. He invited me for a family party at his home in Saigon, and I said that if I would be here in time I would go. He asked if I came if I could bring a bottle of wine; and I said sure why not. He encouraged heavily to pay for lunch. He said it would make him so happy to pay for lunch. I was happy to pay for mine, but I said yes thank you so much. After lunch he asked if I wanted to get some face masks to wear while riding the motor bike around to not breathe in the fumes. I said sure. We rode for a bit to go get some and he just gave me some he bought, I asked him how much.?And he said "no no no. It's ok. Please, just take it." I replied thank you thank you so much. I was so please with meeting Ni, I felt this was an authentic awesome lunch experience. Then it happened. He asked me if I would accompany him to get he bottle of wine. I thought to myself "was there a language barrier here? I thought I would bring a bottle of I attended the family party". So I said yes sure. Keep in mind that he lunch and beer I had equated to at most 60,000 dong ($3.00 USD). We go to the first place and he comes back to tell it is too expensive. So we rode to another store. He tells me "ok, this is good. Then he asked for 750,000 dong from me. I was blown away! "No way, too much" I said. Then he starts guilt tripping me by telling me that he paid for lunch and the masks. I told him I was happy to pay for those things, that they were a fraction of the cost. Now he starts to try to bargain with me for us to both pay and he wanted me to pay 500,000. I replied "No, no way. Too much" I was feeling really dooped at this moment. Now he is asking for 400,000. I gave him 200,000 and parted ways with him as fast as I could. It was still a lot of dong to just give someone. He seemed like he had done his part and we split from one another. I then I went to the Tu Duc Tomb and walked around. It was very nice and without many tourists.

After visiting the tomb, I went back to the guest house and did some work on the computer, and then got some fantastic pho street food across the street fro Where j was staying. I got to bed early that night because I was going to get up early to travel to Hoi An.

Thursday January 7th I woke up at 7:00am and had a nice breakfast that was included at my hotel. I was picked up for free and brought to the place where he bus would pick me up to go to Hoi An. I hopped on and did a little work and sleep on the bus for 4 and a half hours. We arrived around noon in Hoi An, and then was picked up for free by the hotel. I was staying at the Sunflower Hotel. the staff as very short and abrupt with me and not so friendly. There was also a huge whole in the floor of the hotel Loby and construction was happening. I got checked in and rented a bicycle for 20,000 dong ($1 USD). I rode and got my bus seat saved for the next day the. Went to the old city and explored and walked around. I got some lunch close by to the market.

I went back to the hotel in the afternoon and the construction they were doing was for a raw sewage leak, it smelt like shit everywhere on the bottom floor. The check in staff had face masks on, and I immediately went upstairs to my room and met one of my roommates Chris. We spoke for a couple hours and enjoyed one another's company before we went out for dinner to grab a bite. We met this really drunk guy from Canada named Kiefer. He was sooo drunk, but friendly and a good time. We met some holland guys who drank with us and bought me some beers. We all drank and listened to music at the bar across the way for a few hours. Then went to the Why Not bar and played some drinking games. I lost about 3 times in a row, and got drunk faster than I expected. We all danced for s bit and then I rode home around 1:30 to crash out. The people who showed up to the room were far more drunk than me and had some very loud sex right next to me while I was going to sleep. It was a funny experience. Friday January 8th I woke up a bit drunk still from the night before, so I just hopped in the pool in the morning to waken up and get refreshed. Had a wonderful breakfast that was included with my nights stay. I must have had 6 cups of coffee while I worked on some photos and my blog. My friend Lynn that I met in Sapa was staying at the same place as I so we did some acro in the morning. I got my laundry done the day before and received it and checked out. I had some great Pho soup and then met with Stephanie a little after she arrived for some Lunch at the Hoi An Market.

​We then walked around for a bit and did some acro yoga together before I was going to get on my night bus to Nha Trang (12 hours), so it was really good to move my body for a little. Before I left I stopped by the post office and shipped out some clothes and jackets from Sapa. I mailed 5kg of clothes for 910,000 dong ($45.00 USD). I got on the bus and went to the back. It was awesome this cool older woman Ramona was back there and we had 5 seats to ourselves. I had plenty of room for my long legs and big feet and my belongings. It was the most comfortable ride I have had. She was great company as well. We spoke about traveling for the first few hours before we took some melatonin and went to sleep. Saturday January 9th I arrived in Nha Trang at 5:30am and went to the iHome Hostel. It was very highly recommended by someone at my guest house in Hoi An. I met with someone else named Emily who was looking for the same hostel. We dropped off our bags and then got some breakfast. We went to the ocean around 7:00am and did a little swim. This was the first time I was able to swim in so far in South East Asia.

After the beach, we rented a motorbike and decided to share it for the day to go to the Ba Ho Waterfalls. Our fist bike had so many issues, it stopped on us nearly 20 times, so we had to return it to get s new one. When we took off to go to the waterfall, it started to pour down on us. The pellets of rain felt like bullets on my face. What and experience. I have never driven a motor bike in the rain.

We got there and the last leap of the road was a little bit treacherous, but fun. We hiked to the falls and it was so worth it. There was even a place to cliff jump into the water from about 7 meters high. The water felt great, and we pretty much had to falls to ourselves.

After we ride back to town and visited the Po Nagar Cham Towers which was built between the 7th and 12th centuries, it was ancient beauty to walk through and explore.

Photograph of me was taken by Emily Clements.

We ride back to our hostel after and took showers and got some food and drinks and joined everyone for the 1 hour of free beer supplied by the guesthouse from the hours of 6-7pm. Everyone was there on the rooftop drinking. It was really fun and and a great way for everyone to come together.

At 7 we went to the night market and had some dinner and decided to go to the beach party and had a few more drinks.

When we came back, Emily and I did a little bit of acro yoga before we went to sleep. Sunday January 10th I woke up at 6:50am and had a quick breakfast and get to my bus to take me to Da Lat. I ran into friends I met in Hoi An and Sapa on the Bus. traveling is so cool that you keep running into friends you have met in different parts going on the same loop. The bus ride was so beautiful and green going into the mountains of Da Lat. I was wishing to have rode up on a motorbike. I would recommend to anyone going from Nha Trang to Da Lat to do that. The views the way up are spectacular.

I rode up with a friend I met from sapa and Hoi An by the name of Lynn. She and I decided to go to the Dalat Family Hostel. I have neverbeen greeted with so much love and warmth from a hostel ever. Big hugs and kisses from all the staff. I was immediately welcomed to join lunch with them. Afteer we got checked in, I rented a motorbike with some friends and we went about the town. We visited the lake and then went to The Crazy House. The Crazy House is one of the most unconventional places to see. Straicase archways tat go everywhere. t was a very unique and cool place to visit and get a little lost in.

It also had a nice view of the city from the top staircase.

Afterwards we came back for the family dinner at 5:00pm at the hostel. Wow, was there a lot of food, and more than planty to eat. The owner of the hostel "Mama" will feed you till you can no longer eat, and a variety of good food as well.

Afterward dinner we went to the House of 1,000 Rooftops. It was like the Crazy House, but like 10 times crazier if that is possible. It was set up like a maze inside, with so many options of places to go. You could go up a number of staircases in different directions, or climb up or down littel openings or holes. There were little seating areas to hang out with small groups in. It was by far one of the coolest bars I have been to, and I would highly recomend checking it out if you are ever in Da Lat. There is no entrance fee as well.

Monday January 11th

I planned on sleeping in today, but a lot of people in my room woke up early to go canyoning. I hear from everyone it is the thing to do out here, but it costs around 700,000 dong. And since I am traveling for some time, it feels slightly out of my budget. So I decided to adventure on the motorbike today.

This really cool woman named Ramona that I rode with on the bus from Hoi An to Nha Trang with, and then again from Nha Trang to Da Lat with offered to pay for the rental cost of the bike and the gas if I picked her up to go exploring. I did since my friends were all canyoning and so was her nephew. I picked her up and we decidede to go to Dantala waterfall. It was a reallly cool expereience, you take a little roller coaster down the moutain to visit the waterfall and back for 50,000 dong ($2.50 USD).

After that we started our decent down the mountain on the motor bike and immediately the gas went out, so we coasted for nearly 8 kilometers down the mountain until we stopped, and ironically we were right in front of a gas station. What a perfect situation.

Photograph of me was taken by Ramona Davila.

Photograph of me was taken by Ramona Davila.

We were on our way to Pongour waterfalls which was a beautiful 50 kilometer ride away. We had some Pho along the way and when we arrived I was so happy to be at the waterfallI had come out to Da Lat for. It was spectacular. Large, long, and beautiful. I was able to go swimming and play in the falls. I went under the falls and saw rainbows everywhere. I had such a wonderful time at the falls and Ramona was great company for the day.

Photograph of me was taken by Ramona Davila.

Photograph of me was taken by Ramona Davila.

Photograph of me was taken by Ramona Davila.

Photograph of me was taken by Ramona Davila.

Photograph of me and Ramona was taken by Ron Hagag.

Photograph of me and Ramona was taken by Ron Hagag.

Photograph of me was taken by Ron Hagag.

Photograph of me was taken by Ramona Davila.

On our way back, we were about 20 Kilometers from our guesthouse and the timing belt in the motor bike broke. Luckily, we broke down in front of a mechanic shop and he was able to fix the bike in 15 minutes for 300,000 which the guesthouse later reimburst me for.

Photograph of me was taken by Ramona Davila.

We made it back in time for a great family dinner at the guest house.

Tuesday January 12th I woke up around 7:30am because the people in my door were going canyoning. I can down and edited a few photos from the day before waiting for Lynn to waken up so we could go adventuring to more waterfalls. Meanwhile I need Gavin who was interested in joining us. He was a really cool guy from New Zealand, and told me he would be able to keep up with me on the motor bike.

We started our day out with going to Tiger waterfalls. It was pretty sweet. It was great getting into the water and getting waterfall massages. Lynn and I did some acro by the falls. She is getting so good so quickly. I must be a decent teacher.

After the tiger waterfalls, we decided to journey to the Elephant Waterfalls. It was a decent trek to the falls, about another 50 kilometers. I was able to get to 120 km and hour going down hill on the highway. It was great. We were listening to SheepDogs music as we were traveling. I had a headphone splitter so Lynn and I could listen to the same music, and she would navigate using my GPS.

We made great time, and got to the waterfall, it was massive. The water looked a little dirty and the current was a bit too strong, so we all stayed out of the water. Lynn and I did a bit more acro.

I gave my camera to a youngster to take a picture of us.

Lynn took this photo of me using my camera.

The picture is cool, but if it was taken just a bit further back, you would see that there was a cliff to he left and the right of us. A little precarious of us, but we had been practicing that shoulder stand quite a bit. Gavin took the photos of us doing acro.

After the falls we all got some Pho soup and got on the motorbikes and went to the Truc Lam Pogoda. The drive there went through the mountains with spectacular views. The three of us were grinning from ear to ear. It was such a wonderful scenic ride. The Truc Lam Pogoda was very peaceful and tranquil. It was quite, calm and many monks lived there. After we left, we made it back in time for family dinner at our hostel. This is always he dinner you never want to miss out from and you always want to be hungry for.

After dinner we enjoyed happy hour and did more acro with Lynn and new friends. I think I am getting a lot of people introduced and into it out here on my travels. In the evening we went back to the House of 100 rooftops (the crazy bar) again. This time I brought my camera with me to take a few pictures. The photos don't do it justice, it is far crazier than any photo can depict, but here are just a few.

Wednesday January 13th Today I got up around 6:30 am thinking my bus would pick me up to go to Mu Ne at 7:00. I was surprised to find out my bus would leave around 1:00pm. So I just edited images from the waterfalls in the meantime. The staff at The Family Hostel is the nicest, warmest, friendliest staff I think you may ever meet in all of South East Asia. It was so sad to leave and say God byes to all of them. They feel like family. I got on the bus to Mu Ne from Da Lat. What a bumpy ride! I arrived at 5:00pm, and the primary reason I came to Mu Ne was to see the white and red sand dunes. I was planning to leave early the next morning to go to Saigon. So felt I was going to miss out on the sand dunes. There was just a little bit of light left, so I hoped on the back of someone's motorbike and got a ride to the closest ones which were the red sand dunes.

I arrived just after sunset and was able to take a few shots and see them. I hear that the white sand dunes are larger and more of a special sight to see. I also hear that it is quite amazing for sunrise.

I came back to the bus station which is where my friend Ramona was staying. She said I could crash with her for free. How nice! We went out to dinner with a friend she met earlier that day named Yuske. We ended up at this fancy beach resort that had nobody in it and amazing music. Ramona welcomed another gentleman named Oyvind to come join us. We all shared a nice dinner and had a few beers. Then we decided to hop in the pool. It was such a good time! Really good people! Friendly, respectful and full of good stories. Oyvind was a software developer for the animation company Dreamworks. He had cool stories from work and told us all about kite surfing with a hydro glide. He was so kind to pay and pick up the tab. We then ate some crocodile and played pool a few doors down on the way back to our hostel.

Photo was taken by the guy wokring at the resort with Ramona's phone.

Thursday January 14th Today Ramona and I got up and around 6:30 am got picked up by the bus at 7:00 am to go to Saigon (Hochi Minh City). We arrived around 12:30 pm where we met Lynn at the Hide out Hostel. We were able to score a ride to Sinokville in the evening at 10 pm for 22 dollars. During the day, Ramona , yuske and I walked around he city. We went to the post office to mail a package.

There was a reallly beautiful church across the street from the post office. It was called the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica.

And then to the Ho Chi Minh City Hall which was designed by the same architect that built the ifel tower.

We found another really nice church with several people chanting prayers inside. It was beautiful.

After exploring the city, we went back to he hide out hostel to do acro and take a shower.

We then went next door to the hideout bar to have a few drinks before we got on the bus to go to Cambodia at midnight.

This is a picture of Saigon at night.

We came aboard the bus, and everyone was very unfriendly (all the staff working). Very abrupt and impolite. The people at the hideout hostel were great, and very accommodating despite the fact we did not have accommodation. Just in the evening, when the staff was gone, we did not have a good vibe with anyone whom we tried to get help from.


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