Wow. Australia. So good
to be back. So good to be in a cooler place and a place where I can cook my own
meals. So good to be able to drink the water out of the tap. So good to eat
salads and grilled cheese sandwiches, yogurt, coffee from a bodum, start my day
off with a hot water and freshly squeeze lemon. So many things I missed since
leaving Switzerland. 4 months is a long time. And I realized I sort of forgot
how to cook as well. While a did a bit of cooking in Switzerlerand, it feels
like it’s been 10 months since I cooked something on a stove.
Firsts that really put
such a smile on my face:
cool temps. Walking outside of the airport and
happily putting on my sweater.
The smell of grass. I haven’t smelt fresh cut
grass in probably 10 months. It is an incredible smell.
The 2 or 3 ply toilet paper. What a treat.
Our first buffalo chicken Subway sandwich with
blue cheese dressing. Absolute perfect thing to eat for a massage of the taste
Shopping for white wine that tastes great and
is only $10 a bottle.
Shopping in a grocery store. 4 months since we’ve
done this. So many things to look at and now to take into consideration all the
plastic consumption. So we’re buying glass jars as much as possible and
avoiding brands that are in plastic. #newmarketingniche
Driving. OMG driving myself. While it was a bit
nerve-wracking to drive again on the left hand side (it’s been a week and I
still throw on the windshield wipers when I want to turn a corner), I’m
enjoying the freedom of just hopping in the car and going to get what we need.
I’m so thrilled to be
back in Australia after 20 years. The smell of the Eucalyptus trees is
incredible. The birds! Green parrots flying wild everywhere. The funny sounds
some of them make. I must confess that I spend a lot of time wondering now if
sticks are snakes after seeing one on the road at Rottnest.
Interestingly, I don’t
remember a lot of the places that I went before when I was here. I wonder if
maybe the memories will come back as we move up the coast toward Darwin. I had
to ask my cousin where we lived for 3 months… couldn’t remember. We’re going to
swing by there in a couple of days when we leave Perth area. I also don’t
remember Rottnest Island at all when I visited that with my cousin, Linda. I
guess that’s good in a way that I get to make my own memories again with Luc
Our first week here
has been really wonderful.
We signed up for Helpx
to find a place to live for free for a week and have a home base to explore
Perth and Freemantle. Helpx is a website that puts people who need help around
their house with people who need a place to stay. We found Jenny and her two
dogs Nora and Charlie and her huge property just outside of Fremantle for a
week. Jenny needed some help with gardening, pool cleaning, website updates,
and some general maintenance for 1.5 hours a day. In return we got a room and
access to her kitchen to cool wonderful meals. We also could use the pool but
it’s cool here now! Vivi got the use of a blow up mattress and sleeping bag and
her own room too!
There was also another
couple living there who were building their van to travel around Australia. A French
couple – wouldn’t you know! So Luc and Vivi were loving speaking in French.
They also spent 5 months in South East Asia so we had a good time comparing
We all shared meals
together for a couple of nights and we went out and watched Jenny play a gig at
a restaurant called Gypsy Tapas in Fremantle. She’s a wonderful singer. Check out her music.
Our first outing was
to Kings Park overlooking Perth. We gawked at the perfectly manicured lawn that
was like carpet and good enough to eat on. The views were stunning.
We walked through the Botanical
Gardens and looked at all the beautiful flowers and trees. Luc took many photos
to send back to his mom in Switzerland.
Then we walked over to
the natural playground in the park. This playground is huge! Vivi had a great
time cruising through all the structures and playing on the rocks.
Mother’s Day and Rottnest
While we were here we
celebrated Mother’s day! Luc and Vivi made me a cake and we went down to South
Beach and Bather’s Beach near Freo. We also visited a brewery and had some
delicious dark IPA’s. I’ve been missing those dark dreamy beers. Fremantle reminded
me of New Orleans with the architecture. It’s also so beautiful and really
feels artsy and chilled out.
The following day we
got up EARLY to catch a ferry to Rottnest and do some exploring. Rottnest Island
is a must see. It’s really expensive to get there and rent bikes (it cost us $192
with parking) but I’d say it was worth it. We biked all over the island. It
wasn’t too hot, just perfect. The beaches there are white sand and turquoise
blue water. We found a really long beach where we were all alone (again) and I
suggested we skinny-dip in broad daylight! Luc said “I don’t think we can do
that here” I said “and so…?” and so we did. I was first in and last out. It was
breathtaking. The water was cool and it was so refreshing to not have to strip out
of a wet bathing suit. We really should do that more often. Hey now there’s an
We saw a ton of
wildlife on Rottnest. Birds with orange beaks, a pelican, the infamous Quokka
that is so incredibly cute and tame (don’t feed, don’t touch!), a snake on the
road, probably 20 or more lizards.
We had a mishap where
Vivi fell off her bike near the (not so) Pink Lake but she dusted herself off
and got back up again no tears.
If you go to Rottnest,
pack a lunch and snacks. Food over there is EXPENSIVE!
Next stop Margaret
My mood has significantly lifted. I attribute
this so much to the weather and being able to cook my own meals. It wasn’t that
I was in a shitty mood before but the heat and eating in restaurants 3 times a
day was just kind of oppressive in a way.
The wildlife here is stunning.
Good coffee and white wine. My two staples
needed to make me feel at home and comforted.
We’ve gone vegetarian 6 days out of 7 to cleanse
our bodies and get lots of whole grains, legumes, and raw veggies into our
bodies. Hummus….. yummmmmm!
It’s dry here so it’s a bit of a shock to go
from tropical rain forest to bushland but the drop in humidity has me feeling a
lot lighter and wanting to walk and explore a lot more.
I’m so freaking excited about getting in our
van and driving up to Darwin! 7 more sleeps!
Time to slow it
allllll down…. This is the place we’ve come to recharge and just be. Catching
up with ourselves, blogging, writing, reading, video editing, sleeping, just
being and reconnecting with my heart. Traveling, while I’m so grateful to be
able to have this experience, is exhausting! I’m going to create a few blog
posts on how we decided what method of travel, where we decided to go next, how
long we decided to stay in places, etc… all of this takes brain power and is
something that Luc enjoys but also, there are so many options and sometimes we
take the cheapest (usually walking and bussing) and sometimes we take the
easiest (plane). But Bali is a break from the fast travel and a rest before
Australia where we have volunteering lined up, traveling in a van for 5 weeks around
the coasts of Australia and lots of discovering.
I was really excited
to go to Bali. It’s my second time being here. I came here 20 years ago with my
mom and her friend for 10 days. I was excited for the beauty of it, the
massages, the avocadoes, the beaches, and the people. What I wasn’t afraid of
was getting sick. Last time I was here I came down with a terrible fever and
all associated issues with food poisoning or a parasite/bacteria so was really
worried about that. I’m writing this after 26 days and (knock on wood) we’re
still totally fine.
I really feel that
Bali is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Everywhere you look it’s
stunning and breathtaking. Avocadoes aren’t what they used to be. I can hardly
find them anywhere. They are still big but not as in abundance as before. I’ve
had two massage since being here and I think that’s my fault for not putting
time aside for that. Must get one more in before I leave here. And the people
are so kind and beautiful.
Legian and the Fancy Hotel: Element
Not much to report
when arriving. It was dark, the taxi drivers at the airport are pretty
aggressive (I told one to leave us alone he was that in our face). We stayed
our first night in a little place with a nice pool in Legian. It was nice to get
our footing and hit a bank to take out some money.
Then we moved to Ubud
where our 4th fancy hotel was. This was an eco-hotel and a little
bit on the lower end but still really beautiful and the breakfast was out of
this world. We checked in and just spent the day at the hotel enjoying the pool
and room. We met some people from the States who also are super savvy with
their points and told us about all the amazing places they have stayed for
free. They earn points with work so that gets them to more places than us.
In the morning we did
some yoga at the hotel (I hurt my neck… sigh….) and Luc took off on a bike ride
to explore the rice terraces and discover Luwak Coffee. Vivi and I played in
the pool some more.
It’s always a nice
transition when you start your new country with a fancy hotel to get your
bearings and not feel like you have to start exploring and discovering immediately.
You actually feel like you need to take some moments of relaxation and moments
of research to study where you want to go next.
Ubud: Bali Sunshine Homestay
We booked a place for
a week called Bali Sunshine. We picked a place with a pool as we thought that
there would be families and kids there. Turns out that it’s the low season and
we were the only ones there. Hmmm… but the place was stunning. We upgraded to a
room beside the pool for an extra $6/night. Luc is still sore about that. But I
wanted to be beside the pool so we could just walk out and take our coffee, or
write a blog, do learning time or watch Vivi play in the pool from the room.
Only thing was that
this place backed onto a rice field which was stunning but also bug infested
where we found cockroaches, crickets, spiders, ants, lizards. When the room is
only about 400 sqft that’s a little piece of shared space with a lot of bugs.
The other things was
we were located about 6km’s away from Ubud. So really out in the sticks. But
being in the sticks has it’s pluses. We frequented the same two restaurants for
a week and got to know the staff and the menus. The pool was wonderful so we
really enjoyed our time in there. And I got to learn how to ride a scooter!
For the most part we
hung around the pool while Vivi swam and did learning time. We ventured out 2
times on scooters to visit a waterfall, Luwak coffee farms, rice terraces, Pura
Tirta Empul and eat lunch (where I got stung on the toe but I was assured from
a local it was not a hospital visit I needed) in one of the most beautiful
restaurants I’ve seen (the view was incredible). All of those places I
mentioned were absolutely stunning. It was like candy for my eyes everywhere. Being
on a scooter is so much fun! Vivi would ride on the back of Luc’s as I was
super nervous and to be honest, if we crashed, our insurance wouldn’t cover us
so we needed to be hyper focused. I made sure that we went out on our first
ride on a Sunday, when there wasn’t much traffic. I also didn’t want to go too
far for the first go. I love it so much I want to get a scooter now when I get
home. Preferably an electric scooter so there’s less pollution.
We stayed at Bali
Sunshine for a week and it was just what we needed to chill and actually be on
Ubud: Dewa Bungalows
We moved for 5 days
into the centre to be around some more people and see Ubud a bit more.
Dewa Bungalows was
where we chose to stay. We met a really nice Aussie couple at the pool where
Vivi got to play Uno with the woman and we asked a lot about Australia. We also
got to connect with other people (which we love), tell our stories, listen to
their stories and I got to talk about the Camino as Nicola was thinking of
doing it as well. They are also on a 1 year trip around the world just starting
We arrived on Thursday
in the early afternoon and I had a couple of places I wanted to visit. An
eco-store and the post office to pick up stamps. We also needed to visit the
bank. We left Vivi back at the room for a bit while we set off in the run our
errands. By the time we got to the bank, most of them were closing (2:30-3pm).
And the following day, it was a bank holiday so they weren’t open. We walked
from bank to bank. Some banks were already closed, some banks were just closing
and some wouldn’t take our credit card to give us cash advances. You would
think that an ATM was a good idea but we wanted to take out more than an ATM
would give us and more importantly, they don’t work with our Visa card. NONE OF
THEM DO. So we tried our MC. That didn’t work too. Last resort (because of the
incredible bank fees) our bank card (that worked but would only give 300. We
were stuck: we would need to leave one day later and wait for the bank to open
on Monday. I guess it’s not so bad when you’re stuck in paradise.
The next day we walked
to a nice walking area. We tried to get there early enough in the day but it
was already blazing hot. We found the cheapest Bali swing ($5 vs $15) we had
seen and Vivi went for a swing. Then I took off to walk to another eco store
that I wanted to visit.
We met back at this
really expensive cool restaurant where we got fancy juices.
The next day was a day
at the hotel and Luc hiked to the Volcano! We didn’t want to get up at 2am –
nope not interested. We just lounged, washed laundry in the sink, and I went to
my first grocery store in what seems like 3 months. I spent an hour in there
just looking around at all the cool stuff. It felt like a new world to me. So
tired of doing my food and beverage shopping in 7/11s and Circle K’s. I found S
& V Kettle Chips for $8 a bag!!! I almost got them. I also had a
We hired the guy who
we rented a room off of to pick us up and take us to Amed. Amed is a slow
little diving and snorkeling area on the northeast side of Bali. We booked for
3 nights and stayed for 8 we loved it that much!
It’s 2.5 hours from
Ubud to Amed and the drive is worth paying $50 to get there. We had a room
right beside the pool (there are two pools) with a view to the ocean. The ocean
is quite far away to see (only 8 mins to walk to) but so beautiful. Again not
many people staying at this hotel (it started to pick up before we left). But
the cleanliness and the staff make the stay here so worth it.
Last month they had a
6.8 magnitude earthquake and it rocked and rolled a lot of stuff. The pool that
we swam in got a leak from it. It was a little unnerving to live in a tsunami
zone for 8 days and even more when we moved into a red zone for a couple of
hours (where if the active volcano erupts we were goners) but I kept telling
myself that we can’t live in fear or we’d never leave our house.
Luc signed up for 4
dives and 1 night dive and Vivi signed up for her first diving! I couldn’t
believe at 8 years old they will take a kid into the ocean with dive gear. She
was nervous and excited and probably one of the most proud moments of my life (right
up there with taking her first steps). I actually cried. She did two dives with
Julien who was excellent with her (and with me the nervous mom). She was so
proud of herself. She did really well equalizing her ears and breathing all the
time. She only went to 4 (5.5) metres deep but it was enough to get a taste of
diving and she loved it. She cried the next time we were at the dive shop and
she couldn’t go (It’s expensive!). I’d love for her to go diving in Fiji when
we’re there (they also let 8 year olds go) but it’s even more expensive there.
3 mornings I got up at
5:30 to watch the beautiful oranges and be there when the sun came up. It was
exquisite. One morning Luc joined me.
Once when Luc did two
dives, Vivi and I hired a guy for $15 to take us snorkelling around where he
would be. I wasn’t confident enough in the water with Vivi to do it alone and
to be honest didn’t know what to do it I got into a current. I’ve had some experiences
with rip tides in Australia and also getting rescued by the coast guard when I
was in my teens. So some of my past definitely lives in my fears now. The
snorkelling was awesome! We saw 2 turtles: one on the sea floor and one that
was swimming with us. Vivi and I fell in love. It was just too bad that there
was also a plastic bag swimming with us at the same time. We also saw many
fish, coral, a snake, a sea cucumber, and dolphins from shore!
The sand in Amed is a
black gold sand which is HOT and very interesting. If you go there, Lipah beach
seems to have the best beach for sand (not rocks).
Two times we rented
scooters and zoomed around the countryside having so much fun. I also got in
some shopping and we took out kayaks. These kayaks are from the 70s though and
I couldn’t steer it so gave up after falling in and I couldn’t get back on.
All in all most days
were spent doing something in the morning and then chilling at the pool in the
afternoon. Vivi’s swimming has increased exponentially and she is such a strong
swimmer now. It’s incredible to see the transformation she’s taken in the last
10 months with her confidence in the water. She loves her snorkeling mask and
spends most of the time under the water. She loves to swim between our legs and
her most somersaults in the water is 6! She is a pro diver, front crawl and
recently we told her how to do a front crawl into a somersault at the wall,
push off and then do front crawl again and she’s mastered that. A swimming
group and/or synchronized swimming is something that we’ll be looking into when
we get home.
We said goodbye to
Amed and the staff at the hotel and we were ready to move on. We absolutely
loved Amed but really felt like we were ready to experience something else now.
Most times I just feel like we move on before we’re ready but spending 8 days
here exploring and breathing and being close to the ocean has reinvigorated me.
We jetted into another
2.5 hour drive to Sanur. We had heard that the beaches in Sanur are nice and so
we wanted to check it out. We also heard it was good for kids too.
We checked into our
bungalow but it turned out that the room we had was the most we’ve paid since
Thailand and probably the worst we’ve been in. It smelled old, rotten, moldy,
like moth balls. There was mold on the walls that had been painted over and it
was nowhere close to the massive pool. The resort (?) was huge with no one
around. Everything seemed pretty run down. We asked to change rooms and they
moved us to the pool. A step up but still pretty dindgy. Attention to detail =
-4. Then after a dip in the warm pool, we went back to the room (37 degrees
out) and the AC wasn’t working. A guy showed us 2 more rooms and still no AC
working. They said that they would get an engineer out to fix it.
We took off for the
beach. The beach is a seaside little area with lots of Bali shopping and it’s a
jumping off to Nusa Penida. After walking around and exploring we ate and
headed back to the hotel onto to find out that the engineer hadn’t been by and
that we could move to a room that we had already checked out and there was no
AC. But shockingly there was AC! Thank you universe as I really didn’t know
what I was going to do. We stayed two more nights at this place and were happy
Sanur is a quiet
little beachside resort town which I liked. I think I’m just a bit sick of the
heat and walking around in it. You know how you get when you know you’re going
on vacation and everything at work begins to bug you about 4 days before your
last day at work? Well, we’re about 5 days away from cool weather and Australia
and I think we’re just done with the tropics. I’m done with eating out and
can’t wait for yummy salads that I can prepare, lentils, sandwiches filled with
veggies, food I can buy in a grocery store. We’re thinking of going vegetarian
or eating meat just one day a week to limit our impact on the environment and
just start to get back to basics and flush our body with fresh vegetables and
whole grains. It’s going to be cool enough that hopefully I can start running
in the mornings and doing workouts outside. We are also looking forward to our
first volunteering opportunity when we get to Fremantle. We are staying for
free in a woman’s home for 1.5 hours of house and garden work a day. After we
leave there, we go down south for a week and check out Margaret River and the
wine area. I CAN’T WAIT!! Then back up to Perth to pick up our camper and hit
the road up north to Darwin. We’re taking 3 weeks. I’m just so excited about
what comes next and the cool weather and salads. When we get to Australia on
the 8th it will be 4 months that we have been backpacking.
Kuta and the last 3 days
We grabbed a GoJek to
take us to Kuta and checked into a backpacker hostel here. Happy to be around a
lot of people and so close to a white sandy beach. We’re now on the west coast
so the sunset is profound. There is also an incredible cool pool here with lots
of floaties and people to play with. And a slide! As you can tell, I’m writing
in the first person so I’m finaly caught up to our travels! This is monumental!
But I think this place probably set me back the cost of getting my website free
of hackers unfortunately. I realized at this moment that my blog had been
hacked so I needed to pay someone over $350 to fix it. Sigh…
We have just been
laying pretty low our last few days here. We watched an incredible sunset on
Kuta beach and then moved to another hotel closer to the airport. I’m spending
my last days enjoying Bali and looking forward to Australia. We went and saw
Avengers: Endgame on our last day.
So long Bali, you are
so beautiful inside and out. I hope to make it back to you one day a few years
from today to enjoy your beauty once again.
Have you ever had a stopover that you thought “Wouldn’t it be nice to stop here for a night and check it out?” This is what we did in Kuala Lumpur. If Luc has his way we would have done this in Singapore as well.
We booked an Airbnb on the 35th floor and it was gorgeous. It took a bit to even get there though… I won’t go through the details but let’s just say that it was an hour to get from the airport to Kuala Lumpur then a nightmare check-in at the Airbnb. It also took 5 hours to get toilet paper and an extra towel (one time they told us it was raining so they couldn’t bring it over. Ummmm… unless you’re made out of icing sugar….
After dumping our stuff we left for the centre to go to the Aquarium. Such a cool place. So many fish, rays, sharks… they had one of those moving carpets that took you through a tunnel under the sea. We did it twice we loved it so much. Vivi was absolutely in heaven at the aquarium… I’m starting to see her affinity to water and everything in it!
The aquarium is right downtown so we were right in the middle of everything so got to see the two towers and the green towers. It’s super green and very modern in Kuala Lumpur. Really clean everywhere we went and very well looked after in the city.
We had dinner and then headed back to the Airbnb to take advantage of the beautiful views and pools. We hung our wet clothes from the washer and then went down to the 6th floor and hit the pool. There was a lightning show while we were in the pool and it downpoured. Then we went up to the top floor for views from the hot tub only the hot tub was cold.
The next morning we watched the sunrise against the skyscrapers turning the building pretty purples. We headed out to the jungle in the middle of the city and walked up in the tree tops. We only saw the sign afterwards to be careful for snakes, scorpions, etc… On the way back we had a delicious breakfast at a chocolate shop.
We booked a GRAB to take us to the airport and realized after 3 minutes that we’d left our filter bottle in the fridge back at the hotel. Back to the apartment to get it.
We really maximized our short short time in Kuala Lumpur. It was a ton of stuff to do and we powered through to get to see this modern city. I’m glad that we did I just wish we had a bit more time to explore.
I had debated just showing
photos as there’s not a lot to tell you about our trip to Cambodia except I think
this is the hottest that I experience. It’s almost unbearable. It’s in the 40s
(centigrade) for a good part of the day, all day. If it’s not in the 40s it’s
in the high 30s. Even at night. What we find when it gets this hot is that we
have to live in AC. Which is kinda too bad because there is a lot to see
around. But it’s just not doable.
Of course we came here
to see the amazing temples of Angkor Wat so we had to see them, but I was
nervous about heat or sun stroke given how quickly we lost water. I usually worry
about finding public toilets but when you’re not even peeing, there’s hardly
anything to worry about (ok, that’s a joke).
Really not much to
report except we had a wonderful bus ride to Phnom Penh where we spent less
than 12 hours there I think.
The highlight was
seeing our friends Roman and Julienne from France. They were coming around the
other way from Laos (where we left them) and we managed to meet up with them
It was so great to see
them and eat dinner with them and connect with them again. Vivi absolutely
loves them and so she was so excited to see someone else we knew!
We didn’t stick around
long enough to get to know this big city but I understand it’s not that
interesting and there’s a lot of garbage and prostitution happening so I’m
happy to make a quick stop and go.
They did cancel our
booked bus when we got here for the next morning but we just booked a better bus
(Giant Ibis). So spacious and lots of stops. Highly recommend paying the extra
to get this bus.
Again another all day
bus trip to get here. We had booked an Airbnb that was a little outside of Siem
Reap but it had a local school that the owner ran so we thought it would be
great to volunteer in the afternoons with the kids.
We were not
anticipating what came next. Well it was officially low season so there was no
one else (tourists) staying at the Airbnb. We were anticipating lots of action
and people to meet from the photos. It was basically empty. The room we slept
in was ok, but the bed was horrific. Probably a 20 or 30 year old mattress. And
me with my PTSD about bed bugs didn’t sleep at all.
Our French friends
told us about this place in Siem Reap that was half the price that had a pool. The
place we booked didn’t have a pool and it was blazing hot.
And, it was some sort
of Cambodian holiday (easter break?) that there weren’t any kids at the school.
So we were all alone,
down a remote road for 4 days. Since we were the only ones there, they moved us
to a better room with newer beds and pumpin AC. But it’s pretty isolating when
there’s no one around except the 3 of us.
We had been put in
touch with a tuk tuk driver from our French friends in Koh Lanta and he picked
us up the next day and we did a tour of the temples. That night we went to Pub
Street where we had some 2 for 1 cocktails and dinner.
We had decided that we
would do one day of temple hopping, then a day off to explore Siem Reap and
then another day of temple hopping and then we leave. So the next day was spent
at the museum (AC) learning about the temples and different religions that are
celebrated here. Then we visited another silk farm. Then back home to regroup
in the AC.
The following day we
were up EARLY to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. A friend and
cousin both told us to go at sunrise but then go into the temple while everyone
is outside waiting for the perfect shot. Yes you’ll miss the perfect shot but
you’ll get to see the temple before the masses arrive. So we did that and it
was really nice to be walking around getting great pics without a ton of people
in the photo.
We sat with a monk who
blessed us with nice smelling water and tied string around our wrists. Right
for women, left for men. For me, I had seen this in blogs and pics, and it was
really special to be able to do this little ceremony with my family.
Then we set out and
visited more temples. My favorite was Bayon with so many faces and the
golden hour after sunrise shining on the rock carvings was stunning.
There were a few more
temples that Vivi couldn’t go into due to safety issues I think so we took
these opportunities for Luc to adventure and us to sit and fan ourselves.
Sometimes we would meditate together.
The day continued with
temple after temple. I was drenched by the end of the day. It’s exhausting
being in that heat. I just don’t understand how the locals do it.
The next morning we
got a ride to the airport and we took off on an airplane to Malaysia for a one
night stopover in Kuala Lumpur.
I’m glad we went. While it was a long 2 day bus
trip and it was stupid hot but to come all the way to South East Asia and not
go to Cambodia to see these amazing temples, would be a shame. I’m not sure I
would get over to this area of the world again in the next 10 years.
I think we could have picked a cooler time to
come and I would have appreciated it more.
Hind sight is 20/20 and we should have picked a
place in town with a pool. There’s just no way that we could have known that
the school would have been out and we would have been alone.
I’m officially “templed out”.
You could definitely feel the difference going
from Vietnam to Cambodia. Immediately the roads were worse, back to a lot more
garbage and you could feel that this country was a little more rustic than Vietnam
and Thailand. More like Laos as far as development went.
Leaving Timothe’s was
harder than we thought. Essentially we didn’t know how we were getting out of
there but only that something would work out. The guy at Timothe’s called
around to find out when a bus was coming by that would take us to Dalat. I didn’t
want a night sleeper bus (I’d heard that the bus drivers do drugs, fall asleep,
etc…and that there are a lot of accidents with the night busses. When we got to
Ho Chi Minh Luc read in a newspaper that a night sleeper bus had got in an
accident and people died). So essentially we got a ride to the main road and
stood there wondering when the bus would come by.
Eventually, it came
and it was a sleeper bus but we would be on it all day so no worries there. We
were shown to the back and we were the only tourist on the bus that we could
see. We laid in the back and just chilled out as we stopped about 25 times.
Finally I asked to use a toilet as it really wasn’t clear when we would stop,
and about 5 mins later he pulled over and the girls all went into the bushes
and the boys somewhere else. It was like a re-enactment of the Camino with
toilet paper strew everywhere. This wasn’t their first rodeo. It was so odd to
me that we didn’t stop at a gas station or rest area and that everyone on the
bus was just expected to squat. Okey Dokey.
Then after about 5
hours, the bus stopped and the driver told us that we were getting off. Well of
course we had our stuff strewn everywhere because we’d been watching Mapsme and
we were still a ways away from Dalat. We pilled all our stuff together as
everyone on the bus continued to look at us and yell “Dalat” and we scrambled
to not forget anything. Of course, Luc left his 3rd hat behind. Sigh…
We got out of the bus,
and were shuffled into another smaller bus. I said “Dalat?” and the driver
nodded yes. Ok then. Thankfully he didn’t ask for more money.
We finally made it to
Dalat and to our hotel. Into our room and quickly we find that the light in the
bathroom doesn’t work. We asked them to fix it and low and behold he couldn’t
fix it so I asked if we could move and everything was booked. So then I asked
for candles. Yep, candle light in the bathroom. If you can believe it, there
was a bath (that didn’t hold water well) so I decided to have a candle light
bath that night and only had to refill the tub 3 times.
We went our separate ways
for dinner as we were starving and of course an epic fight sprung up because
everyone wasn’t thinking straight and I wasn’t going to eat shitty noodles. So
I took off and had a delicious burger and fries while they ate noodles.
The next day we walked
to the lake. Dalat is the city of romance I think. There are flowers everywhere
and because of its elevation, it’s a lot cooler. I was happy to have a brief
reprise from the heat. The lake was beautiful and we went for a float around
the lake on a giant swan. Vivi doesn’t get to do a lot of things that she wants
(zoos are expensive!) and she wanted to do this so I was so happy to be able to
make it happen. We continued on around the lake and it really was quite
beautiful. After we headed back to the hotel, the power went out as soon as we
got there but they assured us that they had fixed the light in the bathroom but
there was no way to check. We ate at the restaurant that I ate at the previous
Luc and I came to an
agreement finally. I’m choosier about where I want to eat. He will eat anywhere
but likes cheap. Quite a few times we found ourselves walking from restaurant
to restaurant and I didn’t like what was on the menu. I wasn’t feeling it and I
was sick of noodles and rice after 2.5 months. Luc would get more and more
frustrated. So we came to an agreement: if he wants to eat somewhere and I don’t,
then he can eat there. Same for me. It might mean that we eat in different
places, but we’re not settling and resentful. Vivi has the best of both worlds.
She can choose what Luc is eating or what I’m eating and no hard feelings on either
side. Interestingly, since we came to this agreement, we haven’t really had to
implement it much.
The next morning we needed
to get to the airport early so we’d asked for a taxi to come and get us bright
and early. The taxi showed up with a flat tire. So he needed to fix it and when
he was fixing it I noticed that he only had 3 of the 4 lugs on the tire. I
looked around the car and it was the same on the other front wheel. Really? The
driver assured me that it didn’t matter (yeah right). Well we already don’t use
a car seat anymore and now only 3 lugs? Forget about it. I felt a bit high
maintenance but knowing we had an hours drive, I really didn’t want to think
about it the whole time wondering what was going to happen so I asked the hotel
to call us another taxi.
Ho Chi Minh/Saigon
We got to Ho Chi Minh
by way of an airplane. We could have taken a bus or train but it would have
taken 10+hours and I was just a little worn out of road transportation TBH.
This plane ride was about 1 hour so we bought our carbon offsets and away we
This was our 3rd
fancy hotel that we stayed in for FREE. We were starting to get a little too
used to the fancy hotel! We headed out in the blazing sun to get some lunch.
There were a lot of restaurants that catered to tourists or expats which was
right up my alley but the price went up drastically now that we were in the
Back to the hotel,
where we swam in the pool overlooking the river. Dinner… we could have had an
all you can eat buffet for $50/person but that was out of the budget. Instead, we
made friends with the hotel food and beverage manager and he gave us some free
beer (they had run out of the IPA that I wanted), extra helpings of bread, a
free salad and free desert. Luc sent him a thank you note later as he was so
impressed and it felt good on the wallet.
The next day, I went
to the gym and then did laps in the pool. We walked around a bit, I sweated
like crazy and then we headed to the bus station to go south.
We had bought the
tickets ahead of time but that didn’t make it any easier. We got dropped off
with our GRAB and asked what window we needed to go to. Oh the one with 40
people all trying to get to the front (read: no nice lines). We had about 10
mins until the bus left so Luc pushed his way to the front and the guy was the
slowest! He had to reissue different tickets for us and then told us that the
bus was in the back and the license plate number. Meanwhile I was watching all
our stuff like a hawk. This was the place where you get robbed I was sure.
We walk to the back
and there are about 50 busses parked everywhere. It was crazy hot and we were
asking where was the bus? Running with all our backpacks here there and
everywhere. Mental note: get to the bus station well ahead next time. We hopped
onto the bus and it basically left 2 mins later. Phewf! We were on another
sleeper bus during the day so it was nice to be reclined and just chill out.
We got to Can Tho and
the heat just wouldn’t stop. We had rented a homestay so we were on the top
floor with great AC in a small little room. The toilet was one floor down and
the shower was one floor below that. I stayed in that night because it was just
too hot to go outside.
The next morning we awoke
very early before the sun rose so we could do a river cruise to the biggest floating
market in Vietnam. Our guide, Lyly and our boat driver were awesome. So
friendly and cute. The guide made us more bamboo bling bling while we floated
down the river to the most beautiful sun rise. Eventually, we made it to the floating
market which was pretty cool. We couldn’t really buy anything as they sell large
quantities to resellers (think Costco for fruits and veggies on the river). Then
we had a delicious Pho for breakfast right from the boat.
We cruised down the
river and saw mud skippers and then we went to a rice noodle making business.
We watched how the made big circular sheets of rice flour over a hot fire, then
transferred to a place to dry in the sun. Hard work, 7 days a well. Everyone
there was family.
We headed home for a
much needed shower. Later we went out for dinner. We basically hid upstairs in
our room in the AC for the afternoon.
The next day, we walked
out to get breakfast and look around before it got too hot. Then back to the
train station (with lots of time to spare) and back on a sleeper daytime bus to
Ho Chi Minh. All in all, I’m not sure going to Can Tho was really worth it in
the end. I liked the floating market but for the amount of time we were in a
bus and in the room in AC it seemed like maybe we should have skipped it.
Ho Chi Minh/Saigon
This time we had
rented an Airbnb that was a GREAT price on the 35th floor. I was in
heaven. Our own kitchen, really spacious, and our own WASHING MACHINE. We decided
we would wash everything we owned. It’s not so often you don’t have to pay to
wash your clothes so we took advantage of the machine and the days that we had
there (4 nights I believe) and started washing.
The next day Vivi and
I wanted to just chill. We’d been moving around so much we just needed a day
off in the AC. Luc, of course, needed to see more and do stuff, so he hopped on
a GRAB scooter and took off for the day. We did girly things like face masks
and watched a movie. It was so nice to just be.
That night my stomach
started hurting and I could tell it was the tell-tale sign that I wouldn’t be
able to go to the Cu Chi Tunnels with them the next day. That night I took all
the things I needed to take for my tummy but in the morning it just wasn’t
better so I stayed home again while they went to the tunnels. I really wanted
to see the tunnels but it wasn’t meant to be. They had a great time and I’m so
happy that Vivi got a chance to learn about them.
The next day we got on
yet another bus that would take us to Cambodia. This would be a two day bus
trip to get to Siem Reap.
Vietnam is a vast country with so many
beautiful and varying landscapes.
I’m thrilled that they take credit cards more
I had heard that the younger generation can
speak English and the older generation (because of the war) but the in between
generation can’t so much (unless they are involved with tourism) and I’d say
this is a pretty accurate generalization.
I learned that Vietnam has been claiming their independence
from many different countries for many many years. This impacts a culture I
would say when you’re fighting to be a country with its own unique culture. It
seems to me like Vietnam is a young country now defining itself.
This is the country where we bus, plane, train,
and boat the most in our trip.
It seems like a whirlwind of activity and by
the end of it, Vivi and I are absolutely spent. It’s a little too fast or too
much and I can notice how we all get a little more tense when we don’t get a
break from moving.