Oh hoy from Hoi An

Whenever in Vietnam there are some places that you should not miss. Hoi an is one of them, this UNESCO World heritage site is incredibly well preserved. The old city is absolutely charming, with it’s architecture and colourful lanterns above your head. Every little nook and corner is a perfect photo op. Hoi an feels very much like stepping back in time to the 1700th century trading port. If you’ve had enough of temple gazing and doing day tours, then this is exactly what you need. It’s different from anything I’ve ever seen, and I understand why everyone stops in this little ancient town. What is there to do? Well the obvious is to stroll around and take it all in. But Hoi an is great for getting some tailored clothing made. Here you will find some of the finest tailors, not only good quality but they work incredibly fast. Almost everyone coming here get’s at least one item custom fitted. Other fun things to do, enjoy some coffee in one of the adorable cafés, go for a boat ride or paint a paper mask. One day wasn’t nearly enough time, but because I only have 15 days here in Vietnam, and I was too late to extend my stay at the hotel. I will absolutely come back to get some tailored clothes, some time before the end of my trip. I’ve always wanted a pair of jeans that will fit perfectly without being too tight over the hips or too loose around the waist.

My hotel the corner riverside villa, was located 700meters from the Japanese bridge. There isn’t any hotels in the old town, so the closest you will find is around a 5 minute walk to town. You can either choose to walk or ride a bicycle. I chose to walk, I’m trying to walk 10 000 steps everyday and then I can listen to more music. Which is my favourite thing to do while I gaze upon things. Before entering the old town, you need to buy an entrance ticket that costs 120 000 VD. You can visit 5 places within the ancient town. I entered only one temple, which you can see in the pictures below, and the rest of the day I walked around and took pictures, painted a mask and got to know two Aussie brothers traveling Vietnam for 2 weeks.

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When I couldn’t extend my stay, because it was raining really hard I just booked a ticket to go to Hue. Which is where I am now. On the bus I met a girl, Isabella, who I will be traveling with to Hanoi tomorrow. That is the great thing about traveling, you meet all these cool people, and introductions don’t really happen until after you’ve been talking to this person for 6 hours, realising you don’t know their name. So Isabella’s dad sent her a picture of a news article saying that the tropical storm Sonca is gonna hit central Vietnam, which is where I am right now. I did check up on that, and it’s not that bad. Sonca is something in between a tropical depression and tropical storm according to wunderground.com. Anyways, tomorrow we are taking the night bus to Hanoi, together with a friend of hers, Joseph. Hopefully the weather will be better further up! Tonight I’m just gonna relax under the covers and watch Stranger things which I started watching today. I’m very intrigued. Have a beautiful night everyone.

Da nang and lazy beach days

Think lazy bikinis, tall palm trees giving of beautiful shade pattern, soft white sand under your toes, and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Over the rainbow playing in the background. To me that’s what Da Nang felt like. A piece of asian paradise I longed for, but didn’t get due to rain season in Cambodia. Da nang is a big city, and the closest airport to Hoi An, one of the World Unesco sites. My flight was delayed 5 hours, but it didn’t bother me too much. I had just discovered that you could now stream and play Netflix offline. I know, I should be out partying or something, but when you move around as much as I do, you need something to keep you sane. For me that is binge watching Netflix shows and staying in a private room a couple of nights every month. A girl needs her privacy. Plus I don’t drink anymore, so the party scene ain’t really my thing no more. Anyways, I arrived very late in Da Nang, and the first hostel I stopped at just weren’t doing it for me. Because I’m a female traveling solo I just like to take proper precautions, like not walking alone late at night with all my stuff. But this time I needed somewhere else to stay. A quick check on hostel world showed Travelers Nest hostel received a 9 point star, and was a short 5-10 minute walk. Yeah I could do that. As paranoid as I was, I remembered before I left Oslo my friend gave me a pepper spray which I carry with me, but have never actually taken out of my backpack. All that talk from my mom about how dangerous Asia could be was messing with my head. If I should ever need it, this would probably be a good time to take it out. So I did, just so I could feel a bit more safe. You can say I felt very silly, considering 3 different, very nice and friendly people stopped me to ask me if I was OK, and to let me know that the hostel I was headed towards, were right around the corner. It was like they could sense the uneasiness in my soul haha. A quick shower and change to my pyjamas, I face timed with a dear old friend, also named Christine.

Next morning I awoke rested and ready to hit the beach, I was not disappointed. Just take a look at the pictures below. And yes I’m traveling solo, so I had a full on photoshoot on the beach, using a tripod and self timer haha. I mean, it was too gorgeous not to. A little awkward to begin with, especially because the security guard kept staring at me, and my tripod wasn’t in the mood to cooperate. The beach was so beautiful, palm trees as far as the eye could see. Almost no people, white golden soft sand. The beach was so clean and the water felt amazing! A stop to Da Nang beach is a absolute must for any traveller who don’t want the hassle with taking a boat to an island. If you go early in the morning there will be almost zero people, all the locals don’t come out until after 4 o’clock. You will have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the calmness of the sea, before the crowd sets in.

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“Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly. And the dreams that you dreamed of. Dreams really do come true” – hummed a chilled out Christine under the palm tree.

A day through Ho Chi Minh city

When I first got to Vietnam I was sure I would hate it after the day I’d had, but I needed to give it a second shot. Therefore I decided to stay in HCM for 3 days. Not a surprise that this country is growing on me, from all the great stuff my fellow travellers have told me. HCM might not be my fav city, it’s too chaotic with crazy traffic that makes you feel like you are going to die every time you step out on the streets. Here they don’t just drive like crazy people, but they also drive on the sidewalks. Just be sure to keep your eyes up at all times so you don’t get run over by a scooter.

While having breakfast, I planned my day walk to see all the typical must-see-tourist-stuff. Midway through my breakfast, I remembered that I  forgot to charge my camera and gopro, and had to go back to my little capsule room to recharge. God forbid if I don’t document everything I do right. What happened to the good old days when you would leave your phone in the hotel room safe? I miss those days, and yes it’s all my own fault that I have this need to document everything I do. I have thought about it, to go completely off the grid for a year, quit this blog, get rid of my cameras and smartphone, just live out my adventure with only a diary as proof of my traveling days. But I’m far too fond of the visual memories, and one day when I’m old and someone’s grandma, I can proudly show my grandchildren pictures and videos off my traveling days as a 20-something-year-old, living out my best days on some beach in Fiji, to inspire them to go off on their own adventure when they’re old enough.

Here are some photos from a days stroll through Saigon. I followed the map that came with my lonely planet book, which covered almost all the places I wanted to see. First stop was Ben Tanh market.

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Benh Tanh market is much like any other market here in Asia, but with Vietnamese merchandise. Since I started traveling I don’t really have the need to go shopping anymore, less is truly more as more becomes too heavy to carry. The only thing I bought was a Vietnamese hat, the one you can see so many old ladies and street vendors wearing. It’s perfect for shade against the sun, and I honestly thinks it looks really cool. I paid 60 000 VD for mine, which is 21 kroner. Not bad for a badass hat!

IMG_5951P1050399Next stop was the fine arts museum. I love stopping by museums wherever I go, you get a much better understanding of the country’s history, and a better grasping of the culture of the people. When I look at art I become so inspired to start painting again, or draw something. It’s like my own personal muse. The museum buildings are worth a picture itself with this gorgeous architecture. It felt like a different time era.

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After the museum I walked a little more, to the people’s committee building, saw the municipal theatre, Caravelle hotel, central post office, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central mosque and a couple of other places I didn’t photograph. One thing is for sure, Ho Chi Minh is truly a beautiful city. I never expected Vietnam to be so well developed, and beautiful. And the food, oh mah gaad the food here is amazing. I should write a whole blog post about the delicious food, because you will have a foodgazm almost everytime you eat. I’m very glad I gave this city a second chance, I am not disappointed!

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Check in: Vietnam!

19 hours later and I finally made it to Vietnam. Man I am so tired, I boarded the bus thinking that it was a one way ride. The bus looked great, it was a sleeper bed, and that meant me having a bed all to myself. It was surprisingly comfortable, maybe I could travel this way all the time? It would save me one nights accommodation right? Yeah turns out my beauty sleep didn’t last very long. Around 1 am the bus stopped in Phnom Penh, everyone going to Ho Chi Minh had to get off. I thought this meant we had to change buses you know. 5 girls and 5 guys, we all stood waiting a bit confused as the bus drove off without us. Wait what? Oh no, I had read about this. People having to sleep in the ticket office, and with my luck this is what was happening. 10 minutes later a tuktuk came to pick us up to drive us to the ticket office. Guess where I slept last night? Yep, on the floor. With cockroaches running around me, with the doors wide open. At first I crashed in the chair but it was impossible to get any sleep, so I just sucked it up and went to sleep, on the floor. Sleep didn’t last very long, at 3.30 am another bus dropped off a whole bunch of Chinese tourists outside. They were so loud, with no regard of all the people trying to sleep. It was like a backyard party with music and everything. I don’t know how many of them you’ve ever met, but if you have you know exactly what I mean. I know Norwegians and every other country have their bad side, it’s just some take it to the extreme. I tried to ask them to quiet down, but they just stared at me, and one person tried to shoo me away like I was the one being crazy. You can’t judge a whole country based on some few, but I’m sure I’m not the only one getting frustrated. 20187021_1713333422027473_844048365_oThis was the sleeper bus we got kicked off of

20180403_1713336235360525_1866566866_o(As you can see I was pretty fed up, and tired after not having much sleep)

Eventually they got picked up by another bus, thus I managed to get 30 minutes of more sleep before our bus came to take us to Ho Chi Minh. When we got on the bus, a guy took our passports, this should be interesting. The bus ride was another 7 hours with border control. Somewhere between me sleeping on and off, there was a guy sitting across the other side who kept starring at me, so I stared back. Suddenly he gave me the look like I was tripping. Could this day get anymore weird? The border control went mostly smooth. The bus guy told us to get off, we walked 10 meters, and got back on. 10 minutes later we’re told to get off again, but this time immigration needs to scan all our bags. The moment we got our passports back, stamped and everything were such a relief! You never know if you all of a sudden get denied access. But it was all good! Another couple of hours and we arrived in Ho Chi Minh. I was so used to being surrounded by a bunch of tuktuk drivers getting off, but today there were none. No taxi drivers, no motorcycle drivers, no tuktuk drivers. No one. Huh? We all stood and just scratched our heads, trying to plot our next move. A short walk to the street, 10 minutes wait and we managed to get some taxis. Me and 4 british girls I met on the bus were gonna stay at the same hostel, Phoenix Hostel Saigon. It had a 9 star rating on hostel world. The 4 girls got in one taxi, and I got in one by myself. But my taxi driver didn’t speak one word english, and dropped me off at the wrong location. 5 minutes back and forth of discussing in hand movements, he insisted I was in the right place, and threw out my backpack so there I was. I had no idea were I was going, my phone had no more battery so I had no way of checking google maps. After the 19 hour journey I was so exhausted, and my backpack felt heavier than ever. I walked around for an hour, every hotel I asked charged 26 dollars a night. 26 dollars is just too expensive when you are living on a budget. Finally I sat down on some steps outside a hotel, exhausted, frustrated and I wanted to cry. I cursed this day, my bad luck and this country’s lack of english speaking people. After a good 5 minutes of feeling sorry for myself, enough was enough. Time to find somewhere, anywhere to sleep. I had rounded the whole block without any luck, and so I decided straight forward must be a good way. A lot of westerners were walking from that direction. A guy had seen me walking back and forth a couple of time, we made eye contact, “this is a really cool hostel, it has capsule beds, and it’s cheap” he said. SOLD! I walked in and asked for the price, 8 dollars for a capsule in a dorm. “I’ll take it”. The hotel I’m staying at is called Kaiteki hotel. It’s clean, you get slippers, a towel, privacy in your little capsule and a duvet. You can charge your phone, lock up your valuables, and do your makeup in peace.

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I grabbed a quick shower, and gave all my clothes except the one outfit I’m wearing, for laundry. All my clothes are dirty, after my Island stay there weren’t anywhere to wash as the rain were coming down hard every day. I’ve gone 4 days commando without underwear, it’s time to start putting some on. Yeah, sometimes traveling will make you want to rip out your hair in frustration and start crying. Just take a 5 minute break, breathe and calm down, then start working that brain of yours. There is always the same amount of good luck as bad luck in this world. Hadn’t the taxi dropped me off in the wrong area, I wouldn’t get to sleep in a capsule. And right around the corner, I had the best comfort meal I’ve had in a long time. Waffles with peanut butter, bananas, matcha icecream, and mint chocolate milk tea with some type of brown jelly thing all asians go crazy for. Maybe Vietnam isn’t that bad, I just need to give her a second chance.