Remote Year: Vietnam

Places visited: Ho Chi Minh City (my base), Mekong Delta, Hanoi, Hoi An, Sapa

Apartment: Saigon Mansion

Duration: All of March

Temperature: 30-37° Celsius

First impressions: LOVED IT. Went to Bar Street / Crazy Street / Backpacker Street whatever you want to call it on the first night and it was insane. The footpaths were overcrowded with people perched on tiny seats all facing the street as if some circus was about to march down the middle of it. Crazy lights like an Asian ‘Vegas. Motos racing past. Music blaring from every direction. 1000’s of tangled power lines and bars selling balloons of nitrous oxide to party goers for a quick high. It was chaotic and colourful and amazing.

Best:

  • Uber Moto. This is Uber on a scooter. Quick, reliable, so much fun and FREEING. I felt safer on one of these things than in a car and far more relaxed. I’d catch about three a day just to get my fix.
  • L’Usine french cafe became almost a daily staple while in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Hoi An was one of the most beautiful towns I have ever visited and this caught me by huge surprise. The hub of cheap tailor made clothes, go there even if you don’t intend to shop because the beauty of the town will blow you away. Take a canoe down the river at sunset and watch all the candle lanterns being set into the water.
  • Sapa Valley is a must-do also but hopefully you’ll have better luck with the weather than we did because trekking 22km up hill in torrential rain and thunderstorms and slipping into mud every five seconds was not much fun.
  • Vietnammm food delivery service was also a major highlight. Bottle of wine and cheese platter delivered to your door for less than $15? Yes please.
  • Hanoi Sunrise Markets near Long Bien Bridge. Only open between 4-7am. This is the real hustle and bustle of local life. Highly recommend.
  • My best collective street photography to date was in Vietnam. A street photographer’s paradise.

Worst:

  • They eat dogs 🙁 it’s not so much the fact that they eat dogs (well it kind of is because dogs are SO loyal and loving to humans) but it is more the inhumane way they keep and then kill the dogs. It’s too graphic and painful to mention here but take my word for it. Lucky this isn’t practised everywhere and you don’t really stumble across it thank god so I was able to avoid being confronted by it in any way the whole time I was there.
  • I was served a fermented duck embryo feathers and all though (there was no way I was going to eat that) and that made me supremely sick and sad. Luckily I had read about these years back in the newspaper so my shock was lessened than it was the first time I had heard about it.
  • Nothing to do with Vietnam but my roomie and favourite person on Remote Year left unexpectedly a few days after arriving in Vietnam which made for a sad good bye.

Overall impressions: Absolutely loved it. By far my favourite out of Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia. The culture shock easily made it way better than Malaysia (I’m a culture shock junkie) but I still haven’t figured out why Cambodia isn’t quite living up to the mark of it. Either way, go to Vietnam. And be sure to visit Halong Bay too, I didn’t get the chance but I’ve heard it’s paradise.

 

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