Tag Archives: backpacking through south east asia

Let’s Go To Asia – Travel Video

27th September 2015

So as the astute among you may have noticed, we are already finished with our trip. We are in lovely Australia. I still have a few posts about our trip to come, but I recently finished editing this little video together and couldn’t wait to share it.

So here is just a few of the best parts of our trip:

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Hue – Come for the Citadel, Stay for the Food.

19th May 2015

citadel hue5 Hue – A city of history and pancakes

Hue is known for many things, being the old capital of Vietnam, having a UNESCO awarded Citadel, the perfume river and many more things but I was there for one reason and one reason alone. Food!

Hue is known around Vietnam as the food capital of the country. It is said that when Hue was the capital of Vietnam the emperor would bring all the best chefs to the city. Each chef was in charge of a different dish. There were typically 53 dishes per meal. Obviously this was long ago but all of these recipes and skills seemed to have hung around the city because everything we ate was divine.

hue pancake One dish in particular blew our socks off and had us returning again and again. Bau Khoai is a fried rice pancake filled with shrimp, pork and beansprouts. It’s served with what I could only work out to be really ripe avocado and the traditional pile of herbs that seems to a company all Vietnamese dishes. The best part though is the sauce…oh the sauce. A perfect tongue pleasing combination of satay and thin hoisin. I could drink gallons of it. You combine all of this in a bowl and consume. I’m drooling just typing this.

The restaurant is famous on trip adviser and in the Lonely Planet but we think we went in the fake next door rather than the real one. The real one is called Lac Thien. I can only image how good the real one is since this one blew us away.

When we weren’t filling our faces we were absorbing the history. The very expensive history. Getting into the citadel was much more than we’d read online and in the guide books, but it was worth it to see inside. We had read it would be 2 pound (or 55,000 dong) but instead it was close to double that at 120,000 dong. The sad thing about it is that so many wars and natural disasters have ruined the original buildings so pretty much everything you’re seeing is a restoration. It’s still great to see but such a shame that the real history is gone. We loved stumbling on an area when the restoring hadn’t begun and you could see fragments of the real citadel under the grass.

citadel hue3 hue girl 2 hue girl 3 hue girl original hue citedel It was a beautiful city but did suffer from a quick rise in tourism. We didn’t even dare walk by the lake since we were hassled as if we were on the beaches of Boracay. The people would be quite aggressive and rude. Which is a shame. I wish the government would step in and help change this because the city will be ruined beyond repair soon and not worth a visit. I think we would have bought more and definitely taken tuk tuks and boat rides if we hadn’t been chanced down the street at every turn.

citadel hue dragon boats hue fish fight garden hue hue sunset Hue is a good city, but it definitely could be a GREAT city if tourism was nurtured instead of attacked by putting high prices on things and hounding people. I realise that sounds like I didn’t enjoy my time here. I did but it’s sad to be able to see how fantastic this place could be. Saying all that, it’s worth coming for a few days for the food and a glimpse at the beautiful architecture. citadel hue2 citadel hue4 citadel hue signature

A Great Alternative to Halong Bay – Catba Island

17th May 2015

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A trip to Vietnam isn’t complete without a trip to one of the natural wonders of the world… Halong Bay.

We researched Halong bay until my internet told me I had an addiction. The problem seemed to be:

  1. It was really expensive
  2. It was full of tourists

It seemed that even if you paid a hell of a lot you’d still end up on a shit tour unable to see anything through the throngs of tourists. So we tracked down an alternative. We decided to go to Catba .

Catba is an island the other side of Halong bay. Its bay is called Lan Ha bay but is still officially Halong bay. It’s just the other quieter side.

17 20 It was two thirds of the price and seemed just as beautiful. We jumped at the chance to visit.

We dragged out two visiting Irish friends with us and landed in Catba to discover it was the quiet season. The VERY quiet season. This wasn’t a bad thing since it meant really cheap accommodation and whole bars to ourselves.

We spent our first night catching up over gin and juice, trying the mysterious laughing gas (which is just an odd few seconds) and laughing…a lot.

16 catba I really liked the sleepy town of Catba but like all of Vietnam it closes early here with all street lights going off at 10 and bars closing about 12 (although you can track down places that go till the wee hours).

The next day we hit the high seas and went on our boat trip. We did our trip through Asia outdoors and I’d recommend it to anyone. So cheap (at just 25 dollars) and really well organised.

We sailed past the floating fishing communities and saw the bay emerge around us. It was spectacular.

10 11 (2) We then had the opportunity to ride the seas ourselves and hoped in Kayaks. Seeing the mountains from so low down only added to their spender. Photos really don’t to this place justice.

After a delicious lunch and more kayaking we were ready to say goodbye to the bay feeling like we’d all earned the right to draw a big line through a bucket list item. I’d definitely recommend the Catba route.

3 6 19 That night we chatted lots more over beers. We reminisced about Korea, congratulated Ciaran on his fantastic travellers beard and exchanged travel stories (both the good and the disgusting). We weren’t sad to head back to Hanoi when it came to it but I loved every minute of our excursion to the bay.

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You’ve got a little something on your face Ciaran

hazel2 If you are interested in this trip then I definitely think you should grab a Hazel and Ciaran for the journey. If that’s not an option then just the bay will do.

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Our South East Asia Grand Tour – One Month Re-cap

22nd April 2015

I can’t believe that we’ve been traveling for a month. It feels like yesterday I was excitedly posting on Facebook that we had one month to go before we left Korea. Now we have seen 5 countries, 12 cities, 11 planes, 5 trains, an endless amount of buses and more delicious foods that you can shake my ever growing belly at.

So what have we been up to? I realise I have been trying to update you all slowly but here is a quick recap for those of you who, like me, are partial to the odd list.

 

8 Japan

Kyoto – One of the places I most wanted to visit when moving to Asia. It didn’t disappoint. Geisha sightings, delicious markets and bamboo forests made this place unforgettable.

kyoto2_5 Best part of the trip: Feeding the Japanese snow monkeys in Arashiyama monkey park

Best tasty treat : Our first try of Okonomiyaki

 

10 Nara –  An adorable small city where deers rule the roost and temples are abundant.

Best part of the trip : Getting up close and personal with the deers.

Best tasty treat:  Green tea ice cream

 

sorry...had to do it

sorry…had to do it

Osaka – A fast paced city full of bright lights and active locals.

Best part of the trip: Seeing the bright lights of Dottonbori

Worst part of the trip: Getting our plane turned around after we left Japan for an unexpected extra night in the city. Although not the worst city to get stuck in.

 

12 The Philippines

Manila – We only stopped off here for the airport but we did it 4 times so it feels silly not to include it.

Best part of the airport (apart from leaving it) :  WENDY’S!

11 Boracay – Absolutely stunning which makes it even more annoying that its been swamped by tauts and con men that run up and down every inch of this spectacular beach.

Best part of the trip: Discovering the quieter areas of the beaches for ‘downers’…or sunset cocktails.

Worst part : Hiding from the sun even though I love it so and getting pick pocketed by our waiter and his accomplice.

23 Bohol – Beautiful chocolate hills and lovely quiet villages.

Best part of the trip: Seeing the Tarsiers

Worst part: Lee getting horrible food poisoning/parasite that would stay with him for 10 days.

13 El Nido – Beautiful beaches, glorious sunsets and island hopping

Best part of the trip: Snorkling for the first time and being utterly lazy.

Worst part: I got hit by the evil food poisoning/parasite here that knocked me for 6.

15 China

Guagzhou – a bustling city on the up.

Best part : Seeing the Canton Tower and the great area surrounding it.

Best tasty treat: A tiramisu latte from the Hello Kitty cafe.

4 Guilin – A small town surrounded by the Chinese mountains.

Best part of the trip: Visiting the Longji rice terraces

15 Yangshuo – A small village hidden in the mountains with an almost Mediterranean feel.

Best part : The incredible mountains we saw on our river cruise.

Tastiest treat: Coconut and champagne ice cream from a street seller

Best bargain: A blue and white porcelain bracelet for £2

18 Hong Kong –

A bright, exciting mix of British culture ,Chinese food and tradition.

Best part: ALL OF IT, especially celebrating our 10 year anniversary here.

Worst part: our wallets are much lighter now

Tastiest treat: The legendary ‘Skirt Burger’ from The Diner

The Stats

Average spent on hotels per night: £4 per person

Average spent on food and drink: £15 per day but this was the expensive part of our trip with Japan and Hong Kong taking a large part of our money.

Average puppies hugged: 2 a day (it’s definitely puppy season in Asia)

Amount of local beers drank: faaar too many

Photos taken: it’s best to not think about it but I’m glad I bought my hard drive.

 

What’s up next? I hear you cry…well maybe you didn’t cry that but i’m going to tell you anyway. Our next month has a trip through Vietnam where we are spending 3 weeks exploring all it has to offer and then we are hoping over to Cambodia to see those famous temples and get our beach fix. Fingers crossed it will be as fun as the first month…just maybe a little cheaper.

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