Welcome to our monthly series of the Journey Update where we keep you clued up on where we are, what we are up to and the highs and lows of the month. You can find all our other updates here.
This will actually be the last Journey Update on the blog as I want to share all this personal stuff in a monthly email newsletter! I’ve been doing the journey update for a whole year now and I really love it but feel like it may be distracting from my other blog posts.
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Where are we now?
In Hanoi, enjoying the chilly weather of November. We actually just got back from Quest Festival which is the main reason this update is a little late again!
Where have we been?
We took plenty of adventures this month! We found new spots in Long Bien and Xuan Son National Park, revisited old favourite Ninh Binh and made it out the country to Bangkok.
What have we been doing?
My hometown bestie, Amelia came to Vietnam with her boyfriend and two friends for the first half of the month which was amazing. They had something we love in all guests- enthusiasm and an insatiable desire for delicious food!
It was also the month leading up to South East Asia’s biggest music festival and after making the website back in August, Jay and Oli have been working super hard to nail down the programs, maps and other small details in time for the big event.
Finally we took an unplanned adventure one weekend and then hit up Bangkok for a work/visa run.
When searching for unique things to do in Hanoi for our anniversary this year I stumbled across this incredible treehouse just over the bridge in Long Bien. It was hands down one of the coolest places we’ve ever stayed and I can’t wait to tell you more about it soon!
Having Amelia here was very special. We so wanted to plan a trip while I was living in Korea but it never worked out for one reason or another. It is so important to us to be able to show our loved ones our lives out here. I feel like it makes me feel better connected despite living so far apart. The fact that her, her boyfriend and their friends loved Vietnam and the trips we planned completely re-established why we love it here too.
Our stay at Ninh Binh Valley Homestay, just like our first two trips, was absolutely perfect. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of returning.
After a weekend in Hanoi saying goodbye to our friends, we had to get out of the city again. With no real plans we headed out past Ba Vi and found ourselves in the neighbouring national park of Xuan Son. I cannot believe this place escaped our knowledge for so long. It was beautiful!
We also found an epic camping spot by a lake and were invited for dinner with the family who owned the nearby floating home and fish farm, making it one of the best surprise travel days we’ve had in a long time.
Then, before we knew it, it was time for Oli to take his visa run. We’d decided on Bangkok so that I could fit it around work. I got to work in the Bangkok office Friday and Monday, went on a food tour with Buffalo Tours Thursday night and met a lot of cool people from the company. It felt really amazing to be doing all that and not even have to take a day off.
We also ate everything we could get our hands on and saw one of the most epic sunsets I’ve ever seen from a rooftop bar.
Speaking of work, which is still such a huge part of our lives here, my new team member started this month and Oli took on even more cool projects! You can check out all that I’ve been working on here and Oli will be updating his projects on the site soon.
Sadly, I got quite a bit of hosting panic this month. I worried far too much about planning every detail and it got in the way of just relaxing and enjoying their company. With plenty more visits planned while we are here, it’s something I definitely have to work on.
Our bike issues continued this month and it meant missing out on going to Cat Ba like we had planned. The Dream just isn’t cut out for long stretches of fast highway but did do pretty well on the mountain roads of Xuan Son. To date, the big bike is still broken.
Bangkok was hard in a few unexpected ways. First off were the ATM charges. £5 for an ATM fee?! I have never, ever come across that it my life and annoyingly we didn’t realise the exchange rate on our first couple of withdrawals which made it so much worse.
We had plenty of transport mishaps too. This isn’t uncommon in a big city but did hurt our ‘travel expert’ egos. As did the price of beer… In general we felt like we spent a lot more than we had bargained for and didn’t get all that much for our money.
It also smelled really bad which now that I’m writing all these things down seems so trivial. It seems that cheap and super chill Hanoi has made us forget what city life is really like.
Top Instagram of the month
Our camping spot in the woods looked down over this beautiful little lake. When we went to take a swim at sunset, the family of fish farmers in his houseboat invited us for dinner ???? #randomactsofkindness #vietnamesehospitality #xuansonnationalpark #travelvietnam #biketrip #camping #weekendadventures
2016 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, Month 7
This year I’m trying out the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read 41 books, from a series of uniquely different topics, in one year. In this monthly journey update, I will let you know which books I read that month and what categories they filled. I’ll also give handy Amazon Kindle links so you can get them yourself.
Water for Elephants
The Kill Order
Next month’s Journey Update will be coming via newsletter, so make sure to sign up if you want to hear all about the craziness of quest and where we found ourselves in Northern Vietnam…
x JOli x