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.
Where are we now?
In Hanoi, wishing for Autumn to push out the sweaty weather that’s sticking around through September and into October.
Where have we been?
September begun and ended with adventures in Northern Vietnam, with a couple of fun Hanoi weekends in between.
What have we been doing?
We said hello to September and congratulations to Vietnam with a road trip for Independence weekend, hitting up Son Tinh, Thung Nai, Mai Chau and Pu Luong.
Then it was my birthday week in Hanoi with friends and dinners and parties 🙂
Oli took a big road trip with a bunch of friends, working a little as he went and fully enjoying the freedom of the road and the beauty of Northern Vietnam. I’m hoping a video will be coming soon… I joined him for a weekend in Sapa and we met the most wonderful family there.
Then to top off a wonderful month, it was our 6 year anniversary which we celebrated in more style than we knew Hanoi had!
Wow, has it been an adventure.
It was also my first trip driving my own bike! Apart from our quick day trip to Chua Tram, I’ve always ridden on the back of Oli’s Sym Bonus. While I love being a passenger, now that I have my own bike that actually runs I wanted to hit the road myself. It was so much fun! And I couldn’t believe how easily my little Honda Dream kept up with the boys.
My birthday, and many days after, were made so special by all the lovely people in Hanoi. In the day, I fit in breakfast with Oli by the lake, a hilarious Korean fusion meal with him and my coworker at lunch and mid-afternoon office birthday cake, all around getting work done.
Then in the evening our lovely friends got together at our favourite dinner spot, Oli surprised me with a local dessert for another ‘birthday cake’, we had local craft beers at a new bar in town and finished up the night at Bia Hoi were I was gifted a glass of red wine, a third birthday cake and the biggest bunch of flowers I’ve ever seen!
That weekend we partied in Hanoi and soothed our hangovers at our friend’s house with an extravagant home-cooked meal. Vietnamese hospitality knows no bounds.
Oli’s favourite stretches of road on his Northern Adventure were between Moc Chau and Son La and the road to Lao Cai, but every moment on the road was amazing.
One of the best parts about finally making it up to Sapa (I had wanted to go on that very first trip in 2010) was discovering just how great the trains are! I left on Friday evening, stayed in Sapa Saturday night and headed back on Sunday night for work Monday morning. It was comfortable, so easy and I slept like a baby. We’ll definitely do it again for a weekend in the mountains.
We’ll also be back to visit the wonderful family we stayed with. Oli’s been working with the hostel See You at Lily’s and their partner travel agency and they put us in touch with Ms. Mao in Te Van. We haven’t had one bad experience with homestays yet in Vietnam but Mao and her family went above and beyond to make us, and everyone else staying in her home, so welcome and happy. She is such a special lady.
The Sapa area itself was absolutely beautiful, especially at the tail-end of harvest season and still felt really natural despite the incredible amount of development occurring in and around the growing town.
On Sunday we headed onto the beautiful mountain roads East of Lao Cai in search of the Bac Ha Sunday market.
Despite getting your birthday off as a company perk, I had to work this year due to my coworkers being away. It wasn’t such a bad day but I would have loved to spend it lying in and going to the spa.
Even after 6 years we still really miss each other when we are apart. And missing out on that road trip was kind of sad too!
Oli’s had motorbike issues that begun at the tail-end of his road trip and continue to haunt him into October. In a way, it seems a reality of life in Vietnam but riding 30km without lights and only 2 iPhone torches to see by was really intense!
Top Instagram of the month
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.
The Scorch Trials
The Death Cure
We’ll be spending October in Hanoi with a visa run/ work trip to Bangkok thrown in at the end of the month.
x JOli x