– some stuff I want to write about…
I had landed in Hanoi. I didn’t know where my hostel was – call it a drawback of minimal planning, but it’s always more fun that way, isn’t it? Thus began my crazy journey in the land of Bia Hoi and I was excited to discover the social drinking scene of this famous cheap lager. While traveling I came across a message on a wall that translated to – “only when you are lost will you discover yourself”
Discovering new places intrigues me and every day I used to head out to scout the city and nearby places, either walking or on a xe om (riding pillion on a motorbike). My zest to experience the local culture and delicacies were satisfied when I went to meet a couch-surfer in Hanoi. It was comical how we were unable to understand each other on the phone but still managed to meet up and wander in the city.
Fellow travelers in my hostel dormitory were an interesting blend of diverse backgrounds – a photographer from US, a graduate from Croatia, a couple of teachers from Germany, an Australian chef and few others. Just when I was about to gloat that I am travelling solitary, the bloke from US says “it’s been 8 months since I started my solo travel, I think I can go on for a couple more”. I could only nod with a smile as realized that there will always be someone who has stretched that boundary a little further. A couple of nights we sat drinking Bia Hoi at the street bars while sitting on low stools and chatting with locals. Experiences like these along with haggling at the night market, motorbike riding in the traffic and the city strolls left me craving for more.
Over the next couple of days I visited other places in Vietnam like Halong Bay and SaPa. The world heritage site – Halong Bay, was breathtakingly beautiful and SaPa literally took my breath away thanks to the treks. An overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai was followed by a shared van to SaPa (where I was ripped off by the driver). Cat cat village, Hamrong mountain and Silver waterfalls were covered but the main trek of the Fansipan mountains was not meant to be due to time constraints.
The climate was good the treks were even better but the best part of it all was the feeling within. Even after returning home from Vietnam, my mind kept going back to the wonderful people I met and how much I enjoyed all the interactions I had with strangers from different countries. I can’t wait to save up for my next trip and go backpacking again – New places, more strangers turning into friends and new adventures!