North-Vietnam

For the last 10 days I’ve been running into people that I met everywhere. If it wasn’t a couple I talked to in a bar two hours before, it was my buddy from Las Vegas whom I met on my last day on Koh Tao three months ago! But the best reunion was definitely with digital nomad and university colleague Wouter.
This part of my trip was a bit more laid back then before. Lots of 1-day “relationships” and reading books .
This felt really good after the rollercoaster of couchsurfing, celebrating Christmas and teaching kung fu to kids!

Hoi An – NYE

Again, rain rain rain
Hoi An is lovely place! The city is famous for its beaches, old town and cheap tailor-made suits.
But it was kind of chilly and it rained during my whole stay. No tanning at the beach or yoga on paddleboards. In my lovely Jolie hostel, I had the pleasure of meeting Kratae from Thailand. A hostel with a really friendly staff!
By offering to pay for her coffee, which she declined, I learned an interesting detail about Thailand: 

Kreng Jai
Kreng Jai manifests itself as a general desire not to disrupt the happiness of others, even at the expense of efficiency, honesty, or one’s own interests. When guidebooks describe Thai people as being “accommodating”, they are (perhaps unconsciously) describing the effects of Kreng Jai.
Read more about Kreng Jai

In Hoi An, I did my first Vietnamese cooking class:
– Bhan Xeo (Vietnamese Pancake)
– Fresh springrolls
– Pho (rice noodle soup)
– Papaya Salad
– Spicy sauce
I will dedicate another post to Vietnamese food and how to make it.

Hue

Same same as Hoi An, but different. At least I didn’t had to adapt my clothing style from Hoi An. Raincoat, poncho, shorts and flipflops (or thongs for my Australian friends). No point wearing normal shoes or they would get soaked completely.
Apparently my babyface inclines that I’m a regular drug user. Most of the conversations with people in the street went like:

Motorbike *shouting: “Happy new year!”
Me: “Happy new year!”
*still shouting “Where are you from?”
“Belgium”
* “Where are you going? Old pagoda? Old city?”
“No, bro, I was already there”
“Ok… *really quiet: You want marihuana?”

I think I must have had this conversation for over 12 times in the 48 hours I was in Hue.
As the discussion above already pointed out, Hue is famous for it’s old pagoda and Forbidden City.
The forbidden city is similar to the one in Beijing. The rain and grey clouds gave an interesting atmosphere to the place.
The dorm I staid in, had a really interesting but unappealing interior and the mattresses were as soft as the shell of a turtle. But we were only two persons in the dorm, so no packing people at 6am or snoring snorlaxes in the middle of the night. My dormbuddy was the second Belgian traveler I met since I left home. Marie from Liège gave me a good opportunity to practice my French.


Hanoi

No rain this time, but the mercury rised until 27ºC and the air had a nice layer of disgusting smog. Hanoi has a similar air quality as Beijing. You feel your lungs dying with every breath you take. Ok, I’m exaggerating.
My home in Hanoi was GA-Hostel, a small hostel with the best staff ever. Yes Mymy and Phoebe, you’re the best! In the hostel I also met Scott, American guy with lots of creative ideas and SEO-skills. After my reunion with Wouter and a chat with Scott, I was definitely convinced to try freelancing and working from distance as a motion graphics designer.
I managed to finish my showreel which I gladly share with you:

Except from talking business and projects, I also explored Hanoi!
Hanoi is famous for it’s old town, where you can have beers in the street for €0,22.
It’s also the rest place of Ho Chi Minh. These places I visited with my Thai friend from Hoi AnKratae.

Sapa

A famous place to visit from Hanoi is the picturesque Sapa. Sapa is about 6 hours by bus from Hanoi and is located in the mountains. I arrived in this small city at 6am in the morning. From here I decided to go with Sai, a 20 year old local Monk girl who had a homestay. It took us about 5 hours of hiking to get to her place. I did not expect to do ice skating in Vietnam: the ground was as slippery as ice! Except from mud, we were also granted an amazing scenery and on the next day there was even sun! My first sunburn in a long time!

Cat Ba

I’m not leaving Vietnam without visiting the famous Ha Long Bay. So for my last days in Vietnam I went to the island called Cat Ba, close to Ha Long Bay. When you google Ha Long Bay, you’ll find these amazing paradise pictures. There is also the possibility to do rock climbing, diving, snorkling and relax on the beach.
I was already used to rain in Vietnam, so the raingods decided to give us some more rain. Kayaking in raincoats as a result!
Also rock climbing was canceled due to cold weather.


So many reasons to come back again to this amazing country!

As for now, I just arrived in Cambodia in Angkor Borei to start my career as a volunteering English teacher!

 

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Mats a lots for such a great post 🙂

    And thanks for mentioning our names as well. We did have really good time at GA hostel 😉

    But, about Vietnamese pancake you tried in Hoian, it must be ‘bánh xèo’, not ‘bhan xeo’ heheee.

    Phoebe who is much better than Mymy lol.

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