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Vietnam

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

Saigon:

We left Cambodia on the morning of the 5th and caught a coach to Ho Chi Minh that took around 7 hours. One of the fellas on the coach collected all passports on commencement of the journey, which we thought was a little odd but we went with it. As it turned out what followed was a bizarre situation waiting at the boarder crossing without a clue what to do and everyone on the bus walking one way and then another and then finally into the boarder 'warehouse' and eventually getting called through one by one and finally our passports were back in our possession. Luckily we had done our research beforehand and read that this is common practice, so we were a little less worried than other passengers on the coach. As we drove over the boarder into Vietnam the landscape began to change with blossoming trees lining the road and we welcomed a sigh of relief. Once again when the coach pulled up to park we got off and navigated our own way to the hostel, which turned out to be fairly close by. After checking in and chucking our rucksacks in the room we headed out down the main backpackers street for delicious food and then back out in the evening for beers as we watched the scores of tourist bumble up and down the bustling street.

In the morning we had a home cooked breakfast at the hostel before catching a taxi to the airport hotel we previously stayed at to collect our larger bags. After that chore was done we wandered around the streets of Saigon taking in the sights and stopped by Cong Caphe for scrumptious Vietnamese coffee. Then onto the delights of Ben Thanh market to shop for souvenirs with feisty sellers grabbing your arms and not letting go! Then onwards again to the Ho Chi Minh post office, an old French colonial building that was architecturally stunning. In the evening we visited the Five Oysters restaurant down the backpackers street for Phở and a couple of beers.

This is what Cambodia was lacking for us almost, the ease of walking and wandering without a plan and feeling completely safe. The following morning was a fairly relaxed one and after wandering for a while we caught a taxi (that cost £2!) over to the War museum. Incidentally it did not open for another 30 minutes so we had a drink across the road and watched as people arrived to the same fate. We spent a good couple of hours in the War museum, learning and educating ourselves.
Again afterwards we wandered, out and down to the river where we sat and watched the crazy Saigon scooter traffic rushing past. On the way back we stopped at Hum vegetarian restaurant where again we had absolutely delicious food before heading back to the backpackers street, where we just couldn't resist another cup of Vietnamese coffee!

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Phu Quoc:

Arising fairly early we checked out, hailed a taxi to the airport and caught our plane to Phu Quoc. What a dream Phu Quoc was, checking into our Hotel we felt in utter luxury. As in the Philippines, all days merged into one. We spent our days lounging around the pool, ordering cocktails at 12 noon on the dot, eating in the restaurant and generally feeling spoilt. Perhaps I'm over exaggerating it, however compared to the accommodation we had recently stayed in and the fact that we were non stop tourist's for a while meant that it was pure heaven and we relaxed like there was no-one watching. We even ordered room service, sat in our pyjamas, that was brought right to our laps! Perfect! One day we left the hotel, borrowed the hotel bicycles and rode over to the beach, although very nice we decided that this would be our only pool time so headed back to the hotel to read and chill the hell out. The hotel offered breakfast included in the rate, and it was one of the best breakfast's we've had with all sorts on offer, a highlight being freshly made pancakes and pomegranates in abundance! It was a perfect break from our travels!

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Hanoi:

On Monday the 14th we sadly checked out of paradise and flew up to Hanoi. We both took a cold with us, so upon checking in to our Hotel located in Hanoi's old quarter, we had dinner across the road and headed for bed. Exciting.
In the morning we were greeted with yet another lavish breakfast set up offered by the hotel before heading out to peruse the streets of Hanoi and over to the market. Navigating your way through Hanoi traffic really is a skill, with scooters driving and hooting in every direction. You really have to commit to crossing the road, or you will die. We took a leisurely walk down the nearby lake and ended up at - you guessed it - Cong Caphe! In the evening we found a vegan restaurant called Jalus, that was closely matched to the affectionate nickname we give to Jason and Alice (Jalice) as it turned out we often returned to this restaurant as the food was something else! Soy milk, coco infused, leather free 'energy booster' - be rude not to. After we walked over to Bia Hoi (Beer corner) and found a bustling street filled with food vendors, bars and badly dressed Europeans and settled down drinking 45p beer and people watched the night away.

The next morning I awoke to a day of hell. From the moment I opened my eyes I did not stop sneezing, apart from a 30 minute break in the evening to eat dinner, I literally sneezed ALL DAMN DAY! Even through breakfast. We got a taxi to Hanoi towers and went to the prison museum, however Jack will have to tell you what it was like as I was too busy sneezing. People actually avoided me. In the evening we went back over to Jalus (cannot express how good the food was!) and headed back to the hotel to pack our rucksacks for Sapa. Still sneezing.

Sapa:

Feeling like absolute crap, we got up and waited outside our hotel at 6:30am for our 'Limousine' to collect us. We were not disappointed - the mini bus turned up with blacked out windows and we were ushered onto the back seat, luckily we were the last to be picked up so the three seats at the back were all ours. (The mini bus only had a further four seats) We were given a little 'snack pack' of water, banana and a muffin to our delight and the mini bus also had usb charges in every seat and WIFI!!!! I stretched out and slept the whole way to Sapa town, where we were deposited for an hour wait to catch another bus onto our home stay in Nam Cam Village. Walking through Sapa town we stopped at a restaurant for Jack to eat lunch whilst I drank ginger tea and nursed my teeth that felt as if they were about to fall out (sinus pain). Upon the arrival of our next mini bus also came Chung, our guide. A lovely, chatty Vietnamese man that called me 'the wife'. It was a short but nail biting drive up to Nam Cang village over severe drops!!! At one point I even hoped to just fall off the edge, to get it out of the way you know?! The anticipation was torture and of course, there were no road barriers - if you careered off the road you were done.
Once at the village we walked through and over a rope bridge to the family owned lodge. We saw that the family offered the traditional herbal bath and booked ourselves in for an hours time, as this was the approximate time it takes to prepare the bath. Herbs were boiled over a wood fire for the hour then transported into large wooden baths. We soaked in the bath for about 45 minutes overlooking the river below. Any longer can be dangerous as the herbs can make you feel drunk! However it completely sorted out my sinus' and I began to feel human once again. Afterwards we had a home cooked dinner, bringing out plate after plate of delicious food that was more than we could muster and headed for bed in one of the best night's sleeps we've had.

Up at the crack of eight for a home cooked breakfast then out into the village with Chung. You are only allowed into the village if you have a guide that has a permit. The views were spectacular, rice paddies and hills that seemed to go on forever with a mountain backdrop left us speechless. We met the local tribes people that were extremely welcoming and friendly. Chung met and greeted everyone that passed and took us inside one of the local's houses, it was an odd experience as the elderly gentlemen was just waking up and Chung pulled up two chairs for us to sit on whilst he chatted with the gentleman in Vietnamese and gave him a bag of sweets for the grandchildren (although we had previously read that sweets should not be given due to the lack of dentists and how expensive it can be) although he seemed pleased. We could see pictures of the gentleman hung on the wall from the war and we chatted (through Chung) about the practical layout of the house and what each section was used for. It was incredibly interesting. We had lunch back at the lodge and I went for a much needed nap whilst Jack went back out with Chung around the village. They walked into the hills and had to abruptly stop several times to check something wasn't an asian cobra (luckily didn't see any but think we heard one make a warning sound as we walked past). And once again time was spent in the local's homes where Jack met a 96 year old lady who didn't take too friendly to him, although it was all good fun.

At 3pm we walked the short distance through the village to the mini bus which then took us to Topas Eco Lodge. Again, driving along the mountain path was excruciatingly scary but we made it! We checked in, pre ordered dinner from the a la carte menu and located our hut overlooking the mountains. Absolutely incredible views. We went back to the main lodge at 7:30pm for a fancy dinner and back to the hut to enjoy the luxury.

We enjoyed another free breakfast, showered, packed and checked out. We had a little wait before the mini bus back to Hanoi so we had a walk along the buffalo trail and had a beer/ginger tea in the bar before jumping on the bus. On the way back there was only four of us so we enjoyed the spacious captain seats for the 5 hour ride back. We were dropped back at the Little Hanoi Diamond hotel where we collected our large bags once again and walked over to our next hotel to check in.

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Hanoi part 2:

The next day back in Hanoi was a chilled one visiting Cong Caphe and planned some more itinerary. We had pizza in the evening as a 'safe' option before our trip the following day, however it left Jack feeling sick and I was actually sick bleugh!

Ha Long Bay:

Another early morning for our coach to pick us up to take us to Ha Long Bay. It took around 3 & 1/2 hours and we were entertained along the way by our tour guide 'Qui'. Once on the boat lunch was waiting for us and we settled in and chatted to the other passengers whilst we ate. Afterwards we got onto a smaller boat that took us to the 'amazing, surprising cave' for a tour around then back on to the main boat for chill time then ferried back onto the smaller boat for a tour around the oyster farm. We were quite surprised at how pearls are made - a membrane is taken from one oyster, sterilised, cut into small pieces and then inserted into the ovary of another oyster. Pretty severe. Back onto the main boat to freshen up before dinner then spent the evening drinking, chatting and squid fishing. Although the bay was mainly populated with jelly fish and floating rubbish, we had fun all the same.

After a comfortable sleep in our cabin it was a 7am start for breakfast on the boat before boarding a bamboo boat to take us around a small fishing village. Back again on the main boat we had a short cooking class and learned how to make spring rolls (Jack even partook in a spring roll race!) On the way back lunch was served and then we got off the boat and back onto the coach to take us back to Hanoi.

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Hanoi part 3:

On our last full day in Vietnam we decided to head over to the Ethnicity Museum for a final history lesson. After we did a spot of souvenir shopping and in the evening went back to Bia Hoi for cheap beer and people watching.

Overall our experience in Vietnam was a good one - we would highly recommend visiting and would definitely say it is the country that had the most culture and history, with plenty to do and an abundance of sight seeing. A big thumbs up!

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Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 12:48 Archived in Vietnam Tagged buildings boats beach vietnam travelling travelling_honeymoon Comments (1)

Philippines

Boracay

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

First things first... there is only one reason to go to Manila and that is to fly out of it again. Perhaps that sounds a little harsh. But it's true.

The flight from Hong Kong was a good one and arriving into Manila we had a two hour wait in the queue for a taxi (which turned out to be a 10 minute drive!) and thus, set a precedent for our general travel experience in the Philippines. We checked into our hotel for the evening and wandered down the street to a nearby 7/11 for supplies. It is hard to describe the general vibe of the area - imagine being in a down trodden, over-populated, smelly, underbelly of a red light district. Well that's what Manila's streets felt like. We sought refuge back in the hotel and ordered a take-away pizza before the following morning's early rise to get back to the airport and fly out of this overbearing city.

So off to Boracay we went, glad to be out of Manila and looking forward to paradise... it was one hell of a travel day, taxi to the airport, flight to Kalibo, coach to the boat, boat to the Island, mini bus to the air bnb. We roughly set off at 8am (although our flight was delayed in true Manila style - voted one of the worlds worst airports. We know why) and arrived at around 8pm that evening.

What followed has merged into one and much to your joy we did not keep a record of day-to-day activities, because quite frankly, there wasn't much. What we had not realised is that due to it being the Chinese New Year holidays and that the Philippines is fairly close to China there would be A LOT of Chinese tourists. A LOT. So the paradise island was not at all what we expected, but i will get back to that.

Our first accommodation on the island was a room in an air bnb house. The house was a little disappointing, an unusable, tiny outside kitchen area, a freezing cold shower, the bins rarely got changed the sheets certainly didn't. Stuff like that. Although the cat had the tiniest kittens which was a highlight of staying there. Tiny animals are cute. We met a couple of people while staying there that we saw on-and-off around the island.

We tried a few of the beaches on the island until we found one that was right for us. Station 3 beach was quieter but the sea was full of algae. Station 2 beach we avoided, it was crammed full of people and we constantly got bombarded with touts selling selfie sticks and dry bag pouches. Puka beach was lovely, although is was a 30 minute side-car ride away and the day we went was incredibly windy, the sea was too violent to enter and the wind kicked up the sand so hard it was like little needles all over your skin. Station 1 beach - we found it! Station 3 leads into station 2 that then leads into station 1, but it was about a 15 - 20 minute walk down the beach to find the right spot, nice and quiet, hardly any algae and only the odd tout walking past.
It was utter and complete paradise, talcum powder sand and the clearest sea water we'd ever seen. We spent most of our days here, sunbathing, reading, playing bat and ball (We got pretty good at bat and ball) and just generally relaxing to the max. In the evenings we often frequented the 'Local Bar' - a little reggae bar off the beaten track down a side street, where every evening there would be live music and the beer cost £0.70 per bottle.

One day we tried another beach called 'Diniwid' that was a short walk from our usual spot, just around the headland. It was a small and quiet beach that led to Spider restaurant that had a nice lookout point, although very popular with tourists that they like to pack in like sheep. We also had a look at the kite surfing beach 'bulabog' at the opposite side of the island, although we didn't dare to go into the sea at this side, as this is what is know to us back home as 'sewage treatment' enough said. On the way back from bulabog beach we took a wrong turn and ended up in the back and beyond walking through slums where children were playing on rubbish heaps and three men were wet shaving a goat.

For our second accommodation we moved literally 50 steps away into MNL hostel, where we had our very own hot shower and they put on specific nights where we got to chat to other travellers and share our thoughts on the Philippines. The hostel was also even closer to one of the restaurants we went to called 'Los Indios Bravos' where the staff knew us by name and served a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

On one of our last days in the Philippines we decided to get off our arses and do an Island hopping trip. We went snorkelling, cliff jumping (well Jack did) off 8 meter high ledges and got a free buffet lunch.

The Philippines is undeniably beautiful, scenic and for those that stay in a five star resort, a complete paradise. Although like the experience of bulabog beach, behind the scenes was chaotic, stuffy and extremely dirty. After moving around so much in the lead up to the Philippines, we had wanted to stay in one place for two weeks and chose Boracay for it's reviews and world renowned beaches. However we should have read on, as nothing prepared us for how busy it was and how much money was pumped into the tourism and not into the island's preservation or conservation. We found that the island was greatly lacking in culture and had we more time, would have explored other areas of the Philippines that had not been (for lack of sounding pretentious) inhabited and exploited by the common tourist. Don't get me wrong though, after a few days of feeling like we would never step foot back in the Philippines, we started to get into the swing of life there and thoroughly enjoyed our time together on the island. We left feeling completely relaxed, well until we got back into Manila...

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Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 22:25 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises boats sunset beach island palm_trees travelling boracay travelling_honeymoon philippenes Comments (0)

Thailand - Kho Tao

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

As we approached the island of Kho Tao we began to feel a sense of familiarity, the cascading landscape brought back memories of two years ago, when we visited the island whilst holidaying.

Stepping off the Lomprayah ferry at dusk, we scrambled to locate our bags by the side of the pier and headed down with the throngs of travellers to the pier edge, where a gaggle of taxi drivers were vying for attention. There was a bored looking man stood to one side presenting a sign that said “Jack and friend” – I have been demoted in under seven months of marriage by a taxi man. Our hotel – Palm Leaf – sent the taxi to collect us and bring us safely to them. The room we had selected was unavailable on the first evening (we already knew this on booking) therefore we opted for the superior villa for the night. Oh it was luxury – clean bathroom, nearly hot shower, king size bed and…a TV! I suppose we are allowed to relish in a bit of luxury seeing as it is our honeymoon. The room had a certain magic about it, akin to sleeping in your parent’s bedroom when they are away, it’s not a secret but it’s so much better than your room! It was definitely a stark contrast to the room we had on the last evening in Khao Sok, with ants parading around the floor and a dripping sink (I’m not precious, but a constant dripping does begin to ebb away at the soul)
After being shown into the room and jumping on the bed like children as soon as the woman left, we headed down the familiar route along the beach to get dinner. A well-deserved pizza and onion rings washed down with a couple of bottles of Chang. So tiring was the day of travel that we went straight back to our luxury, we showered away the stale smell of sweat and climbed into our clean, comfy bed to watch Jim Carey in 'The Number 23' on TV. How very cultured of us.

The following morning we were up early (9:45am) to move into a standard bungalow for the next four nights, much to the delight of our budget. From here on in the days merged into one – they went something like this; breakfast, sunbathe, swim in the sea, sunbathe, lunch, sunbathe, swim in the sea, sunbathe, play bat and ball, swim in the sea, sunbathe, beer. One day it rained, but I couldn't tell you which.

Jack had his hair cut! When he showed the lady a picture of Jurgen Klopp and she eschewed him with a firm hand, we were a little worried. Especially as she got the shaver out first off then finished with the cut throat razor. Scissors featured for around 20% of the cut. Nevertheless it is the best haircut he’s ever had (in my opinion), and a bargain at £4.

On the last evening and because we’d had such a hectic week (!) we decided to treat ourselves to an hour long massage. Best massage to date, followed by a good cuppa but of the herbal variety, no Yorkshire tea or milk in sight.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time on Kho Tao, it was much the same as Khao Sok – changes where evident wherever you looked. New buildings being erected but left half way through. Rubbish everywhere you turned, strewn haphazardly along the beautiful shore line. A shame really as the beach itself was beginning to get smaller (depth) with the amount of buildings popping up. Two years ago there were roughly three men with long tail taxi boats dotted up and down the beach, now however there was a man every 10 paces. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but try as they might I did not want a damn 'taxi boat'. I mean where would I go? I'm in the place I want to be right now. Piss off.

Overall we had a very good time, we relaxed a hell of a lot and ate great food.

Chang is currently sponsoring our honeymoon. Beer. Every. Night. Is. Good. (and no I still don't want a taxi boat!!!)

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Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 05:41 Archived in Thailand Tagged beaches sea sunset beach thailand dogs palm_trees koh_tao Comments (2)

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