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VIETNAM & THAILAND

04.01.2019
travel [trav-uh-l] noun
------------- The only thing you buy that makes you richer.

Last October, me and Kevin flew to Vietnam for a roadtrip adventure. We started our journey in beautiful Hanoi, Northern Vietnam. 

City life
A busy, lively city where we tasted so much of the Vietnamese cuisine and the place where we met with the Vietnamese culture for the first time. Nights at the lake, sightseeing at so many places like markets, rooftop bars, downtown strolls, mall-shopping, museums, to-be-discovered-districts and old quarters. We walked for an average of 10 miles every single day cause we didn’t want to miss out on all the streets, busy alleys with hidden street-food and beautiful sights.

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We on a boat! 
A few days later we went on a cruise to visit Ha Long Bay. It was unlike anything I have ever seen. 2000 little islands lifted up from the emerald green water. It was wonderful. The cruise was a nice start of our trip since it was all about relaxation, multiple course dinners, kayaking, swimming, squid fishing, an actual cooking class on how to make spring rolls (love them) and daytrips to the caves! (And obviously too many happy hours including margheritas, whiskey sours, lalala).

Into nature
After the cruise we took the train to head over to Ninh Binh. Where we enjoyed nature at Tam Coc. Amazing nature in such serenity and like the Ha Long Bay area, this place was also surrounded by the beautiful peaks of karst mountains. It had a long river and was a perfect place to go on a boat ride, we did the Trang An boat tour (google it) and went to see so a lot of narrow caves, insanely beautiful panoramic views and we even set foot on the set of Kong: Skull Island. Along the way we visited a few temples, pagodas and hiked the Lying Dragon Mountain, all to the top (I have to admit it was a steep climb and I may or  may not have cursed one or two times; but it was worth the 450 steep stairs! What a view!). We also (like real Dutchies) made a few bike rides to enjoy the nature as well, this was so much fun together!

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Oceanside
From Ninh Binh we went on a 8 hour trainride to Dong Hoi. This was our home while we visited the Phong Nha Ke Bang Park. We went on a tour to see the Phong Nha and Paradise Cave. I have never seen a cave as gigantic and beautiful like these ones. I have never seen this many colossal stalagmites and stalactites, sometimes in the shape of a cathedral! The Paradise Cave, with it’s breathtaking scale, was a remarkable cave and offered spectacular sights.

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Last stop: Hoi An
Okay, after seeing so many new places and incredible nature, we want back to a town called Hoi An. (We got here by train by the way, and it was the prettiest train-ride of all: we had these ocean view seats alright). I fell in love with this place. We had the prettiest hotel with an even prettier infinity pool (all my friends know I’m a BIG fan of swimming so this was a huge plus for me), but Hoi An was so special. Next to the fact that we almost ate every snack you could get there; it was relaxing, beautiful and the old town was our favourite hang-out. It’s such a romantic city with a lovely vibe. The ancient town (the old city center) was our favourite go-to place. It was closed down every day for cars so it was easy to do everything by foot or on a bike. The area was packed with authentic, colonial, colourful buildings, beautiful flowers, lights that lit up every night along the river, boats, small lanterns in the water and the little shops were so nice (I did so much shopping in this place). We even let a tailor make us custom suits, shirts and I also bought a few tailor-made dresses and leather sandals (literally shopping heaven). Even though it was a very touristic place, this was my favourite city we visited in Vietnam because of it’s atmosphere, all the things it had to offer (city, beach, shopping) and culinary delicacies.

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The food
Where to start? I was a fan of Vietnamese cuisine before this trip, but now I’m obsessed. Pho (Vietnamese soup with broth, rice noodles, fresh herbs and beef), Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich with herbs, chilli, pickled vegetables, lettuce, paté and choice of meat), Banh Xeo (crispy Vietnamese pancake), White Roses (dumpling from Hoi An), Cao Lao (soup with noodles, pork and local greens), wontons, papaya salads, pomelo salads, and obviously a ridiculous amount of spring rolls (I made it a sport to eat at least one each day: and I can tell you, that was succesful). The fresh spring rolls with fresh greens like coriander, mint, mango and shrimps, or the fried ones from vegetarian versions to different meats, local greens and also different kind of ricepapers.

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Goodbye Vietnam
We spent our last day enjoying the beach (and it’s cocktails at the beachclub). Even though these were our last few hours in Vietnam timezone, we had a week left of holidays and met up with our friends in Thailand.

Koh Samui here we come
This was such a special time! I mean, how cool is it to meet up with friends thousands of miles away from home, on a beautiful island like Koh Samui? We rented a villa near the coast where we had this beautiful beach and gigantic oceanside pool. We made our way on the island with our rented scooters, road-tripped the entire island, went sightseeing on markets and fun streets like the Fisherman’s Village, did little hikes, saw waterfalls, drank out of too many coconuts, visited beach-bars and so much more. I met the Thai cuisine on this island and oh it didn’t dissapoint! Massaman curry’s, satay, fish cookies, fried rice, oh I love it! We even did a cooking class where we learned all about the herbs and spices, also about their fish and meats on a local market, and then continued our class making Thom Kha Soup, Massaman Curry, Sweet and Sour Pork and Pad Sieuw from scratch. This was so much fun!

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Last stop: Bangkok (now for real)
We closed this wonderful Asian adventure in Bangkok. A day of shopping at the mall, experiencing these busy streets and another night of eating authentic Thai food. This trip was a wonderful journey and after seeing Malaysia and Indonesia before (multiple times and different islands too) I now know more of these beautiful Asian countries and the difference in cultures and cuisines.

Photo credits: by Audrey Victoria