Vietnam Home Stay and Ed Sheeran

Where did i stay? Homestay Bay Thoi

Just returned to Ho Chi Minh city from two great days in the Mekong Delta. We cruised on a small boat until reaching Vinh Long where we board a tiny canoe streered by an elderly but strong Vietnamese woman. She guided us through narrow streams and lush jungle to our quaint homstay called Bay Thoi. Only a few minuets after checking in one of the girls fainted and sprained her ankle. There was a lot of drama about it. Becky and I knew we couldn’t help and we didn’t want to be a part of the crowd so we grabbed bikes and headed out to explore.

To guide us the our tour manager posted a map of the town. As we were riding away she flagged us down and let us know her map was upside down. Lucky she caught us or we would have been lost for sure. It was the perfect weather for a bike ride through the charming countryside. As we rode past houses kids would run out and wave. I really felt like we were part of their community. Most of the bike path was on dirt so the bikes were very hard to manuver and then there was a fork in the road that was neglected from our map. So it was quite an adventure!

For dinner our hosts prepared a great feast and entertained us with local music and musical theater! We also sampled rat and snake! The rat was barbeque so it wasn’t to bad. In fact if I hadn’t been told it was rat I probably would’ve ate more. The snake was disgusting. It was mixed into a curry but you could clearly tell it was snake.  The skin was still on it! Snake is also very boney. So it was hard to eat. It tried it once, but never again!

Afterwards we hung out in hammocks and then everyone gathered around the “Jungle Juice” to drink and play kings. I think the enviroment relaxed people because everyone in the group got pretty drunk. But it wasn’t party/dancing drunk. They got sad and somber drunk. So we had deep conversations and ended the night singing “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran.

Halloween in Luang Prabang, Laos

Hopped back on board the boat this morning and continued sailing down the Mekong river. We stopped at Pak Ou caves. The caves are built into the side of a mountain, just above the water where the Nam Ou and Mekong Rivers join. There are thousands of Buddhas in the cave!10672411_10152735706400813_8092534399608441127_n

Then we reached Luang Prabang, a city rich in culture and left unchanged by time.

We checked into our hotel and had a little bit of free time before our bike tour. So Becky, Sam and I found a great little cafe and had watermelon juice and the best fried spring rolls ever!

Where did I stay?

VisounNam Sok Hotel

1471107_10152735601940813_7340185049767382171_nThen we took a seriously fun bike tour around the UNESCO World Heritage town. We rode down cobblestone lanes, past French style homes and shops and up a hill to Wat Xiang Thong. At the temple we saw monks praying and ringing traditional bells. We continued our tour and stopped at a roadside bar where we did shots of Snake Whiskey!

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After the bike tour our guide recommended we hike up the mountain to a temple and watch the sunset. Our guide said it “was only a couple of steps to the top”. No, it was 356 steps. To get to the top I pretended that I was on The Amazing Race. It was a struggle but in the end the view was worth it.

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Then it was time to celebrate Halloween!

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Everyone dressed up for the party. I was pretty impressed with the costumes since most people used what they brought in their suitcases. There were zombies, tiki girls, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, a couple of kittens, a rock star, Jesus and much more. I dressed as a flapper! We had a family style BBQ meal at a very fancy restaurant in town. The seats and tables were made of concrete…pretty swanky but very uncomfortable. We also started playing “The Game of Life.” A hilarious drinking game that we will play for the rest of the trip, non-stop.

Rules of The Game of Life:

  • Drink with the opposite hand
  • Don’t say Drink
  • Don’t Point
  • Don’t Say Mine

Consequences: 

  • Drink
  • Push-ups or squats

Living life simply in Pakbeng, Laos

Waking up at 545AM is pretty rough when you partied until 2AM the night before. A lot of my tour mates are hung over but I’m fine.

Where did I say?

Phet Sok Xia Hotel

Today we made our first boarder crossing. After about three hours getting visas we finally made it safely into Laos.

Tip: Get your Visa in advance to avoid the hold up.

After a short bus ride we disembarked and then hopped onto large tuk tuks to make our way down to the river. It was a wild ride and a great way to be introduced to Laos.

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Then we boarded a boat and began our journey down the Mekong River. Cruising down the river was so relaxing and peaceful. The mountains and scenery of Laos are breath-taking. My tour mates and I played cards, charades and some ice-breaking “Get to know you” games. Time flew by and after 6 hours of cruising and two fabulous home cooked meals aboard we reached Pakbeng.10647069_10152735689670813_6311954148698961704_n

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Our first “Guest House” experience was what I expected most of our accommodations to be like. I thought we would be staying mostly in hostel like places. But until now we have been staying in five-star resorts. Phet Sok Xai was small, simple and a little old. But it was charming and authentic. My new roommate Becky and I really enjoyed it. However some of our more high maintenance tour mates were not so impressed.

Some how I pissed my roommate Laura off. So now she doesn’t like me. She wanted to trade roommates. I honestly don’t care where I sleep. It’s a bed. I’ll room with whoever. I can adjust. But luckily Becky’s roommate hates her too. She also can’t figure out why. So now she and I are roomies.

That night we had a great family style dinner that was free! Afterwards we ventured into town to find bakeries. We bought croissants and chocolate rolls for breakfast the next morning. Then we hung out on the veranda and talked about life, family and our dreams.

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View from our hotel at dusk

It was pretty fantastic.

Side note: My feet have begun swelling. I’m not sure why. I’m not isolated. Many of the others are having issues with swelling feet. All I can do it elevate them to bring the swelling down.