I love sweet drinks and, fortunately, Lisa is usually quite excited about them as well. It has become something of a routine for us to find our favorite drinks in each country and then partake in them endlessly. In the states, I usually accomplished this with unlimited coca cola during at least one meal a day. When I travel, it is rare for me to buy soda as I prefer it from a fountain, loaded with ice and free-refills, something you just don’t find often outside of North America.
Here is a recap of some of the better drinks I’ve run across. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of all of them, as I was usually too excited to just start drinking.
A huge part of why our journey thus far has been so amazing is the kindness and hospitality that we’ve been shown by others. Whether it be by chance, old friendships, ultimate, or couchsurfing, our trip has been blessed by other people who have been our travel angels.
Perhaps the greatest traveling lesson I’ve learned thus far is how helpful it is to explore a new place with a local. They can help you avoid getting ripped off, find all the best food spots, and give recommendations on all sorts of things from how to get around, sights to see or avoid, and what the craziest local dish to try is. They’re also useful for learning about a place’s culture and understanding what life is like for them. And, greatest of all, having a friend in a new place makes traveling so much better.
Matt and I have made it two months on the road! It feels both like an eternity and the blink of an eye since we were back in Denver. Our trip hasn’t turned out as I had anticipated, but all in positive ways. I didn’t have any specific expectations for this adventure, just some vague goals about self-growth. I thought we’d see some cool stuff, eat some good food, and meet a few people. In all those ways and more, these last 60 days have far exceeded what I had thought possible. We’ve had so many amazing and incredible experiences that it doesn’t seem possible that we have only been at this for two months.
After the Vietnam Hat Tournament, Lisa, Amy and I headed to the island of Phu Quoc for some relaxation. The idea of being on a beach for Christmas was enticing. We took an overnight sleeper bus from Ho Chi Minh City that arrived at 4:30am where we waited until 8:00am for the first ferry, meeting a few other travelers along the way.
We arrived in Phu Quoc with some reservations at a hostel called Mush Rooms. This was fortunate, as most of the cheaper accommodation on the island was already booked up. Most of the island is nicer resorts and bungalows and there are a large number of couples that visit the area, but we managed to find the nice little pocket of backpackers to spend the next few days with.
The Vietnam Hat Tournament took place on December 21-22, 2013 and was the second of three ultimate tournaments in Southeast Asia that I was determined to attend when we left the US. In November, we played in Manila Spirits in the Philippines, and in early February we will hit the Bangkok Hat. Other tournaments are possible along the way, depending on where our travels lead us.
Lisa and I were nearing the end of our 25-hour bus journey from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City when she got an email from the Vietnam Hat Ultimate Tournament organizers meant for captains and team managers. It said further information would be forthcoming, but thanks for taking on an added role for the upcoming weekend. This was perplexing, as she hadn’t signed up for any special managerial team role. When we got off the bus at 8:00pm on the Friday before the tournament, we checked into our hostel and headed over to the tournament party to figure out what teams we would be on and when we would need to be at the fields. When we arrived, the team listings showed Lisa had been designated team manager for the Orange team and somehow I was listed as team captain for Medium Spring Green!
My favorite part of this trip so far is all the awesome people we have met. The locals who have shown us around have been incredibly hospitable and helpful, and the other travelers have been fascinating and adventurous people who quickly become friends.
Sometimes, though, we run into people we aren’t so excited about. Enter: snarky Lisa.
We spent a month in Vietnam and generally loved it. Despite the ornery locals, the place grew on us, and I was surprisingly sad to leave it. But we arrived in Thailand early this morning, and there are already a number of categories in which it beats Vietnam.
1. Cleanliness. There are TRASH CANS here!!!! In Vietnam, they were only in the bathrooms for you to throw the toilet paper. Here, they are in the bathrooms and also everywhere else. So instead of throwing trash out the window of the bus, people will hold on to it and use a trash can at the rest stops. As a result, there isn’t as much litter everywhere.
Overall Score : A
Dates visited: Nov 29 – Dec 29, 2013
Places visited: Hanoi, Ha Giang, Thac Ban Gioc (waterfall), Ba Be Lake, Cat Ba Island, Lan Ha Bay (Ha Long Bay), Hoi An, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Phu Quoc island, Can Tho (Mekong Delta)
Notable places we did NOT visit: Sapa, Hue, Danang, Dalat, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Ninh Binh, Dien Binh Phu, Mộc Châu, Saigon (we did not explore the city very much)
There are so many little things that happen each day that I don’t want to forget. Anecdotes are a collection of these mini-stories or adventures. Also known as “filler material” for when I don’t have anything else to blog about.
nguyen thi soan
I am overly attached to my phone. I had meant to try to use this trip as a way to detach from technology, but I failed miserably at that. My iPhone has proven invaluable, though, and I use it constantly to check maps, track my budget, contact locals, look things up, text Cuz, and, most importantly, Instagram Totey.
If you hang out with Lisa and I often, you will notice that we wear a lot of plaid. Surprisingly, however, none of it was brought on this trip. Instead, our wardrobe was ultimate jerseys, plain shirts and hoodies. I think my choice of clothing for the trip is what I have regretted most on my packing list, as I get tired of wearing sports fabric the entire time. Lisa had done better, packing a couple lightweight merino wool shirts that look really comfortable. Everything I had read said to leave jeans and heavier material at home in Southeast Asia, as it would be too hot and humid to make that clothing worthwhile. Yet, everywhere we went, we seemed to run into other travelers who were dressing much nicer than we were and we had no way to step it up.
Enter Hoi An, known for its great food, silk fabrics and abundant custom tailoring. The Ancient Town of Hoi An is an even mix of clothing/tailor shops, art/souvenir shops and restaurants. This city was not going to be kind to our travel budgets, but more on that later.