28/03/15
Mac Lake at Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong and the Bike Ride from Hell

I found myself alone on the path, surrounded by trees all clamouring for the grey sky. Groaning, I felt my thighs start to burn as the road sloped upwards once more. How long had I been cycling now, three hours? I wasn’t even at the park centre yet and I still had to make it all the way back to our hut by the lake before nightfall. This wasn’t quite the relaxing break from city life I’d been expecting. Instead, our trip to Cuc Phuong National Park had turned into the never-ending bike ride from hell. Continue reading

19/03/15
Eating Hotpot in Vietnam

Our Favourite Places to Eat in Hanoi

Our living costs in Vietnam are so low that we could afford to eat out every day if we wanted to. While this might sound like heaven, searching for decent places to eat three times a day gets exhausting pretty quickly; after a year and a half of travel we were excited to finally move into an apartment in Hanoi and have our own kitchen to cook in. I’m also a vegetarian and a fussy eater who doesn’t (shock horror!) particularly love Asian food. Despite my picky habits, we still eat out at least twice a week and after seven months here we’ve developed a list of our favourite places to eat in Hanoi. Continue reading

14/03/15
Happy New Year Sign in Sapa, Vietnam

Celebrating TET in Vietnam

One of the great things about living in another country as opposed to just travelling through is that you get a more in-depth taste of the culture you’re living in. I’m not going to pretend I know everything about Vietnamese life after being here for just seven months, but I have learnt that festivals are very important and none more so than TET, the Lunar New Year holiday. Continue reading

1/03/15
Sapa Rice Terraces, Vietnam

Soothing Our Souls in Sapa

Being up in the mountains empties my mind and soothes my soul in a way that nothing else does. As soon as I catch that first scent of pine needles on the wind, fill my lungs with clean, cold air and look out at the endless peaks on the horizon I feel calm wash over me. My love of the mountains is a discovery I’ve made only recently in life, a gift from my travels. Now, I dream about the mountain towns I’ve loved and left behind and I long to discover new ones. Continue reading

21/02/15
Our Little Cub 50cc Motorbike

Driving (Il)legally in Vietnam

There’s one thing I definitely won’t miss when we leave Vietnam: the traffic. There’s no way I’m brave enough to drive through these hectic streets myself but Andrew tackles them daily and he has plenty of terrifying stories to show for it. Just the other day we were driving innocently over a crossroad when we almost collided with a crazy Vietnamese man who was speeding through a red light – did he even slow down when he saw us? No, Andrew had to give way to him! It often feels like the Wild West on the roads out here. Continue reading

14/02/15
St Paul's Cathedral, London

Living Costs in London Compared with Chiang Mai

Where were you this time last year? We were in Thailand, relaxing by the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi whilst preparing for our trip to Burma. I’ve written many times about our love for the Land of Smiles and now that the weather has turned cold and wet here in Hanoi I often fantasise about heading back to the warmth of one of our favourite Asian cities: Chiang Mai. We have fond memories of this northern Thai oasis; volunteering at the nearby Elephant Nature Park, hanging out with visiting friends and family and celebrating the New Year’s water festival, Songkran.

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7/02/15
Mango Shaved Ice in Taipei

How we’ve Survived Travelling as a Couple

Andrew and I met almost ten years ago, at an 80s-themed nightclub in Bristol. When I first clapped eyes on that drunken, long-haired version of Andrew I never would have guessed that a decade on we’d be living in Vietnam together. How did those two students, with their uncertainties and unmade plans, end up fusing their lives together? More impressively, how have we managed to travel together non-stop for the last two years without killing each other? Continue reading

24/01/15
An English Class in Vietnam

Survival Tips and Resources for New TEFL Teachers

I vividly remember how terrifying my first teaching experience was in Vietnam. I was nervous and had a sore throat, the heat was stifling, the children were noisy and restless because it was Sunday afternoon and I was completely overwhelmed. By the end of that first class I was practically in tears and thought I’d never survive my nine-month teaching contract – but things got better. Continue reading