Five Months on the Road

Time flies when you’re having fun – I didn’t even realise that its officially five months since we’ve been on the road until today – and thought what better time to re-cap the last month than during a 7 hour train journey?!

The last month has seen us in three countries and six cities, the most we’ve moved around in a long time. During my recent alone time – when Mike headed back to work – I returned to Vietnam for the second time. It was one of my favourite spots on our trip around South East Asia in 2012 and I was itching to go back.

I flew into Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as it’s still referred to, to spend several days with our friends Simon and Caroline. Simon and Caroline are from Manchester, England but have been living in HCMC the last 18 months – we actually met on that trip back in 2012!

Travelling in style in HCMC on a xe om.
Travelling in style in HCMC on a xe om.

I LOVED my few days in HCMC – there’s nothing quite like experiencing a foreign city from a local’s perspective, and Simon and Caroline took me out to all their favourite jaunts both in their local area and in the city every night even though they were working close to a 12 hour day! I don’t think I’d eaten or drank so much in our travels to date! I am so thankful to them for letting me stay in their beautiful apartment (which reminded me somewhat of our old Perth apartment), and for showing me such wonderful hospitality and friendship – you guys rock! I hope to come back again soon!

From HCMC I returned to Hoi An, situated on the central coast of the country. Hoi An is my favourite spot in all of Vietnam – it’s beautiful UNESCO protected township is one of the most picturesque places you’ll ever visit, and it’s food is out of this world. Needless to say that’s what I spent most of my time doing – eating at a range of different places throughout town and trying the local specialties. I put together a post about my favourite spots and the must try dishes – you can read that one here if you’re headed to Hoi An yourself.

Attempting to roll out a bahn mi - the look on his face says it all. This was my fourth attempt.
Attempting to roll out a bahn mi – the look on his face says it all. This was my fourth attempt.

I also attended a cooking school with a difference, run by restauranteur Miss Vy – you can read about my experience here and for those of you back home, she’s recently opened a restaurant in Melbourne serving the same, delicious Vietnamese cuisine. Check it out if you’re headed there any time soon!

Unfortunately for the first time this trip I was struck down with a rather hard to describe affliction – a combination of a flu, cough and sore throat as well as pretty bad stomach pains – it lasted the entire time I was in Hoi An. It frustrated me to no end as I had zero energy for doing anything and only managed to get out and about for a few hours each day. I’m disappointed as there was a lot more I wanted to do, including a number of day trips that I just had no energy for. It gives me a reason to return again!

Mike and I met back up in Kuala Lumpur after 20 long days apart, and ran a few quick errands before flying out for our next adventure – India! Completely exhausted from a lot of flying (Mike especially), we took our first few days in Delhi slowly and are so glad we did. We eased ourselves into a new place, a new culture and new language, not doing too much or putting pressure on ourselves to ‘see everything’. You can live somewhere your whole life and never see everything it has to offer, so we never have that expectation. We were SO impressed by Delhi – everyone told us how difficult it would be, that its the ‘worst’ place in India… well, we beg to differ. It really was not so bad and if that’s the worst of it – fingers crossed for the rest of travels to be even smoother. You can read about our first impressions of India and what we got up to in Delhi in this post.

Mike capturing the Taj Mahal.
Mike capturing the Taj Mahal.

Our highlight so far (for India and our travels) was visiting the city of Agra to see the Taj Mahal. It’s going into winter here in the north so we’re having warm, sunny days – a comfortable 26 degrees, but cool, foggy mornings. The fog was a vital part of making our visit to the Taj Mahal so magical – it was completely obscured when we arrived, and we had the privilege of watching it slowly appear as the sun rose higher into sky. Check out the photos we took in our recent blog post.

We’ve just spent a few days in Jaipur, in Rajasthan – the state most frequented by travellers to India. I do have to say it’s been great to get away from the traffic of Delhi – that was probably the worst part of it. The smaller cities have not been as busy (aka noisy) so that’s been great for getting a better sleep. Jaipur had some incredible sights – the Hawa Mahal and City Palace in the area referred to as the ‘Pink City’, and forts abound – we climbed up to Nargaurah Fort to watch the sun set, and out to Amber Fort – one of the most spectacular ones we’ve seen so far.

We’re headed to Udaipur now, where we’ve upped the ante and are splashing out on a beautiful hotel for our stay, because its my BIRTHDAY (December 11 everyone – I expect lots of emails and messages – you can all have a year off gift giving… hehe). We’ve heard many a good thing about Udaipur and how beautiful it is so we can’t wait to explore and share everything we discover with you all.

Next, we’ll continue to head west and explore the rest of Rajasthan before heading back to Delhi and north to Amritsar, in the state of Punjab. On Christmas Day we’re flying to Trivandrum in the south and catching up with our beautiful friends Clare and Meredith – counting down the days to our beach stay and spending time with our friends and welcoming in the new year.

I’ve locked in Sri Lanka as my next destination, and we’re 99% sure that we’ll next head to Myanmar (Burma) in late February. I’m also starting to look into our trip to Japan in March – keeps me busy on these long train trips throughout India!

December is my favourite time of year – not just my birthday but the lovely festive spirit that everyone gets into! We may not be doing much for it this year, but loving all the photos and stories from other travellers and our friends at home. We hope you all have a wonderful festive season and enjoy the time with your family and friends, wherever you are in the world!

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