April 16, 2014

Fun to Say, Fun to Stay - Luang Prabang, Laos

You guys, it's been almost year since we were in Laos. A YEAR! And I'm just now telling you about it. How embarrassing. How ridiculous! But there's no time like the present! It's never too late! Yadda yadda yadda. (Click here for my favorite "yadda yadda yadda" moment.)

In any case - I'm telling you now. I'm writing it now. Whether you want to read it or not!

Remember how much we LOVED Vietnam? (Read our wrap-ups here and here.) I could have stayed there for a year. Or more. But, with flights to Australia less than two weeks away and with a desire to still see Laos, we knew we had to leave Vietnam (skipping several places we wanted to visit) so that we could squeeze in 10 days to explore another country. We decided to head to Luang Prabang (loosely pronounced Lahng Prah-bong) to start our time in Laos.
Luang Prabang Sneak Peek: They leave out busted coconuts to attract ants and then collect the ants to eat!

March 31, 2014

An Explanation...and 30 Days of Ass Kicking

Well hello there, friends! It's been a long time hasn't it? I know things kind of ended abruptly back in October after we posted about our time in Vietnam. Maybe you're wondering why that is? I'll give you a bit of insight on that (though that's not the purpose of this post).

We got back to SF in September. It was wonderful to be home. I loved having my own bed to sleep in (even though it's lumpy and needs replacing). I went into serious nesting mode. We were painting walls and buying settees and hanging shelves. Reconnecting with friends was amazing. And I was excited about taking the next steps in my career. (Tom was, too.) So that kept us busy for a month or so and, within days of being home, our big trip felt like it happened in a distant memory. And then the newness of being home wore off, and suddenly writing or talking about the trip wasn't fun anymore. It hurt. I was sad that it was over. Like, really, really sad. I didn't want to talk about the trains in India, diving in Thailand, my birthday in Vietnam, our family in Australia, or our safari in Africa (neither of which you have heard about yet). I wanted to DO all of those things...again. I lost my mojo for the blog and for the stories left to tell. So I didn't write. I moped. And I guess, in some ways, I still am. I don't think this is a bad thing (and certainly not shocking). I think it's good because here I am, home for 6 months, and it's still something I think about all the time. That's a pretty good kick in the ass towards understanding what's important in life, isn't it? Tom and I are still figuring out what that means for us. We think it means that we should move towards a life with more balance (something we've been talking about for years). We love travel. It's kind of the 3rd character in our relationship. We aren't "us" without it. So why have we spent so much of our time with it absent from our lives? That's an answer and a balance we're still working to find, but I know we'll get to where we need to be.

Swains in Hoi An, Vietnam

October 28, 2013

Vietnam: The Good, The Bad, The "Are You Effing Kidding Me?!?!"

Now it's time for the Vietnam version of 'The Good, The Bad, The "Are You Effing Kidding Me?!?!" But, like before, when we reviewed India, Burma, and Cambodia, we'll start with "The Bad," then move on to "The 'Are You Effing Kidding Me?!?!'" and end with "The Good."

October 7, 2013

Vietnam, Revisited

If you want to catch up on our Vietnam posts before you read our wrap ups, click through for: Ho Chi Minh CitySteph's 30th Birthday in Lang CoHuếHoi AnPhong NhaHalong Bay & Cat Ba IslandHanoiBags of Cats, and Gourmet Vietnamese Recipes.

When I think about our time in Vietnam (now almost 6 months ago!), I get the immediate itch to go back. Along with India and one other place (stay tuned), it's the place we talk about the most now that we're home and are being asked about our trip all the time. It was a very special place for us. We absolutely loved it and are convinced that no amount of time there will ever quench our thirst for all things Vietnamese. We hope to be back in the near-ish future. I already can't wait!

In Phong Nha, Vietnam

September 28, 2013

Did You Know...

What's up bloggy people?!?!

We're back in SF! Confession: We've been back for over two weeks!

Don't worry, we still have a ton of travel updates to share with you and those will be coming soon, we (kind of) promise. We also have a lot to tell you about what it's been like to return, what our lives are like now, and what's on the horizon.

In the meantime, all of the pics from our trip (at least the international parts) are uploaded! Did you know that you can view them at any time from our blog?

Just click on the Pics link in the menu bar on any page of the blog.

From there, you'll be taken to a page with links to all of our trip photos.

Just click on any photo or description and you'll be taken to our Flickr page with all of our albums. So, even though we haven't written yet about Laos, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, or Zimbabwe...you can still check out our photos.

We hope you'll keep reading our updates and, in the mean time, check out our photos.

See you soon with our wrap-ups about Vietnam!

September 27, 2013

Last Stop in Vietnam (Hanoi, Vietnam)

People - we LOVED Vietnam. Loved it! ADORED it! We're ready to go back. For this reason, our time in Hanoi was bittersweet because it was our last stop. The dive boat in Thailand (read here) and Vietnam were the only two places where I actually felt myself mourning for leaving. But, alas, with flights awaiting us from Bangkok to Australia and because we still wanted to visit Laos, we had to push off from Vietnam.

Chowing down on some spare ribs (I think) in Hanoi
We actually visited Hanoi twice. First, we took a train from Phong Nha (read here) to Hanoi and spent a few days enjoying the city. After that, we took a bus to the mystic Cát Bà and Ha Long Bay region (read here) before returning back to Hanoi for three more days of urban exploration.

On the train from Phong Nha to Hanoi. This guy crawled up in our bunks to take photos with us. Love the friendliness!

September 25, 2013

Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Don't worry...this isn't another post about bags of cats. Cát Bà is the name of the next destination we visited in Vietnam. I hope you had a chance to check out Steph's post about Phong Nha. It was definitely one of the best parts of our trip. After we left Phong Nha, we took a train up to Ha Noi and spent a few days there before bussing it to Cát Bà Island. We'll tell you more about our time in Ha Noi later, as we actually visited it twice and want to share it with you all at once.

When we decided that we were going to Vietnam, we kept reading about Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay (meaning "Descending Dragon Bay") is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been a popular tourist haunt for years due to the limestone karsts jutting out of the ocean. It creates an otherworldly scene, especially if there is some mist rolling in off the ocean. It's easy to understand where the name comes from. The typical tourist thing to do is to go on a 1-3 night boat trip around the Bay. Since we had already done an overnight boat trip in India (read here), we decided to skip the overnight option and do some day trips instead. We've mentioned several times that the best choices we have made traveling were based on the advice from other travelers so, based on the pointers from other Vietnam backpackers, we decided to head to Cát Bà Island instead of the busy, touristy Ha Long Bay. Cát Bà has the same karst formations and topography as Ha Long Bay, without the mass tourism, and actually borders Ha Long Bay, so we got to see it anyway! We booked lodging at Cát Bà Homestay, which is one of the great choices we made on the trip.

Floating Fishing Village, Cát Bà Island, Vietnam (our view from a kayak)