| Marta

The majority of my March was spent in Vietnam. It was BEYOND DIFFICULT!  Admittedly, I had one of the weirdest times of my life here. I am smiling ear to ear thinking back on just how bananas it was. Oh life!

I had just emerged from the cocoon that was Laos, and the Thai Yoga Massage Circus. I travelled by bus, and crossed the border at the Nan Kanh port. This was one of the first clues that things were about to go awry. I whimsically decided to give the last of my Laotianne currency in a temple in Luang Prabang moments before getting in the tuk-tuk that would take me to my bus, so dropped it into one of their donation boxes and then skipped up the road.

Once we were dropped at the bus station, I looked for an ATM – no dice. So had to board a 31hour bus with Z E R O money, not Lationne, Vietnamese or dollar. Which immediately put me on the back foot as I had to haggle my way into the bathroom on your various pitstops as there were kids trying to make a quick 50 dong from the passing tourists (hats off to them, I have done the same as a wee one) and accept dole-outs from fellow bus attendees.

The end of an awkward almost 2 day travel culminated with joining forces with some Frenchies I acquainted on the bus and heading into Hanoi centre with them. After wandering around aimlessly looking for a hotel with them, and hearing that many of the accommodation we checked were full, I decided to hop back into a taxi with one of them as he was staying in a hotel slightly away from the main touristic thoroughfare – great I thought, cheaper and less noisy. Imagine my surprise when the hotel we ended up in rented its rooms by the hour, had a mirrored ceiling and a huge roll of ingloriously cheap condoms on the bedside locked.

My primary lesson for March was how difficult I made everything for myself.

I had this romanticised vision of how my time would be there. I had a triple “H” plan of action: hitching, hiking and hammocking. I intended to traverse the unbeaten path and get around by hitch-hiking – which was central to one of my favourite most memorable travels down half the length of Mexico, over 2,300 km with a banda of brilliant women in 2015. I had Wiki-Hitched the cultural etiquette for hitching and by the end of a few days in Hanoi, I was armed with a little Vietnamese sign saying “please pick me up” and my own helmet (because more than 90% of people travel by scooter/motorbike and it’s illegal to ride without one, it was recommended as an essential pre-requisite.

I also had my Hennessy hammock with me, which is an amazing design. It has a mosquito met built in to the top of it, and has the spinal-central section of fabric as the shortest with plenty of additional fabric for leg and upper body to spin 45 % so one can actually lie pretty flat. Ideal for jungle sleeping.

And of course, I had copious amounts of pre-conceived notions of the terraced rice-paddies and how walking routes would just present themselves to me, with ease. Of course – I would be able to navigate all of this without my phone, so would be effectively having a tech-detox. HA!