Puppies After Hours

Day 30. Tues 6/07

Phong Nha▶Hoi An

Biking, Phong Nha Farmstay, Early bus to Hoi An

We really cant get enough of these motorbikes. We set off today after sleeping in (our room has some heavenly air con) just to ride our bikes around the national park because we had already visited the 2 caves we wanted to see. There was one more that we wanted to visit but it is the largest cave in the world and was discovered very recently by a Phong Nha local. However, to go inside you have to go on a week long trek to enter and explore the cave. You also have to complete training regarding how to climb and hike in caves. It was a couple thousand USD so we decided to pass 💸

Instead we set out to enjoy the nice weather and park scenery on the open road. We attempted to drive to the Botanical Gardens but met some gravel road and construction that we weren’t quite ready to conquer. We made a U-turn and headed out of the city to Easy Tiger’s sister hostel, a farmstay (like a homestay but on a farm) about twenty minutes away, where you could supposedly catch a really awesome view of sunset. When we arrived it was already almost 4pm (the sun sets around 6:30 here) so Kaija and I decided to hang out by the pool and get a good spot to watch the sun set while the boys explored some more of the back roads recommended by the owner of the farm (another really great Australian!). However, as we were warned, any time we were travelling off of roads we had to be extremely careful because this area was heavily bombed during the American War (what they call it here) and there were estimated to be thousands of undetonated landmines, flechettes, and other bombs in the area.

I dipped my feet in the pool to cool off and then got to enjoy a color-changing sky across a huge open field full of cows. There was also an adorable little mutt wandering around the farm, playing with visitors, barking at cows, and later also dragging his bum across the cement outside (ew, but he was still cute). We hadn’t done much but it was nice to just take an afternoon to chill and enjoy nature again.

Our afternoon was pretty opposite the boys’, as we found out once they made it back and began to share some stories from the drive. Their path was mostly dirt back roads, where they passed loads of cows and other farm animals with the hot sun coming down on their backs. They also stumbled upon The Pub with Cold Beer (the actual name) and enjoyed a cold one with some new friends. One of the girls they met – born in Iowa City, what are the chances!? – told them about how much fun Ha Long Bay was (we’ve heard this from multiple people) and so we discussed potential trying to head back up north to check it out since we missed out before due to weather.

We took our time watching the sun set and eating before trying to head home on the bikes because the owner had let us know a lot of people will drive home drunk after the sun sets and it can be really dangerous. He advised us to take a back road with less traffic, which was a little nerve-racking but ultimately safer. We went to turn our bikes on and of course Josh’s lights didn’t work and multiple bikes didn’t have working tail lights either (sooo sketch) so we set up our caravan accordingly and agreed to take it slower. The biggest issue was that we all wear sunglasses when riding to avoid getting bugs/dirt/etc. in our eyes, but when it’s pitch black out and the lights don’t work, that’s not a great option anymore. We managed, but it was definitely stressful to say the least.

We got back and I wasn’t ready to sleep, plus we had to catch a night bus to Hoi An at 4am in the morning, so we went across the street for some more beer towers and to see where the night would take us. About 5 til 11 Easy Tiger’s bar closed up and some people started migrating up the street to a different bar. Once we arrived, we were greeted by a little boy carrying a puppy and saying “HELLOO” – almost every kid that we passed either walking or biking would say hi or hello and wave. I wish i could say the bar was a ton of fun, but honestly I only stayed for a few new friends from London’s company and the puppies 😍

Staying up was a great plan until our bus was an hour late. So we were up until 5am and then I passed out almost immediately once the bus started moving. Apparently that was a pretty amazing feat because the bus was extrmely bumpy and the driver was honking his loud horn every couple of seconds. We missed the connecting bus in Hue because we were so far behind, and pretty much the only viable option was for us to take a private taxi to Hoi An. I feel like this kind of crap always happens to us when we’ve been traveling. Ugh.

Food Log:

  • Chicken satay salad. It was pretty dry ingredients and chicken, plus I’m pretty sure the dressing was just a runny peanut butter. Chugged water afterwards 
  • Fresh shrimp spring rolls. Almost all of the spring rolls we got were fried, so I didn’t expect them to be fresh. The lettuce was kind of bitter so I didn’t eat many. Instead I nibbled on Josh’s spicy salami pizza and Mike’s Shepard’s pie. And also got a banana pancake with honey for dessert 👍

      Easy Tiger 2.0

      Day 29. Mon 6/06

      Phong Nha

      Easy Tiger, Dark Cave, Paradise Cave, Beer Towers

      I don’t think anything could be better than Sapa, but Phong Nha proved to be a close second today. The countryside in Vietnam is gorgeous and today we biked around a National Park where they are filming King Kong 2. Now that we have the hang of the bikes it’s relaxing and way more fun than taking a bus or taxi, where the drivers try to up charge you and drive like crazy people.

      The first cave we visited was the Dark Cave. We ziplined to the entrance (less exciting than it sounds) and then made our way deeper. Sidenote: a great addition to Jungle Party and Full Moon Party would be Cave Party, amirite? We passed bats, walked barefoot on rocks and then slid through the narrow and muddy passages to get to the mud bath pool. We laid down and were super buoyant, floating along the surface like little bobbers on a lake. I was loving it until they had us all turn out lights off and it got really dark and quiet. We sat for what felt like a minute but I’m sure was only a matter of seconds and then I was the first to flick my head light back on. 😓😓😓

      After we exited the cave we kayaked back and then messed around in the water with the mini zip line and rope swing they had. The water was freezing and felt soooo good after we have been sweating on the buses and trains the past few days.

      Afterward, we continued around the park to the Paradise Cave, which was less fun and interactive but much bigger and brighter. The large open spaces had lights illuminating different features and there was a wooden walkway throughout the spaces to follow at your own pace. We liked it minus the 1k hike up to the entrance. We buggy’ed back to our bikes afterward.

      In Phong Nha, we tried to make a reservation at the Easy Tiger Hostel once we arrived but they were already full bc it’s such a popular place. Instead they sent us across the street to a really nice hotel (basically Easy Tiger 2.0) that was less expensive. It worked out nicely, because we pretty much just used the place for beds and AC, spending all of our meals at Easy Tiger, where they had delicious food 🍴 For dinner, I had the Piggy pizza and somehow managed to finish the whole thing along with a couple onion rings too.

      We realized they had a deal on beer, where you could buy a tower and get a free T-shirt. We worked our way through 2 towers before the bar closed and we wandered the streets for another bar or karaoke. It was a Monday, but we figured there would be something else going on. However, we went home after walking the entire street without any luck.

      Food Log:

      • Breakfast tacos at Easy Tiger, with sausage, tomato, onion and eggs that were the perfect combo after our long night on the train
      • Ice cream treats at Dark Cave
      • Piggy Pizza (bacon, ham, onion, green pepper) with onion rings and potato wedges. Overpriced, but worth it


      Sunday No Funday

      ​Day 28. Sun 6/05

      Sapa▶Hanoi▶Ha Long Bay▶Hanoi▶Dong Hoi

      Ha Long Bay travelling 👎👎👎
      There’s not a lot to write about today because we spent it on a night train, bus ride, at a port, and then on another bus and night train. Our excitement to take off for a 3-day 2-night trip to Ha Long Bay and Catba Island was met with raging thunderstorms before we could set sail. We lost a day waiting to see if the weather would clear and then getting back to Hanoi to get our refund.

      On a six week trip I knew there were bound to be days like this, but it sucks wasting an entire day. Morale is low again, especially after our bus back to Hanoi was full of Brits who were determined to make it a “pahh-tee bus” for their friend’s “bahhth-day” complete with bottles of vodka and rum – oh and cigarettes, even though they were told not to smoke because we were on a bus without windows for 4 hours. My cough was almost gone after Sapa and now it is back full force – I’m fairly certain I’m not even sick, but the dirty air is what has been giving both me & Kaija so much trouble. 

      The smoke made the bus ride nauseating, but we did get a pretty sunset. Unfortunately, it just reminded us that we weren’t watching the sun set over the water on a boat. There’s no gallery because there wasn’t much to photograph today.

      We ended the day paying way to much money for night train tickets out of town so we could get on with our travels. And I slept horribly of course.

      Safwan, if you’re reading this, we miss you already 👋😢

      Food log:

      • Sub par breakfast from Central Backpackers
      • Bread. At 3pm after having our boat cancelled. I think this was supposed to be lunch?
      • Fried noodles with chicken and vegetables from a little mini-mall on the side of the road. Praying the mango shake doesn’t make me sick tonight on the train 🙏🙏🙏

      A Tale of Two Bikes

      Day 27. Sat 6/04

      Sapa

      Biking to Ben Phung, packing, last family dinner

      Oops! …we did it again. Back at it with the motorbikes 🏍 This time it was just 2 of us because the rest of the gang wanted some time to relax around the homestay and soak up some sun and hammock time.

      We had brilliant weather (the sun finally came out!) and again we set out after getting directions from Andrew that were seemingly straightforward. And once again, we completely went off the path – but had a great time all the same. The only hiccup was about ten minutes in when my bike stalled out after going over an extremely rocky hill and we could figure out how to start it again. The guy we rented the bike from came to the rescue and showed us a little trick to get the bike started if it happened again.

      Andrew had said that we would have pretty decent roads to Ben Thung once we got out of his village, so we realized once we were on a rocky dirt road ascending quickly into the mountains through tiny villages that we probably took a wrong turn. At least we made a few friends along the way 😊

      Once we were on the right road the sun came out almost immediately. It was a smooth ride and we made it to Ben Phung no problem, stopping along the way home for some of the most picture-esque scenes we have seen yet on this trip. I fell in love with the rice paddies and open road. When we said goodbye later that night (after another awesome dinner) I knew it wouldn’t be my last time in Sapa.

      Food log:

      • My usual scrambled egg breakfast. As usual, delicious
      • Dinner consisted of our favorites again (spring rolls, French fries and green beans) along with some pork wrapped mushrooms and chicken with vegetables



      Homestay Sweet Homestay

      Day 26. Fri 6/03

      Sapa

      Yoga flow, hiking, eating

      I absolutely love not having to set an alarm to wake up in the morning. I’m not one to sleep all day, but there is something so peaceful to me about being woken by the sun. It’s one of those little things that just makes me grateful when I wake up and that much more appreciative throughout the entire day.

      Today I was actually woken up by Mi, not the sun, but it was around sunrise and so I slipped out from under my bug net and went to the wrap-around deck for a quick yoga flow and meditation. I was a little tight from yesterday’s hike, and there were some noisy farm animals next door (namely the roosters), but it was nice to have some me time nonetheless.

      I was so calm that I ended up taking another nap until a half-naked Mi came charging up the stairs around 11am. “Hello!” she declared in her high little voice, and I was up and ready for the rest of the day. And breakfast.

      We saved the longer of the two hikes for today because we got such a late start yesterday afternoon, but by the time we left the home today it was around the same time. Josh stayed back again to rest his leg and Saffy decided to enjoy his last few days of vacation from a hammock (he leaves us in 2 days 😢), so it was just four of us trekking today.

      We were granted even better and drier weather – thank goodness! – as we wandered through rice paddies and rows of corn trying to reach a telephone pole on top of one of the mountains. Instead, we found a waterfall and called it a day to make sure we got back home before dark. Once we were back we realized how far off we were heading from the intended path – it was laughable. But we had a good time and we hoped to get back out again the next day.

      https://youtu.be/YllxRRJnSQA

      Sapa is my favorite place so far that we’ve visited – it’s so much simpler and quieter than a city, where there are a million things to do and there are tourists everywhere and everything requires so much energy. Here we get up when we’re rested, explore some beautiful countryside, and then come home to a family, comfy couch, and a delicious dinner. Have I mentioned that I liked the food yet??

      In reality, there are also some things here that make us feel less like we are in the middle of nowhere. Andrew has a decent sized TV and nice sound system in the main living room (last night’s feature film was Antman and tonight we voted on Lincoln Lawyer) and the bathrooms are nice and very clean. Also, not sure I could sleep any better than I do here, which is inside a mosquito tent thing (necessary to keep out the big beetles that roam at night) and with a fan directly on me. The perfect sleeping conditions.

      Food log:

      • Lanh’s special scrambled eggs again, this time with some tea to soothe my sore throat. The cough is getting a lot better, but a bit of a tickle still lingers
      • Milk & egg waffle cookies. Mike bought them before our hike as a little energy boost in case we needed them. We decided we needed them about 4 times because they were so tasty 👅👅👅👅
      • Somehow dinner tonight was even better: breaded chicken, meatballs, green beans, french fries and rice. All dipped in the sweet & sour chili sauce they have everywhere here – def on the grocery list once I get back to the states





      Getting Out of Town

      Day 25. Thurs 6/02

      Hanoi▶Sapa

      Night train to Sapa, My Tra Homestay, hiking, family dinner

      Trains and buses will be our main form of transportation for the next couple weeks, so we kicked off our time in Vietnam with a night train. We weren’t sure what to expect in the middle class cabins, but we were told the cheapest cabins were a little too scrappy even if we were trying to save money.

      Our group had mixed reviews: some could sleep hardly on the rickety train that made stops in many places all throughout the night, but I had no issues at all. I slept through the entire night, which probably was partly due, once again, to my lack of sleep from a few nights ago, but also the 2 Saigon Beer’s we had on the train before we left the station. Either way, we woke up in Sapa at 6am!

      Here’s a little video summary of our day from my snap story: https://youtu.be/637Jiw4F8TA

      From the train station we took a van to Ta Van, a village past Sapa where we had booked a homestay rather than a hostel (shoutout to our friends at the Jungle Party for the tip!). We were pleased that when we arrived that the house looked good, the showers had hot water, and the host, Andrew, spoke English. We learned from our friends in Hanoi that not all homestays are created equal (Sam recalled using a bucket to wash herself).

      Even though we were hours early, Andrew served us breakfast and talked us through a tour of the village and some hiking paths we may want to try out. He also introduced us to his wife Lanh, her friend who helped with the homestay Linh, and his daughter, Mi. They were all extremely welcoming and we could already tell this would be a great next few days.

      Around 1pm we finally resurfaced again after passing out for a few hours of much needed sleep. Well, all of us slept except Josh, who was entertaining Mi (mostly with his phone) on the couch downstairs. We packed a couple bags and went for an afternoon hike on the shorter trail Andrew described, which would take us over a hill and across rice paddies (fields), past a waterfall, through a bamboo forest, and across a suspension bridge leading to a neighboring village. I swear those are serious directions and not just a description of the Candyland board.

      We set off and were immediately met by 3 women dressed in black robes with a basket of goods on their backs trying to sell us merchandise. We declined but they continued to follow us, asking us our names and where we were from, even as we ascended up our muddy and steep path. As we continued, two women turned back, but one persisted and so we ended up asking for directions from her at multiple forks in the road. Andrew’s instructions were good but broad, and there wasn’t a very clear path at any point in the hike until we reached the road during the last half hour.

      We trudged along with our unofficial guide through some brief rain showers, which added to the already (Max:)”treacherous!” and slippery inclines. Mike and Max had brought along a pair of Keens – quite the lady magnets, if you were wondering – which had decent traction, but Saffy had on normal tennis shoes, which proved things a little tougher to maneuver. This made it that much funnier when Max slipped down the end of one of the hills, totally taking out our guide, who was politely holding Kaija’s hand as she cautiously descended the slope. From that point on, our guide kept an eye on Max, insisting on holding his hand down almost every hill for the rest of the 4-hour (7 mile-ish) hike.

      We took a sort of back path back to our homestay and almost immediately as we hit the main road we were bombarded again by even more ladies selling from their baskets. We said no about one hundred times to everyone except our guide who had been so helpful, and Kaija bought a purse while Max flat out gave her a huge tip for all of his personal attention on the hike. 😂

      The weather quickly changes here, but we had a great cool temperature for our hike and although we wished it would have rained a little less, it also could have rained a lot more. Fingers crossed for similar weather for the next few days while we take on more treacherous trails and adventures.

      We got back and showered, relaxing in the hammocks outside while dinner was being prepared. It was served to all 12 of us staying at My Tra, which was surprisingly a mix of only Canadians and Americans. It’s pretty rare that we don’t meet Europeans or Australians in the places we stay, but everyone was still really great company. There were 3 couples, and 5 of the individuals had just finished teaching English in a foreign country before their traveling – one in Vietnam, two in Korea, and two in Japan. They all seemed surprised that we had such established plans for after traveling, as many of them had been abroad for over a year and were returning home soon to start over again. We picked their brains for more travel tips and shared stories about some of the places both of us had already visited. I think I prefer homestay to hostels simply because you can connect with all.of your roommates that much easier. People have such interesting stories! And the home cooked meals are 👌👌👌

      Food log:

      • Saigon Beers over a game of King Cup on the train
      • Our first meal at our homestay was scrambled eggs with tomato, peppers, onions, and cornflakes/tiny fried shallots (a great addition, but we aren’t totally sure which they are). Alongside the eggs were toast with butter (tastes different here, a little waxy but still good) and the sweetest strawberry jam I’ve ever tasted
      • Stir fry noodles with chicken (10/10 would recommend)
      • Family-style dinner with the rest of our roommates consisted of veggie spring rolls, (what looked like a) Vietnamese salad, sliced pork with a variety of sauces, chicken and vegetables, French fries, and rice. It was definitely a contender for the top meal we’ve had on the trip




      Vietnam or Bust

      Days 23 & 24. Tues 5/31 & Wed 6/01

      Singapore▶Hanoi

      Central Backpackers Pub Crawl, trip planning, Hoa Lo Prison, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Water Puppet Show


      So reluctant to leave Singapore, but very excited to get back to Vietnam for a few weeks. Today we traveled to the Capitol, Hanoi and checked in for a day before heading to Sapa.

      We reached the Central Backpackers hostel via a swagged out van, and checked in and got settled just in time for their hour of free beer at the bar. It was a smaller hostel, and with the beer flowing everyone was in good spirits, chatting with new friends from around the world. We met 2 Canadians, Sam (Toronto) and Virginie (Montreal), a Swiss guy, and an Australian while we were staying there. All very nice people who had been travelling for quite a bit in the area.

      The hostel hosted a pub crawl around the city starting at the rooftop bar in their sister hostel. The view was nice, but the best part was the breeze – I almost forgot how hot it can be because we’ve been having overcast weather the past few places. We had some more free beer and pondered some laughing gas (it must pair well with alcohol because they sold it at our hostel’s bar too) but I turned in early in an effort to catch up on my lack of sleep from the night before.

      We woke up to a nice free breakfast and then spent some time at the front desk planning a few days in Ha Long Bay (beaches! 😄) and then checking out. Meanwhile, Josh went to have a doctor check out a bump on his leg – he got a little bunged up in Koh Phangan – and turns out they won’t have to amputate after all. 🤕😌 Totally kidding, he’s fine.

      By the time we had taken care of our planning we missed the hostel’s free walking tour, so instead we made our own. We went to see the Hỏa Lò Prison, where US pilots like John McCain were held as POWs and learned that it was first built by the French in the 1880s to imprison Vietnamese. Reading the exhibits at the museum and then reading about the prison online afterward, there were clear discrepancies and it was easy to tell that many of the photos depicting life for the American POWs were staged and used as propaganda. They even stated that the prison was nicknamed “Hanoi Hilton” because inmates likened it to staying at a hotel and made the interrogation room out to be comfortable and clean.

      We found that the exhibits regarding the French colonial period were much more accurate and had many more believable artifacts and historical citings. One of my favorite parts was the almond tree, which Vietnamese prisoners used to help with sicknesses (leaves and bark) and also as a meeting spot (physical location) to discuss survival and escape measures.

      We entered the execution room (which housed a guillotine and several chambers where political prisoners were kept before their death) and weirdly enough ran into one of our Phuket hostel-mates and some guys from DC. It’s insane how small the world can be sometimes.

      Last week, President Obama was in Hanoi as part of a visit to Asia and he met up with Anthony Bourdain to eat bún chả at Bún Chả Huong Lien. We tracked the restaurant down and thought we would try it out as well. On the way, we witnessed what appeared to be a funeral procession, where a band played behind a picture of the deceased and a crowd of family and friends followed behind the vehicle transporting the body.


      https://youtu.be/Q_ERhOu-4Uo

      Later we cabbed to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to learn a little more about the leader who helped establish a Democratic Republic in Vietnam in 1945. We were ushered out at closing time before we could finish looking around, but Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body is kept in the building as well.

      We hustled to a water puppet show, which we thought would be interesting and exciting, but turned out to be naptime for most of us after being in the hot sun all day. The show was about 45 minutes long and told a story about farming and some fish. Also maybe there were princes and princesses involved? I could tell there was a story being told, but the entire script and songs were in Vietnamese so it was a little tough to follow.

      We rewarded ourselves with bubble tea, ice cream and clean laundry followed by a fantastic dinner at Pho 10, a packed place right near our hostel. Between the bún chả and pho, Hanoi has been good to us.

      Food log:

      • McSpicy wrap from the airport McDonald’s. Singapore’s airport is so nice and clean! And you go through security at your flight gate, which is interesting (and efficient)
      • Bún chả and bún nem at an awesome little hole-in-the-wall near our hostel
      • Free breakfast of banh mi and eggs with fruit
      • Mike’s iced coffee from a little corner place. It was called Mother Land Coffee Da and tasted like a ginger espresso mix. V interesting
      • More bún chả at Huong Lien
      • Pho with half-cooked pork, so delicious




      The Greenest Grass

      Day 22. Mon 5/30

      Singapore

      Marina Bay Sands, Hawker Court, Sunset at the pool, Gardens by the Bay, Karaoke

      Singapore is hands down the coolest city I have ever been to. We almost didn’t include the stop in our final itinerary but it was such a different feel than other places we were visiting and we had a recommendation from a friend (thanks Dave!) so we decided to splurge for a night in the heart of the city.

      By splurge I mean we booked a room in the Marina Bay Sands, a hotel that was compromised of three towers of rooms and a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the bay and city from the 57 stories up. We debated staying two nights – thought it might be nice to have a break to a more developed city in the middle of our trip around Thai and Vietnamese countrysides – but decided that we could see everything we wanted to in 24 hours instead.
      Then our plans changed dramatically. As we side in line to register, a concierge pulled us out of the registration line and brought us to a separate check in desk. He collected our passports, a credit card, and then let us know that rather than checking in to two separate 3-person rooms he could upgrade us to the presidential suite, which slept 6, if we were interested. We were interested.

      It took a minute for that to register with me after we walked through away from the desk through the giant and luxurious lobby of Tower 1.

       


      By the time we hit the Tower 2 elevator though, a huge smile had spread across my face. We all had to be grinning like idiots after we saw that our suite had a separate, private lift because the first one didn’t reach high enough. We shot up 53 floors so quickly in that thing that our ears popped, and then we hurried to our door to enter into what was probably the nicest hotel room I will ever set foot in. We did that thing where you slow step forward into the living room, staring ahead at the wall-to-wall glass window overlooking the bay in front of us, dropping our dirty and overstuffed bags as we neared.

      wp-image-78846414jpg.jpg
      The city looked amazing. From our view it truly looked like a concrete jungle, with green trees and plants tangled among sleek skyscrapers as far as the eye could see. To our left you could see the ports, with giant cranes littered along the coast for miles while ships constantly moved in and out of the water. Below was a beautiful body of water surrounded by stores (read: Louis Vuitton), boat and ferry docks, a large soccer arena, and some museums with cool architecture (aka the blooming onion-looking building). I took a video before we left the next morning from the rooftop infinity pool. Yes… 👏 rooftop. 👏 infinity. 👏 pool.

      After drinking in the awesome view we all darted different directions, yelling about how big the place was and whatever we were discovering in the newest room (me mostly yelling not to touch anything in the weight-sensored mini fridge bc my card was on the room). After about ten minutes of this, Max was in a huge bathrobe, Josh was reading the room service menu, and Mike had uploaded twenty new snaps. We all logged into the wifi and chilled out on the big comfy couches before remembering how hungry we were. We made plans to try some street food and then post up by the pool to watch the sun set over the city with some overpriced drinks.🍹 Priorities.
      Food vendors in Singapore are organized into Hawker Centres, where small businesses set up stalls in an open area, like a food court, serving delicacies from all over Asia. Singapore has immigrants from many different places, so there is some amazing cuisine all over the city, and different Hawkers are known for certain dishes or types of food. We tried out Tiong Bahru for dinner #1, which is known for their Chwee Kueh, a breakfast favorite in Singapore.
      wp-image-1936382115jpg.jpg

      We also tried roasted duck, fish ball soup, chicken rice, and a mixed fruit mango pudding. All new and soo yummy.


      We made it to the roof in time to grab a good spot to watch the sunset and settled in for what was an incredible view as the orange sun settled behind the pink and yellow clouds and the blue glow of the city lights came to life. I have always loved watching the sun go down over water, but this was like a whole different kind of sunset. Definitely the coolest sunset I’ve ever experienced.
      We got back in the room and decided that we couldn’t just sleep when we had such nice amenities at our hands. We loaded up on beer and Redbull and fired up the stereo to keep ourselves awake. For a little bit we watched a cool light show happening on the water (and also the start of some thunderstorms in the sky), Saffy took a bubble bath, Kaija and I looked through the free toiletries all over the bathroom, and I even got a little laundry done. Once we were hungry and a little restless, we cabbed to Lau Pa Sat (another Hawker Centre) and scarfed down some more food.

       

       

      Then we wandered around the Gardens by the Bay, which was connected to our hotel but was located on the opposite side of the bay. A lot of the gardens were closed, but we were still entertained by the giant leafy and metal structures and sick view of our hotel. I still can’t believe how huge that building was.

       

      We ended the night with karaoke (although we had a really interesting selection of songs) until we almost literally passed out. We also made a video tour of the suite because it was too hard to take pictures of each room. And it seemed like a good idea at 4am.

       

      Here is a much more boring video tour:

       

      Our first cab driver had described Singapore as clean, green, and safe (emphasizing the safe). All three of those adjectives were true, but I would also add welcoming. We had six of the nicest cab drivers I’ve ever met, and one even offered to give us more tips and recommendations when we come back to Singapore again (when, not if). We did stay at an extremely nice hotel, but all of the staff there from the concierge at the front desk, to the IT specialist to the room service waiter were so polite and friendly too.

      After our tough weather luck last week, we kind of got down on ourselves about plans we’d made not working out. Singapore was a nice little reminder that there are both lows and highs, and I think it has gotten us all a little more excited to travel during week 4 in Vietnam. Things were already looking up as we got in the plane to Hanoi this morning – my eye is looking much better and I got a window seat in the exit aisle! I swear these things never happen to me.

      2016-06-01-09.25.10-1.jpg.jpg

       

      Food log

      • Peanut butter-nutella-honey sandwiches in the airport
      • Tiong Bahru Hawker
        • Chwee Kueh
        • Roasted duck and rice
        • Fish ball soup
        • Chicken rice
        • Mixed fruit mango pudding
      • Lau Pa Sat Hawker
        • Chicken biryani
        • Chicken and pork baos
        • A nameless (and tasteless) noodle & dumpling dish

      Thai Goodbye

      Day 20. Sun 5/29

      Phuket

      Jungceylon

      I had literally started having dreams about taking a clean shower, so our trip back to Phuket and the Doolay Hostel was super exciting. Our typically 40 min drive to Karon Beach took only 20 with our cab driver who drive like a bat out of hell. He was talking motorbikes and then honking at them and he even passed one vehicle by crossing over the center line into oncoming traffic, narrowly missing a semi truck that was not slowing down.

      We were right across the street from a beach so we were hoping to catch some of the sun we missed in Phi Phi, but as soon as I changed into my suit another downpour began outside so we opted for a trip to Patong Bay and Jungceylon, a large shopping center. Feeling the cleanest we had for all of Week 3, we roamed the mall for a few hours. Mike and Josh went to a movie, where they watched an opening credit clip of a tribute to the Thai King and Queen and everyone stood to respect them. Apparently any disrespect toward the king and queen is punishable, because there were security guards ensuring everyone was in line at the movie theater and we’ve read that even stepping on money is dangerous because the king’s face is printed on it. While they were at the movie, Kaija and I shopped around, picking up some stronger cough medicine, a couple snacks including DQ blizzards, new shorts, and then dinner at a microbrewery. We reminisced on our time in Thailand and I tried a Phuket Lager – tasted v. interesting.

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      We wandered around our hostel’s street shops for a little while and then the dark and lonely beach after we returned. The waves were big from the windy weather and the sand was soft from the lowering tide. There’s something about the beach at night and staring out into the black water and sky that is kind of eerie, but calming to me.

      We followed up this soothing experience with a movie in the hostel common area with some new friends from London and Mumbai. Scary Movie 3 is apparently a trans-continental favorite, who knew?

       

      Food log:

      • Ham & pineapple pizza from a street seafood restaurant. I’ll try to be more adventurous tomorrow ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      • Banana nutella DQ Blizzard (other flavors included mocha toffee almond, red bean green tea, and mango sticky rice)
      • Phuket Lager and a grilled vegetable salad at the Full Moon Brewport in Jungceylon

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