If you were wondering where all the French people are in Asia, well Vietnam is definitively one of the hot spots! Never had met so many in this trip until then.
That was so relaxing for me to finally be able to speak my own language after 5 months of traveling.
I’ll start with Hanoi. Buzzling city, the Asia as you would imagine it, with its motorcycles everywhere, people selling fruits in bamboo baskets, foodstalls everywhere in the streets, and strangely enough or maybe not, some bahn-mi (baguettes sandwichs), croissants and …crèmes au caramel. That was definitively appreciated!
I have been a lot to Asia before, but still, coming from 3 weeks in super isolated Arborek, Raja Ampat almost straight to Hanoi was a bit of a culture shock. Luckily I met there another French traveler, Colline without whom I would probably have seen much less of Hanoi.
Still, after two days in Hanoi I was ready to escape the city.
Not to Halong Bay but to Cat Ba island a bit north of Halong Bay. Again, trying to not go directly where all the tourists are. Heard too many bad things on Halong Bay.
Spent a day kayaking and rock climbing there, which was really cool. Rock climbing was a first for me and I had not imagined how demanding it can be mentally. Because even if you know someone is there if you fall, you still don’t want to fall. No, really not!
Next stop, well I wasn’t really sure anymore where to go after that. Until I met 2 other French guys in my kayaking trip, Amaury and Alexandre, who recommended me Ethnic travel, an agency that puts you in relation with local guides.
This is just what I needed. Got back to Hanoi and a few hours after I was on my way to Sapa, in the mountains north west of the country.
I especially wanted to go to Bac ha market where all the local ethnies go sell their craft. Could not resist buying a few pieces there.
Spent 3 days in the region, with 2 other French people (when I said all the French were there…!), Caroline and François. We went walking for 3 days in the corn and rice paddies in the mountains. One of our guides, Vu, was just the best, super funny and speaking good English, it was just great to spend 2 days with her and go eat at her parents’ place.
Hoi An was my next stop. I recommend Jolie Villa, one of the best places I stayed in. Nice people, great room and they lend you some bikes to cycle into town… Cycling there is definitively an experience! I had the experience of velib in Paris, well that’s easy compared to Vietnam. Thank God locals know how to make their way around you because you just don’t!
There I decided to enjoy one of the thing Hoi An is famous for… its gastronomy! Delicious dishes. And the tailoring. After a few negotiations I could go to a tailor factory to see how they sew the clothes. It was really cool to be there with the locals, behind the curtains of this whole industry.
And finally my last stop was Ho Chi Minh, which best for me was definitively the War museum. Excellent photography there. Definitively worth spending time.
At night, went to a rooftop bar in the city, the Social Club. Great views, drinks and company, a good way to end my trip in Vietnam!