Vietnam (Việt Nam)Backpacking

Chào bạn from Hanoi!

Currently sitting on the top bunk in my hostel room, bed #5. Awakened by the sound of the bustling city, mopeds and trunks galore, I finally decide to write about this city that already holds a place in my heart. Southeast Asia is just around the corner so why not explore it? We asked ourselves the same question and decided our holidays would not be spent in our now empty dorm. After one week of ticket searching, we managed to book an outbound ticket to Hanoi and an inbound ticket from Phuket. Now with tickets out of the way, we eagerly began the search for our 70L backpacks, the idea of backpacking seemed so unreachable (until now) so you can imagine how thrilled I was.

This is the part where you’d look at me with a “really?!” expression if were speaking face-to-face… can you believe it didn’t cross my mind that I might need a visa? Yes, you may laugh. With five days left for our flight, we both stressfully searched for information regarding acquiring a one entry visa to Vietnam for a Portuguese citizen, silly me. Thankfully, I could request a “visa on arrival” form online for only $25. I quickly requested my form and it was e-mailed to me within one working day.

You’d think problem solved.. if only. Quick little tip, be aware of the Chinese New Year as everybody in china decides to travel during that time, including merchants, bus drivers, anything human basically.

(Spring migration). Chunyun, or spring migration, is the world’s largest annual human migration. It’s triggered in part by millions of Chinese workers heading to their hometowns for the holidays.

Taobao deliveries take weeks to arrive, (delivery drivers also deserve to travel), shops close … including printing shops. This is the part where I get lucky, our trusty cheap printing shop located 2mnts away from my dorm decided to close early the day I need it the most :) You can throw away the assumption that Beijing is a technogically advanced city out of the window.

I saught my dorm reception for information and hopped at the sight of a glistening printer sat behind her, I’m not one to ask for favours but this time was an exception. So I asked and I received a sharp “no.” in return.

This takes me back to the start of my first semester, “the Chinese will never say no, we always try to help” my teacher would say. Could be, but after receiving my first “no.” I decided to give her benefit of the doubt but after six months my collection of sharp “no”’s have become impressively expansive, so I’ll have to say her statement was fallacious.

Anyway, after receiving many excuses, head shakes and hours of searching, I resulted in taking a taxi to a friends’ home 1hr away just so I could print at 12am, thank God for helping hands.

Our journey began 19th January in snowy Beijing at 5am. With our backpacks we quickly regretted the idea of carrying 13kg on our young backs, we didn’t dare turn back. At the airport we got our bags wrapped for ¥50 each and checked in successfully, all was well until I was sat at the boarding gate on the phone to my mother expressing the recent misfortune of a friends’ tragic passing, with a 1hr flight delay to look forward to (sarcasm).

On the plane I sat next to a mother and her son who wouldn’t sit still, a little curious mind,  who knows what he might invent in the future. In Chinese he asked where I was from and they both laughed in shock when I replied in the same language. A few minutes went by and I awoke just after lunch time, before reaching for the call button the mother beat me to it and asked for some food for me, I thanked her with a genuine smile and I received one in return. Eating my lunch, the boy attentively watched and laughed at my way of eating (Removing the bread filling) I laughed with him before he told me (in English) that he wants to go to England. It was nice to see his mother inclined over proud and amused by her son.

I arrived in Kunming just missing my connection flight to Hanoi. Met my friend at the baggage belt and we hopped on the coach to the hotel provided by the airline so we could catch another flight the next day. After a relaxing stay at the hotel, we were ready to head to Vietnam.

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