After spending a couple of days getting settled in Hanoi, we took a respite from the constant honking, traffic and crowds in the city by escaping to Lao Cai, which is situated in the northern countryside near the border with China. To reach this part of Vietnam, we booked a 7-hour sleeper train that embarked at 11pm. We both love trains (especially compared to flights), and were excited to check out the amenities in our private sleeper cabin. The overnight journey was loud and so bumpy that we thought we might skip off the rails at times. At each stop, the train suddenly halted with no warning. Yet we loved every second of it.
For our "honeymoon" trip around the world, we chose Vietnam. We've visited several Asian countries, but the way other travelers describe their experiences in Vietnam seemed special. We'd heard great things about the nature, food, shopping, culture and people in Vietnam, particularly in the north. From Luxembourg, our honeymoon trip included, Vietnam, Tokyo, Seattle and London, wrapping 17,000 air miles around the globe. To begin, we headed out before dawn on a bus from Luxembourg to Frankfurt, and after a very comfortable 10 hour premium economy flight on Vietnam Airlines, we woke up in Hanoi.
Cebu - El Nido - Hong Kong
After enduring a few months of grey skies in Luxembourg, we were thrilled to fly out of Europe for a sunny holiday adventure. With its untouched natural beauty and crystal waters, we decided to ring in the New Year from the Philippines. In total, our journey required 32 hours in the air, covering 14,000 flight miles (that's more than halfway around the equator). We headed out of Luxembourg early December 23rd on a two-hour drive through dense fog to Frankfurt Airport. Despite it being only a few days before Christmas, the international terminal was a ghost town. We expedited the check-in process even further by misreading German signage and passing through the military and crew immigration line.
This is a guest blog from Michelle and Aubrey - expats living in Seoul - about their hiking adventure:
Seoraksan is the 3rd highest mountain in South Korea. Hiking to the summit is a common challenge for Korean hiking enthusiasts. From Seoul, we started our journey with an overnight bus. We arrived in the valley under cover of darkness and started hiking around 3:30am. We didn't have flashlights but we were able to make out the trail from the light off other people's headlamps. It's better to bring your own though because other times it was pitch black and we just hoped we wouldn't trip or fall. While hiking in the pitch black, it was eerie to hear the stream underneath us.
This is a guest blog from Erin's sister Aubrey (an expat living in Seoul) about her recent travels to Borneo: Instagram AubreyR0
Borneo is the third--largest island in the world and the largest island in Asia. It's known for unparalleled SCUBA diving. We couldn't wait to leave dry land and Seoul's humidity behind and spend as much time as possible in the depths.
We began our second day in Ko Lanta with a 40 minute scooter ride through treelined mountains to Ko Lanta's old town. It used to be the main trading center but now it's off the beaten path. It features original 1800s wooden buildings, buddhist shrines and timeworn shops. Our favorite was a handmade hammock store. The downstairs floor was filled with colorful hammocks while the upstairs was reserved for the family residence.
Each New Years Eve, people swarm from all over Thailand to Chiang Mai for the annual Fire Lantern Festival.
The last 3 days in a row have been perhaps the most thrilling 3 consecutive days in our lives. Yesterday morning we flagged down a songthaew style taxi. It's a pickup truck with a covered roof on the back with two benches facing each other, no seat belts and open exterior. We headed toward the Tiger Kingdom sanctuary a half hour out of town with anxious anticipation.
Yesterday morning we traded skyscrapers for mountains.by flying from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. The vibe here it totally different. There is less congestion and tourism so you can get a deeper sense of everyday Thai life. We instantly appreciated the fresher air and chirping birds.
We are just coming back from our last dinner in Bangkok. We downed a total of eight bowls of spicy soup with noodles, bean sprouts, chili flakes, cilantro, green onions, peanuts and pork and the total bill was less than $3. The soup was so spicy that Davey's eyelids were sweating. We felt a palpable, far-out energy as the only westerners in the restaurant, wishing our families could see us in this exotic environment.
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