Healthy Hostel Recipes

Healthy…Hostel…Recipes. This page will help  you, who are on a short budget and keeping the cost down while traveling around wonderful Australia.

So, my number 1 golden rule…Is have a look at the free shelf in the fridge or cupboard in a hostel.

The Mystery Meal

There is always one part of the fridge or cupboard that is dedicated to the leftovers and left items. Will it be full of pasta? Rice? But…What can go into the pasta and rice? Will it be chicken? Mince Meat? Yoghurt? Basil Pesto? The choices are only limited by the kindness of strangers that come and go.

Breakfast Ideas

I always have cereal with milk which is super easy to make! Just pour cereal in a bowl, and then pour milk over it until you are satisfied.

Nutella on toast or any chocolate spread within your budget, quick and easy. And good for…On the go!

If I have time in the morning before work, I always try and make Poached Eggs on Wholemeal toast along with Avocado and Tomatoes (Both are optional if you can stretch out your budget) to give me a good energy booster before I start the day.

How to poach the egg?

  1. Bring the water to boil.
  2. Stir the water then add the egg. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Then remove the egg from the boiling water, then you should have a beautiful cooked runny egg.

Do you know how to get the stone out from the avocado? No? Here is a little tip for you.

  1. Halve the avocado by cutting around the seed lengthwise. Rotate the two halves apart.
  2. Take the avocado half with the stone in, place the flat of the knife over the stone. Hit the knife hard with the heel of your hand.
  3. Remove the knife with a turning motion, the stone should come with it.

Lunch Ideas

Mushroom Pasta is nice and simple and easy to budget with. And only requires four ingredients which are Mushrooms ( Hence the Mushroom Pasta…Duh!), Sour cream, Onion powder and obviously Pasta!

First step, boil the pasta, secondly fry the mushrooms with whatever oil there is from the free shelf (I never had to buy oil from the shop as it was always on the free shelf). Thirdly stir in sour scream and onion powder. Fourthly, add the mushroom sauce to the pasta and add spinach if you can afford it within your budget.

My personal favorite, Wraps.

I am a huge wraps lover. My favorite on a budget is Bacon Wraps with Onions, Carrot, some leaf salad and a dash of Garlic Mayonnaise on a plain wrap. But there are so many meats and vegetables that you could add. There is no right or wrong. Go crazy and make your famous wraps but keep things simple! Stick with one or two vegetables.

If you are on a tight budget, always have a look on the free shelf for sauces and you may get lucky with the odd vegetable that you can add to your wraps. I had few items that I took from the free shelf ranging from Onions to Peppers.

Toasties

In every hostel I have been to in Australia, there are always a toastie machine or a panni machine. There are many things that you could add to your toasties. But I keep my toastie simple with only three ingredients, maybe four if you want.

  1. Cook some bacon.
  2. Butter the toast or in my case if there’s a free basil pesto or sun dried tomato pesto, I use them instead.
  3. Pile the ingredients in order toast, cheese, cooked bacon, cheese, toast.
  4. Add a tomato if you want to feel a bit healthier.
  5. Toast it all until nice and golden brown.

 

Dinner Ideas

Burgers

I am also a huge burger lover, I love burgers! Who doesn’t! I think burgers are the number one backpacker’s food. Burgers are so simple to make and it is dead easy! All you need is 4 basic ingredients which are minced beef, egg, onion and parsley.

  • 500g of minced beef (with at least 15%-20% fat, better for cooking and not going too dry)
  • 1 Egg, whisked
  • 1 White or Red Onion, diced
  • Handful of chopped Parsley or, my personal favorite Basil.
  • Salt and Pepper to season

So, how to make it? Well, here it is a small simple guide

  1. Mix the ingredients together and form individual patties, should be able to make at least 6 patties.
  2. Chill them in the fridge for good 30 minutes to firm up.
  3. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry on each side for 6-8 minutes until cooked through
  4. Serve in a burger bun with whatever condiments of your choosing and a bit of lettuce and tomato.

If you want to be a bit creative, you can always add sun dried tomato pesto. Sometimes I add cheese in the middle of the pattie and merge with another pattie to create a big cheesy pattie! Yummmmmmy! Have I got your mouth watering?! I bet!

Home made Pizza

Yes! Another hostel favorite, pizzzzzzza! Nice and simple…And of course, quick to make.

All you need is three basic ingredients to make pizza. Want to know a secret? Pssst, I use wraps to make pizza! Yes, you heard that right…Wraps! Just use plain tortilla wraps.

So the ingredients you need are, tortilla wrap, cheese and BBQ/tomato sauce whatever float your boat!

  1. Preheat oven at 170 degree
  2. Place any kind of cheese that you like, put it on the wrap, then another wrap on top it. Oven it for 5-10 minutes until cheese melt.
  3. Pour over the sauce on the top of the wrap, add cheese
  4. Back in the oven until cheese are fully melted
  5. And….Eat your yummy pizza!

There are many things you can add to your pizza, vegetables and/or meats.

Want a tip and stay on budget? Ask your fellow hostel mates if they would like a pizza, if they do…Ask every single hostel mates to chip in per item. For example. 1 person bring wraps, another person bring cheese, etc…Get it? Cost saving!

Chicken Noodle stir-fry

Everybody favorite, Chicken Noodle stir-fry and dead easy to make and you can keep on budget easily. Don’t want all of these vegetables? Just remove some or even add some to your liking. This recipe should make at least 4 portions.

  • 250 g chicken, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 capsicum, sliced
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced
  • 500 g hokkien noodles
  • Oyster sauce, or whatever sauce you fancy.
  1. Add oil to a large frying pan or wok and heat to a high heat
  2. Add all vegetables, fry for until nearly cooked.
  3. Add the chicken and fry for 1 minutes
  4. Add the noodles and mix till combined then add as much sauce as desired.
  5. Fry until the chicken is cooked through, the vegetables are cooked to your liking and noodles is soft.
  6. Serve hot

 

Any other recipes worth mentioning? Let me know, and I be sure to add it, along with your name!

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Things you need to do when you arrive in Australia

First of all, well done! You have finally arrived in Australia! Let the fun begin! But before you start having the time of your life, lets get things in order before you start adventuring out to the jungle, off-roading on a 4×4, scuba diving or being a daredevil jumping off a cliff or jump off the plane and sky dive. Sounds pretty darn fun doesnt it!

  1. Medicare

Medicare is like NHS (National Health Services) for us, British Citizens. So it is an universal health scheme. It is a part of commonwealth government, not every country will get it. It guarantees  all citizens  access to a wide range of health care, with maybe a small cost or no cost at all. Australia has an agreement with 11 countries. So Australian citizens will get free healthcare for little cost when they come to live or work in those countries. Therefore as I hold a British passport  i am eligible to qualify for  Medicare.

Just go to any local Medicare bank. there are located throughout Australia. You can fill the form in at any branch,  make sure you bring your passport and visa paperwork that you should have before arriving in Australia.  They will check out the form, the card can take up to four weeks to arrive and it is valid for a year.

    2. Tax File Number

Tax File Number is very important to have, therefore it is to identifies you for tax and superannuation, which is a retirement fund (Superannuation). There is number of ways to get a TFN, depending on your situation. You must apply for a TFN because it helps you to get paid for any job, every job will need a tax file number. The number will come  either by email or post. Once you open a bank account, make sure you add the tax file number to it so you won’t get over taxed when you get paid. Just go to the bank that you want to open an account with. Give them your Tax File Number and they will happily add this to your bank details for tax purposes.

To apply is really easy, I did it without any issues. Tax File Number

3. Bank

There are many banks  throughout Australia, there are four major banks which are Westpac, Commonwealth, NAB (National Australia Bank) and ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group) For Commonwealth, you can apply online to get the bank card and can collect when you arrive in Australia. They also will happily set it up for you, so your card is ready to use. For the other banks you need to apply to open an account when you arrive in Australia.

All you need is passport and National Insurance Number (For UK citizens) go to any branch of your choice to set it up. To transfer money over from overseas, I would not transfer money from bank to bank which cost a lot of money for transaction fees. I used Transferwise, which has a very low fee, depending  on how much you want to transfer. There is another one for huge transaction, which is Currencyfair and you can save a large amount of money.

4. Sim card

There are many different mobile providers throughout Australia. Two most popular are Optus and Telstra. Optus is great for cities and towns coverage. Telstra is the best for remote areas to get signal and coverage. It does work in the cities and towns as well, but not as good as Optus. I use Optus, which only costs  $30 a month to get 4 GB which is more than enough.

All you need to do is, go to any branch and say what you want and they will find the best deal for you.

Sounds easy, yeah? Anything else I miss out, just comment below and I’ll be sure to add to the list!

 

Five things to do before arriving in Australia

  1. Get a Visa

First of all, get an Australian working holiday visa! It is super easy to get, but there are some requirements you must meet their needs in orderer for it to be accepted.  The visa is only valid for one year, which doesn’t begin until you enter Australia.  For more information how to get an Australian working holiday, check out their Working Holiday Visa . Make sure you also have a valid passport with at least 6 months before renewal.

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2. Start Saving

Australia is one of the most expensive country in the world, it has the highest minimum wage in the world! So you definitely need money to keep you going until you find a job and a place to live or just to travel all over  this fascinating country. You, of course will also want to have fun in Australia, so bringing enough money is essential. Once you enter Australia, one of the requirements is to be able to show your working holiday visa and also to show a proof of funds. At least AUD 5,000 is the least amount of money which is around £2,800. (But I wasn’t asked to show  proof of funds when I entered, nor my working holiday visa number). Just showed them my passport and voila entered.

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3. Get a travel insurance

It is important to have while traveling to a new country, but it may also be required as a part of the visa application. Because Australia can be pretty expensive if you are involved in any kind of an accident and the medical bill could sky rocket over your budget, so be prepared and get a travel insurance, you never know you may need it and it will come in handy. I am currently using Alpha Insurance, but will likely move to World Nomads when my insurance expires in a few months.

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4. Start looking for flights.

Once your visa application has been approved, look for cheapest possible flight to Australia so you can get a good deal. Skyscanner and Kayak are the best flight comparison sites out there. So get on them straight away and find the best deal.

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5. Have your resume…”Aussie-Ready”

Having your resume Aussie-Ready (Australians don’t call them CV’s!) before you leave home will help you find a job much faster, as there are certain things Australian employers will look for in a resume. Many backpackers, are mainly unprepared with regard to a resume and it can cost them their ideal job or to be able to work in a farm for the regional days to extend another year of your working holiday visa if you wish.

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6. Get excited! GETTTTT EXCITTTTTEEDDD!!!

Going to Australia on a working holiday visa will be one of the best experiences of your life, so start getting excited. It will also be one of the fastest years of your life, I am forever grateful to be able to witness how diverse this country is. So, make the most of it. Going to Australia with a positive attitude to finding work, having fun and making the most out of your stay in Australia is essential.

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Picture at the top : Taken at Fraser Island.

 

Kuala Lumpur and Cameron Highlands

Selamat datang, everyone! Do you know what selamat datang means? It means…Welcome! Now you know!

Malaysia is such a great country to visit and they are very friendly and welcoming. I have seen so many  people on Facebook groups ( Malaysia / Singapore Backpacker Group) asking is it safe to travel? Of course it is safe to travel, I have traveled solo on many stages of my travels, and always made friends. And my favorite Canadian, Laurel whom I met in Thailand and again in Vietnam,  arrived in Malaysia.  And we met up again for a bite to eat, (an amazing Roti Tissue).

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Roti Tissue!

Kuala Lumpur, it is an amazing city, with worlds tallest twin tower, this city is also  heaven to foodies, they’re so many food stalls, especially in the heart of Bukit Bintang district. If you go to Jalan Alor street, there are many food stalls and restaurants to choose from, ranging from Pad Thais, Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup), BBQ’ed Frogs, they are many to choose from! I did have a frog, and surprisingly it is not chewy, rubbery or anything like that. It is tender, juicy and definitely tasty! Yummmmmmy! I would eat it again! I also had frog porridge in Singapore which was also really good! At the start, I thought it will taste horrible, and didn’t go for it, but I am glad I did. I mean…Why not? You only live once and also, you are in their country,  I wanted to experience their culture and cuisine.

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Twin Tower! (I know it is not a good photograph, but I am a rookie with my camera)

 

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Frog and among other foods on the stick….Yummy!

Cameron Highlands is a great place to visit, but in my opinion it is really touristy,  I went on my own to hike around for good 4-5 hours on a hiking trail through the forest, there was no need for a guide. There are approximately 10-12 different hiking trails throughout Cameron Highlands. I personally took hiking trail number 7 and 8.

The trees grow so close together and the paths were not very distinctive, the ground was covered in fallen pine needles and branches resulting from some recent high winds. The trail was winding and dense, I had to be careful not to get my backpack caught in the branches.  The trees grow so tall that you cannot see the canopy sometimes this made the trail very dark in places, my feet were covered in bark and grasses along the path.

Malaysia is an excellent country for hikers, especially the Cameron Highlands, which is  Malaysia’s tea producing capital, being due to the high altitude and cool climate. if you visit a plantation you can follow the entire production of how its made. You can drink the freshest tea you will ever have along with a scone overlooking the huge tea plantation.

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Tea Plantation

 

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Robinson Waterfall in Tanah Rata

 

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At the top of the hiking trail number 7/8

 

 

So Welcome to Malaysia, honestly I can just say…Malaysia is a brilliant country and well worth visiting. The food….is out of the world! Yummmmmmmmy (even the Frogs)I will be back to Jalan Alor street food street!

Saigon? Ho Chi Minh City? Both the same!

Nowadays, everyone calls this city, Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC for short, instead of Saigon since the communist revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, reunited the South and North of Vietnam.  From what I heard, mostly the South Vietnamese call the city Saigon. You’ll see many Saigon names in hotels, bars, restaurants, especially in the heart of district one which is the very centre of Ho Chi Minh City. However the younger generation have been taught to call this city Ho Chi Minh City from their textbooks. (This is what I hear from the people that I have met throughout my travels in Vietnam).

Ho Chi Minh City is a very busy city, with thousands of motorbikes and scooters, beeping their horns. Thick, suffocating  exhaust fumes in my face, making me cough and splutter. The particles invade the lungs and sting the eyes . They call it “smog” but truly it is a chemical soup that can only shorten  lives. No where in the city, no matter which city you are in Vietnam. I would strongly advice getting a face mask such as in the picture below to  protect you from the fumes  in the air from breathing  and end up feeling poorly and coughing violently. Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi have the worst polluted air in Vietnam. So, get a  mask, save yourself! Be safe and be healthy!

I arrived at 6:00am from Dalat to Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese are definitely morning people, no matter where I go, I always see street food vendors they open their stalls at 5am for everyone to have their breakfast before going to work, school or home. I have seen bikes that were overloaded carrying 5 or 6 hundred pound sacks  of grain, a set of chairs, 8 foot lengths of pipe (usually held by a passenger), a box of 8 ten-foot high palm trees, stacks of beer crates. I have also seen 4-5 puppies on a motorbike, 1 or 2 at the front and 3 at the back, crazy stuff! When the motorbike fails to be big enough to carry something, they improvise a hitch onto the back of the bike and attach a two-wheel cart. This country is definitely run by motorbikes!

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I stayed at Vietnam Guide Home, run by two lovely guys. They are so friendly and kind,  they let me in at 6:30am although the reception is shut they stayed in the reception, sleeping on the sofa as they were  waiting for me to arrive. They really did go above and beyond. They made my 2 nights stay very pleasant, they even went out in the morning to get some breakfast for me, a sub, a typical Vietnamese sandwich. They organized a tour to the Mekong Delta which was pretty cool they took us to the tour agency on their motorbike, I will talk about that in a minute. Also, one of the guys took us out to a vegetarian restaurant and on a walking tour. The beds were really comfortable which is a huge bonus! Best about this home, they sell one of the cheapest and biggest bottle of Saigon beer for only 12k dong! (40p)

 

There’s one thing that I have seen all over in Vietnam no matter where you are, especially in the city and popular towns/villages. There are many, many crazy electrical wiring on lamp posts to attached to each together. I am amazed how  the electrical engineers knows what to look for and repair it without getting a major power cut, or electrocuting themselves.

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Assessing the wires

Mekong Delta

What can I say about the Mekong Delta? Mekong Delta is well worth visiting, it is only a short ride from Ho Chi Minh City. I went for a day tour of the Mekong Delta with my  friend, Marley who is a Dutchie. We got to visit the Coconut Candy factory and see how it is made into everything, from candies to toothpaste  among other things……AWESOME! The tour around Mekong Delta is beautiful, there were many water coconut hanging from branches, just hanging  above  the water. Mekong Delta is such an interesting place.

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Malaysia blog is coming up next, sorry for long delayed blog post. I have been extremely busy!

A Dream Town for Adrenaline Junkie, Dalat

Dalat is located in the central highlands of Vietnam, surrounded by pine forests, waterfalls and hills.

Do you love the water? Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you like adventure sports? Then Dalat is the ideal place for you, whether you want to go canyoning, rafting, rock climbing or mountain biking.  Surrounded by nothing but trees, bushes, rocks and mountains.  Not suitable if you have difficulty walking as nothing is on a flat level.  There are tree roots and bark covering the canyon floor, making it interesting at times, suitable footwear is a must (no flip flops) if you want to  leave with your toes intact. the sound and smells are so extreme from the hustle and bustle of the cities and the pollution from the motorbikes and cars, there are no car horns peeping or motorbikes revving, just the sound of nature.  Birds singing water running down the mountains cascading over waterfalls, it is so tranquil, its breathtaking.  I can still taste the water from a stream, so clean clear and cold. (the best water I have ever tasted).  I find the peace intoxicating. I’m thrilled to be here in Dalat surrounded by mother nature.

CANYONINNNNGGGG TIMEEE!

Canyoning is amazing! Cliff jumps from 11metres or more, you feel like a daredevil or superman. Jumping from cliffs into lakes, swimming from point to point sliding down streams on your front or on your back (don’t worry safety gear is provided)  the adrenaline rush is amazing. This was a guided event the guides are very experienced and knowledgeable all safety equipment and instructions on how to wear it was given. It was crazy experience. The group I was with was awesome, we were a mixture of nationalities such as British, Swiss, Dutch, German and Americans, oh and Swedish! It is amazing how you meet people and learn about their culture.

 

 

Dalat is known as the most whimsical city in Vietnam. it has the most famous Vietnamese work of art in the world, it is called the Crazy House this is the most whimsical attraction. Definitely a must see when in Dalat. As well as the Crazy Hour there is the Maze bar this is a must see as well (if you have ever been in a maze you will know what I mean)! Crazy house…is just crazy! Wacky, funky, unusual, it is a must visit attraction while you are in Dalat.  You can get lost easily if you drink too much alcohol and have no idea where to go. You have to think and find a way to get to the roof top, as there is a bar and a nice view overlooking the small town toward the centre, where you can see lots of bustling people trying to sell their goods from their small wooden stalls.

 

 

 

The hostel, I stayed at called Dalat Sky Hostel, which is a pretty cool hostel, with decent comfortable mattress. They host a family dinner every night for a price of 75k dong (£2.50) which is a bargain, and guess what…You can eat as much as you want until the buffet runs out! They do different dishes every day, ranging from Sweet and Sour Chicken strips, Pork in juicy white garlic sauce, Beefy Pho Bo with lots of vegetables and thick sauce (Not watery stuff), vegetarian Spring Rolls, warm crusted bread, Pumpkin soup, fried Chicken, crispy oven Tofu, Egg Salad with Green leaves, oven garlic vegetables (Carrot, Peppers, Green Beans, Onions) And many more! All of them taste so delicious and yummy. Well worth the money in my opinion. I didn’t go anywhere else for dinner. Just at Sky Hostel, because it is cheap and very reasonable and it is home cooked. (I cant decide if this is a travel blog or a food one, you decide) Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures with the food, since I haven’t got a camera with me, and my phone died!

 

I am going to try and catch up with my blog that I have not been doing for past 2 months due to no wifi’s and the keyboard decided to break down and also been on the road for nearly a month in Australia. Sorry to keep you all waiting!

 

Peace out and safe travels! And eat well!

 

Hoi An

Hoi an is a beautiful little town, an ancient town that has influences with the Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and French.  The buildings are beautifully designed and well detailed. Many of the shops look to be a hundred years old. Thousands of colourful lanterns hanging from buildings in the streets, full of energetic and vibrant activity.

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Took by Gabriel, AKA Visualize Leaving

This picture above, taken by Gabriel (a fellow traveller) who is fairly new to taking photo’s. Keep it up, you’ll go a long way! Follow his stories on his blog.

It is such a beautiful  town, especially the old town, where the lanterns are to walk on and it does make you feel peaceful apart from lots of chatting around in the area. But hey, what can you do!

Whilst i was in Hoi An I went to the two best restaurants the food was fantastic and so cheap as well.  We used the  Lonely Planet guide book and TripAdvisor and found a hidden gem, called Bale Well Gardens Restaurants, which is couple of minutes away from the main road, it is located in an alley. There are few food stalls and a hair dresser shops in the alley as well. Bale Well Gardens, is amazing! They only have a one dish menu, so you get pork skewers, spring rolls, crispy egg omelette, kimich, vegetables, green leaves, chilli sauce and rice paper wraps. Best thing about this? It cost £4.50 per person! And you get a lot! So worth it, delicious and tasty the staff who work there are kind and friendly, they showed us in what order for to load the food in the rice paper wrap.

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Bale Well Garden

Another foodie restaurant called Banh Mi Queen (Bahn My Queen) and it has the best Vietnamese sandwich I have ever tasted.  It is run by a lovely elderly lady, Madam Khanh and her family. There are limited choice, but we went for the Chicken, Pate, Egg, Egg sauce, vegetables, coriander and chilli sauce. The price? 65p, yes you read it right…SIXTY FLIPPIN’ FIVE PENCE! 65p! 65p! 65p!

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Outside of Banh Mi Queen
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Yummy sandwiches

 

On the day we went to Bale Well Garden, a lady  took us to a tailors  who  happened to be her cousin. The tailor shop called Bao Diep, one of the best in Hoi An. This town, has so many tailors and leather shops. It is cheap, cheap compared to what you get back home for me in this case it’s United Kingdom. A friend of mine, Marco brought 2 suits, 2 pants, 3 shirts, a tie and handkerchief. All of this comes to the price of $325 (£240) which is a bargain because all of these are custom made. So you just pick material, choose a style you like. Then back for 3 fittings. Voila suit made! Perfect fit as well. I didn’t get a suit but I had 2 t-shirt made with my logo on it.  The more you buy, the cheaper it is, everything takes about 3 days.

 

 

 

 

There is leather shop which is pretty awesome, again  made to order perfect fit for your feet every time. But it is not just shoes, they make handbags as well as wallets. These are very skilled leather workers. I didn’t get any shoes, but Marco did, he brought a pair of leather shoes. Such a slick design!

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Marco’s shoes

 

 

 

I am going to leave it here for you to enjoy my blog post and admiring the lovely photographs. I know it is a small blog post, but I hope, in next few posts will be big!

 

 

 

Da Nang

The journey to Da Nang, was eventful to say the least….unbelievable. Why? We rode late into the afternoon, due to the fact we had spent much of the time early on in the day at the abandoned water park. We left Hue at 4:00pm hoping to avoid the rush hour.

As we set off  (the three musketeers) The weather was just perfect a little sun, a little breeze and no rain,  just perfect weather for bikers. We left a little later than we had originally planned and so decided not to use the  Ho Chi Minh Trail, as there isn’t much visibility when night has fallen, we were going to use the highway as logically this was the quickest route to get there.  but apparently the highway is closed to motorbikes overnight for safety reasons. What a blessing that turned out to be we had  to go via Hai Van Pass, what a ride WOW……. Even in the dark and the fog the bends in all the twists and turns and what must have been the smoothest road in the whole of Vietnam that i have ridden on.  ….Just wow, it was amazing to ride on, the smoothest road I have ever ridden on in the whole of Vietnam. The whole journey took us approximately 2 hours 20 minutes and around 96km (60 miles) to get to Lucky Bee Homestay. The owner of this homestay speaks excellent English and are so welcoming.

The three of us, talked about what to do the next day and we all agreed to get up at 4:45am. (are we mad) Why? Why not, we want to go back to Hai Van Pass and watch the sunrise with our own eyes. Oh my word it is the most beautiful thing I have seen in my life.  And to have witnessed such a spectacular  sunrise with 2 great friends, was breathtaking we spent a good  2 hours up there, just sitting, watching and wondering if we will ever see anything so spectacular again.  The photographs I took, are just, remarkable and unbelievable.

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The Three Musketeers!
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Chilling on a hammock, enjoying the view at the top Hai Van Pass

 

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Marco admiring the view with Jackie the motorbike
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The view from Hai Van Pass

The views are just so incredible, it was so worth it to get up very early in the morning.  You must really experience this even in the middle of the day when the sun is shinning in a clear blue sky or there are a few clouds the scenery is just so magnificent. The smoothest quietest road (apart from the occasional lorry beeping their horn to encourage you to move over so they could pass in safety).

Later on in the evening, that is where “What the hell happened in Da Nang” comes in. After the meal out with my great friends, Gabriel and Marco. We were on the way back and I am in the lead  navigating back to the home stay. No more than 3 minutes of leaving the small, Vietnamese restaurant (It was really tasty and yummy). I was about to the turn onto main road from the side road, out of nowhere, a lady driver on her Japanese Honda motorbike merged from main road to the side road, hit me from behind without breaking or using a signal to indicator to show me where she is going. I got hit badly from behind,  I hit the kerb, whilst trying to brake hard, before hitting the street light pole, but I ended up using gas, everything happened so quickly. Then I fell to the right, my leg hit the kerb, i was a bit dazed, luckily no broken bones. I also hurt my left chest badly when I hit the bikes handle bars, again luckily, no bruises or discolouring on my chest. I am so grateful to be alive and no major injuries. Just a bruise on my right leg and i felt stiff for couple of days. I was wearing a helmet and that was damaged, it now  has a big hole which I will show you later on. And the bike is not so good. The front of the bike is badly damaged, the front wheel is bent, the tyre popped. Headlight broken smashed into pieces, the speedometer fell out, hanging on the side, barely holding. being held by the electric wires on the side of the bike. The gear box is very loose. Other than that, the rest of the bike is fine and working. And I grateful to still be alive.

A local, stopped and helped us , he spoke excellent English and helped us get organised, he arranged for a truck to come,  pick me up along with my bike and put it in the back of his open truck back to the homestay.

Next day, we got a bike mechanic to come and pick up the damaged bike  to get it repaired, it  only cost £50 for a full repair and everything will be done by the next day. Shame on you United Kingdom! For any transport repairs (Cars, Vans, Motorbike) You are talking about sometimes a week or more, depending on what need doing. To wait for your transports fully repaired. In Vietnam, everything will be done within 24 hours.

Next day, we went to Packo Hostel, this is in the centre of Da Nang, a good 20 minutes away from Lucky Bee Homestay. This hostel is pretty cool,  there’s an open kitchen, so you can cook your own food, do it yourself breakfast all in with the price. They have a basketball court in the yard, spacious garden and most important of all, they have two, of the most loving, adorable and friendliest golden retrievers!  The hostel itself,  use es shipment containers to make dorm rooms, it is built under the concept of nature conserving and eco friendly.

Within 48 hours, of my 1st motorbike accident…I had another accident! This again was, not my fault.  I was turning left onto a path, to park up my bike, I used signals, checked mirror twice.The guy behind me wasn’t looking where he was going, he was supposed to right, not left. So…Baaaam, got hit from behind, again! This time, my brake light and back signals don’t work. So now, I got a cut behind my left thigh, luckily no bruise or broken bones, just pain in my chest and back from the previous accident. So now, I had enough and  have decided to sell my bike and it sold within 2 days for a reasonable price. (Time for public transport!). But I will be back to Da Nang in the future and finish my Ho Chi Minh Trail for my bucket list. I WILL BE BACK!

I ended up staying there for 6 nights, because the area is decent, everything is within walking distance to beach, bars and shops. The beach is incredible, nice soft sand, clean water and many waves, only small waves but there are surfers out there that want to surf, to find a perfect wave and enjoy! And you can see the the “White Lady Buddha” from a long way off.

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White Lady Buddha in the middle

The hostel is really cheap, only 100k per night, including food. What more can you ask for? (Maybe include a towel would be huge bonus!) The staff are friendly and helpful, giving  tips on where to go for activities ranging from Lady Buddha to Marble Mountain. There are many activities!

We went to see the Lady Buddha, which is the largest Buddha in the whole of Vietnam, the entrance is free, and definitely worth doing. The Lady Buddha stands over 232 feet tall. You just have to see it, and it is incredible how it was built using the white stone, the statue, stands over 232 feet high!

 

 

Da Nang itself, is an amazing city  not to be missed! There is  a Dragon Bridge which shoots out Fire and Water at 9pm every Saturday and Sunday. We only missed that by a couple of minutes,  they have to stop the traffic for 5 minutes or so, so that the the giant man-made dragon can shoot out fire and water in the middle of the road.

I know the photos are not great, as it was last minute decision to go there as I didn’t have my camera on me for Dragon Bridge.

Next day, I made my journey towards Hoi An, but that will be another time to write!

Onwards to Hue

Yep, finally…Time to hit the road once again and conquer it with my Rocket (Motorbike). After staying and being stuck in Phong Nha due to awful weather at Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An. The worst and deadliest typhoon in Vietnam’s history for the past 16 years.

The journey was challenging since the distance was 212km (132 miles) to get there and took us 4 hours. Why was the journey challenging? Well, the three musketeers (Gabriel, Marco and I) did 3 hours 30 minutes in a pouring, heavy rain due to typhoon Damery, but at the same time it was rather fun! Least we got a bit of sun at the start, but would rather have the sun for the last 30 minutes of the journey to give us a chance to dry out a  our clothes whilst riding our motorbikes. The view is still spectacular on Ho Chi Minh Trail (when it is not raining!) I managed to take a few photo’s before it started pouring down.

My 1st night at Hue Backpackers hostel, it was crazy! we met Daniel who stopped outside our hostel in his mini bus  he was suppose to go to Hanoi from Da Nang, but we persuaded him into staying at Hue for 2 nights and it worked! It was good to see Daniel again and a great catch up. So that night, it was crazy, yes it is…For some reason Marco and Daniel went across to the clothes shop to buy some clothes and end up buying a dress each, then Gabriel and Marco’s friend Micheal brought some. Then I was  pressured into buying one, so I did! (didn’t need much persuading) And now we all dress up as ladies for the night. We sang, played games of pool, and drank good beers! It was such a good evening! As you can see the pictures from below! Ladies night rules to take the advantages of drinks offers!

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After staying 1 night in Hue Backpackers, I changed the hostel for more homely and cozy. So I went to New Life Homestay which is 1 minute drive from Hue Backpackers. The homestay is so lovely, wish I took some pictures to show you. This homestay is a proper house with a family living there. They provide free breakfast, a senior lady made a mean Banana Pancake or Fried Egg with bread. Both are really tasty. This homestay was 100k per night, which is very good, I ended up staying there for 3 more night, because the family were so lovely. The location is brilliant, with many shops and restaurants to choose from. I would definitely come back to this homestay. This has been the best homestay I have been to so far on my travels. Thick comfortable mattress, they always asked me if I am okay, etc. This family truly looks after you and you do feel a part of the family. Since I spent most of my one afternoon in bed due to not being well. When I woke up to go downstairs to get some fresh air, they asked me if I am okay. They really go above and beyond to make sure you are enjoying the stay and get anything you may need. I hope to come back in future! Sơn Lê if you are reading this…Thank you so much for looking after me during my enjoyable stay!

Marco and I went to the Imperial City, which is inside Hue, a 2nd city. It has a a walled palace within the citadel of the city of Hue. There are some temples, gardens and tombs within the citadel. It is beautify designed, but its been raining hard recently and some area had been damaged and flooded. But don’t let that stop you from visiting the place. In order to get in and explore the whole area, IT IS HUGE! You’ll have to pay 150,000 dong. Which I found to be reasonable, we spent a good 2 hours there, just walking around and enjoying the scenery and the sun. That day was so sunny which made the trip more enjoyable, well…Our trip! There is war museum ranging from world war 2 to Vietnam War.

 

In the few next few days, the three musketeers went to the abandoned water park before heading to Da Nang, this is located around 10-12 km away, just outside Hue. It is at Thuy Tien Lake. It is worth the visit to kill the time. The water park is huge. The whole place is not so abandoned. There are still people who visit the place. There are some locals and backpackers who come, visit and chill. There is a food stall there as well so you can have something to eat and drink . But still the whole place is worth a visit. And it only costs 20,000 dong to enter the water park. Lots of graffiti on the water slides, the dragon is at the centre of the water park. Inside of the dragon, there are many smashed up, what I think it is…Water tanks? Sea life Aquarium? Judge it for yourself! Overgrown grass on the steps. Lots of branches along the road, makes it dangerous for motorbike riding, but fun and challenging.

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This time, I have been using my camera! Photo’s do indeed looks better with my camera than my phone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Crazy and Stressful Journey to Phong Nha

Yes, this is a crazy journey from Hoang Mai to Phong Nha, why? Well, you will find out why later on in this post. Stressful and crazy at the same time. We left fairly early in the morning after a wild night with the Vietnamese guys, eating, drinking, dancing, arm wrestling and singing. The crazy thing is, these  guys thought, Gabriel, Marco and I are gay!  We soon let them know that we were not, a lot to do  with communication barrier, but overall, it was a really good and wild night.

It did take us a while to find a petrol station to fill my  motor bike with some juice to get me to Phong Nha journey. We stopped on route for  breakfast to fill our bellies up, enough to keep us going for a 6 hour journey stretching around 300 km (186 miles) the route was boring and dull as there wasn’t much to see.  As soon we got onto the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the scenery changed and was beautiful. However…However, it’s got crazy as we were supposed to get to Phong Nha for 17:00pm, but we ended up getting there just after 19:00, why? That is a very good question. (Answer below).

My bike decided a double puncture would add to the days entertainment, yes you read it right, TWO TYRES in a space of an hour!  *Crying emoji* first puncture was just outside of a house in middle of nowhere, luckily a Vietnamese guy came out to see what was going on, he didn’t understand a word of English, so we pointed at the problem and he brought out a pump. So I  pumped my tyre up, but I filled too much air and it went…KABOOOOOOM. Luckily  a  guy on a motorbike stopped and rang a mechanic up for us to get new tube, after a while of waiting around and voila he came, fixed my bike up and inflated it to the correct pressure, I paid the mechanic and we were on our way again.

Now, my bike is healthy and ready to conquer the road once again! on route we met some German  backpackers along the road, Viven and Fynn with their motorbikes, they are doing the same route as we were, going to Phong Nha. An hour later, my bike couldn’t take it anymore and decided to have a second puncture on the SAME NEW TUBE! Why is this happening to me! Luckily, I was only 3 minutes from the bike mechanic shop, and I asked for a new tube and some brake pads. After a while of waiting and getting my bike back to her health, and it was good to go! Finally, we arrived at Shambalaa Hostel, Phong Nha 8 hours later! Such a crazy and stressful journey especially the last 2 hours! Iv’e never been so happy to get to the hostel and just grab the first beer of the day.

That night, we all decided to go out and celebrate the journey that we took from Hoang Mai to Phong Nha at Easy Tiger Hostel. We met Viven and Arjan there, we had a lot to drink, shots after shots, more free shots and some decent food! Gabriel went back to the hostel early, Marco and I stayed, but I retired at 2am, however…Marco fell asleep at the hostel bar down the street and woke up at 6am! Haha Marco! Overall is was a good fun filled night and I end up having a selfie with a cow in the middle of the road before going back to the hostel! Whoops!  (i don’t think we are engaged)

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Gabriel, Marco, Claudi, Bi Bi and I went to Botanic Gardens, it only costs £1.35. This is the best £1.35 I have ever spent we hiked a good 2-3 hours around the Botanic Gardens, seeing the waterfalls and such  breathtaking views, the most amazing view I have witnessed with my own eyes. It is such an incredible feeling, and I felt free with nothing around me, just my traveling companions admiring the views in front of us.

 

Not the best video, but hey its something that counts, right!

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(Left to right) Marco, I, Bi Bi, Claudi and Gabriel admiring the view