My first destination was Vietnam.
I flew into Hanoi on the 30th of December. This was my first introduction to Asia and the craziness of the cities. The lake in the center of Hanoi looks quiet and tranquil, a welcome break from the craziness!
I was very unsettled for the first few days of my trip, consumed by self doubt and a few pangs of loneliness. I left Hanoi on new years day, earlier than planned but i needed to escape and find my own space. That evening I went to buy a bottle of water from the shop opposite my guesthouse. The shop owner invited me to eat with his family and neighbors and from that moment onward all my doubts about my trip disappeared and I knew everything would be ok. The warmth, kindness and generosity of the Vietnamise people is incredible.
After our meal and copious shots of a mysterious red drink I was dragged next door to the motorbike repair mans house for Karaoke and tea. I turns out that I am better at Karaoke in Vietnamese than English!
I cycled north west through Vietnam towards the Laos boarder. I was travelling light on my mountain bike.
Vietnamese food is incredible. I survived on Pho for most of my trip. I finally worked out how to ask for rice on my last day in Vietnam but had probably lost a bit of weight by then!
I stopped in a Cafe to buy some water. The owner wanted to look at all my kit and equipment and insisted that he tried on my helmet... it was a bit sweaty!
The driving in Vietnam is a little crazy. People ride motorbikes with out helmets, ride on the wrong side of the road and drive too fast for the roads. I came across this truck that had tipped over driving down a mountain road. Luckily no one was hurt, however this was not the only accident I saw in Vietnam. I saw enough to remind me that I needed to be incredibly careful and be alert and aware at all times for my own safety
I love contrast between the paddy field and the bright red sign. Vietnam is still a communist country and signs like these are abundant.
I was in Vietnam for a little over a week. It was a fantastic country and I would love to return to explore properly.