Nha Trang Street Food Tour

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Nha Trang may not seem appealing at first, with its tower blocks, but delve a little deeper, and this tourist hotspot has more to offer. Close to the sea, Nha Trang is a great place to scuba dive and is actually one of the best places in Vietnam to learn.

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Nha Trang

I didn’t want to scuba dive, but I did end up going on a night out, and somehow got caught up in some deep flood water.

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I stayed at Mojzo Dorm, which offered a street food tour every day at 3.30pm, for 200,000VND.

Somehow, I’d found myself disappointed with Vietnamese food so far, so I hoped I’d find some good Vietnamese food.

I was not disappointed.

The Tour

I was the only person who signed up for the tour on that day so I had a tour guide all to myself. My tour guide drove me around the stops on a scooter, but she said usually if there are more people they would walk.

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At the first stop, I ate a dish made from eggs. My guide told me that it’s a popular choice for breakfast. The restaurant made 6 in total, 2 from chicken eggs, 2 from quail eggs and 2 with meat. They were all delicious and I was hungry enough to eat them all but decided not to in order to save room for the rest of the food tour.

It was fun to pick up the eggs using chopsticks and try to dip them in the dip and successfully get them in my mouth.

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Time for my favourite dish of the day  – fresh spring rolls (GỎI CUỐN). Honestly, I could’ve eaten them all day. They came with a delicious dip and I ended up putting a couple in a bag to take home and eat later.

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Fresh spring rolls

Next up was  Banh Cuon, a dish made from a base of rice flour batter and pork. Again, another delicious dish.

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Banh Cuon

Banh beo – steamed rice cakes topped with pork were the next stop. By this point, I was so full and was surprised the the portion sizes were still so huge. Again, another delicious food.

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Banh Beo

Snacks loved by Vietnamese student

Finally a smaller portion! Banh trang trung is a crispy, eggy kind of pancake which is popular for young people to eat. My guide told me that she often eats this when catching up with friends. The dip is a mix of ketchup, chili and mayo. Again, the food was great and I managed to convince my guide to share some with me.

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Banh Trang Trung

Chen trung nuong – another dish my guide said she eats when catching up with friends. Honestly, I wish all of the portion sizes of the day could’ve been like this one. Another eggy dish – this was served at the same time as the banh trang trung.

 

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Chen Trung Nuong

Dessert

The last stop was for dessert and I got to try 2 Vietnamese desserts. First up was Kem Chuoi – banana ice cream, or more accurately, squashed frozen banana on a stick. It had been sweetened in some way. The other dessert was Che khoai tim – coconut milk & purple potato. Again, a yummy dessert.

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Kem Chuoi

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Che Khoai Tim

I had a great experience trying many different types of Vietnamese food. This tour also made me more confident to try other Vietnamese food as I continued my journey north. I actually discovered that Vietnamese food was some of my favourite in South East Asia.

Getting sick whilst travelling made me anxious about trying new food, so this food tour was a great way to start eating different food again.

For more on Vietnam check out:

 

 

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How to Pack a First Aid Kit Fit for a Backpacker

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I’ve had 3 separate times in my trip when a first aid kit has come in handy.

The first time, was my motorbike accident back in the Philippines. My first aid kit was definitely not well stocked enough for this, but fortunately, there were pharmacies nearby.

The second time, was when I had a parasite in Cambodia. I had plenty of Imodium, but I ended up going to the hospital after 5 days of being ill.

The third time was a kidney infection in Myanmar. I had antibiotics and paracetamol so was able to recover reasonably quickly.

I’ve learnt the hard way what I need in my first aid kit.

But you don’t have to. It’s so easy to pack a few essentials and they don’t even need to take up much room. I kept all of my first aid supplies in one of those small ziploc bags they hand out at UK airports for liquids.

Here’s a full list of everything I keep in my backpack for minor accidents and illnesses.

Pain Relief – I have paracetamol or ibuprofen for general aches and pains. Some people might choose different pain medication, that’s totally up to you.

Antihistamines – I suffer from hay fever back in the UK so I usually keep antihistamines close by. In the tropics, they’re also useful for helping stop the itching of insect bites.

Imodium – When travelling it’s almost guaranteed you’ll suffer from an upset stomach at some point. Anti-diarrhoea tablets will help manage this, especially if you’re on the move.

Dioralyte – When you’ve had that upset stomach you’ll want to replenish the lost electrolytes so you’ll definitely want to take some Dioralyte.

Antiseptic – You’ll want to stop any cuts/grazes from getting infected.

Plasters – Get a pack of different sizes and get waterproof ones if possible. The humidity in the tropics makes cuts get infected much faster than in the UK.

Gauze – Good for larger cuts/grazes. Especially useful to carry if you’re planning on hiring a motorbike.

Anti-Malaria Tablets (optional) – if you’re going to a country with a high risk of malaria, it’s recommended that you take some antimalarials. In South East Asia, the risk of malaria is low in most countries. It’s entirely your choice whether to take them.

Hydrocortisone – I’ve had this with me all the time because back home I occasionally get eczema. What I’ve learnt is that it’s one of the best things to stop insect bites from itching.

Most towns and even villages have a pharmacy in South East Asia, so it’s easy to keep medication supplies full. Many medications which are prescription only back in the UK, can easily be bought over the counter. This is great for me, as I have asthma, so I can buy reliever inhalers cheaply and without the hassle (and expense) of visiting a doctor.

You want to pack essentials but also avoid overpacking as you don’t want to be carrying too much around. Find that balance and take what suits you. Remember, pharmacies are easy to come by in larger towns and cities so you can always restock when you need to.

Before you travel, I would recommend visiting Fit4Travel, the NHS’s website for people travelling abroad. It advises whether you’re likely to need malaria tablets for your destination and what vaccinations you should be up to date with before you travel.

 

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Don’t Forget to Visit Crazy House

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Dalat is such a great city. It’s a welcome break from the humidity of the rest South East Asia. I spent a lovely few days in the mountains of Vietnam, but the highlight was definitely Crazy House.

Crazy House

Crazy House is an amazing guesthouse in Dalat. If I wasn’t on a backpacker budget I would’ve 100% stayed there. It’s like something out of a fairytale. The architect who created the building, Đặng Việt Nga, was inspired by Gaudi, but I personally thought it felt like a Disney creation.

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The day I visited was quiet, so I almost had the place to myself. The whole house felt like a woodland and in some parts looked like odd-shaped trees.

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I loved how many staircases there were and how easy it was to get lost climbing up and down the stairs with all the twists and turns.

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From the top of Crazy House it was possible to see stunning views of Da Lat.

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The guestrooms were open for viewing (although you couldn’t actually go into the rooms). This room had a carving of a bear. crazyhouseguestroom

And this one had windows that looked like spiderwebs. The woodland feel of the place felt so unusual for South East Asia, yet fit in nicely with the cooler climate of Da Lat.

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And of course, here’s a selfie I took. It was nice to take a selfie where I’m not looking sweaty from the humidity.

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How to get to Da Lat

Fly – It’s possible to fly directly to Dalat from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi.

Bus – Get the bus from Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang or Hoi An.

Other Activities in Da Lat

Crazy House was my highlight, but there’s plenty of other things to do in Da Lat. Most backpackers do canyoning as part of a day tour. There’s also a tour which involves driving around the local countryside on motorbikes. Like most places in South East Asia, these are available to book in every hostel on arrival. I stayed at Mr Peace Backpacker’s House which I enjoyed. The staff were really friendly and there was a family dinner each evening.

What’s the most interesting building you’ve seen whilst travelling? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

For more on Vietnam, check out my posts about Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne and the Mekong Delta.

 

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A Jeep Tour Of Mui Ne

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Mui Ne is a small beach town in Vietnam, around 5 hours drive north of Ho Chi Minh City. Many backpackers miss this place out when travelling through Vietnam, opting to stop in the larger resort area of Nha Trang, a few hours north. I personally preferred Mui Ne to Nha Trang – it’s quieter.

There’s a lovely beach in Mui Ne, which has pretty good surf, so there’s usually a few surfers out on the water. There are businesses offering kite surfing and regular surfing lessons along the beach. Like I said before, it’s quiet in Mui Ne so if you’re interested in learning either of these, it’s a good place to learn.

I stayed at La Casa Del Latino Hotel because it had been recommended by some backpackers I met in Ho Chi Minh. It was such a nice, chilled out hotel/hostel with a pool. The staff were so friendly and the food in the restaurant was delicious.

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The Tour

There’s a jeep tour which can be booked through hostels in Mui Ne. The tour includes stops to the white sand dunes, red sand dunes, fishing village and fairy stream. The tour runs at either 4.30am or 1.30pm. I chose the 4.30am tour because I’m slightly mad. Just kidding, the 4.30am tour includes seeing the sunset over the white sand dunes. Also, I wanted to go Da Lat the same day so doing the 4.30am tour meant I could get the afternoon bus to Da Lat.

The jeep picked me up at 4am, along with a couple of other people from my hostel. Whilst my day was starting very early, there were plenty of people in the bars along the Main Street.

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We headed towards the sand dunes, in the pitch black, but by the time we arrived at the white dunes, sunrise was imminent. I paid an extra 200,000 to get a quad bike to the top of the dunes, where there I saw the most amazing views of the sunrise. See for yourself:

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Once the sun was up, it was slightly surprising how quickly the temperature rose. We got back in the jeep and went to the red sand dunes. The red sand dunes felt really touristy and honestly were not as impressive as the white sand dunes.

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The next stop was the fishing village. Fishermen and fishmongers were going about their daily business, paying no mind to the tourists around them.

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Fairy Stream

The final stop was the fairy stream. It’s a nice walk up the stream to see some beautiful rock formations. There was also an adorable puppy at the beginning of the walk which made it all the more worthwhile.

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Mui Ne was such a relaxed part of Vietnam. I enjoyed the tour and I’m surprised so many people miss out Mui Ne, when it’s almost halfway between Da Lat and Ho Chi Minh City. If you have a 30 day visa for Vietnam it’s definitely worth stopping by.

 

 

 

 

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Return to the Blog

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It’s been a while since I posted on this blog. Around 4 months to be exact. The last few months of 2016 were crazy, in a good way. I finally figured out that I’d like to start a career in travel, so I abandoned my plans to do a working holiday in Australia. I booked a flight back to the UK, and 12 days later, was offered a job in travel.

Between working full time, moving to a new city and seeing friends, I honestly haven’t thought much about my blog. I really want to start writing on here regularly again, probably a post a week. I need to finish writing about my South East Asia trip (mostly where I visited in Vietnam) and also some thought pieces about the whole trip.

Returning to a full time job doesn’t mean I’m ready to hang my backpack up just yet. In my current job, I get a three day weekend every 5 weeks and a decent amount of annual leave so I’m determined to fit in a few short European breaks this year. I already have trips planned to Ireland and Carcassonne in France this year. Later in the year, I may get time to go somewhere a little further afield, but in all honesty, there’s so much of Europe I haven’t yet seen that I’ll be happy if all my trips this year are in Europe.

So basically, there’ll be a mix of posts about South East Asia, travel tips, trips from 2017 and possibly even some thought pieces. If anyone has any questions, or any particular topics you’d like me to write about, perhaps a country I’ve visited that you’d like to know more about, please let me know and I’ll try to include it in a blog post.

If you want to check out what I’m up to follow me on Instagram @alexexplores.  It’s the only social network I use on a regular basis.

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