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Hanoi to Cat-Ba, How it Begins – Snowball In The Sahara

Hanoi is beautiful,crazy and can best be described as a relaxed Bangkok. This tour, unlike others, is with the addition of our one year old so we are frequenting different types of venues. But even so, it seems to be without what you might expect to see within a South East Asian country, such as lady boys, ping ping shows and grilled cock roaches. Like all Asian cities we have visited so far, the air is humid, smoke filled and there is a slight linger of sewer in the streets. The pedestrians, mopeds and cars mingle together to form a kind of choreographed mess that somehow works. The sidewalks are filled with stalls spilling onto the road, selling exceptional knockoffs of the latest adventure wear; under armor and North face seem to be the main choices as you pass each shop front. On the weekends they close the old quarters to bikes which creates a social buzz like no other. Groups of people swarm the wide streets next to the river to watch performers of all types and to play games with families. The Chinese and Japanese are in the plenty and somehow Prevelly is a superstar. With every other passerby we’re stopped for photos with our little celebrity.

The hostel we stayed in is located in a back street off of the old quarter. It’s not for the flash packer but at £8 a night it did us well. The food was prepared in the street and going against our original plan of only eating from clean (ish) restaurants, it took us only one day before Prevelly had a taste for this style of dining.

As lovely as the city is it definitely comes with a time limit and 3 days was ours. We booked a bus to a more favorable type of destination which obviously had sand, sea and sun. Catba island is to be our new home for the next few days.

A few days looks to be turning into a week after only a day here. The three beaches which are a 10 minute walk from the main town prove to be perfect for a spot of tanning, building sand castles and swimming lessons for Prevelly. The bays are breathtaking throughout the day and at night restaurants light up in the sea and floating walkways appear to guide you across. The food is relatively cheap and our £15 per day food budget is kept in tact. Even when the food hasn’t been great, the non preparation, no cleaning and putting dishes away has easily made up for it.

The hostel here is £3.50 per night and the hosts are very welcoming. There are some chickens in the grounds next to us but they haven’t woken us yet. The beds are hard, not the slight give you get from a firm bed but concrete hard. Happy days for my back but the snoring will surely increase with new sleeping position.

Daniella is making traveling with a child very easy as she continues to be the amazing mother she always has been. Prevelly and her have an incredible bond and it’s been so much fun to watch them play and explore in new surroundings. With the purchase of a pram before our departure, which I was sure would be rendered useless, Daniella has won the award for best traveling accessory. It has been a God send as Prevelly now comfortably falls to sleep on the beach to the sound of the waves in her new seat. A close second has to be the portable potty. With two tested prior to leaving the inflatable choice proved to be used more as a bouncy chair instead of its main purpose so the fold able potty is with us. And with myself taking the bronze with the tablet. We always said we would not be those parents, but hey, life is a lot easier with a distracted one year old, and a mix of random toddler TV crap is the answer. In our defense, or what we keep telling ourselves, it’s educational, so it’s OK.

On the agenda for the rest of the week is a moped day on Tuesday, Ha Long bay tour on Wednesday and then rumor has it that by the weekend the weather will turn which will be our cue to go searching for the sun somewhere else in Vietnam.

Much love to you all and we look forward to keeping you updated as the week progresses.


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