My ❤️ belongs to Hoi An

I recently updated my status on Facebook to this “Sometimes your heart isn’t longing for a person, but it’s homesick for places it’s never been… Hello Hoi An. My ❤️ is 🏡.”

Let’s start from the beginning. I took a bus from Mui Ne to NHA Trang, and transferred to another bus that would drive through the night to Hoi An. I’m not entirely sure the whole journeys timeline but it was about 16 hrs. Sleeper buses in Vietnam are pretty comfortable your in like a chair/pod that you lay down in and is separate from everyone, unless your put in the back where it’s like a big bed. I had requested my own and luckily it all worked out. It’s a bit unnerving travelling at night on the highways as I’m mentioned there’s very little rules on the road, or so it seems from my standpoint. Lots of honking seems to be the way vehicles and scooters communicate. But my stomach illness held up without causing problems and I slept surprisingly well through the night. I recommend some good ear plugs when travelling. It can make the difference of a night with no sleep or a restful sleep. I arrived in beautiful Hoi An around 630 am on the 13th. It was my favourite day so far!!!

I checked into the most beautiful homestay called golden bell homestay, that I’m sorry I only booked for one night. The hosts were incredibly gracious and brought me to have breakfast even though my check in wasn’t for hours. After breakfast I relaxed for a bit and updated my journal a bit. Then I took a walk around to explore my surroundings.

You can view then here: http://hoiangoldenbellhomestay.com 

I headed back to check into my room. Take a look: 

   
 
It was gorgeous and included a balcony overlooking homestay with open roof. And their dog Happy is pretty cute!

  
The homestay gives free bikes out to get around as there’s so much to see and do here.

I took a bike and headed to the beach! The day was hot, and the beach was loaded with people but sadly no cows 😉

   
  
I wasn’t in the mood to just lay down so I continued biking along as I wanted to get to the Tra Que Water wheel . I’m so glad I did.

Tra Que Water wheel  is located just outside of Hoi An on the way to the beach. They farm their own herbs and vegetables, offer cooking classes, let you garden with farmers and offer many other hands on activities as well as have a great restaurant. I had one of the best meals I’ve had so far. Do yourself a favor and check out their website and go visit them if you are in Hoi An. http://traquewaterwheel.com/

   
    
Bunh Xeo and Papaya salad with a lemon ginger drink. First meal now that stomachs better and I indulged big time!

   

  
The food and staff were spectacular and I’ll be going again before I leave to partake in some of their activities. 

From there I just enjoyed a bike ride and took in some sights like this 

 

After returning back to homestay I showered and took a nap! It was well deserved. The homestay recommended another place for my next few nights in Hoi An so I biked over there and it looks perfect. The Iris Villa. And it even has a pool!!

Hoi An is famous for their good food, and a special dish called Cao Lau. It’s a pork and noodle dish that you can only get here! I was looking forward to enjoying it. 

They are also famous for tailored clothing, French influenced architecture, and their night market. And my goodness it is spectacular. I had the best evening wandering the market, talking to locals, eating Cao Lau (so good!), and indulging in a coconut donut!

The market here has many desirable things compared to other markets, jewellery,  artwork, clothing, and many trinkets etc. If you go here which I hope you all do, go visit Mr. Thanh at booth 34. He has a “no pressure/no bullshit policy” that was refreshing. Fair prices and fair negotiating. Plus he’s wickedly funny, and happy to speak for a long time. He also told me where the best Cao Lau is at the market! We took a selfie together and he gave me a bracelet when we parted ways telling me to visit him again tomorrow to let him know how I enjoyed my dinner.

The lanterns were spectacular at the market and the lights, and energy surrounding the place made it the most magical evening here.  
 My friend at stall 34!  
  Thao Nguyen you made some delicious Cao Lau

    
    
  Me living the dream. Can’t express what a lovely night I had. 

   
   
   
    
  
  
Get to Hoi An. You’ll be glad you did.

Sending love and light to family and friends back home 💜💙

Xo – Vanessa 

Sea cows and what I did in Mui Ne

I spent two nights in Mui Ne. It’s a cute place with lots of restaurants, shops, resorts and beach access.

I stayed at the very lovely Hung Phuc Mui Ne Hotel. The family that owns the hotel were so kind. One spoke great English and we talked a lot about Canada. The rest of the family always called me by name even if just to say hi. They really appreciated everyone of their guests and the place was immaculately clean and beautiful as well. I’m sorry. Don’t have a picture of the room but it was lovely as well.

    

  
Sadly most of my time in Mui Ne I wasn’t feeling myself with an upset stomach. Because of that I didn’t do any excursions, or check out the fishing village or sand dunes. Next time around😉.

What I did do was walk. I averaged about 15 km a day up and down the town and the beach.  I walked for hours and really enjoyed being in the heat. When I wasn’t walking I was enjoying my book by the beach. I have now finished two books on this trip which isn’t a lot for me but it’s all I packed in my backpack. I’ve been leaving my books behind at the hotels that have a library or for someone else to enjoy signing it ❤️ Vanessa in Canada. I re-read to kill a mockingbird and just finished the cookoo’s calling. Both great reads.

Anyways while relaxing on the beach I met some new friends. Who knew sea cows would come to visit me and a few even came a bit too close for comfort but when I got up from laying on towel I said “no” they went back to eating coconuts on the ground.

   

     

     
 
I also indulged in a foot massage which is a must do in Vietnam especially with all the walking I had accomplished.

   

  

       

From Mui Ne I headed on a very long few bus rides to get me to where I am today in Hoi An.

Patience is a virtue especially when your told to be ready for bus at 12:30 and it doesn’t arrive until 1:40. I’m learning to go with the flow and not to immediately think worse case scenarios. I was on time, early even so I shouldn’t have assumed I missed bus, but when your contact that booked bus for you speaks very little English I was a bit concerned that something might have been lost in translation. Everything worked out just fine!

So My new most favourite place is Hoi An!!!! Stay tuned I’ll be posting about the night bus and the great first day I had in Hoi An in the next while.
Kindness is a universal language. Don’t forget it peeps especially while travelling. I’ve met many who needed my help that I could helpsand many that have gone out of there way to help me and it’s a wonderful thing. Especially when you don’t speak the language.
Xo- Vanessa 

 

Life in the Mekong Delta

I decided after HCMC that I needed a break from the hustle bustle so I headed out to Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. I hadn’t decided if the Mekong was a “must see” in Vietnam but I’m so glad I went because it absolutely was and I’ll tell you why.

The Mekong delta from HCMC is about an easy 3-4 hr bus ride. There are countless tours available but looking on trip advisor many seem to be tourist traps. So do what I did. Book a tour with a local tour guide. Not one of the massive companies. Here’s why: 

  1. Many of the big tours just go for the day.. That’s 6 hours driving for a quick floating market tour at the busiest time of day. Then you go to a candy factory and maybe one other stop, then back to HCMC. You barely see life on the Mekong and your with a big group.
  2. Book a tour that includes an overnight homestay. This will include lunch on arrival date, dinner and breakfast the next day at the market. The food will be some of the best you’ll enjoy in Vietnam.
  3. I went on a tour with Susan of  Can Tho touring with Susan. Find her on Facebook or trip advisor. Or reach out to me and I’ll give you her information. Everyone loves the experience they have. She lives in Can Tho, speaks fluent English and knows all the best places that you don’t get to see on other tours.  You go to the largest floating market in the Mekong Delta called Cai Rang and experience more by doing the private tour. For example we went on a boat cruise through the canals, went to local market to buy ingredients so we could make dinner at our homestay, went to a Cambodian Buddhist temple that was beautiful and away from tourists, got to get a coconut out of tree to drink at our homestay , went to a rice noodle factory, and visited a fruit orchard. There were many more things we saw and did that Susan throws in so its not just your typical tour.
  4. We got an inside look at life in the Mekong. Saw kids playing, and swimming in the river canals, men fishing, and a good background on life there. As Susan said. Most people there make just enough money to survive and look after their families and they work hard. But they’re happier then the average person. They live by the water and have endless supplies of the best fruit, vegetables and fish. It’s a simple life but it’s fulfilling. There’s something to be said about being happy with what you have and being grateful!
  5. The homestay! I stayed at Lang Viet homestay in Dong Binh village. The food was incredible. The hosts gracious and friendly, and the place was beautiful. Coconut trees, comfortable beds and hammocks to relax in. 
  6. Susan and Hanah the guides that showed us around were wonderful, friendly and knowledgable. My tour included me and two other girls. It was more personal and was a relaxing beautiful time in the Mekong Delta and an absolute must do in the south of Vietnam. 
  7. Your supporting locals. 

The Mekong turned out to be such a great experience.  So many different types of fruit are grown there, and the food is heavenly. The homestay was gorgeous and just what I needed after a busy time in HCMC. 

Thank you to Susan for the awesome tour. I’m so glad I went! Enjoy the pictures below of tour.

   Susan had us picked up at bus stop to take us to homestay.

  
 My homestay  
  

   

  

 My favourite place to relax.
   

Shopping at market for dinner! We made eggplant, hot and sour soup with catfish, and a pork “pancake” one of the best meals of trip so far and we were all so hungry we forgot to take photos !
  

 
  Rice noodle factory :  
   
Cai rang floating market:  Hanah gave us this part of tour and is a wonderful guide who working with Susan.   
    
  (Bread for breakfast AKA floating subway. LOL!)

Susan, Sarah and I    

 Buddhist temple:  
    
    
Floating down the canal.


Susan is also awesome at taking selfies 😊

   

 I loved every moment of the Mekong delta. 

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!!!!!!

😃 lol well almost… 29 hours to go and I’ll be there.  So I’ve successfully gotten up on time, grabbed all my gear and got a ride from my amazing  friend to the airport. I’m thankful for people like her who think waking up at 430 on a Friday is a good idea.

  
If I’m going to get up this early it better be to good music ! Although lets face it I was wide awake by 330.

  
I got through security and customs within 1/2 hr and have lots of time to spend relaxing. It’s a good thing I like airports. Had a nice visit with my customs agent. He didn’t believe me at first that I was going alone, as I have almost no stamps in my passport (I’m going to make sure that changes shortly!!!!) I guess I shouldn’t have been so smiley and happy at 530. He told me that they make movies about people like me. I laughed said I don’t watch those kind of movies, and he said I probably should have. lol. I told him he’d see me come back in a month just fine…

I get too scared at horror movies, but travelling alone… So far. I feel pretty fearless and excited. I’m excited and thankful for this trip. The women at security check almost brought me to tears when she saw my three boarding passes. She said this would be a day I’ll never forget. And to sleep when I can. It was so genuine and just a nice moment between two strangers. There hasn’t been a second that I haven’t felt completely overwhelmed with gratitude for what I’m doing. And so far the kindness I’ve received has blown my mind. 

So first stop… San Fran! A place I’ve always wanted to visit. This time will only be the airport but I promise to visit again soon.

I’ve got half hr before boarding.. For now I’ll enjoy a jugo juice and relax knowing that I’m on my way!
💜❤️💙💜❤️

Feeling grateful and beyond excited for what’s to come!!!

Kindness is contagious so spread it around. And wish me luck! 
– Vanessa 
Ps . I have a few lifestyle posts I haven’t put up yet. Trying to have categories for this blog hasn’t worked so far… So it’s just all been travel etc. I’m going to post them here and once I figure out the ins and outs of blogging I’ll move to correct spot. So skip next two posts if your not interested in things that aren’t about my travels.

Tomorrow!!!!

So tomorrow’s the big day! I’m off to Vietnam… Can’t believe it’s already here.
Yesterday my work brought me to tears being so kind to throw a going away party.. Maybe they  can’t wait to get rid of me for a month, although it’s more likely I’m surrounded by an incredible team of friends that love and support me and really know just how important this trip is for me… 

Thank you to all who pulled off such a meaningful surprise for me. The journal will be well used and you all truly made my day.   
   

I’m all packed and ready to go… Got everything accomplished for the most part… And the rest can wait til I’m back. But my house feels empty. 😪

I dropped my girls off at the kennel today. I’ve never left them for so long before and it is not easy for me to do. Luckily they had a great walk before and had so much fun… I don’t even think they’ll miss me… lol

Here’s some pics of our fun day at the kennel… Because I have the cutest dogs ever and I feel like sharing how awesome they are with you! Plus I already miss them.  

  

    
   

 The quote from Winnie the Pooh fits well here. I’ll miss my friends, family, co-workers and my dogs, but I’m off for an incredible adventure and I couldn’t be any more excited!!

 

Now go hug your dog (or cat or a loved one).
Be kind,
❤️ Vanessa 

Where’d the time go?

So here I am sitting in my condo with my girls sleeping beside me. Where did the time go? I leave in less than 1 week. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!!? I sure can’t.

Okay. The last few days have been all about lists, lists lists… and packing, and preparing for this epic adventure. And spending quality time with friends. Meeting for drinks, movies, and convincing a friend that she should cut my hair… Which she did a fantastic job! Figured I’d be rocking bandanas and lots of bobby pins, so wasn’t needing a pro job, however Krista… You might just have found another calling 😉

So I am not the greatest at prepping.. I am a last-minute type of packer usually. But I’ve never gone away from home for so long… So I have basically packed my backpack, and gotten ready. Crazy how 5 shirts, 1 pair of pants, 1 sweater, some shorts and capris, 1 dress and 1 bathing suit as well as the other essentials is what I’ll be working with while i’m away. But I’d rather pack light and if needed get a few things out there, then have too much. Thanks to a few friends they cut down my original packing list from 2 dresses, 2 pants, 2 sweaters, 8 shirts, and 5 or 6 capris/shorts down to what is actually practical for my trip. Basically… I’ve got my flip-flops and sunscreen. I’m READY!!!!!

A few have asked me recently for my itinerary so I thought I’d address that here to explain how this trip is going. I’m as they say “flying by the seat of my pants” is that the right saying?! Anyways… I fly into HCMC and have booked a couple of nights to recover from jet lag…. and then?! I haven’t booked a thing. Some might think that’s crazy.. But it gives me the freedom to stay in places that I love longer, and leave the ones I am not feeling.. Without an agenda gives me the freedom to follow my heart all over the country of Vietnam. Yes there are the places I certainly can’t wait to see (Ha Long Bay, Sapa, Danang just to name a few) but then there’s so many other spots that I’m curious about, or I’ll learn about while I’m out there.

I’ll keep you all updated where I’m heading to next and what my plan is. But I’m being open to adventure and whatever comes my way so I can enjoy each day without a strict itinerary.

But for now… I’m off to find a waterproof phone case and run some errands. Plus the Oscars are on tonight… Looking forward to spending quality time with some friends, and enjoying what seems to be a promising show! Who are you rooting for? I think that Leo has it this year… The Revenant… If you haven’t seen it… WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!  The acting, cinematography, the story, TOM HARDY… just saying!!! Personally I think it will probably take best actor, best director… but I’m undecided on if it’s best picture… I haven’t seen all of the nominations sadly, and I know there are some good ones so it’s hard to say but I definitely think it was one of the best this year! Got to say Mad Max: Fury Road was one of the most entertaining movies I’ve ever seen, but I don’t think it’s what the Academy will choose as best picture.  And if you haven’t seen Brooklyn yet, it’s a gem of a movie. Go see it with your best friend. You won’t regret it!

Okay, off to run errands and finish some trip prep!

Love life and one another.

xo,

Vanessa

VIETNAM!!! or…. Your doing WHAT?!?!?

Vietnam… A place of beauty, history, spirituality, culture, amazing food and BEACHES!!!!

But really…  Somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. I had a chance years ago to join a friend when she was going. But at that time had gotten a dog, a house, a fiancé, and it just didn’t work for timing. I wanted to make it happen, but other priorities took precedence.

But now here I am… Living in a different (and AMAZING) city, now divorced, owning my own condo with two lovely pups. After another big breakup, and a ticket already booked to Vietnam. I wasn’t saying no to the universe again.

Life goes around full circle, and if you don’t jump on the first time around, don’t be foolish to miss out on your next chance.  In my mind…. life is an adventure, and I’m beyond grateful that I have this chance to begin my travelling journeys.  I’ve always been one for being happy for others… But now is my chance. And I’m all in.

A lot of people have found out I’m on my way to Vietnam alone. With myself and my backpack. I’ve gotten it all from “YOUR CRAZY!!!!” to “YOUR BRAVE” to “YOUR NOT READY FOR THIS”….. but then there’s the ones that really know me… and the heartache I’ve faced in the last few years, and the ups and downs… The joys and the struggles. Of growing up, of moving on, of learning, and breaking, and rebuilding stronger then I was…. Maybe I’ll talk on those things shortly on my lifestyle blog page… but to the ones that believe in great adventure… and the ones that believe in me, and my goals and my dreams.. I’m eternally grateful.  I’m doing this, and your support means the world to me.

Love life & Be Kind. It’s free…. And it feels good.

Xo, Vanessa