Southeast Asia

Visiting the beach paradise of Hoi An, Vietnam with some delicious local seafood

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While I was in Vietnam, one of the coolest places I had the chance to visit was a small beach town known as Hoi An. It is home to some of the prettiest beaches I have seen in Vietnam and was only 20-30 kilometers away from the nearby city of Da Nang, where I was staying. In Vietnam, tourists are allowed to ride motor scooters around so for around $5 a day, I had a pretty nice little ride! Seeing these beaches as uncrowded as they were in a summer month like August still astonishes me to this day! Why don’t more people go here?!

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An awesome, uncrowded beach in Hoi An.
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A beautiful rice field on the way to Hoi An

When I got there I pulled up to the first beach I saw and saw there were a lot of tables sitting there vacant with red plastic chairs in the sand. I sat down and ordered a tasty Coke since it was too early to drink. The weather was damn hot and humid though, so I decided on going for a swim! I rented a locker and stored away my valuables and went for a swim and man, the water was perfect.

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After a few hours on this beautiful beach, the sun started to set and I went to a nearby restaurant across the street from the beach for a seafood dinner.

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The first dish was a mango salad with shrimp and pork. (Goi xoai tom thit) for $2.69 USD (60,000 dong) It was tasty, but I found the pork mixed with the seafood was a bit odd. Also the mango wasn’t really sweet, it was a more firm and bitter slice of mango. The shrimp was also a bit small. What do you expect for such a cheap price anyway? The peanuts complimented the dish overall nicely though. The second dish was fortunately much better.

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My last dish was some sauteed squid with chili & lemongrass (Muc xao sa ot) for just around $4 USD. This was much better, and the whole dish was covered in a very nice but not overpowering sweet sauce. The squid tasted very fresh, and the lemongrass added a wonderful citrus kick to the dish overall. I enjoyed it all with a cold beer. Check out the video at the top for the video footage, and I’ll see you next time! I have to ask, what do you think about Vietnam?  Have you been? Would you return? Let me know because I want to know why more people don’t go here.

Hanging around at Da Nang beach in Vietnam

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As  my trip to Vietnam would soon come to an end, I still had my last day in Da Nang.I also had my motorbike for the day so I hopped on it and rode a short 5km from my hostel, to Da Nang’s main beach.

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On the way to the beach, I crossed a pretty cool looking bridge

When I got to the beach I was amazed once again. The beaches of Vietnam are totally uncrowded, in prime summer vacationing time. I absolutely can not figure out why. I know some people don’t like Vietnam for certain reasons, but I can’t see why this place isn’t more popular.

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The empty beaches of Da Nang

I saw all these nifty lounge chairs covered with an umbrella so I felt obligated to lie down in one. Before long, I was greeted by a server who informed me that if I wanted to use that hotel’s lounge chairs I had to pay a fee. He asked me how much, he said 100,000 dong (Which is around 5 dollars). I was like, ah, well, sure why not! In any other country the fee would be much higher. I know that in a beach in Dongbei, China for example, it’s around 30 dollars for a chair rental. I also took advantage of the server and had him bring me a beer for around 2 dollars. What a steal.

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The beaches are like straight out of a movie

The view was incredible of the ocean and the peninsula. In fact, I was even able to catch the massive Lady Buddha statue on top of the peninsula from the beach. You can see me explore that area on motorbike on my video you can find on the blog page: Vicarious Vietnam: Riding motorbikes around Da Nang and exploring the peninsula

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I laid on my beach chair and contemplated to myself. Why can’t I move to Vietnam? At that time my mobility was pretty available and even though there are good jobs in Vietnam, and I’m sure a great bit of opportunity for someone like myself, I decided to stay in China, since I’ve got a lot of good stuff cookin’ in Guangdong. However, I do intend to return to Vietnam, you can say that for sure! Don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel and like and subscribe if you enjoy the content!

Vicarious Vietnam: Riding motorbikes around Da Nang and exploring the peninsula

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It has been a long time since my last post – my apologies for getting off track, but I’m back! Don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel Ian’s Journeys where all my traveling/cooking/China videos can be found!

 Da Nang, Vietnam is an amazing city. The cost of living is incredibly low, the air is sweet, the beaches are beautiful, and the area is downright tropical! I started my day off by renting a motorbike from the hostel I was staying at, and it was 100,000 dong/day, which is around 5 US dollars. What a steal! Filling it up is even cheaper, 1-2 dollars.

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The motorbike I rented was surprisingly fast, and easily surpassed 110km/hour

I started off by riding around town a bit. I also found Da Nang bay and did a quick ride around. However I soon wanted to go and take a look at the peninsula that everyone was talking about where I could see the Lady Buddha, and possibly even some monkeys.

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After seeing the eye candy that is Da Nang bay, it was time to move on toward the peninsula. The ride was scenic, and very relaxing, except my helmet kept being blown off by the wind, no matter how hard I strapped it on!

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Riding to the peninsula
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Once you arrive at the peninsula everything turns an incredibly lush green and the ambience is overwhelming, like a rain forest!

Eventually I made it to the area where the statue of the Lady Buddha is located. It was an incredible sight. The statue must have been hundreds of feet tall, and I had never seen anything like it before. There were also a number of buddhist shrines there and I captured the moment (In the video at the top, you can see) when I saw a number of people chanting. It was very serene, relaxing, and made me forget about the hustle and bustle of life back home for just a moment.

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A beautiful buddhist shrine with chanting religious fanatics. Don’t forget to remove your shoes!

Eventually when I reached the end of the peninsula, I came to a beaten path off the main road where I was told I could find monkeys. Did I find any? Check the video at the top to find out! See you next time!

Hanging out at Hong Kong International and my arrival in Hanoi, Vietnam

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It was finally time for my next trip. Living in Asia affords you the luxury of seeing a lot of countries for bargain prices. Because I live in China, I do not have to pay thousands of dollars in airfare every time I want to visit a country in Asia. Such is the truth about living anywhere, you can travel anywhere nearby much cheaper than you could if you were farther away. So while in Asia, travel in Asia and my next destination is Vietnam.

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Some traffic in Hong Kong on the way to to the airport.

I got my roundtrip flight for a beautiful $222.00, what a steal. Anyway, it was time for a new journey and I was growing restless in China. I had just done some great traveling in Guilin, China in the previous weeks but it was time to get out of the country. It was time to see a new culture. I exited Shenzhen through the Louhu border crossing, took Hong Kong’s MTR down one stop and caught the A43p but from Sheung Shui to the Hong Kong Airport.

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The Hong Kong bay view from the bus

When I arrived at the airport, it was nothing new. I have flown in and out of HKG many times before, and every time I leave China it’s the airport I use. When I got there, I arrived a few hours before my flight so I got through security and enjoyed some Popeye’s Fried Chicken. This is one of the western comforts that I have yet to see in mainland China. I seldom eat this kind of crap, but when I do, it’s delicious.

The flight to Hanoi was very short, only about 2 hours. I love easy, 2 hour flights. They never get old. It’s like your in and out, and boom you’re in another country! Upon arrival at Hanoi Noi Boi Airport, I hopped in a cab and headed to my hostel.

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In the cab from the airport, on the way to the Old Quarter.

My hostel was located near the Old Quarter, and after checking in I decided I wanted to have a few beers and check out the night market nearby to get a selfie stick. It was lively, and there were people everywhere! I had some delicious coconut milk for about 50 cents US per cup. I also bought a selfie stick for a few dollars.

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A lively night market in the Old Quarter.

After leaving the night market, I was pretty tired from traveling all day. However when I got back to the hostel I met so many cool fellow travelers, I stayed up until about 1 am drinking with them. It was a good time! You can see all of this in this week’s episode, which is at the top of this page. Give it a look! Don’t forget to like and subscribe to my YouTube channel and let me know what you think! See you next week!

Paying a visit to the very lame town of Yangshuo, China

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After leaving the Li River that day (Check out my post Cruising down the Li River in Guilin, China) we hopped into a three wheeled motorbike and headed to a place called Yangdi, a small village on the Li River where we could catch a ride to the town of Yangshuo, one of China’s most renowned towns for backpackers and travelers alike.

The three wheeled motorbikes just amaze me. It’s such a ghetto piece of garbage, but somehow it makes do. They modify an absurdly low quality motorbike by welding a carriage on it, and somehow it actually works. Although every time the old man shifted into the next gear, you could hear the pleasant sound of metal grinding.

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The mountains and orchards were beautiful, though the ride was bumpy.

Not to mention, the carriage wasn’t exactly well balanced. The thing was slamming up and down the entire ride. Once we got to Yangdi though, we were quick to get off it.

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The small village of Yangdi, a place I will probably never ever see again in my entire life.

Yangdi was a pleasant little locale, though we didn’t stay very long but the time we waited for the bus. In fact, we didn’t stay more than 5 minutes because the bus was already there. It was beautiful though to see the crazy looking Guilin mountains in the background everywhere.

After a long bus ride that was the better portion of 2 hours long, we arrived in the town of Yangshuo. We were tired as hell from traveling all day, so we promptly found our hostel. We stayed at the Yangshuo Culture House, which we found to be less than appealing. I got a few cans of Liquan River Beer (Because that’s the only damn beer you can find in this particular region of China) and we set out to walk towards New West Street when the sun went down. New West Street is the most popular street with food and bars in Yangshuo.

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Yangshuo’s main road. The dust was terrible

Yangshuo was the exact opposite of what I had pictured. The town pretty much sucks. There’s nothing to do, no good beer, and yeah, the place is just gay pretty much. We decided to take a good walk around New West Street to at least give it a chance.

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The foreign beer shops at New West Street were insanely overpriced.

The only thing I actually liked about Yangshuo was the opposite of what you’d think – not the beautiful scenery or the cultural Chinese aspects of the town – it was the foreigner street. Yes, I found Yangshuo to be hot as hell, dusty as shit, and quite boring. The foreigner street was almost as bad, but it brought some western comforts that we are familiar with, like incredibly overpriced “imported” beer that was probably made in China.

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As much as you might hate it, the mountain formations are beautiful though.

Other than that, we had planned to stay in Yangshuo for a few days – but strike that. We left the very nexr day. Fuck Yangshuo. However, please do continue following my travels! Check out my YouTube channel and don’t forget to check out this episode’s video above!

Cruising down the Li River in Guilin, China

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I have been posting about Guilin for the last few weeks, and the main reason we came to Guilin in the first place was to take a boat ride down the famous Lijiang River. When we were at Yao Mountain the previous day (Check out this blog post: Guilin Day 2: Annoying local fishermen, and riding the Yao Mountain Cable Car Ride) we met this interesting tour guide named Claude who, surprisingly, spoke pretty decent English. We had already purchased Li River boat ride tickets on a large 100 person vessel – but Claude told us for about half the price he could get us our own individual raft without a million tourists in our faces every time there is a photo opportunity. So, reluctantly we said yes! Here is the video I made of our journey below, but don’t forget to read on for some unforgettable pictures!

The next morning, we ate some Burger King  (Because there was literally no good breakfast in the area…) and took the one hour bus ride to Caoping, which is where the boats were docked.

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The small village of Caoping

Once we got to Caoping, I bought 5 or 6 Liquan river beers (The only beer that they seem to sell in this region of China…) and we hopped on our vessel and began our beautiful journey.

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This was our boat (With the red roof)

As the boat took off and we sailed down the river, I was beyond amazed. This had to be one of the most peaceful awesome rides of my life. While sipping beers and getting a nice buzz going was also cool, the unique curves of these mountains and the green tinge of the river were absolute eye candy.

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The water was a beautiful green tinge (Actually the water seemed quite clean, too)

We even saw a fair share of wildlife in the river. We saw plenty of ducks, and we also saw some water buffalo! We tried to approach the water buffalo on land too, but they were very hesitant and of course walked away very fast.

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Ducks swimming around looking all cute
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We also saw a water buffalo and her baby

As we continued our trek down, we saw a number of memorable peaks and mountains. We also saw a very famous cave as well, that was clearly famous due to the number of tourists outside it.

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A very mysterious ancient cave, lined with modern stairs to the side.

Of course during that boat ride I was busy filming the whole time and I produced a great YouTube video for this day, which can be seen at the top of this page. Don’t forget to check out  my YouTube channel, and make sure to like and subscribe if you enjoyed the content!

 

Exploring the famous Elephant Trunk Hill and Seven Star Park in Guilin, Guangxi, China

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Last week I posted about our Yao Mountain cable car ride in Guilin (You can see it here: Guilin Day 2: Annoying local fishermen, and riding the Yao Mountain Cable Car Ride) and this is the remainder of that day. After finishing up at Yao Mountain, our tour guide took us for a motorcycle ride around the most famous sights in Guilin. It was quite the spectacle! Check out the video down below and keep reading for more pics!

As we arrived at the park, it was about a 15 minute walk before our tour guide took us to a secret spot where we could get the best pictures of the famous Elephant Trunk Hill which lies on the Li River.

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The Li River, with the Elephant Trunk Hill on the opposite side.

So we finally got to the Elephant Trunk Hill, and it surely is an amazing form of nature. The rock juts down like a gigantic elephant’s trunk with a searing gap in the middle.

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After taking a million pictures there, our tour guide us further down the river where we could see all the locals actually SWIMMING in the Li River. I was a little surprised to see this, because China’s rivers are notorious for being very polluted and dirty. After looking closely at the water, it seemed relatively clean and clear, but still, I wouldn’t trust it.

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Locals swimming in the Li River

Soon after the sun was beginning to set, so we got on the motorbike with our guide and went to the most famous local park, known as Seven Star Park. Here we were able to see probably the coolest rock I’ve ever seen, known as Camel Hill. I even got to kiss the camel!

Make sure to check out my YouTube channel and to like/subscribe if you enjoy the content! Next week stay tuned for our exciting journey down the Li River!