Vietnam: Hue – Hoi An

From Hanoi we then got another night bus to Hue. We only stayed here one night but had a great day exploring; took a dragon boat trip (300,00 for two people) to the pagoda and then got off by imperial city. We only walked around the outside as the entrance ticket was 150,000 and you can see so much from the outside anyway. One thing we would recommend is a little cafe called mandarin orange, lovely food and the owner gave us some really nice postcards of pics he had taken himself.

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From Hue we rented a scooter to do the next leg of the journey to Hoi An; The Hai Van Pass made famous on Top Gear. This was really fun, got some great views of the scenery. If you’re not confident driving you can pay for someone to drive you. On the way we stopped at Lang co bay, a massive white Buddha and marble mountains.

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Hoi An was really lovely and the first night we stayed in a great homestay called golden bee, sadly it was really busy so we could only book one night but we’d definitely recommend and they have free bicycles to use. We had a lovely day cycling to the beach. We then went to a hostel closer to the old town which was still good just a bit more expensive, Hoa Binh.

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Next day we hired a scooter and drove to ‘My Son Temple’. This was beautiful, a definite must if you’re there! Be prepared for the 150,000 entrance fee but we thought it was worth it.

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From Hoi An we got another night bus to Nha Trang, which is basically a holiday destination for Russians. Imagine southern Spain for the Brits. We had a really lovely time mainly relaxing here and taking couple of days out of travelling, especially as it was Dani’s birthday. We treated ourselves to a facial where they wrapped us up in cold cucumber, much nicer that it sounds!!

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North Thailand – Chiang Mai and Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

From Bangkok, we took an over-night sleeper bus to Chiang Mai. We got to chiang mai at 6am. We paid 550 baht each, sadly the transport is a lot more expensive here in Thailand compared to Vietnam but the service was much better! and we got a snack bag too.

From Khao San Road to the bus station (Morchit) we took a local bus which was 15 baht, way cheaper than a tuk tuk. We also had the pleasure of meeting some lovely locals…a Thai gentleman who identified as what looked like a Native American rock god. Donning a Metallica t shit, cowboy boots, a sarong and a animal belt..as Big fan of Metallica he kindly sang for us, while he sipped away on his bottle of vodka. The only English words he knew were ‘ohh yeahhh’.

Once in chiang mai we made it to our hostel: brick house. The best thing about here was the comfy beds, the location was fine,  although impossible to get any food at 7am when we arrived. Thai people seem to be up late and late risers too.

From chiang mai we booked a few trips; firstly two days/one night at the elephant jungle sactuary, this wasn’t cheap but at least the money is justified. We paid around 4,500 each. They picked us up from the hostel in the morning and we drove about 2 hours to get to the sanctuary.  The elephants are all rescued from riding camps and circus’ s. When we arrived we met the elephants, there were about 6/7 at this camp and fed them bananas, sugar cane and wheat.  With the guides we then made up medicine balls consisting of ; salt, whole grain rice, banana, tarrot, which we also fed to the elephants.

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After we had some lunch, we had the best experience of taking the elephants To ‘the spa’. The elephants were lead to a huge mud hole where they slowly walked in and a few started to sit and even lie down so you could smother them in thick, smelly mud! We then walked with them to a little waterfall and washed the mud off.

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Sadly this was the end of day 1 and we drove to where we were staying the night; camp 6, in a little wooden shack with two couples. Here we met young Ronaldo who was learning to test his playing skills. We couldn’t get too close as even at only a few months old he was a lot bigger than us and his barging skills much better! Danielle nearly got sent flying and Chrissy pinned to a tree. Our guide for the evening was an ex monk called jade who cooked us up a great green curry and fed us Thai mojitos.  Thanks to `John` and Ally from Bexleyheath it was tonight that we learnt about Cowspiracy which changed our life! For anyone interested about the effects humans have on the planet go and watch it!!!

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The next day we had a walk around the camp, fed another tribe of elephants and met one of the biggest males. Stunning creature to watch roam around and wash himself in the mud… and also get a little frisky around some of the females 😮 which was an eye opener.

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We followed the elephants slowly through the scrub and back toward the camp where we left them and had a long walk to two waterfalls.  After spending the afternoon hiking we went to see the oldest elephant they owned at the sanctuary who was 74 years old, the only thing that showed her age was her huge size and wrinkly skin.  They had a new born elephant here too who was so cute! He lead his mother and his two flanking boy elephant body guards around the compound. They protected him in the middle of a very tight triangle and almost stepped on anyone close by.

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We then got driven back to the hostel after saying some emotional elephant goodbyes.

That night we took a walk around the nearby night markets and lara bought a watch….for a great price…and Danielle continued her hunt for more baggy trousers.

Next day we took a day trip to Chiang Rai and the golden triangle.