Vietnam days 1-2: beginnings in Hanoi + spontaneous trip decision

Hey hey! I wanted to shoot off a quick post before heading off for an exciting adventure. My first days in Vietnam have been a whirlwind, but I’m happy with how everything has been unfolding, as each event has led me to do one of the most spontaneous things I’ve done this year…

Day 1: travel to Hanoi

I flew into Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, in the late afternoon. I mentioned in my last Malaysia post that I was feeling a bit exhausted at this point, and I knew within approximately 12 seconds of being in Hanoi that I wouldn’t be able to relax here. It was madness! Nevertheless, I tried to make the most of my evening and walked around the center and Hoàn Kiếm Lake.

I hadn’t given much thought to where I’d go after Hanoi – just that I wanted to go north. I was originally leaning towards Sapa, but after talking to someone at my hostel who said Sapa has been overdeveloped and I’ll find more natural scenery in Hà Giang, I went for it! I swiftly made arrangements to leave for Hà Giang the next morning.

Day 2: leading up to Hà Giang loop

The bus from Hanoi to Hà Giang took 9 hours, but surprisingly, I enjoyed it. It was the first time I could quiet my brain off and reflect in a while.

During the ride, I shared on my Instagram that I was en route to Hà Giang, and a few backpacker friends I met on past trips reached out asking if I was doing the famous Hà Giang motorbike loop. I heard of this but wasn’t seriously considering it…I’ve driven a scooter in most SE Asia countries, but a multi-day trip felt out of my comfort zone.

But after catching up with different friends about their experiences, I felt inspired. Going all the way to Hà Giang and not doing the loop would be a huge missed opportunity. And so, I very last minute decided to go for it – leaving tomorrow!

I got to Hà Giang around 4pm and walked into a random hostel for a bed – Bong Hostel and Motorbikes. The next few hours were a whirlwind. I learned everything I could about the loop, mapped out my itinerary, booked homestays, packed my bike, and took advice for a safe journey. Oh, and I learned how to drive a semi-automatic motorbike. 😉 Thank god for my hostel as they were SUPER amazing in helping me plan and teaching me how to ride the semi-auto. I practiced around town and it felt similar enough to a scooter, so I felt ready.

I want to end with some cheesy reflection about my motivation for this trip (when have I ever held back with sharing on this blog). I felt like this whole year of traveling, I have been quite reserved. Traveling in my early-20s was different as I would say yes to just about everything, but this year, I felt a shift in my travel style – I’ve been more thoughtful, risk-averse, and staying within my comfort zone.

Something in me feels like I have all this reserved energy, and since Vietnam is the last country this year, I wanted to do something BIG. I also realized that deep down, I really wanted to do this trip, but the only thing holding me back was fear. I decided I was going to face my fears and get out of my comfort zone. And in that way, we grow. 🙂

So with that, I am off for the iconic Hà Giang loop!! Thanks for reading along as always, and wish me luck. 🙂

7 thoughts on “Vietnam days 1-2: beginnings in Hanoi + spontaneous trip decision

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