Yellow brick walls. Thin rusty bicycles. Fragile, crumbling
gates. Fine curling alleyways. Luxurious food. Fairy lights and lanterns.
Hoi An is the gem of Vietnam, understated and authentic.
Classic detailing and beauty. The town is a intricate replica of the perfectly
tailored clothing it is notorious for. Nothing seems out of place in a very
shabby-chic, underdone precision.
Shop. Eat. Play beer pong at the bars across the river and
squeeze two people in a rickshaw made for one in the rain.
Everything you’ve ever wanted. Google your most prized
designer pieces online, take images, measurements. Pick a store. Pick a fabric.
Quote a price and buy an extra suitcase to fit it all into.
I'm feeling nostalgic about my travels so I thought I'd do a post in memory of that wonderful time. A simple photo, a memory that I shall never forget.
Here sits a monk, solitary, reading his book with not a care in the world about the thousands of tourists walking past him. Many didn't even notice he was there. In his world, he was alone, looking out onto the beauty of Ankgor Wat as the sun rose in the sky.
Five hours from Mui Ne to Dalat in a painfully cramped bus
(the only unfortunate leg of our 7 stop trip however), and we found ourselves
in Dalat, a quaint mountain side town in the hills of southern Vietnam.
Complete with an Eiffel Tower (I’m still unsure why but it’s there, on a
miniature scale), blooming gardens and flower markets we wish we could have
spent more time here.
One of the more adventurous and thrill-seeking parts of our
trip were to be done in Dalat – namely Canyoning.
For a mere $20 we were taken up into the forest with a group
of 20, strapped into life jackets, helmets and harnesses and sent down a trail
bouncing off trees for safety.
Practice session first, before a quick easy jump backwards
over a 10 meter cliff to make sure you knew how to do it. A walk through the
forest, and you find yourself at small, gentle waterfalls.
Oh, you lie on your back and slide down bumpy rocks and hope
you don’t hurt yourself too. (You actually don’t, but make sure you lie
straight back. It’s hard to do once you’re moving and if you don’t, you will
smash your lower spine. THAT HURTS. It was the first – not the last – time that
day that I heard screams from the rest of our group for my safety.)
Next station is the ‘25-metre challenge.’ Leaning backwards
over a waterfall, the rocks are insanely slippery. There are three parts to the
challenge – first you make it down to the ledge. Then over the ledge and down
through the currents of water whacking you in the face. Next you run out of
rope. So you must let go, like a maniac, and leave your fate to your Vietnamese
guides with questionable English/safety skills.My experience involved falling flat on my face in the first ledge,
panicking, sliding to the ledge, regaining my footing and falling flat on my
face again. Almost drowning and praying to god when I let go as we ran out of
wall/rope. Thank you man who was on the wall at the same time as me. Without
you I may have drowned in a panicky-waterfall-mess. Ripped t-shirt and bloody
elbow to match may I add.
Then we have a 10 metre cliff jump into the water. What the
hell, I survived that last bit, may as well battle this fear of jumping once
and for all.
Finally, we have ‘The Washing Machine’. A seemingly harmless
waterfall which is in fact a very narrow gully of water in which you fall to
your death, holding your breath and getting spun every which way with no
control out into the river. How we didn’t do damage I have no idea.
Then for the long, painful climb back up the hill to the
minibus, achy, cold, wet, and exhilarated.
Because for all of my clumsy, uncoordinated accidents where
I seemed like exactly the kind of girl who shouldn’t be doing these sorts of
trips, I loved every single second of it. It was an adrenalin rush like no
other, but also a real challenge for me. Physical activity, extreme sports –
they aren’t natural to me. So to come out of one, having struggled through it
and loved every second was exactly what I needed. I’d jump back down those
waterfalls in seconds.
Started 2014 underneath a tree at Falls Festival.
Spent time with family and finally saw wild kangaroos on a road trip around
Tasmania. Moved to an outback pub and learned to play pool. Reunited with my
Melbs family before heading to Brisbane to meet the best bunch of people I can
imagine. Worked in a hostel bar before become so broke I had to scrub kitchen
floors at 11pm every night for accommodation. Sold Dental insurance for 1300
SMILE and worked in a restaurant that was shut down by health and safety two
weeks in. I lived on a farm where I drove a tractor, welded things, shot things
and learned to butcher/castrate sheep (not one of my lifelong dreams but you
take what you get). Off to another
outback pub where, again, I met the best people in the world, people that will
never leave my life. Sadly, it burnt down. But I had already left by that
point. I explored the Sunshine coast, Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise, Byron and
partied hard at Listen Out before a week in Darwin for tropical storms and suffocating
heat. Next stop was Bali, for rice paddies, temples and peaceful Ubud. I saw
sunrise at Angkor Wat, spent 3 days on a desert island in Cambodia, lived a few
days of the Arcadia life with my cousin in Kampot. Travelled south-north
Vietnam, stopping for tailored clothes, to abseil some waterfalls and sail
around Halong Bay. I cuddled tiger cubs, washed elephants and held snakes. I
shopped HARD in Bangkok. And here I am, exhausted after working a Heavy Metal
Hawaiian NYE party in Mackay. It’s been a bizarre year of adventure, bucket
list ticks and stunning beaches. It’s been emotional, hard and I’ve often
wanted to give up and come home. Never easy, but always making it through.
Thanks to all the people that made 2014 what it was – you’re all amazing.