So here I am, tubby stomach and all, with my best friend in Vietnam. And, wow what a place! There is still so much to do, but thus far our trip has consisted of reuniting with old friends, sitting on miniature stalls at one of Hanoi's many street cafés, haggling at the market, sipping Prosecco at the beautiful Metropole Hotel, pagodas, temples, Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, kayaking round the incredible sights of Halong Bay, seeing monkeys and a New Years Eve I will definitely never forget.
Our biggest challenge surprisingly has not been the language barrier - so many Vietnamese speak good English. Instead, it is crossing the road that poses the greatest threat. They don't use zebra crossings in the same way we do. Here you generally just have to walk out into the enslaught of traffic and hope for dear life that the mass of bikes, mopeds and cars coming at you stop or swerve round you. Quite the experience, I can tell you! But it's also part of what makes Hanoi. Bustling and lively, it's been easy to get quite attached to the place.
In stark contrast, Halong Bay is definitely one of the most tranquil places I've been to. Those calm waters and stunning islands make for a very picturesque scene. What better place to see in the New Year! Although we did see it in early as our guide and the crew bafflingly decided midnight celebrations would be at 10.30! They didn't quite get it, playing Christmas songs, having double the countdowns and ensuing 'New Year's music', serving an interesting Hungarian red bubbly instead of the more traditional champers. But it was brilliant. They had a great time, so did we and it was certainly memorable. Here's to more wacky and wonderful moments in 2015.