I am just loving this Real Travel feature that I am currently running, I feel that I am getting to see the world form the comfort of my own office, so I hope you are finding it enjoyaable too! Last week Wendy and Damion from BridsonPhotography took us off to Lake Como in Italy. Today it’s the turn of the lovely Lisa and Matt from Matt Brown Photography who took a month long Honeymoon to Dubai, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong And what an amazing tiem they had!
Dubai, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong
Matt and I got married in September 2012. Matt is a wedding photographer and, due to demands of work, we couldn’t fit in a honeymoon straight after our wedding. We instead opted to wait until December and give ourselves the luxury of a month long jaunt to Dubai, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong. I’d highly recommend having a little time between wedding and honeymoon as it gives you something to look forward to as post-wedding blues set in.
Dubai was our first stop and, whilst it isn’t somewhere that’s ever been on our bucket list, we tried to make the most of our free stop over and see as much as possible. We visited the observation deck at the Burj Khalifa (tip – book in advance!), sunk numerous happy hour cocktails at the swanky Address Hotel overlooking the famous dancing fountains, window shopped in the Dubai Mall and paid an obligatory trip to the Atlantis hotel at the bottom of the palm. After two days we were ready for some sunshine and were looking forward to Thailand.
We flew in to Bangkok and then straight out to Koh Samui. We then hopped on a ferry straight to Koh Phangnan, where we’d managed to get a steal of a deal at the Santhiya Hotel Resort and Spa. Our room was huge, with our own private pool and outdoor bathroom and I think worked out at about £80 per night. Eating and drinking were seriously cheap, and we filled our boots with the unbelievably cheap massages on the beach. It was bliss!
Matt tends to get itchy feet after more than a few days in one place and so after four nights we jumped on the ferry again to go to neighbouring island of Koh Tao, where we spent Christmas. We stayed in a small boutique hotel and spent our days on the back of a rickety old moped exploring the beaches and generally chilling out.
Next, we flew to Bangkok where we darted round the city in Tuc Tucs, saw the famous sights, had cocktails at the top of skyscrapers and generally people watched.
Vietnam was a complete culture shock after relatively westernised Thailand. As we only had about 10 days in the country we decided to stick to the Southern corner rather than try and cram in too much, particularly as in the northern part of the country it was Winter. I’m very much a fan of the heat! We spent three nights in Ho Chi Minh city, staying in a small and stuck-in-the-1980’s hotel. I would think that hotels here are all much of a muchness really.
You cannot begin to fathom how many motorbikes there are in this city, or how crazy the driving is. There are literally hundreds of thousands of bikes on the road at any one time, with seemingly no rules about overtaking, turning, cutting up other road users etc. It is chaos! Crossing the road is impossible, you have to literally walk out in front of the bikes and hope that they stop before they hit you. More than once I lost my bottle and next thing I knew Matt had gone for it and had left me stranded on the opposite side of the road as I was too terrified to cross.
The best thing we did here was a night food tour of the city on the back of motorbikes. I am something of a wuss when it comes to being adventurous with food, so this was a fantastic way of getting introduced to the local cuisine. We were picked up at our hotel by two girls in traditional dress on motorbikes, who took us to meet up with about 10 other tourists in a backstreet. We then were taken to about four or five different sites in the city and at each got a different dish to try. The girls were fantastic, spoke perfect English and were so knowledgeable. When it got to the fermented egg stop (a local delicacy) I had to politely ‘duck’ out, but Matt was a trooper and gave it a try.
From Ho Chi Minh we went to the Mekong Delta, where we stayed in an Eco Lodge and visited the floating markets. We biked through little villages, where the kids would chase us, shouting hello and waving. After a couple of nights we flew to a little island off the south of Vietnam called Phu Quoc.
Without a doubt, this was our favourite part of the entire trip. Phoc Quoc is quiet and unspoilt, with long wide empty beaches. Real paradise. We stayed in a place called Freedomland, which I had booked after reading the unanimous trip advisor outstanding reviews. Matt was a little concerned that, given the name, I had unwittingly booked us into a nudist camp! We stayed in treehouses in the forest, just down the road from an amazing beach. Every evening the 30 or so travellers staying at Freedomland sat at a long table in a clearing under twinkly lights and were treated to Michelin star quality 5 course meals. Truly the best food I have ever eaten. We ate and drank like kings and we were amazed to find on checking out that our total five night stay, with all food, accommodation and drinks came to about £200. I could have stayed there forever, but it was soon moving on time again, with our final destination being Hong Kong.
The winter of Hong Kong was a bit of a shock after three weeks in tropical heat. We opted for a another boutique hotel and stayed on the Kowloon side of the city, with easy access to Hong Kong via the free ferry. We had a relaxing couple of days meandering through the criss-cross streets, took the tram up to the Peak and watched the light show as it fell dark.
And that was it – the month passed by in a flash! The entire trip cost less than a week in the Maldives, a complete bargain, we felt, for the experience we had.
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