28 Days in Vietnam

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As the title suggests, I spent 28 days in Vietnam. In 2014, I flew alone to Hanoi to meet the Real Gap tour group I would spend the next month with. I knew very little about Vietnam, I didn’t know anyone that had been, I knew it was growing in popularity in the backpacking crowd but I wasn’t sure why. I arrived nervous and excited about what I was going to discover.

I checked into my hotel and met my roommates who would become great friends over the next few weeks. I know that a lot of travellers are fond of the joy of ‘authentic solo travel’, organising it around you, or not organising it at all, just going with the flow. But I love group tours, I love the feeling of landing in a new country having no idea what to expect, but I also love the security of knowing someone else will be organising the logistics. The majority of us on the tour were girls travelling alone and under 20 years old so we got on well. Over the next four weeks I learnt about buddhism, about Vietnamese history and that’s it’s perfectly normal for the power to cut out and the electrician to turn up on his motorbike in the pitch black very drunk. I learnt how quickly a bond can grow between a group of people in the right circumstances, I cried so so much about leaving my new friends on the last day!

When I discuss my time in Vietnam people often seem surprised that I spent a month only in the north of the country. I’m sure there is much to see in the south, and one day I would like to visit, but to spend a month in the north really gave me the chance to absorb my surroundings. Anyone who has been to Hanoi will tell you it can take a while to get used to crossing those roads! In the month I was in Vietnam: I got drunk in Hanoi, learned how to ride a moped on Cat Ba island, almost got pushed off a hill by a buffalo in Sapa and rode a bike for the first time in years (you never forget how!) through the countryside. But if you want to know what there is to see in Vietnam, or if you want to read about a travellers experience there, then I’d recommend you try elsewhere, there are thousands of people who have written such things in a much more articulate way than I ever could! If you do want to travel to Vietnam, or anywhere, especially if you are a first time traveller, don’t dismiss the group tour, you could miss out on something great if you do.

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