New website at Bridge the Travel Gap

New website at Bridge the Travel Gap

Hello Everyone,

Since we returned to England we made a decision to develop a travel website. We have now got the new website working at www.bridgethetravelgap.com where we give advice and tips on how to live your travel dreams.

I hope you will sign up to our new website. IWhen you sign up to our new site you get a free Travel Jump Start kit.

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Worse travel blogger in the history of Earth

Ok I might be exaggerating a tad. However, after a year of blogging I have decided that I am not that good at getting a sizeable following. I have tried all the usual avenues of pininterest, instagram, twitter and a link to a Facebook page at JohnanddebbiesRTWadventures. I think the name of my blog was probably my first mistake. I mean kiwihove.wordpress.com what was I thinking! I also think my blogs must be a bit on the mundane side judging by the number of views I get, although who knows how right are the wordpress gremlin counters.

My wifes blog has 3706 followers versus my paltry 172. Her blog is called 52 weeks, Letters I have written. She wrote a letter each week and sent it to people from wherever we were in the world. I must say we did get to visit lots of different post offices on our travels.

I am not going to give up but over the next few months will have a look at the site and blogs to see where I went wrong! I did have visions of generating an income from the blog but that seems a distant dream. I have read lots of other blogs and how to generate income but keep coming up short. I still haven’t figured out to do the shared affiliate thing. I am sure there are literally thousands of other bloggers in the same leaky boat as me. My wife also likes to point out that my grammar needs to improve and she is completely correct. My other great weakness is understanding IT and making things easier. My next step is to try doing a course and whether I want to change from a com to a org and perhaps rename my site that is something to do with travel might help!

Why come to Vietnam?

After being in Vietnam for three weeks I thought I would pen a few words to paper about our experiences. It has been a lot easier than we expected. Booking train tickets, nice hotels with hot running water and friendly people. Hanoi was brilliant. I am glad we were delayed getting our Indian visa due to holiday celebrations.

We got to see the fireworks on Reunification Day and explore a lot of the city thanks to Hanoi kids. See my review here on tripadviser:

Hanoi Kids, do the tour you will not regret it

Halong Bay was brilliant and I am glad we paid a bit extra to do a tour that had good reviews. I am also happy that we decided to do the three days and two night cruise. Otherwise after you drive four hours to Halong Bay you get on the boat rush around and get off the boat less than 24 hours later for a long drive back to Hanoi. Below is a link to my review of our Halong Boat trip.

Halong Cruise with Viola Cruises

Train trips are brilliant with it easy to book. The trains are comfortable and have running water for a quick face wash in the morning and they even bring you meals. Our next stop was Hue where we enjoyed our full day tour exploring the Kings and Queens tombs and the Old Citadel. The drive to Hoi An was easy and booking a car and driver who stopped along the way was well worth it. Hoi An we relaxed for a week. Going to the beach or into the old town. Now, we are at Nha Trang the only foreigners staying at a hotel that are not Russian much to the amazement of the staff.

If your concerned about coming to Vietnam and doing it yourself, don’t be. We mostly use trip adviser and are careful on where we stay and so far, fingers crossed have been lucky in our selections. Our last stop is Saigon and hopefully we have made a good choice there. On cost, we are paying around US$750 a week for both of us. This includes 3-4 star hotels, tours, food and transport through Vietnam. I know you can do travel in Vietnam a lot cheaper than this if you stay at guest houses or backpackers accommodation. However, for a few dollars more your enjoyment and memories will probably be better ones.

Second week in Vietnam: Hanoi and Hue

Hanoi

One of the challenges we had during our second week was to get an Indian visa. I choose to apply for an India visa in Hanoi after reading several reviews on how easy it was to get a visa here as long as you do the paperwork correctly. It was easy, however, we unintentionally chose the week to apply where Vietnam had a 8 day holiday break! Hence we had to wait a week for our visa where it normally would take three days. On the bright side we both loved Hanoi as a city and had a ball exploring the city and eating out every night.

We spent the week in Hanoi visiting several sites including the Temple of Literature, two water puppet shows, Ho Chi Minh Museum and eating at a lot of restaurants. The highlight of the week was doing a great day tour with Hanoi Kids, highly recommended if you are ever in Hanoi. Once we had our Indian visa we booked a sleeper train to Hue which was easy and cost US$90. We had a lovely apartment, four bunks, air conditioning and the train trip took around 14 hours. We even got an upgrade at our hotel in Hue and an early check in.

Hue

We spent four days in Hue. It is a great city to explore with its ancient Citadel and the tombs from past Kings. During the three days we were there we did an all day tour visiting the tombs of past kings, the Citadel which was partially destroyed by the French and Vietnam wars as well as a boat cruise down the Perfume river and visited a pagoda and Buddhist temple. The hotel we were staying at also did a king and queen feast so we got to dress up and have a wonderful meal. All in all it was a great week seeing some great sights in Hanoi and finding out more about the history of Vietnam in Hue.

Our next week is in Hoi An.

Cost of the week in Vietnam

This week we were four nights in Hanoi, one night on a train and two nights in Hue.

Silk Queen Hotel accommodation was US$220 for the four nights
Train night trip to Hue was US$90. You can book directly at the station for just US$70. We decided to go through out hotel and pay the commission.
Cherish Hue Hotel (formerly the Camellia Hotel) was US$95 for two nights.
Transport aside from train, attractions, food and drink was 6 million dong or US$280.

It worked out to US$685 or US$98 per day.

Part 3 of our North America Adventure

The Final Leg

The third part of our adventures in the USA. In the last part of our journey we visited Florida, did a cruise in the Caribbean and then travelled through the panhandle via Texas to eventually California. After leaving Virginia we had a few days in South Carolina and Georgia.

We then went on to Florida where we spent a month. During that month we spent a week driving down in the car to Key West via the Everglades.

We then returned to Orlando for a few days at a Thousand Trails Campground. Then it was a short drive to Tampa and a week-long cruise in the West Caribbean where we visited Rotoan Island, Mexico and Belize.

After the cruise we did my favourite activity in the USA which was to swim with a Manatee. It was just brilliant. Such gentle beasts and with soulful eyes. We then spent Xmas in Jacksonville where I was sick us the proverbial dog for two weeks.

Our last leg was spent visiting Texas where we stayed with the lovely Helen and her pooch Charlie. We then visited several states including Louisiana for New Year, New Mexico and then on to Arizona and finally California. we did a lot visiting Tombstone, driving the Apache Trail, canyon walking in Arizona and boondocking at Quartzite.

After finishing the USA leg of our trip we move on to Australia.

Highlights for me

Swimming with a manatee
Meeting friendly Americans
Tombstone
Deadwood acting Debut
New Mexico and its scenery
Driving the Apache Trail
Boston
Yellowstone Grand Canyon
Old Faithful Geyser
Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monuments
Buffalo round up
Boondocking in Arizona
Visiting the Everglades
Air boat ride
Finding the original Yellow brick road from the Wizard of Oz in Peekskill
All the lovely swimming pools at campgrounds we visited

Hanoi motorcyle ballet

We have been in Hanoi a week. It has been a fun week exploring the city and relaxing in a lovely hotel. What most impresses me is what I call the motorcycle and scooter ballet. Hours of entertainment can be had by going to a cafe, preferably at an intersection. Then just sit back relaxing with a beer and watch the ballet of continuous traffic of weaving in, out and around people as they walk across the road. Coming from New Zealand and living in England it makes me realise how bad drivers are there. Yes you read me correctly. Western drivers need rules to slow down and give way. In Hanoi, common sense is used in most cases.

The difference between Hanoi and traffic in places where I live, is the speed and common sense. It may look dangerous and mayhem but there is an art form in how the drivers avoid collisions by just driving with common sense and at a speed which works. I would be curious about other people’s impressions of the traffic in Hanoi. Of course, when crossing the road you must be careful. I have seen one person hit (nudged) at a speed in which just cross words were used and it was a tourist who was not looking both ways.

I also found out that the car is coming in numbers. In 2018 when Vietnam joins ASEAN tax on cars apparently goes to zero. If you want to experience Vietnam and all its zen like traffic chaos then now is the time to visit. Once cars arrive in numbers it will be one big continuous traffic jam.