We finally arrived in Hanoi after a 30-hour bus ride that was only suppose to take 24-hours and boy were we happy to get off that bus. So into a taxi we got and we were on our way to the hostel for a much needed hot shower, a comfy bed and a good night sleep.

The next morning we woke early, ready to hit the pavement and see this new city. After a quick simple breakfast we headed out to explore the streets. Before we knew it, it was time for lunch, so we decided to try a rooftop Japanese restaurant where we were rewarded with great food, strong Wi-Fi and an amazing view of the Hoan Kiem Lake (also known as Sword lake or Turtle lake). After lunch we headed down to the nearest tourist information center to get directions to an English-speaking doctor in order to get some medical TLC for my sick stomach. Directions in hand we jumped in a taxi, heading over to the French quarter of town. After a quick visit with the doctor, which ended up costing us $130, with antibiotics in hand we head back to the lake for a quick coffee before dinner and an early night.

The next morning I was still feeling a little under the weather, plus the weather was a little wet, so we decided to spend the morning in bed. Glenn headed down for breakfast before deciding to try and find a local coffee shop that had decent Wi-Fi, as the hotels Wi-Fi was sketchy at best. Due to the rain beginning to get heavier, the coffee shop he was forced to stop at turned out to be the most expensive one around, charging a small fortune. It was getting close to lunchtime and I was getting hungry, so after a quick Facebook conversation we decided I would meet him before searching for a cheap place to eat. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the streets, dodging the rain and motorbikes, until it was time to yet again find a place to eat among Hanoi’s ample selection.

The next morning we were up early and ready to meet our guide for the walking tour we were taking. This was run by a company called Hanoikids , which gave university students the opportunity to conduct walking tours of the city while practicing their English. It was one of the best walking tours we have been on during our trip and the only free walking tour that was actually free. She took us to the local market, showed us the old and French quarters before taking us to the Temple of Literature. This was like nothing we had ever seen before. It was not only a temple but also the first university, surrounded by amazing gardens with Chinese symbols made of flowers as well many bonsai trees, some sculpted into the shape of Chinese zodiac animals.

We had a quick lunch, after the tour then headed to the theatre for a Water Puppet show. This was a cultural puppet show with the puppets dancing on and in water to music being played on traditional Vietnamese instruments, the musicians dressed in traditional costume. Although the entire show was done in Vietnamese we were able to get a small understanding of what was being portrayed by the movement of the puppets. Following the show we headed back to one of our favourite restaurants, Thai Express, for another early dinner before going back to the hotel to pack our bags and get ready for our flight to Nha Trang the following morning.

At about 8pm we got a knock at our door and were surprised when we opened it to find the manager of the hotel. He had come to find out what time the following morning we were checking out. When we told him we would be leaving at 8:30am he requested that we pay for the room straight away because he wouldn’t be there in the morning and, apparently, no one else spoke English. Luckily we had the required cash, otherwise we would have had to find an ATM but one consolation was that he then offered to organise a lift to the airport for us.

The next morning we headed down for a quick breakfast before finishing our packing. Much to our surprise the manager was at the reception desk, contrary to what we had been lead to believe. To add insult to injury, at 8am we were told the taxi was early to allow for traffic caused by a car crash. We were then herded out the door and into the “taxi”. We were happy to leave and once on our way we were excited that we would soon be in Nha Trang. The “taxi”, however, turned out to be a friend of the manager, who drove like a madman seemingly more intent on getting to his next appointment than whether we got there safely. After 40-minutes of speeding and weaving through peak hour traffic, we are lucky we got to the airport in one piece.

The flight to Nha Trang was nice and best of all short. We then jumped in an airport shuttle , which took us into the center of town before jumping in a taxi to head to our Hostel. The hostel was very nice with great facilities and big rooms, much to our delight. We were in a hurry to hit the streets as we needed to head to Angel Dive Centre to pay the deposit for the three days of scuba diving we had booked, as well as check out some dive equipment. Luckily, the dive shop was only 5-minutes walking distance from the hostel. With the deposit paid, mask and snorkel bought and start time for the morning arranged we headed off in search of bathers before dinner. Luckily with the city being beach/dive central bathers weren’t hard to find and neither was a restaurant. We had a great dinner at Lanterns restaurant and booked a cooking class with them before heading back for an early night.

We woke at 5am eager to get the day started and after a nice breakfast we got our gear together before heading down to the dive shop ready for our first day of diving since June. At 7:30 we were in a minivan with our fellow divers headed for the harbour. Once on the boat we were introduced to our dive guides for the day Tom (Australian), Colin (Belgium) and Archie (Hungarian). We were decked out with the gear required and before long we were jumping in the water at Madonna Rock for our first dive. Once under the water we were both amazed by the colour of the coral and the fishes, both of us once again hooked on diving. We dove twice more that day and in-between picked the brains of our dive instructors, getting as much information as possible about the sport.

At 3:30pm we were back at the harbor, then in the minivan heading to the restaurant for lunch and then dropped off at the dive shop. On the walk back to the hostel we came across a fantastic little coffee shop, stopping for coffee and cake. It was then back to the hostel for showers and a little relaxing. We then met a few of our dorm mates and before long had decided to join them for a couple of beers and some dinner. We had a fantastic night of good conversation, great food and a few too many drinks. The next morning Glenn was feeling a little under the weather so decided to skip the day of diving. So off I went, all on my own, and a little scared, as I had never dived without Glenn by my side. Luckily my new friends, Colin and Archie, made me feel comfortable. It wasn’t until I was sitting eating my lunch and wondering what Glenn was up to that I realised that I had left him with no money. By the time I got back to the Hostel at 4pm he was starving so we headed out for an early dinner. We decided that we would move to a hotel the following morning so it was time to pack our bags again and get ready, as we would have to put everything in luggage storage before we left for diving in the morning.

We were up, packed, fed, stored our luggage and were on our way to the dive shop by 7am. Our itinerary for the day was a little different today as we were doing our navigation course. This turned out to be a lot of fun, we were being taught by Kim, one of the instructors, but our friends Colin and Archie were still diving with us to make sure we were doing the right thing. As this was the first dive the four of us had taken together where neither of them were guiding the dive, they took the opportunity to play a few pranks on each other and play around a bit, much to Glenn and my amusement.

After lunch we headed back to the dive shop to determine the amount of money we owed them and book another two days diving before heading to the bank. On the way past our new hotel we checked in and dropped off our diving gear, headed past the old hostel to the bank and then back to the hostel to grab our luggage. The next day we had planned to do a cooking class at the Lanterns restaurant so, as we weren't going to be scuba diving, we decided to head out and have a few drinks to celebrate passing our navigation course. Well a few drinks turned into a few too many. We woke up the following morning very hung over and needing to be at the restaurant for the cooking class in 10minutes. Instead we spent the day watching movies in our air-conditioned room feeling sorry for ourselves.

The next two days were practically the same. We would get up in the morning, head off to the dive shop, spend the day diving, have lunch at the restaurant come back to the hotel, shower, relax, head out for dinner and then have an early night ready to repeat the next day. On our final day of diving we were invited to have dinner and drinks with Colin and Archie, as well as a couple of new tourist divers, Emika and Tessie, who had dived with us that day. We headed back to the hotel to pack and shower before heading to the dive shop at 7pm to meet everyone. This was an amazing night spent chatting, singing and eating DIY rice paper rolls. The next morning we woke up, finished our packing and were downstairs waiting for the taxi to pick us up by 7:15am, feeling a little worse for wear as it was 1:30am when we’d finally made it home.

Unfortunately the taxi was a little late that made us worry we were going to miss our bus. Once it finally turned up we then proceeded to stop another 5 times to pick up passengers but when we rocked up to the bus we realised this was normal. We then spent the very bumpy ride to Ho Chi Minh City watching movies and napping. We arrived about an hour late so we quickly got directions to our hotel and decided that instead of spending money on a taxi we would walk (not a good idea when your luggage weighs a ton). We finally reached the hotel a little exhausted and checked in, ordered pizza and showered. After the antics of the night before we were in bed and asleep early, excited about what this new city had to offer.

The next morning we treated ourselves with a bit of a sleep in. We then headed out for breakfast before heading to a travel agent to book the bus to Siem Reap, which would be our next stop. Due to a festival that is happening in Cambodia at the moment we couldn't catch a bus directly to Siem Reap until the 13th of October. This meant that we would have to travel to Phnom Phen, spend the night and then board the bus the following morning to complete our journey. Although this would delay us arriving in Siem Reap by a day it also meant, instead of having to be on a bus for 14 hours, we would have two 7 hour bus trips and get a good night sleep in between.

After booking the bus we decided to explore the city a little and, lo and behold, we stumbled upon Starbucks, giving us an opportunity to retreat for a coffee and some relaxing while we discussed our plans for the next two days. This ended up being the best decision we could have made because shortly after sitting down the heavens opened up and it rained for the next hour or so, which meant much to our disliking (not) we were stuck in Starbucks drinking coffee and enjoying free internet. During this time we decided to book a tour, so once the rain subsided we headed back to the travel agent to organise a tour for the following day. We then headed back to the room and relaxed for the afternoon before going to a local restaurant for dinner.

We were up at our usual early hour the following morning looking forward to our tour. We had arranged for a pick up from our hotel but were surprised when the pick up was on motorcycles. These thankfully only needed to take us to the booking office where the tour bus was waiting, because being on the back of a motorcycle during Vietnamese peak hour is a little scary. After we boarded the bus and picked up a few more passengers we were on our way out of the city. Our first stop was to be the Cao Dai Temple where we would be treated to a symbolic ceremony, as the temple was about 2 hours out of the city we would also get to see another side of Vietnam out of the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

We arrived at the temple and quickly removed our shoes before entering in order to get a good vantage point from the upstairs balcony. Before long the music started and the local monks began entering, taking their places on the floor ready for the 45minute prayer session. We then headed back to the bus and while waiting patiently for the rest of the group, we met a nice woman from Sydney, quickly becoming friends. We were then taken to a small Vietnamese restaurant for a nice lunch before continuing our journey to the Co Chi Tunnels. After about an hour we arrived at the tunnel entrance, bought our tickets and were soon walking through the jungle seeing the amazing tunnels that had been dug by the people of the area during the Vietnam war. We were lucky to be shown around by our very knowledgeable guide who showed us the different types of tunnels, traps and bunkers that were used to defend the area from the invading enemy.

After a quick stop at the firing range, where you could fire an M60 rifle that was mounted on the back of a jeep, we then had the opportunity to actually crawl through the tunnels (that had been widened so that tourists could enter them). They were so tiny that by the end of the first 20 metres we were on our hands and knees and ready to exit. We were then treated to a propaganda film before getting back on the bus for the 2-hour ride back to Ho Chi Minh.

We had decided to meet our new friend at her hotel for dinner an hour after we got back. Due to a slight misjudgment of the distance between the hotels we ended up being a little late, not that it really mattered. We then headed out for a few drinks, a nice dinner and a great night of getting to know each other.

The following day was spent tying up a few loose ends before having lunch at a nice Vietnamese restaurant called Wrap and Roll. We headed back to our hotel to get some housekeeping done before heading to dinner at a nice Vegetarian Restaurant and picking up some supplies for the bus trip the following day. We then packed and headed to bed for an early night, a little sad to be leaving Vietnam but excited about seeing Cambodia.