Where I’m At; a monthly update of what I’ve been up to, site news, and where I’m going next.
Where I’ve Been
After months of hardly travelling at all, March was a busy month. My travels revolved around making my way back to Australia, which I had been away for over two years. I was long overdue for a visit.
My month began in Vung Tau and Saigon, and then I hit the road for the rest of the month. This post is a summary, and more detailed blogs will follow for everywhere I went.
Hoi An / Da Nang
I was invited to a wedding in Da Nang so I went a few days earlier to visit Hoi An, which is about 30 minutes away from Da Nang. It’s still the travel photography paradise that I remember it to be, with so many interesting buildings to see. The historic area is compact, so at times it feels more like a theme park than a real town as it’s overrun with tourism. I love to visit, but I wouldn’t live here.
Da Nang is a city I could live in, or at least down the track when it has more big city diversions. I’ve been to Da Nang a few times now and each time I visit it keeps evolving. It’s getting a skyline now, and I think in a few years there will be more cafes and restaurants to choose from.
Da Nang also has a beach in the city, which is one if its drawcards. My friends got married at one of the beach resorts, and it was a beautiful day (congrats to Justin and Aiza!)
My visa expired the day after the wedding, so I got a flight from Da Nang to KL. I go to KL a couple of times a year on the way to somewhere else, so it always reminds me of being in transit. Rather than fly directly back to Australia I took the option of stopping along the way. I haven’t done a long international flight since before my back injury last June, so I wanted to ease myself back into travel.
After my visa expiring in Vietnam I had to wait until later in the month to see my family in Australia. With a week to spare I figured I’ll fly halfway to Australia and stop on in Bali. I spent the week in Seminyak and Canggu.
On my last visit to Bali (3 years ago) I took a day trip to Canggu, which was the latest up-and-coming cool beach destination. I don’t think you can say it’s up-and-coming anymore as it has definitely arrived. I’ve heard it described as Bondi-on-Bali (named after a trendy Sydney beach), and everywhere in Canggu you can see Australian influence in the businesses that have set up. I like it there, and I can see how it has become popular for location independent types.
AirAsia fly from Bali to Darwin so I made a stop there on the way to Melbourne. I had never been to Darwin before which was a good enough reason for me to go. At 2.5 hours flying time, Darwin is closer to Bali than it is to Melbourne. After being in the big cities of Southeast Asia, the “big country town” vibe of Darwin was even more pronounced. I was also there on a weekend, so the city area was quieter than during the week.
Ahh Melbourne, my old home city, and the place I still call home whenever I need to answer that question of “where do you come from?” I didn’t intend to be away for so long. 2016 was only the second time I wasn’t in my home country in a calendar year. 2000 was the other, when I was in the middle of a 2-year work visa in the UK.
With only a week to spare my time was spent seeing family, visiting friends, and getting paperwork in order. I also felt like a tourist in my home town as there have been so many changes.
I started this blog in 2009, which was the year I left my rented house and went full time in the nomadic life. With only fleeting visits since then the city has changed more than I have been able to keep up with.
From Melbourne it was back to Asia with a flight to Singapore. I had a night here and met a friend at the airport. Changi is rated as the best airport in the world, and it probably has the worlds best food court at an airport. The food court in the basement of Terminal 3 has food stands that are worthy of any hawker centre, and they don’t charge outrageous airport prices.
Hong Kong has become an annual tradition for me, so rather than fly directly back to Vietnam I detoured here for a few days. I should probably spend a month here some time, but for now I content myself with short visits and explore as much as I can.
Some friends who were living in Saigon have recently moved to Shenzhen, which is on the border of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Shenzhen became China’s first Special Economic Zone in 1980, and it was transformed from a fishing village to one of the biggest cities in China.
My hotel is in the Dongman Pedestrian area which has some fake old buildings. Nothing here is old. The city is more like a modern version of Los Angeles. I went out to the district where my friends are, and they live next to the worlds fourth tallest building. The city is also building the biggest metro system in the world, with a total of 32 metro lines covering the city.
After a month that had seven flights and every days accommodation planned out, I have gladly not planned anything for April.
ICYMI – Last months posts
The more I travel the less I blog. In this case a month of travel equals zero blogs. I will be catching up this month on all the place I visited.
Nomadic Notes Around The Web
As I have been based in Saigon the last few years I was asked some questions about living in Hồ Chí Minh City at BBC Travel.