Ode to chaotic Hanoi

As cheesy as it sounds, I left a little piece of my heart in Hanoi. It was an unlikely romance – through the stressful chaos in the streets and the fact that we were stuck there for a few days with not much to do due to my sudden but very real lack of a passport, I expected to run from Hanoi screaming and never look back. But, now that we’ve left it, I so desperately long to return.

I can’t really describe what about this city charmed me so – maybe it’s the fact that it’s a restless, constant moving organism with so many different stories moving through it. Or maybe it’s the easygoing attitude of the locals. Chances are, it’s the countless hole-in-the-wall restaurants that never fail to amaze. Or, maybe even the incredible Vietnamese coffee we had on all too many occasions.

Most likely it’s a little bit of all these things mashed together – regardless, Hanoi stole my heart like no other city has so far.

Here are my top tips for a few lovely days in this charming, crazy city.

Take a walk down to the Lake

Right at the center of the Old Quater is a lake called ‘Ho Bay Mau’, with a bridge to a temple. Here you can explore a historic temple and some Vietnamese history, as well as meet some locals! 🐱

Try the most run down restaurant you can find

My experience in Hanoi was this: the sketchier it looks, the better the food is. I have to admit that we didn’t quite brave the dark corridors that so eerily called to us, but we got pretty close. While you’re there, absolutely try Ban My (basically subs) Pho, and stir fried noodles. They also make ‘morning glory’, which is basically fried spinach with garlic – so delicious!

I also had the best vegan soup I have ever tasted in Hanoi (apart from a Tom Yum in Chiang Mai). Yeah, it’s vegan!!

Live out your deepest shopaholic dreams

Hanoi has some of the best deals I’ve ever seen – walk around the old quarter and you’ll find bags, electronic accessories, rain jackets, and anything else your heart desires.

Head to the Party Streets

Hanoi’s streets are bustling at night – walk through the streets and scan the area to find the best ‘happy hour’ deals. Hint: at most places, happy hour is basically all day.

24 Hours in Chiang Dao

Less often trekked by tourists than its close-by cities Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, Chiang Dao is a small town in the very north of Thailand. In it you’ll find local restaurants and shops, but, also, beautiful views, hikes, and temples.

If you have a couple of days to spare, Chiang Dao is a gorgeous, rural retreat when you get tired of exploring the bustling cities Thailand has  to offer.

Guide to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the third largest city in Thailand, and a lovely representation of the northern Thai culture. Chiang Mai was one of my very favourite parts of the country; it has the fun of a big city, without the intimidating air that Bangkok has. We stayed in the Old Quarter, and didn’t really venture out of it, with no regrets. Here’s a breakdown of what your stay in Chiang Mai may cost you, provided you are budget travelling:

The Vibe

Accommodation: Hostels here range anywhere from 5-20$ for something reasonable (or maybe with lizards in your vents – but they’re harmless). Ian and I are able to share private rooms since the cost for each of us comes out to about the same as if we each payed for a hostel bed. We stayed at  Tommy Huts, which cost 13$ per night, or 6.50$ each. This got us a private hut with air conditioning, at Thai style bathroom with shower, and a bed. Pretty good deal!

What to do in Bangkok

Did you know Bangkok is the most visited city in the world? Bangkok is a bustling city that can seem too intimidating to navigate and explore at first; it’s made up of several regions, all with their own individualities. However, with a little research and knowledge of the city, it’s a charming place with many local amenities. Here were my favourite things to do in Bangkok.

What to do if You’ve Lost Your Passport Abroad

Losing your passport while travelling can feel like the most stressful thing ever – I know from experience. My passport was stolen in Hanoi, Vietnam, along with all my ID, credit, debit card, and all of my cash. On top of this, I had a dead phone with no charger, because it had, by fluke, broken that very same day. It felt like drowning. Everything that kept me going away from my home country was removed from possession. Luckily, Ian was with me, and so I didn’t have to worry about ordering a credit card to my hotel, or getting a cheque sent to me – what a mess that would have been. (If you are in that situation, though, notify your bank right away, and they can send you new cards. I’m with CIBC, and they covered the costs of international calls for fraud. Check with your bank – they likely do the same).

Southeast Asia Packing List

Hey everyone! If you’re reading this when it’s first publicized, you’re seeing it while Ian and I are on our flight to Bangkok – woohoo!

We decided to go with backpacks instead of checked luggage this time, after AirCanada lost our luggage on our last trip to Portugal. However, seeing as we’ll be away for over a month this time around, packing everything I needed into a 40L travel bag was quite a challenge. Let me tell you what I brought, to ease your time should it come around.

Southeast Asia – One Month Packing List

Clothing

Pho (ish) Soup 🍜

Hey all! What’s up? Just here to share one of my favourite recipes with you all. I like to make this particular dish when I’m feeling kind of lazy and in need of comfort food. It’s very filling, but also not too heavy! I’m not going to call it pho because it definitely doesn’t fit the traditional pho recipe mold, but it’s certainly derivative of it. Here goes.

Vegan Pho-ish Soup

Ingredients

1/2 cup brocoli

1-2 cups kale

1/2 cup chopped or quartered cremini mushrooms

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup shredded carrot (I like to take a potato peeler to a full carrot)

6-8 Cups pho broth, or vegetable broth (I used powdered veggie broth and it came out delicious!)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon  lemon juice

1/2 standard package of flat rice noodles

1/4 tablespoon pepper

Piri piri oil and/or spice

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Vegetable or Olive oil

1 Cinnamon stick

2 small ginger root pieces

  1. Chop all vegetables into desired sizes – I like to cut my onions into straight slices. Before frying vegetables, fill large pot with broth and turn on high heat.
  2. Toss all vegetables except for carrot into a large pan on high heat with oil of your preference. I used vegetable oil. Cook until the kale shrinks, then reduce to lowest heat. Season with pepper, piri piri, and thyme.
  3.  While the vegetables cook, add flavour to the broth. Add cinnamon stick, ginger roots, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Toss in the shredded carrot.
  4. In a separate pot, boil the rice noodles on high until soft – 3-4 minutes. They cook very quickly! Remove as soon as they’re cooked, and place into a separate bowl. This is optional – you can cook the noodles in the broth, but they may come out soggier.
  5. Once all the ingredients are cooked, combine and serve!

That’s it! Let me know what you think of this recipe and if you have any tweaks – it’s one of my favourites! 🙂

5 Ways to Start a Waste Free Life

As you all know, I believe strongly in a vegan lifestyle. This is for three big reasons:

  1. Ethical Reasons: I do it so animals can, one day, can live out of chains.
  2. Health Reasons: among many health benefits, did you know that a vegan lifestyle is a huge contributor to cancer prevention? There was even been cases of cancer recovery once the individual started a vegan diet. 
  3. The environment: did you know it takes 10-20x more land and resources to feed a carnivore than it does to feed a vegan? This affects forests, water consumption, carbon emissions, etc.