Since my trip to Germany in December 2013, I have not done any travelling this year. BUT, in October I will be taking 2 short trips to Vietnam and Chengdu!
This will be my first time visiting Vietnam and my first planned solo trip! Exciting!
Because it is a short trip (5 days 4 nights), I decided to skip Halong Bay this time round and spend more time in Sapa instead. Many people will start asking at this point “why skip Halong Bay??” Here’s why: I get seasick 🙂
I will have the first and last day to explore Hanoi (more than half a day each). I was planning to take a tour around the city with the kids from Hanoikids, an organization that arranges Vietnamese students (volunteers) to bring tourists around Hanoi whilst allowing them to practice their English, all for free (except paying for their transport and food). But it’s too bad that their schedule was full when I contacted them in early August. Even though I am on their waiting list, maybe I should make alternative plans…
Vietnam is a great place for photography, so people say. Therefore, I signed up for a photography tour with Vietnam in Focus on my last day in Hanoi. Alex, one of the 2 guys who owns and runs the company, had been very responsive to my emails. With my limited time in Hanoi it was difficult for me to join their regular tours (with fixed timings). Alex was very nice and changed the tour timing to accommodate my flight out! Can’t wait to pick up a few tips from the professionals and take some awesome photos!
In between my Hanoi days, I will be taking the overnight train to Sapa, visit one of the morning markets and taking a 2-days trek. The 2 days trekking include a 1-night homestay at some ethnic minority villager’s home so that will be a good experience. I will be using the services of Sapa O’Chau, another non-profit organization set up to help the ethnic minorities. The reviews on Tripadvisor have been brilliant and since the money will be going to meaningful purposes, I don’t mind paying a bit more.
I will be spending a slightly longer time in Chengdu, China: 8 nights 7 days. Except for the first day which will have us visiting the Leshan Giant Buddha on our own, this will be a fully guided tour including visits to the Jiuzhaigou National Park (九寨沟), Huanglong National Park (黄龙), the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and being a volunteer at the Bifengxia Panda Base.
I could donate some money to hug a giant panda at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding like The Travel Sisters did but since I will be volunteering at the another Panda Base, where I can get up close and personal (and sweep their poops lol) with the furry animals, think I will leave the pandas in the Chengdu Panda Base alone and save some money for my next trip!
That’s all for now! I can’t wait to fly out right away!