An overview of Vietnam in less than two weeks - what to see and where to go

25 January 2018

We were worried that we had bitten off more than we could chew trying to cover the Ho Chi Minh trail in just under two weeks, but whilst ambitious I think we just about managed it. My top tip would be taking planes instead of trains because of the obvious advantage of wasting less time by travel. Thankfully, there didn’t seem to be a massive price difference either. Obviously, more time would have been preferable but if you’re short on time, here’s a list of all my recommendations:

South: 


Ho Chi Minh/Saigon: I’d dedicate the most time to this historic city and the rich variety of museums and culture that it offers. Make sure to make the most of any tours your hostel offers as well, they’re well worth doing and make a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
  • Food: Saigon Vegetarian, Yellow Hue Cafe 
  • Drinks: Sky bar - placed on top of a hostel, this incredible bar was beautifully decorated with lanterns and had the most amazing view over the city. Plus, catering to backpackers the prices were cheap as chips. 
  • Sights: Walking tour (well worth doing to get your bearings in the city, and many are free too): reunification palace, opera building, post office, Ben Thanh market, Walking street, war remnants museum, Xao Lo pagoda, jade emperor pagoda 
  • Tours: Mekong Delta tour 
  • Transport: good bus system to and from the airport, the rest can either be walked or done through taxis 
Central: 


Da Nang: this would be the one spot that I felt I could have just as easily left as took. However, our relaxing beach day did us a lot of good after a hectic few days in Saigon.
  • Food: Pho 29 - whilst the beach seafood looked nice, prices were hiked right up for rich tourists. I’d recommend trying to walk across the bridge into the city if you’re after some more authentic fare. 
  • Sights: Beach, Dragon Bridge 
  • Travel: very little public transport to speak of, you can walk but the distances are quite long so take a taxi through one of the reputable companies around instead. There is a direct bus to Hoi An which runs regularly throughout the day and is far cheaper - don’t expect comfort though!!

Hoi An: This UNESCO protected city was truly stunning and I only wish we could have stayed an explored a little longer 
  • Food: Take a trip to the market place and eat amongst the locals. The freshly prepared food was some of the best we had all holiday. Top picks would be the summer rolls and papaya salad 
  • Sights: You only need to wonder around here to take in the beauty. Buy a ticket and visit the inside of some of the historical buildings and shops though to make the most of your stay 
North: 


 
Hanoi: Getting back to city life after our mini-break was a struggle but Hanoi still felt relatively calm to me compared with the south. Don’t miss out on a trip to Ha Long Bay whilst your in the area too!
  • Food: Bun Bo Nam Bo, street food (Bun Ca) 
  • Sights: Turtle lake, Memorial of King Thai, Vietnam museum of fine art, Night Market 
  • Tours: Halong bay Tour - we booked the Ocean tour Cocktail Cruise through our hostel, which I’d highly recommend for the price and stay that we had.

SPRING.

15 January 2018

Things are looking up.

10 January 2018


So here we are, eight days into 2018 and it would be fair to say that for me, much like the latter half of 2017, it's been a little bit shit. I've been stuck in a pit of self-loathing and depressive darkness that I naively thought I had not only climbed out of, but left far behind in my past. 

2017 wasn't the best year for me - I neglected my mental health, turning a blind eye to its slow disintegration and my lack of self-care; especially around eating and nourishing myself properly. To have come so far, only to have depressive, anxious and anorexic thoughts creep up again, taking me under their dark wings whilst I pretended not to notice too much can only be described as disheartening. But, although I may be in the pits now, having got to the other side before, I know I can do it again. One's mental health is constantly evolving and adapting - it just takes a little work to get there.

No singular point sticks in my mind as a trigger, but in only a short amount of time, a lot of the old (and to be honest somewhat comforting) feelings came creeping back into my life. And once you've reached a certain low, there's a perverse lure to these diseases that makes it easier to sink and embrace them than try and fight your way out. 

Weirdly, I'm grateful that I had the chance to experience these feelings once again, because without reaching a 'rock bottom' of sorts, I don't think I'd ever have reached a full recovery - instead been left stuck in the semi-recovered life I was living. That's not to say that I haven't had amazing times over the last couple of years: I've travelled with my friends, got into university and had an amazing first year, moved away from home and became more independent, made new friends, partied, landed some amazing modelling jobs - the list could go on. But, all this has been achieved within the confines of my 'safe zone'. 

Whilst I managed to maintained a healthy weight and even relationship with food at some points, I've never fully come to terms with the way that my body should look at it's best, and continued to indulge in habits that really should have been broken far earlier. I won't go into detail for risk of triggering others with specifics, but the control I felt I needed wasn't allowing me to live to my full potential a lot of the time. It's only now looking back that whilst I do believe that I've been truly happy in parts, I was far too close to the cliff face which is relapse a lot of the time. 

So a shock was what I really needed to get me back on track - and that's exactly what landing in hospital after reaching my lowest weight in years gave me. From now on, I want to live without fear; with spontaneity, balance and a continual effort to keep my mental health in check, or at least seek help when I do start to need it. I'm not sure the scars my experiences have given me will ever truly fade, but an acceptance of the past and a conscious effort to better the future can only help. 

If thighs that jiggle slightly are the price I have to pay for eyes that sparkle with laughter, radiant skin and a warm glow in my bones, then it's a currency I'm willing to exchange in. Here's to never living a half life again.

Helplines if you or someone you know is struggling: 

Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 (24 hour)
Beat ED: 0808 801 0677
(Also have dms open for support @BeatEDSupport)
Sane: 0300 304 7000
Anxiety UK: 08444 775 774

A visit to your GP is also worth a go, even if the NHS sometimes have a long way to go in terms of mental health

LAZY DAYS.

06 January 2018



Vietnam seemed to be the city of sleepers, amongst the hustle and bustle of the towns a deep sleep consumed the inhabitants of the city, as they slumbered unawares of their hectic surroundings. Here are some of the photos that I captured whilst walking around.

A NEW YEAR WISHLIST.

03 January 2018

Whilst the days may be beginning to lengthen, it still feels like they're pretty dark and cold, and as night draws in there is nothing I love more than to hunker down and skim through all the sales and new seasons picks. I've not bought a lot of clothes recently so it's definitely time to add to the spring wardrobe - here's what I'd be purchasing if my purse was bottomless!


I'M BACK (HOPEFULLY!)

02 January 2018

It’s been a long old while since writing on this here blog but after an unexpected extended admission to hospital, I figured that with all the time in the world on my hands, and not a lot to fill it, getting back into blogging a drafting up some posts would be a good place to start. 

I’ve been on some incredible travels over the summer that I’d love to document, as well as introducing some more lifestyle and think pieces and of course some lighter fashion and beauty content too. 

So here’s to a new year and new beginning (again) on maddycane.com - let’s see how long this stint lasts.