2016 was just an amazing year for me, travel wise. While I didn’t travel extensively as I would’ve wanted too, 2016 was the year of me leaving the continent for the first time ever! On top of that, I flew across the ocean and spent a few nights alone. Something I would’ve never thought of doing a couple years ago.
Coming back, I knew I wanted to go back as soon as possible. I decided in 2016, I would hold off on any all-inclusive Caribbean trips that I went on so frequently the past years, to be able to head back to Asia while still be able to invest in real estate. It wasn’t a lost as I was beginning to get bored with those trips. I wanted something new, something different and going to the other side of the world was the answer.
2016 open new possibilities for me that I never thought of before.
April & May – Vietnam
We’ve been thinking and planning Vietnam for over a year. Originally, there were 5 of us but in the end, only 3 went through.
I wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone and so decided to go alone for the first few days. The rest of the trip, I was either with my friends, family members that were living there, or with new friends I’ve met there.
Deciding to stay at the Lion Sea Hotel
for the first couple of days was based on it being a few steps away from the beach. Sipping coconut juice while relaxing on My Khe Beach was the first thing I wanted to do once I arrived in Da Nang. Living 10 hours or more drive away from the beach back home in Canada, I needed a dose of ocean waves and I was not disappointed by My Khe Beach.
Asia Park is a fun amusement park that is located right in the city. If you’re in Da Nang and have spare time, definitely go check it out. They have a decent size Ferris wheel that allows you to overlook this beautiful city. When its night and all the lights come on, it’s a fantastic view!
Bana hills on the other hand is located a bit outside the city and on right on top of a mountain. You must take a cable car ride up to Bana Hills. Up here, there are plenty of activities and sightseeing to do. If you can only visit one of these places, Asia Park or Bana Hills, my recommendation is Bana Hills, hands down.
When I was alone, I also decided to go check out a gym in Da Nang. California Fitness & Yoga had to be one of the better looking gyms I’ve been to in my life. It had weightlifting, cardio, yoga room, and even a MMA ring. The only problem is that it was a bit expensive. I paid over 400,000 dong (~$20 USD) for just a single day pass.
We had a limited time in Hoi An which cause us to do only a few things in this ancient town. We ate at a seafood restaurant right on the beach, drank some coffee at one of the highest building in Hoi An, ate some delicious dishes that were only served there, and went to the night market.
One of the interesting things I noticed while walking around the night market is how one block would be extremely busy filled with people while the next block would be completely empty and I mean I’m going to get mugged if I walk any further down this street! We didn’t but that was just the feeling of it.
Here I met my relatives and even my eldest sister for the first time. They all live outside the city of downtown Hue in the small town called Thuan-An.
My interesting story goes along the lines of my eldest sister was born and stayed in Vietnam while my parents had me in Canada. For 27 years, I’d never visited Vietnam until 2016. Seeing her reminded me of my other sisters back home in Canada, they sure had some physical similarities!
My uncle is taking me to Elephant Springs! Since I had limited time in Hue, my uncle gave me the option to either walk around the Imperial Tombs or swim at the waterfall. This was an easy choice for me as I recently bought a GoPro for this trip and what better place to use it than at a waterfall.
An unexpectedly desire to hit the gym got to me one day. Letting my cousins know this, they took me on their motorbikes and drove straight to the local gym. This gym was a complete 180 from the one I went to in Da Nang.
Even though this gym was a 180 degree from California Fitness & Yoga, I really enjoyed my time here. The staff and other gym-goers were pleasant and made it me feel comfortable the whole time there. They let me in for free and kept asking if I needed anything. I would definitely go back there just because those kind people.
One of the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been too. It isn’t the crystal clear blue water type but more so of a calming teal water type. Being in a bay, it made the waters so calm that we we’re able to swim at 2 am!
We decided to walk around the streets and beach one night and happened to stumbled into a beach party! Going to the Sailing club is one of the most memorable nights of my life and this happened unexpectedly. It’s all about those spontaneous moments!
The main reason we came to Nha Trang was because of the famous waterpark in Vinpearl. This place was beautiful! It felt like another Bana Hills with some differences here and there. However, at the time we went, the outdoor waterpark was closed for
maintenance! Sucks for us but it gives us another reason to go back to Nha Trang.
Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
Growing up in a Vietnamese household, I’ve heard plenty of reasons and stories on why I shouldn’t visit Vietnam especially Saigon. “It’s a bad place, it’s not safe, you’ll definitely get mugged if you have your phone out, etc”. These were also coming from my relatives back in Hue.
Now it’s true that these things can happen because bad people are everywhere and more so in bigger city but there are also plenty of good people who are willing to help.
“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.” – Chuck Thompson
All the people I was meeting were very welcoming! They told us to be cautious in certain areas, offer to drive us around, brought us cheap but tasty food, and some even got us going away gifts.
I’m still in touch with some of these people and will certainly be contacting them whenever I head back to Saigon.
I’ll definitely be back in Saigon as I fell in love with that city.
July & August – Slave Lake, Canada
Canada Day Long Weekend
Every year, my whole family packs up and drive 3 hours north to Slave Lake to camp and fish. This weekend was a bit different than all the other ones as my uncle from Vietnam, who I was staying at in Hue, was in Canada for the first time! Him being a fisherman, it was great to show him how we fished in here.
However, I do remember the gushing rains pouring down and all those annoying mosquitoes the whole weekend. There were no stopped to these two problems!
Before The Summer Ends
We had to try one more time before the summer ends and the winter month’s sinks in. At first, it was a beautiful sight with no gushing rains but as soon as the night crawled in, the rain dropped down. It pour the whole weekend until the hour we we’re about to head back home. What luck we had!
July & August – Peace River, Canada
To Get Away
Coming back from my one month travel to Vietnam, I definitely had the post-travel blues (most likely have it up to this day). I had to get away from home at that time and visiting my good friend Paul was my best option. He had been living in Peace River for the past two years and this allowed me to leave home while staying in my budget at the time.
I spent a week in this small town doing various activities. I believe it’s nice to get away from the bigger city once in a while. This has always allowed me to think clearly without any distraction.
As you can see, I didn’t do much at the end of the year of 2016. Right after our Vietnam trip, we knew we wanted to go back the following year and make it ten times better than before.
In 2017, I do plan to go back sometime in June. With my mistakes and errors from our 2016 trip written down in my handy notebook and having a purpose of taking better videos and photos, I’m super excited for this upcoming trip.
After this, I’ll head back to Slave Lake to camp with the family a few times but most likely not go back to Peace River.
The second half of the year will be open for new and remarkable opportunities!