Handy hints for travelling Asia as a family.

Well a few week of work has gone past and it all seems a little surreal being back. I can truly say that the journey with my family was one of the best experiences we have shared and I hope there is more to come. Connecting with my children and partner, seeing beautiful parts of the world and seeing how other people live is truly a gift and everyone must try and experience this sense of family adventure. I hope our kids carry these memories forever.

A few people have asked us for advice on travelling with a family in Asia so I have decided to list what worked for us.

Take a little bit of currency for each country before you leave….

1) Our flights were pre booked from home, they included from Gold Coast>Singapore>Hanoi>Kuala lumpur>Gold Coast. All of these flights were manageable lengths of time and didn’t once put us under pressure. We used Scoot, Vietnam and Air Asia Airlines for our travels. Vietnam airlines was amazing, fantastic service, great food and comfortable. Scoot was good but I advise booking any extras you want online before leaving, basic is basic. Air Asia you pay for what you get, I wasnt that impressed. We got there in one piece.

2) We booked our accomodation for a few days in each place that we landed so that we new where to catch a taxi and get familiar with our surroundings. I recommend booking a taxi coupon in the airport so you don’t get scammed. If you get a good driver ask for his number so you can book him again. Always ask if they are metered and get them to switch it on when you jump in, motorways and tolls can be extra. We used a private driver between destinations, 7 seater, aircon, stop for pee pee, stop for coffee and fresh fruit stalls. $70 usd for around 3.5 hours.

Singapore: http://www.hotelboss.sg/ always check where your windows are located for best view of city. Great Hotel, excellent service and with swimming pool. Breakfast buffet is the go.

Singapore Adventure Cove water park for cooling off: http://www.rwsentosa.com/Homepage/Attractions/AdventureCoveWaterpark , this place is fantastic, take a water proof camera to record the thrills and spills.

Singapore night safari, kids loved it, beautiful on a balmy night http://www.nightsafari.com.sg/

Singapore http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en.html , this is a must see horticultural, futuristic and gastronomical lovers paradise, I’m going back here for more.

Most things we booked online for huge discounts and then booked our own taxis.

Vietnam http://www.cosianahotel.vn/ , this hotel had awesome service, the rooms were good and the location was 30 minutes walk from the heart of Hanoi. We loved being slightly away from tourist boulevard.

Air BnB we had the most wonderful stay with a fantastic couple. Cozy 2beds with Alain and Sandrine was one of our most memorable stays. beautiful hospitality, fantastic home and they made us fee so welcome. You guys are beautiful and we will stay in touch.

Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Hแป“ Gฦฐฦกm, is a lake in the historical center of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. The lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life.

https://lafermeducolvert.com/en/ is a truly amazing experience. If you want to be surrounded by nature, water and organic produce this is a must see. Sandrine from Cozy 2 beds also helped us book our private driver for our whole Vietnam trip through lafermeducolvert.

Quan Thanh Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi 10000 Vietnam, Truc Bach Lake, a must here is to hire a swan paddle boat and lose a few hours. Grab a coffee at Highlands Coffe on the lake, top floor is a great view.

A must is the Old Quarters where you can snack on the street food, check out the markets and wash it all down with a cold beer. Walking is the only way to take it all in.

Sapaly express train is a must to Sapa. Cosiana Hotel was a five minute walk to the night train so it made it really easy for this stage of the trip. This trip is all about paying for the thicker mattresses, Sapalay is our hot tip for the day.

Sapa http://www.sapadragonhotel.com/ , this hotel is 10/10, we could not fault it. If you are going to Sapa which you must, then you must stay here. Request a room with a view. When going on tours of villages and waterfalls we recommend you ask for a beautiful lady by the name of Chai, she is gorgeous. Tell her Joff, Bianca, Marley and Elkie miss her and will be back.

Great spot for coffee and sweet treats is http://www.legeckosapa.com/ , take the spiral staircase and enjoy the best view in town.

Sapa is full of so many options from shopping, eating, trekking, biking, national parks and waterfalls. Take your pick.

Hai Phong, Cat Ba Island http://www.catbasunriseresort.com/ , if you want the full monty then this is the place. catch the fast boat to cat ba and use the tourist information at the wharf to arrange pick up for you from hotel chauffeur. Hire a scooter and BUZ around the island, tour the floating villages and kyak the aqua waters. Book a massage for sure and make sure you find the pool table out the back near the Koi carp pond.

Nimh Binh http://www.hoaluecohomestay.com/ this was the highlight of our holiday in many ways. Nimh Binh is Halong bay on land we highly recommend hiring bicycles and visiting the local surroundings. Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, boat cave tours and the Rong markets are a must.

I hope this helps anyone who is thinking of planning a trip.

If you have information you would like to add please add it to this blog or the Facebook link provided.

Happy travels.

Day 26: safely on Aussie soil.

Today we touched down on Aussie soil. The night flight was hard, food being served until 1:30 in the morning, lights on until 2 and to top it off we were separated on the plane with our seating. The boys together at the back of the plane and the girls down the front. This is a bizarre feeling as we have been in each other’s back pockets for a month. Feeling slightly weary and washed out we have brekkie at the airport and then make our way to our good friends James, Tania, Sage and Jack. This is where the holiday began so seems appropriate for it to end here. Our car awaits, the pool is inviting, the weather is hot and the company is great. The afternoon evening is spent sharing stories, catching up and corrupting Bianca with Margaritas. Finished off with a late night dip we are all weary. Tomorrow we drive home to Bellingen. Australia is clean and beautiful the night sky is clear and the air is fresh, we are home.

Day 25: 2pm late check out/movies and flight back to OZ.

Today is our last day of our holiday. With mixed emotions we pack an decide to kill a few hours at the movies. Gold Class tickets with recliner chairs, curry puffs, popcorn and blankets ( check out the photos), we watch Monster Trucks. Taxi booked and packed we head to the airport leaving behind us an amazing city and taking with us a bucket load of great family holiday memories. Once I have settled in my thoughts I will write my final family blog.

Please check out our photos and video link:

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/tzwkh9matorpwg9/AAAZSIdUlySOv9S8W_bX6t50a

Day 24: Joff and Bonky’s 17th year anniversary.

This morning is a special day, Bianca and I have been together for 17 years and we get to spend it in beautiful KL. Breakfast is special and some gifts are shared. Today for our anniversary we are going to Sunny Lagoon water theme park, how romantic….

We spend all day walking up stairs, screaming as we plummet down rides, laughing hysterically and generally having a ball at one of the best water theme  parks we have been to. Such a great way to beat the heat.

Tonight we set off in the direction of the https://www.petronastwintowers.com.my/, we have booked our tickets for sunset, now the romance kicks in. A spectacular view of the city with the sun setting as the night lights of the tower illuminate the Stainless futuristic architecture. This design is an amazing human accomplishment. Wowed by the towers and the city night lights we make our way to a Tapas bar i spotted. For dinner we sip on cocktails and cold beers, nibble on a variety of yummy tapas and wash it down with naughty desert treats. Such and amazing day and night with my special, beautiful family and most of all my soul mate, friend and lover “Bonky Perky Tits”.

Please check out our photo and video links:

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/ogv35vi850t90z3/AAAM1zZmTspmgu2gXsKjvQRwa

Day 23: Exploring KL.

This morning we rise talking about what to do today, the future, returning to school, some work, building a house. I have realised for the first time on this trip together we have not had these conversations until now. A true sign of a good holiday. My mind has been relaxed, it’s a good thing.

Breakfast is everything possibly imaginable so we all eat well as we are going to do some more walking. Today we are going to walk in the direction of the KLCC, there  is an underground and overhead walking system in KL, avoiding traffic and the heat. KL is an amazing city, very multi cultural, western influence and a beautiful balance of architecture and nature. We visit the glamorous shops, sip coffee, walk through the parks and cool off in the water features. A day is lost just looking and admiring KL for its beautiful visuals. The humidity in KL is high and it takes it toll on the family as we zig zag through the city back to the Hotel. Once back we rest for a while so as to recharge for the evening ahead. As the sun is setting we head out into the night, we are heading to Chinatown. The markets in Chinatown on Petaling Street are bustling with people and copies of everything. Watches, bongs, t shirts, boxer shorts, shoes, jewellery, you name it and it is here. Here I purchase some great t shirts, boxer shorts and a man ring. I’m happy. Elkie stocks up on a new bag and Marley gets a selfie stick. With a few purchases we locate the food, tonight we steamboat our food. Sitting on plastic stools dipping our skewers into the boiling water we cook our food and I wash it down with ice cold TIGER beer. We watch the KL life ease into the night. Weary and full we return back to our room. Tomorrow is another day and we have big plans.

Please check out our photos and video link:

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/8wc9dd5cknqp4ku/AADD_FdmfGNt_BQ26i0REBQ5a

Day 22: Kuala Lumpur here we come.

Photo: Marley making it to his bed in KL, Malaysia.

A slow rise this morning, no need to rush, as our plane leaves at midday for KL. We are familiar with our surroundings so we know our pace. Hanoi has been very special to us on this journey, it has embraced us with its culture, tastes, smells and the speed at which it needs to tick. Hanoi will always hold a special place in my heart for this city as it has been good to myself and my family. With fond memories and passports in hand we make our way to  the the multicultural, vibrant and slightly futuristic city of Kuala Lumpur. We arrive late in the night at the hotel so we will not have much more to report.

Love to all our friends and family, you mean the world to us.

A few photos : https://www.dropbox.com/sc/4t3nkhbaxvpz6ah/AADxPKg_Od8KLx7ZGUGXEN-Oa

Day 21: Hanoi 2 Hanoi.

This morning we awake with mixed emotions. ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ฉ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ค๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ญ. It is our last day in Vietnam, today our driver picks us up from our quiet little Eco Homestay and returns us to the Chaos of Hanoi. Hanoi has been like home away from home. A safe base we know well. We pack our bags slowly and make our way down to breakfast. The cement mixer next door is fired up and the first render mix of the day is prepared next door, new seedlings  have been planted in the vegetable patch and some fresh lettuce, broccoli and shallots have been harvested. The local children get ready for school as the sun rises in the sky. Another day in Vietnam begins as our stay in Vietnam comes to a close.

In between breakfast and waiting for our driver I fish, it allows me to think clearly. I love fishing and must do more of it when I return home.

Our goodbyes are said, we jump in the car and leave along the dusty road we know so well. Hanoi here we come. From country living to the capital city we find ourselves in the same room at Cosiana Hotel that we started this amazing trip in Vietnam, kids love this as it is familiar. Our afternoon/evening and night is spent walking the Old Quarters, admiring shops, tasting food, drinking ice cold beers, coconut juice and mango lassies. Many kilometres are clocked up walking around Hanoi, tired and weary we return to the safety of our room.

Thank you Vietnam for such an insight into what you are.

Please take a look at our photo link:

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/krb5ng5cbif6jym/AADwxgq1PWkmqdB2vTMGOoTga

Day 19 & 20: Nimh Binh and surroundings.

Hoalu Eco Homestay is 10 minutes out of main Nimh Binh town. Nestled between the Limestone mountains and surrounded by rice Paddy fields and rectangular raised dirt pathways which dissect the productive land that they farm so well. Goat herders, ducks, fish, dogs and Buffalo all share this magical place. We can highly recommend this amazing part of Vietnam. The air is fresh and clean, the sky mostly blue and it is peaceful.

The first day we decided to hire our own bicycles, this area is ideal for pedalling for hours with the kids due to it being flat and scenic. Our destination this morning is https://g.co/kgs/7Dqkgk , we are going to paddle (be paddled) down the Tran An river complex and visit the caves. Hiring bicycles we head off together as a family, the kids are excited as they peddle feverishly down the path, dodging dogs and pot holes, waving at local kids on the side of the road and loving that feeling of the wind on our face. Experiencing Vietnam on a bicycle is great, you really get the sights, sounds and smells as we make our way through the small villages. Marley and Elkie are so happy. Travelling along the main highway we see the large Pagoda on the right hand side where we will begin our river/cave cruise. Bicycles locked up and tickets booked we are greeted by the cutest little Vietnamese lady who was going to be our guide today. Packed into the boat we begin our journey down the river. The water is so clear, the aquatic plant life is amazing, little ducks diving underwater as the bubbles are released from between their feathers, fish leaping and beautiful waterlillies in flower. The river is wide and sits at the base of huge limestone mountains, locals are working the fields and the sun is beaming down on us, life is good. Slowly the river narrows and before we know it the boat we are in is entering a little cave at the base of the mountain. Skilfully our guide steers us through the narrow caves, little lights hang on the ceiling showing us the way. It is beautiful in the caves. The first cave is 350m long. At one of the Pagodas we stop for a beautiful lunch we had packed, lunch under a tree while the river sweeps past us. We lose track of how many caves, pagodas and amazing sites there are to see on this adventure, deffinitely a highlight for our family. We jumped back on our bikes and peddled home filled with a sense of achievement. Perfect first day, dinner and beers and the sun sets and the stars expose themselves. The nights are mild and peaceful.

The following morning we book a taxi and head into Nimh Binh our destination is the local Rong Markets. Dropped of out the front we are amazed at how little western influence is here. Everything possibly imaginaeable is available. Bianca and I love meandering the isles just looking, it is a feast for the eyes. Everyone is there to make a buck or two. Beautifully woven fish traps, goats tongues, flowers, herbs and spices, fruit, shallots, fish and crabs, it’s all here. As we wander through the streets we come across a cafe that is set back from life, it has hanging baskets, koi carp and a refreshing drinks menu, a nice place to recharge our bodies. Freshened we are in search of a supermarket, the kids are over menu food so we are going to get some supplies and return home for a rest and work out what our afternoon will be. 

Bicycles, bicycle, bicycles……. We love it so much yesterday so we jumped on them once again. This time our destination is the Ancient City, this is Vietnams capital before Hanoi. We ride our bikes around the ruins, it is stunning, Buffalos wading in the river, pagoda incense in the air and the sun is setting over the Ancient City. We are all in such a happy place, bike riding suits our family, good times. Returning home we have our dinner on the balcony of our room, supermarket goodies all put together. Dogs nestle down for the evening and the stars begin to twinkle again in the Vietnam night sky. 

Tomorrow we go full circle and return back to Hanoi.

Please take a look at our photo/video link:

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/upz4mg1l9nfz96b/AAB3t16MmX2IkQ0MDi5G7Ktza

Day 18: Heading South, Nimh Binh.

With high spirits we leave the resort and we leave coastal living. Today we are skimming across the ocean on a fast boat out of Cata Ba Island back to Hai Phong Bay. The sky is blue and the sun is shining which is very unusual for Vietnam. I’m not sure what it is with me but I usually seem to attract the not so normal side of life…….. Whilst powering along through the ocean and discussing random stuff with Bianca I notice a man between the two seats in front of me who is Vietnamese and wearing  a suit. He is smiling at me in a very animated manner and continues to hold eye contact with me, in a polite manner I nod at him and smile, without realising what I have done this is his cue to stand up on the fast boat with two wooden flutes and proceed to stick each flute up each individual nostril of his and play me a tune. Amazed at this physical feat of circular breathing with his nostrils whilst playing a tune on two flutes I find myself being shocked and amused all at the same time. For his grand finale he puts one flute in his pocket and the other in his mouth for a solo, very classy. Tune finished he sings something short sharp and sweet in Vietnamese, accepts applause and then sits down grinning ear from ear. what the FUCK did I just witness. He must register for Vietnam has got talent this year. I do have video evidence of this but I have to edit it first fro Bianca to approve it to go viral, stay tuned for that one, worth the wait. Between the boat being fast and the entertainment outstanding we have arrived. Our private driver is waiting for us, we jump straight in and hit the road. 3.5 hours south with a coffee, pee pee stop and some fresh fruit stalls along the way we make it to the Eco Homestay which is nestled between mountains, rivers and rice Paddy’s. It is described as the Land version of Halong Bay, it is amazingly beautiful. We have views to die for, waterlillies in flower and a Bamboo room that is beautiful with white mosquito nets on all the beds, this is now home for a few days. The rest is setting up, getting aquainted with our new surroundings and getting the kids fed.

Please take look at our photos/Videos link:

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/tfh2xadxkoghn2o/AACI0VK2e6YivGIRN2YmhlDua