Hanoi is a spectacular City, it feels very westernised and modern yet still withholds its Vietnamese traditions. Our first day was spent exploring the City, seeing a spectacular Gothic-like cathedral, buying new make-up, eating copious amounts of cheese sticks (they are immense) and purchasing cinema tickets to the new Batman film.
Our second day in Hanoi was slightly more cultured as we went on a tour around Halong Bay (Meaning: Descending Dragon). Our journey there was long, but we entertained ourselves by sleeping and watching the spectacular scenery race by around us. When we arrived we clambered on a boat, filled with other sightseers eager to cruise through the natural beauty. It was truly magnificent and words cannot justify it fully - it's one of those things you just have to see with your own eyes to understand and appreciate. The boat ride itself was fun as we ate a buffet of seafood (freshly caught) and rice. They took us through the caves which was amazing; they are massive and it feels like you've left reality and entered a pre-historic world underground. Our tour guide was passionate and enthusiastic about the rock formations and kept making us guess what each one possibly looked like and then told a witty joke or story.
As the days were growing closer to the end, the group had bonded to new heights and we spent most days together making the most of the time we had. I hated to think that I'd never see some of them again as they don't live in the same country as me. I remember one night Myself, Catherine, Emma and Miri staying up until the early hours having a lovely girly conversation and just enjoying each others company before we would part. It's a weird experience going from seeing a group of six other people for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to nothing - the friendships are so intense and close. It was really sad and I really didn't want to leave the trail and not have these wonderful people in my life on a daily basis anymore. I was gutted the trail was only ten weeks and that nine were up.
I think the next day was one of my favourite days on the trail as we regressed back into little children and went to the Water park! It was pretty empty - we could have possibly been the only ones there. But it was such a great day tubing around the parks man made river in a rubber ring, speeding down water slides, jumping off diving boards and getting swept away by the tidal wave machine. Another day of exploring, buying presents and postcards and eating way too many cheese sticks passed before I ate my last meal with the trail and reluctantly showered and went to sleep; dreading waking up and having to leave for the airport in the morning.
After a 40 minute taxi ride to the airport, 3 hour wait in Hanoi, a 1 and a half hour flight to Bangkok, a 9 hour wait there, a flight to Abu Dhabi and another flight into London, I was finally home and met by some lovely much missed and loved faces.
It was an amazing ten weeks where I saw and did some fantastic things, met some incredible people, felt incredibly happy and content with life, and above all, it was a fantastic end to my year out.
Peace out Asia. Until we meet again!