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Gap Year: Month 4 Recap – Bangkok, Hanoi & Hoi An

A bit late, but here we go, our gap year recap for month 4! January has been a short month of travel since we only left the US on the 15th, but it has been full of adventure and feels like we have been gone for ages already!

Bangkok, Thailand

Our first stop was to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. I have been a few times, but was looking forward to visiting again as it’s always been one of my favorite cities.

Immediately upon arriving at the airport we met another traveling family. We felt the trip was already off to a great start to meet people here unlike in Central America where we didn’t meet any other families!

Bangkok was the perfect start to our trip. We arrived at 2 am, but since Bangkok is a late night city we were able to walk around, pick up some milk and get the lay of the land before crashing for a few hours!

We spent our days exploring neighborhoods by bus, tuk tuk and the train. Basically I am realizing that any city where you walk around and take public transport ends up being high on Cian’s favorites list. We had an Airbnb here and really felt like we lived in town. Even after 5 days we felt we could have stayed even more.

The food was so good. But we knew that if we were on our own, we would stick to our favorites of curry and chicken satay. So, we took a street food tour which turned out to be perfect.

We also visited lots of temples, ate a ton and took a day trip out to see the floating markets. You can read more about our top things to do in Bangkok to get an idea of what we were up to!

I was so excited to meet up with other travel bloggers here as well. I met them last year on the India Palace on Wheels trip, so it was fun to meet again on their turf. They took us to an amazing food market where we ate tons and chatted the night away. I’m pretty sure this is part of the reason Bangkok is now one of Cian’s favorite places in the world!

Vietnam

The last time to be chilly for a while!

Next up was Vietnam. I have a friend who lives in Hanoi who was only in town for a bit before Tet (Vietnamese New Year) so we had to head over before carrying on with the rest of our Thailand trip.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in Vietnam. It’s a trip I’d wanted to do for years but always put off due to lack of time, but for this trip I did very little research in advance knowing we wouldn’t have a ton of time. I figured we would hit the big spots and see what we liked to return again another time. The must do places are Hanoi with a side trip to Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh. We skipped Hue, but will have to return another time to check it out as it’s super cute.

Turns out we love it! The country is beautiful. The people are fantastic. The food is amazingly fresh and quite easy to eat even for novice foodies! And it’s cheap! Oh so cheap.

After Central America, we are loving Asia because food is so insanely cheap. In Central America we were lucky to get away with a $20 meal for the two of us. Here we can easily have a meal for $2-5 with our most expensive meal costing $12 and that was at a western place.

It’s also surprisingly fun. We love the hands on activities. Cian made a broom from scratch at a village homestay we did. He made a lantern in Hoi An that is awesome. And he even rode a buffalo and fished local style.

We loved meeting and seeing so many other traveling families. We loved the quality of accommodation for budget prices. Can you tell we fell in love with Vietnam? Now I definitely need to return to do all the hill tribe towns we haven’t had time for due to Tet.

Budget

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Overall I felt this month we had been below budget, but once I figured in flights and visas for Vietnam and India, we ended up being right on target with our budget. Darn it! I was really hoping to be below because I know I am already way above budget for Feb due to traveling with a friend and moving much quicker than we have been doing.

The positives of the month were, we stayed with a friend for a few days which definitely helped out, as well as ate locally almost the entire time which also reduced our food budget. We did a big ticket trip to Halong Bay and Yen Duc village which wasn’t cheap, but were definitely the highlights of the trip, so worth it.

Accommodation has been tricky only in that we have been staying in places around $50 a night, but in Hoi An another family turned us onto a $20 a night place that we loved. It has helped us move into a little lower category of accommodation meaning we have more for flights and other activities. 

We also haven’t done much most days other than hang out with other families and walk around, so that also helped keep our budget in check.

I think if we were here in Southeast Asia for longer (yes, longer than 6 weeks!) we could spend even less. It is easy to spend very little in some places if you don’t move around too quickly. This is by far the cheapest part of the world we have visited thus far. You can live pretty nicely for budget prices and even better if you have a hefty budget.

Homeschool

One the boat in Halong Bay. This is where Cian would do some school work!

Homeschool has gone a bit better this month with a few changes. One is that Cian must write in his journal every day and read a book every day. He is also doing most of his math online this month which helps a bit since his biggest struggle with math was always asking me to explain the directions more thoroughly. This means though that his iPad time has gone from 30 minute a week to several hours!

I’m trying to be more chill in the school front with more focus on just having him write in his journal each day and read a book. As long as those two are done, I’m not stressing. I feel better about this level of work, but in the back of my mind know that I need to be doing more still!

This month we have had a good time. I haven’t been annoyed with Cian much which is amazing considering it’s been pretty hot and humid which are my push buttons! We feel like are in a pretty good groove now. We are definitely moving slower now with some days lazing around at the hotel until mid day. For us this is huge to not be running out of the door first thing! We are still loving it and already feel like time is flying by too quickly!

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