After a couple of weeks in Hanoi, I was itching to get back on the road to explore something new. We packed an overnight bag, hoped on a rented bike (Guy's motorbike broke down a lot so, we rented one to save us the hassle), followed Guy's compass and headed West.
We got lost (on purpose) at one point by turning down a dirt road that winded between banana trees and huge concrete mansions that were crumbling but still inhabited. As we raced along the dirt road, we decided to keep following it versus turning around. The road led us to a main road eventually and we spied a guest house sign. Guy had said if it gets close to 4pm, it's always good to stop when you see guest house because you might not find one for awhile after and be stuck looking in the dark. Searching for lodging in the dark is something neither of us were interested in so we turned right to follow a windy road to the first guest house we saw. Boy, did we get lucky! It was a guest house made up of bamboo huts nestled in front of huge mountain ranges and we found out after, a national park! The only sounds were crickets and roosters and the only people besides the married couple running it was, us. It was romantic times 100.
We stayed for four days and it was pretty cold/rainy the entire trip--which was fine by us. We enjoyed swaying the hammock out front our bungalow or venturing out into the very small village to check out their markets for snacks. At night after dinner, we would ride our bike to the pineapple family (they sold mounds of pineapples outside their home), pick up two and enjoy our sweet, sticky snack under the stars. One day we decided to hike behind the house, past the fields of tea and rice, and sat by a lake in front of the towering mountains. We found a clearing and Guy built us a fire to keep cozy. As we were building it, the surrounding neighbours stopped by to say hello and offer us grapefruit from their trees. We were on their land but, they were nothing but gracious and excited to see us. They loved the way Guy made a fire-- he set up a stone ring around the fire to keep it contained--and gave us many thumbs up before retreating for their houses. We stayed until dark, trading stories and warming our hands over our camp fire. When we returned to our guest house, the woman of the house had made us the most beautiful dinner! A freshly caught and steamed whole fish, rice, eggs, green beans and tofu. It was all delicious and I happily fed the houses cat scraps of the fish trying to endear her to me. It worked while I had fish but, not when it ran out.
It was a blissful, romantic mini trip and refreshed me. Hanoi was a bustling city- smoggy, polluted and busy. It was important for me to get access to clean mountain air and sleep under a thick blanket of stars again. We both left our bungalow ready for a hot shower (the shower only got lukewarm so we didn't shower much while there) but sad to leave such beauty. We sped away and wound ourselves through the national park as we head home.