The visa situation in Vietnam is very easy, once you get the hang of navigating it. I originally got a month Visa for $40 and when Guy arrived in Hanoi, it was close to being expired. We decided to stay at least another month so, I had to renew. Knowing no other way, I went to a travel agent and paid $70 (!) for a month extension. Insert me slapping my forehead here. As the end of December neared and both of our VIsa's were close to expiring again, we decided to stay another month. We had made expat friends at this point so, we asked them how we could renew our visas for less than the $70 I had shelled out the month before. Turns out, there's a thing called visa runs. A visa runs means you head to a nearby country (Thailand usually as most passports get a free 15 days inside the country without a visa) and wait for your online visa extension to process. Sweet! We were heading to Thailand.
We flew into Bangkok on Dec 18th (Guy's birthday!) and wandered around the neon lit tourist trap with eyes wide. It was tourist heaven! It was full of Westerners in elephant pants drinking huge drinks and shopping for trinkets to bring home. Very nutty and not really our scene. We stayed in Bangkok for two days to plan our trip to a nearby beach town, Rayong. We wanted to find a beach destination that wouldn't be crazy expensive or packed so, we skipped the islands and chose Rayong as it was only four hours away and looked beautiful.
Our bus ride there was cramped but, went by quickly-- mostly because I read Game of Thrones and Guy slept on my shoulder. We arrived at Rayong at night and after a lot of back and forth, finally got ourselves to a taxi to take us to a cute hostel we found. The hostel was a rainbow of bright colors and we settled in right away. The woman who checked us assured us there were markets behind the hostel where we could get all the fruit we wanted and dinner as well. We searched behind the house for awhile, finding not a whole lot besides fruit (not we wanted for dinner) and I was started to lose my patience because hanger. Guy loves to wander and take his time in a new place. It leads to great finds but when you've been in a cramped bus all day and are hungry, it can start to veer towards annoying. I was feeling very annoyed as he led us around but, then he found a HUGE outdoor food market. It had over 100 vendors of delicious fresh food and, I quickly apologized for my hangry attitude and thanked him for his wandering ways.
In the morning, we were eager to get the beach and pulled out my Google maps to see how far it would be. It was two hours walking! Mind you when we had looked up this spot, it had been sold as a beach town. And there weren't any cabs where we were-- which is why it took us so long to find one the night before. While we had found a very colorful and cute hostel, the rest of the town was industrial and grey-- not beachy. I felt like I had been jipped! We started on the long road to the beach and walked along the dusty highway as trucks sped by, blasting us with hot air and dirt. As we walked along the road with the hot midday sun beating down on us, we kept seeing trucks with an open bed and seating built in the back fly by us, filled with locals. We kept wondering if we could get on one and if they could lead us in the right direction. We had been told the night before, these were for locals and took people to the bus station. So, we watched 100 zoom by as we carried on our long, hot journey. After about an hour of walking and an hour still to go, Guy took charge and said, "fuck it! let's just get on one and see where it goes!". We did. Turns out, we couldn't find taxis because these open trucks were the taxis. They basically drive specific routes and you hop on when you see one and hop off as close to your route as you can. Oh and it cost less than a $1! We were stoked!
We made it to the beach quickly and as we walked out into the sand, we saw the beach was completely deserted. It was literally just us! We were on a part of the beach where fisherman had their shacks and their boats were beached on the sand but, they were nowhere to be found. It was Guy and I and a gorgeous white sand beach with clear blue water. It was absolute heaven! And after that first day we had our routine down-- wake up, lounge at the hostel in the early morning, I would meditate/practice yoga and then we would head to local coffee shop. We would read/draw there until about 2:30-- we liked to skip the hottest sun-- and then find a local taxi. We would get to beach around 3:00pm and would stay for the sunset. After we watched the sun dip below the horizon, we would find a taxi back to our hostel and wander to the big food market. We would pick out spicy, ginger greens, whole steamed fish, salad and rice. Then we would find a curb and eat under the stars. As we head home, I would buy 6 coconuts (no joke. Thailand had the best coconuts I've ever tasted) Guy would get pineapple and we would head back to our hostel for our dessert. Rinse and repeat. The trip started out bumpy but, ended up being the most fun.
We both left Rayong begrudgingly. We had to make it back to Bangkok to catch out flight back to Hanoi as our Visa's had come through and we were starting a teaching position the day after we got back. We celebrated Christmas morning together in Bangkok, exchanging small gifts we had picked out for the other the night before, before racing to the airport. We almost missed our flight and had to sprint to our terminal, barely making it before the doors closed.