#2 of 101 Things To Complete: Explore Thailand + Vietnam | The Big Leap in 2021

In 2014, I posted this Vimeo Staff Pick called “Somewhere in Vietnam” and that started it for me.  Follow that up with Casey’s video called “The Vietnam Notebook”  which he took with his son in 2012 to Vietnam to rent a motorcycle and travel the countryside.  That video made me want to rent motorcycles and travel the countryside and not get killed with my kids and have them expierence a way different culture, beautiful sweet friendly people and eat food that is outside their comfortzone of pasta with butter.

With what is happening in the world with the Pandemic virus, it would be wise to push this trip and keep saving for it.

The yummy street food of Hanoi

I thought it would be fun to fly into the old formerly named city of Siagon, which is now called Ho Chi Minh City (map) (Kara & Nate Vlog) and sleep off some jetlag and venture out and see the busy city sights and taste some yummy food. This city is in the south of Vietnam and I thought it would be fun to travel up the coast to Hanoi in the North. We would have to do a sleeper bus for fun and also by train (YouTube Video) & more videos to watch. There are some beach cities along the way to stop and explore. By the time we get to Hanoi in the North, the kids will be a little more settled with the food. Before going on this trip, we need to dine at a Vietnam and Thai restaurant in Toronto and sample some food and I don’t mean taking a bite. I mean eating 25% of four different dishes and we will do this about 5 times. I’m not going to force them to eat bugs and things on a stick that looks like they are still thinking inside. If you want to watch Kara & Nate’s Vlogs in Vietnam… you can find them here.

So travelling north along to the coast to Hanoi would be fun. Hoi Ann & Hue are two nice spots to explore. In the North, I would like to Hike in the mountains near Sapa before making our way to beautiful Halong Bay for a little cruise and explore the incredible bay and islands.

Vietnam Sleeper Train
Halong Bay above

In Halong Bay, you have to do a little 3-day cruise and visit some of the floating villages in the bay and do some kayaking. Boats will shuttle you to beaches and also take you to some places you can hike and climb up the cliffs on paths to the top to see the views of the bay. I decided to post two Kara & Nate’s Vlogs showing the cruise they took in the Bay to give you an idea of Halong Bay.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Then move to Thailand to rent some motorcycles and do a loop in the northern part of Thailand.

We would then fly over to Thailand which is right beside Vietnam to the West. In the North is Chiang Mai. We will rent two motorcycles. Chantal will have one and Noah will be on the back of mine. We will buy and strap a pillow to make it comfortable for Noah. If he is sleepy like he was on our Europe trip then I will tie him to me so he doesn’t fall asleep and fall off.

The hardest part of renting motorcycles is finding our way out of the city and dealing with the crazy traffic which is like the start of a marathon when you get a red light.
If it’s safe for 62 fishy’s and a family of 6 on one… then the 3 of use should be fine on two bikes.
Northern Thailand is not that crazy to ride a bike and this loop should be fine once we are out of the city.

The Mae Hong Son Loop can be done in about 4 days. This trip in total we would need about 3 weeks to do all the things we want to do. Flying there is the most expensive part. Vietnam and Thailand are super affordable for logging, eating and visiting things. After northern Thailand, we will fly down to Bangkok in the south and explore the city before going south to the incredible Thai beaches down near Phuket. Maybe I and the kids should have not watched this movie together. Hopefully, the kids don’t remember the opening scene of the movie (The Impossible from 2012)

After southern Thailand, it would be to fly home through Vietnam or maybe when booking we could come home via Bangkok back to Toronto. All I know is that it would be a wild trip and after taking the kids to Europe for 19 days last August… a trip like this to the other side of the world would be crazy fun and such a great experience for them and myself. I already have a Trip Planning Book all set for this trip to fill with ideas and information.

If you want to watch Kara & Nates Travel Vlogs filmed in Thailand… you can view them here.

Euro2019 Trip | Leg One | Leaving for Toronto to Prague, Czech Republic

I arrived in Ajax the night before to meet up with the kids and talk about the trip and stress that we are packing light and using backpacks for this trip.  I brought my tent and camped “stealth” in Ajax and the “Mom” brought them to the Go Train with their passports.  Noah broke his arm a couple of weeks before the trip.  Days before the trip he got a new swimmable cast.  So with that and some travel insurance we were off to the Airport with our 3 backpacks.

Day 1: July 28th Plan

  • Get ourselves to the airport in time so we are not rushed for our flights
  • Fit the 3 of us on one of two different flight options
  • Try and get some “real” sleep on the flight
  • Arrive in Prague the next morning and book somewhere to stay the night

We took off on the GO Train from Ajax to Union Station in Toronto.  We got out of Union and walked across the road to Movenpick Marche at Brookfield Place for some lunch.  $50 later we were on our way on the UP Express that runs from Union Station to Toronto Pearson Airport that is always a reliable 25min trip.  Kids are excited and so am I to finally be able to take them to Europe.  On our way to the airport, I started to shoot some video on my iPhone to make a little travel vlog of the trip, since I’m sure it will give me something to do on the flight and late at night not sleeping due to the JetLag that was coming.

With my flight benefits at work, I decided to book us on Air Canada since the direct flight with Air Canada Rouge leaves Toronto close to 5PM.  As a back-up, we booked on a credit card the 8:20PM Toronto to Munich flight with Lufthansa.  I’ve been checking the flight load all week leading up to departure and LH471 to Frankfurt was at capacity and it looked like LH495 to Munich would fill up also.  The space on AC1922 with Air Canada looked good all week.  A night before the Air Canada app will show you how many people are on the plane for those who are flying “Standby” and it had about 80 open spots… so I knew we would be leaving on the direct flight at 5PM.  Once we land, I would refund the Lufthansa ticket.

The configuration of the flight is a 2-3-2 for economy and we were put in the middle 3 seats with Noah riding in the middle.  With the early departure of 5pm and us landing in Prague at 7AM local time… I knew it would be tough on the kids since it was only 1AM Toronto time and we had our whole day ahead of us so trying to get some sleep on the flight was important so after dinner I would force them to use the eye-mask and ear plugs I packed to try and get some sleep.  At the airport we went through security with no issues.  A bit of juggling since we took some stuff out of our main packs and had little bags for our personal items to distribute the weight.  They didn’t weigh or measure any of our bags.  We also asked the gate if we could get on first with Noah’s arm and that helped secure space in the overhead bin for our backpacks all together.

 

Below is the first episode of our travel vlog:

 

I’ve never flown Air Canada Rouge before.  I’ve heard stories that the cabin in economy is tight.  I also heard that there are no screens on the back of the seat and you have to download the AC App and you can stream movies on your device.  I knew were would get food.  I was hoping to fly with Lufthansa so the kids could experience our airline on a long haul flight.  Maybe on the way back we will fly Lufty.

On the flight, I was really pleased with the food and the room.  My legs fit… so I was happy.  I just couldn’t enjoy a cold beer on the flight like LH471.  The boarding and gate staff were great.  Noah and Chantal tried to sleep and I think they drifted off for about two hours.

Euro2019 Trip | Leg Two | Landing in Prague, Czech Republic

Day 2: July 29th Plan

  • If we made the flight then we had to book somewhere to stay when we land
  • Make our way downtown Prague and drop off our bags
  • Go find something to eat and see how we feel with JetLag
  • Check-in to our accommodations
  • See if we feel like going out again to check out the city.
  • Get some much needed sleep.

Episode Two below capturing hitting the ground in Prague:

After landing in Prague we found a quiet place to sit down and login to the wifi to book somewhere to stay.  I used Hostelworld to find and book PLUS Prague for 2 nights.  Since I didn’t know if we would get on a the plane it was better to book something after we land.  After booking… it was time to go through customs and find the express bus that would take us downtown to the Hostel so we can drop off the packs and go out for breakfast.

 

Getting tickets is easy.  We just picked up 3 24hr metro ticket that is good for all the busses, subway and trams.  It didn’t take too long to get downtown via the express bus that takes us to the “Yellow” subway line that we can take to our hostel to drop off our packs.

Below you will see the start of the “Yellow” line to the far left.  That’s where the airport bus drops you off at and we just took the yellow line west to the “Red” line where we simply go north 3 stops and the Hostel is right there.  Downtown Prague is where Yellow and Red touches the Green line.

It was too early to check-in so we took off downtown to look around a little and get something to eat.  We got off at Muzeum and went up to the surface.

We walked around and snapped some pictures and took in the first sights of Old Town Square.  I wanted to take them to a place that the Honest Prague Guide talked about Lokal so we had to walk and check it out.  We wanted to get some traditional Czech dishes to try.  I wanted a mid-morning Czech beer.  We ordered Roastbeef with Tomato sauce with Czech Bread Dumplings, 6 week old ripened fried cheese, Pork Leg Schnitzel fried in butter, Pork braised with Kohlrabi and buttered potatoes.  After that we got some local Czech money and off we went to explore a little more.

 

At 3PM we made our way back to get our room at the PLUS Prague Hostel.  We selected a private room and headed up to unpack our bags a little.  This is a cool little place.  Very large and clean with many rooms to mingle and chill.  It has a pool and sauna downstairs with a little gym and a big kitchen to cook meals and eat.  Outside in the back it has a beach volleyball court and ping pong tables and attached is a bar that serves pizza, burgers and bar food.  In the mornings there is a buffet for about 7CAD that has eggs and bacon and other breakfast stuff to fill up for your day ahead.

After getting upstairs… we all claimed our beds and had a nap.  Our room had this layout bottom-right above and I had the bottom bunk over to the left and the kids had each a twin bed.  You pay for the fourth person to get a private room.  It was 3PM in Prague.  We have been up for 26 hours straight at this point and we were cooked.

We slept for about 5 hours and got up and went downstairs to get some food and we took it easy and caught up with friends in Canada while I edited video and we talked about the things we could do the next day and what I wanted to do since I did some researching on what Prague had to offer.  My evernote Prague folder was full and I made the kids put evernote on their phone so they had all the access to everything on the trip and they could see the agenda.  It was peppered with “Don’t tell Mom any of the details”.  Since I didn’t want to answer a thousand questions about what we were doing every day of the trip.

 

 

Euro2019 Trip | Leg Two | Exploring Prague, Czech Republic

Day 3: July 30th | Prague, Czech Republic | 2nd Full Day in Prague

After taking the subway back downtown.  We hit up Prague’s City Hall and it’s historic Paternoster Lift shown above.  AKA “The Elevators of Death”.  This doorless 20th-century elevator doesn’t stop or slow down and don’t get crushed if you slip.  Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it.  If you enter City Hall just keep walking to the right and skip the normal elevators and you will stumble one of 9 of these working in Prague.  These are a dying breed after modern day safety regulations having banned their construction.  These were created in the 1860’s in England these were in government buildings and stores in Germany and around Europe.  These elevators travel in a loop.  Thanks to the Honest Prague Guide for pointing this out to me to check out.  It was Noah’s fave attraction.  This one consists of 12 cabins.  You have to be fairly quick to jump on and off.  Be careful not to loose your cellphone in the crack of the floor.  More on that later.

We continued to wander the crooked streets of Prague wandering around the old city centre.

Prague’s famous Astronomical clock which was first installed in 14fucking10.  Third oldest in the world and only still working.  It’s mounted at Old Town Hall and the clock mechanism itself has three main components: the astronomical dial representing the position of the sun and moon in the sky displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock.  When the clock strikes at the top of the hour the 12 Apostles do the walk to present themselves in the two windows.  The figure of Death represented by the skeleton strikes the time.  The calendar dial represents the months.  Local legend says the city will suffer if the clock stops and neglected.  A ghost mounted on the clock nods his head in confirmation of this.  The clockmaker was blinded after it was created so he could not make a clock like this for any other city in Europe.  He later threw himself into the gears of the clock killing himself and disabling the clock for a couple of hundred years before it was repaired.  Gothic figures were added over the years and also with the Golden Rooster crowing was also added.  If you look closely nets were added to keep Pigeons away.

The weather was good, so we decided to hit the “Yellow” subway line north west and out of the downtown to Prosek.  We wanted to ride the Bobsled Track shown below.

Bobova Draha Prosek is a cool little track that is open all year round.  If you get a group pass it works out to 2.70CAD per ride.  Once out of the main starting block… out comes the phone to record.  Chantal slowed down at the beginning and waited for me to be right on her tail.  The heavier you are the faster you go.  I was a little scared and I was using the break on some of the turns since you go up to the top on the corners.  I’m not 11 years old anymore and weigh 68 pounds anymore.  I’m now built for speed to match my moniker.

Such a great place.  10 minutes away is Kart Planet that has really fast Go Karts but kids are not allowed and with Noah’s arm he could not drive since you can convince them to let kids ride if they really can drive a racing kart.  So with “Lighting McQueen” having a messed up wrist we will have to pass and maybe we will come back in the future.

Coming back into the city we wanted to go out for dinner in Old Prague and picked Caffe Italia under the towers and sit out on the patio.  Big up’s to them on the beer glasses.  We sent home to Mom the photo of Noah below enjoying Prague.  Beer is cheaper than coke.

Last night in the PLUS Prague hostel and in the morning we will switch venues for two more nights in Prague.

 

Tropical Islands Resort | Krausnick, Germany

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In Germany… just about a hour south of Berlin is this gem.  This building is the fifth largest usable space by volume and it was established in 2004.  After Casey made a little video about it has become popular with North American’s coming across the ocean to check it out.

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It’s open at 6am and it doesn’t really close.  People swim in the pools all night long.  At 1am if you are still inside you are charged for another day.  There is accommodations all around on the inside and the outside of the park in the summer time with trailers and cabins to rent.  Inside is bunkie’s and tents.  The Sauna area is by gender and it’s a protected nude area.  You can wear a towel if you want.

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Two balloons you can tour the park in.  One of them is walked as you circle the resort and one of them will drift around.  The place is massive.  Price for a tent that sleeps 4 is 157 euros and that includes the cost of the water park for the two days.  That’s the cost for Chantal, Noah and myself when you stay a Sunday or 200 euros for another day.  Tents are lockable and you also can store valuables in lockers in the change rooms.  You can take a train from Berlin and it’s a 7min walk from the train station or you can take the shuttle.

Can’t wait to hit this waterpark with the kids.  You can view Casey’s video of him and Owen checking out the waterpark here.

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Lisbon | Can’t Wait To Go | Again?

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November 18th flying with the kids to visit this beautiful city.  The city of 7 hills.  Where Chantal is allowed to have a German beer on the flight legally.  Where tags own the back alleyways and the little Natas are everywhere.  A city where everyone eats dinner at 9pm.

Can’t wait to go with them.  I’m sure we will make a movie.  I’m sure we will stay up late too each night.

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