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Vietnam & it’s coffee

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Coffee lover or not, Vietnam know what they are doing when it comes to coffee.

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They’ve hit the nail on the head with coffee and the best places to enjoy it.

With cafe’s dotted on every corner, secret coffee houses on every other balcony and some of the best drink choices, it’s hard not to spend endless amounts of time and money trying them.

DSC_0186Vietnemese iced coffee @  Halong Bay

I have just spent 6 weeks traveling Vietnam while backpacking Asia solo. Getting stuck in Hanoi doing very little other than drinking coffee, smoking too much weed, blagging hostel living, eating street food and most definitely finding new coffee shops.

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With French colonial architecture.

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and a generally crazy country,

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Coffee is like a tradition. Coffee production has been a major source of income for Vietnam since the early 20th century. First introduced by the French in 1857, the Vietnamese coffee industry developed through the plantation system, becoming a major economic force in the country.

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One of the most popular coffee beverages is the typical iced vietnamese coffee.

Servied either on its own, with condensed milk or fresh milk, everyones drinking it. Normally drank after a meal served with either water or hot tea.

Typically the coffee is prepared in single servings in single-cup filter/brewers known as phin. Generally, the coffee is served tableside while it is still brewing. The use of sweetened condensed milk rather than fresh milk was first due to its availability and easier storage in a tropical climate. The condensed milk serves to sweeten the coffee as well. Long practice has led to this being the taste preference in the Vietnamese community.

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The coffee may be brewed onto ice for cafe da, or when had with condensed milk cafe sua da.

There is a lot more to coffee, though, than caffeine.

“Complex flavour chemistry works to make up the flavours inherent in coffee,”

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Ive tried coffee all over from Ho Chi Minh – Hoi An – Hanoi and more. Egg coffee, Coconut coffee, frappes, hot and cold.

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I’ve drank at some of the most beautifully decorated coffee houses, my favourites in Hoi An, of course!

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Some of the best places are filled with people sat out on the street,

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 I’ve found one of the best places in Hanoi, tucked up hidding behind a back alley through a local stall selling the most delicilous popular egg coffee for 15,000 dong. (40p)

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I have drunk at some of the fanciest little coffee boutiques houses sipping espresso

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and of course found my favourite vietnemese starbuck styled chain. Cong.

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I even found a Harry Potter themed coffee shop in Hanoi!

So what makes it different?

Vietnam take their coffee seriously. I have found coffee great all over Asia however lots of places do cheat. Not using real espresso or coffee beans. South East Asia

What should you have?

The main one. Hot or cold? This is a big one and there are so many different kinds. Depending on my mood and the weather and the option of choices, I try to vary.

How sweet do you like it? Condensed milk is a sweetner and I love it! You can get hold or cold fresh milk. I reccomend going french press.

If you are a coffee lover you will really be able to taste the difference in the traditional coffee. I find it a strong but sweet and a little bitter.

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Where to drink it!

Well. I may aswell give you my favourites if you’re in Vietnam!

My top choice

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The best hot mocha ive had in Asia. Hot, sweet, milky with a gorgeous smooth coffee taste! I added caramel of course.

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Good old Cong Caphe. I fell in love with this little chain. A beautifully decorated, communist themed, coffee shop was always perfect. Situated all over Hanoi, serving a wide selection of hot and cold coffees, teas, a few smoothies and a few other little beverages and snacks.

They are a quality-focused artisan coffee shop is a great place to drink/eat/work in a homey, unique Hanoian atmosphere. Cộng Càphê (which means Viet Cong in Vietnamese)  recalls the socialist era with humour and parody with its bare brick walls, dark wood handmade tables, propaganda posters and slight militaristic hint.

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The truth about safety for South East Asia backpackers

South East Asia is becoming one of the worlds most popular backpacking destinations. It’s no longer an Asian mystery and thousands of backpackers are making their way over every week.

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Filled with magnificant countries offering some of the most epic traveling experiences.

12998711_10153392355252751_6065878301530118079_nRoute 1095 through North Thailand. 40 degrees. Sunset. Reaching 150km/ph. Magical Vibes.

Easy to travel with lots going on, relatively cheap, great weather, magical places and thousands of places to visit, it’s no suprise everyones escaping over here.

I’m repeatedly asked about my safety over here, as a female, as a solo traveler and in general.

Another stunning and huge water fall on Koh Samui today! Deserved a good swim after climbing and hiking up through the jungle! So worth it #kohsamui #travel #canon #thailand #waterfall

Thailand is the perfect place for new backpackers to start and the surrounding countries have endless reasons to visit.

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I’ve been backpacking South East Asia the last 6 months and encounted with hundreds of backpackers from all the world. They all share their stories, experiences, memories and advice.

What do you do when it rains driving through the jungle. Smoke at a treehouse!

Like anything, travel comes with risks. It comes with more abnormal dangers and unfortunately there has been some terrible accidents.

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Some are quickly published across social media, explaining the awful stories with devastating effects.

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Its gives us a quick idea and traces of worry for those back at home and those on the road backpacking.

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I wanted to explain a little more, as a young solo backpacker on the safety of travel in South East Asia.

Asia is a pretty safe place. In fact, I feel safer in most places here then I do walking about in London.

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Going solo, people imagine walking along secluded beaches and roads completley on your own out of reach with the rest of the world.

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Walking 2 miles on a secluded beach with no wifi, signal or much sign of anything. A few beach huts, one cafe and a pier.

Ok, I have had a few wierd lonely walks looking for accomodation and long walks down beaches and jungles with no signal. However, there is somone almost always around. Even if the language barrier is difficult, there are others around if needed.

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The truth is, you’re not in any more danger then at home. The biggest difference is the help you well get and the comforts you want. There may be a language barrier and things may not be as accesible.

You can’t just come ask your mum to pick you up. You’re not 5 minutes from your mates house.

Evening boat to Ko Samui after a hectic day! Everyone inside so the deck to myself. Cloudy, overcast, warm and windy

Numerous people tell me that when they travel they grow up. Being able to look after yourself is key wherever you in the world, there will always be people to help but being in these different circumstances really does show you how important your health and safety really is.

Like anywhere in the world, accidents will happen, no country is immune from terrorist attacks and there are evil and dangerous people everywhere.

South East Asia is filled with magical places, crazy and friendly locals and of course different laws then we may be used to.

With the leading religion being Buddhist. It’s actually a pretty chilled out destination.

The countries have some terrible history and frightning stories in the past,

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but where we are today,  it couldn’t be more safer to travel.

Security has stepped up, the access for communication and information across the globe has improved massively over the last ten years, not to mention social media backpacking communities, forums, websites,  personal pages and blogs sharing experiences, tips and advice.

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It’s 2017, we are no longer in the stone ages. South East Asia may hold some of the poorest countries and villages, the most remote tropical destinations

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but all in all, they’re pretty up to date.

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Places like Thailand are becoming so connected with the rest of the world making anything accessible including great health care. It can offer great places for anyone homesick. Easy 24 hour internet, with hundreds of amazing western comforts.

After an insane day we call it a night. Feeling pretty tired and leaving Rasta bar we talk about craving a good hot chocolate! We drive past a place near my hostel I've seen in the day that is a coffee shop designed as a living room. It's 1am. Mocha ordered, TV on. Doors closed and we are having a movie, cake and coffee lock in. Just what I needed! #coffee #movienight #midnight #adventure #thailand

Normality
In South East Asia what they call normal, for westerners, is absolutely bonkers.

I’ve seen full buildings held up by bamboo. I’ve seen families of 5 riding with no helmets on motorbikes.

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Not to mention the countless young children driving motobikes, dozens of cows wondering the streets and unhygeinic street stalls.

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Traveling is supposed to take you out of your comfort zone, experience crazy things and visit magical places.

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If we really want to see the world, we have to take things to that extra level. If it wasn’t worth doing, then the countless of hundreds and thousands of backpackers all over the world wouldnt be packing their bags and leaving on long term trips all over the world.

Jungle #kohphangan #jungleparty #thailand #hostelworld

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If the dangers have to increase to feel this alive and free. To experience the magical and incredible memories I now have. If it’s the only way to learn the lessons I have and am learning, then I will take any risk I have too and I know I am not the only one.

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When accidents happen out, we sometimes hear before the news, even before social media has shared it and the news have published the story.

As backpackers, travelers and globe trotters, we are a community. A community of young and old all over the world. There is no forms or racism, sexism, homophobia.

Anyone and everyone can and should travel.IMG_1107First night on Khao San.

When news articles and stories about accidents not only in Asia, but all over the world, we all mourn.

1455142470610Despite maybe never connecting with the people, we know the places they’ve been, the hostels they stayed in. We can relate to their journeys like my family can relate to other parents with children traveling all over the world.

We are a long way from home and things are not the same.

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I have friends and family worrying about me all the time, and in a way they have every right too. I’m on my own in some of the poorest and hectic countries, I’m on crazy journeys, meeting all sorts of people and taking risks everday.

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Mine are just a little different then to the ones at home!

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We don’t hear about the thousand and thousands of tourists making it home every year. The countless people leaving on one way flights and making it back to friends and family.

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Food.

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The hygeine standards in South East Asia can be pretty poor. The busy roads are filled with stalls selling fresh meat, open fresh fruit and tons of other things. Compared to the standards for us westerners, it’s very different.

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Local can food can be the best and cheapest place to eat. I have eaten all over South East Asia at endless street stalls, local business, random markets and top resturants. In the 5 months I’ve been over here, i’ve had one or two brief little bugs for 48 hours. Make sure you always keep yourself hydryted as it can get exstremly hot and humid here.

Ease your way into the traditional food and ice. Drink bottled water and maybe sometimes avoid the meat, never the less, South East Asia has some of the most amazing food!

Robbery.

South East Asia has some of the poorest parts of the world. Most people are harmless but it’s definatley been known that stuff can be easily taken if not careful.

I have been lucky so far with most my belongings but I have heard of many stories in regards things being stolen. Most places have lockers and safety box’s plus  everyones in the same boat. In parts of Cambodia it’s known for passing bikes to snatch and all over Thailand the tuk tuk’s will remind you to hold onto your stuff.

Always keep an eye on your stuff, try and keep things locked up where possible and don’t go out at night with your passport. No one needs ID out here. If things do get stolen report everything to the police, block your cards and let your insurance know whats happened.

Motorbikes.

Motorbikes/scooters/mopeds are by far the most used and convenient mode of transport all over South East Asia.

They are easy to rent, pretty cheap to buy and make life a lot easier. Most locals have been riding since young teenagers and most rodes are designed for bikes to get through.

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I’m a huge lover for motorbikes and try and rent one where possible but even then however try have an idea of the roads and always wear a helmet. Check out the bike first and for those driving for the first time, at least get some idea of how to drive the bike.

Booze & Drugs.

I’ve found most backpacking accidents have been when drinking. We all like to have fun and I’ve had my fair share of drunken nights out all over the world but just remember you’re not in the comfort of your own country.

The laws of drug use is slightly different all over never the less they are not tolerated. Okay, it’s easy to get all over South East  Asia at cheaper prices then back at home. Truthfully, there are hundreds of backpackers all over doing it. Just be careful who you buy it off and who is about. It’s worth being that extra cautious. Locals are known to work with the police when selling and you don’t always know who to trust.

Travel Insurance

This may get a little intense but it’s got to be said. We all need it. Our health and safety is the most valuable thing we have and it’s easily taken for granted.

Many of us never even need to go over the insurance details or ever need to take action.

If the worst case scenario was to ever happen, who is left with the problems?  Who is left with the finanical side of things, the emotional side. The planning as to what to do now and to how they will cope. Not you.

Life can be a really cruel place, but if you seek to travel and explore the rest of the world. Just remember who is left with the broken pieces if things went wrong. For the sake of £50. Purchase and priority proper travel insurance. For everyones sake.

Police.

They all have different roles in each country and can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. The truth is, they’re doing there job. Luckily, in some way, money is easily used instead of proper punishment. The cops can be payed off, or a hefty fine will do. For those budget backpackers, this isn’t convinent never the less it sure is a better option then going to prison.

Anywhere you visit in the world comes with risks and dangers. South East Asia is no different.

inspirational-travel-quoteso What if?

I’ve met people caught with drugs, bashed up from a road accident.  I’ve met backpackers beaten up from locals, others having stuff stolen. So what if?

Like mentioned, many officers and buisness’ can be payed off with a certain amount of cash. They can ask up to 20/30,000 baht (Around £400) for catching you with weed. If any road accidents happen, especially with a local, then can ask for around £2,000. Trust me, I have had friends pay this. I hear lots of stories from experiances and it’s not all a fun one.

My safety travel tips

  • Have a backup if you loose your bank card. Don’t leave no spare acess to money.
  • It’s worth being extra bit cautious.
  • Always have some kind of map or app on your phone so you know where you are. I am always using maps.me. Click here to get the app. However don’t always rely on technology. Carry a map with you if possible. Hostels and buisness’ are always providing free city maps.
  • Have money at home or family prepared to help you a flight somewhere or for any emergency.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Always have some currency on you, including going through borders.
  • If you buy drugs, try and use your common sense on who’s dodgy or not. Make sure to check out the laws as all over South East Asia they have different policies from fines – death sentance.
  • Take any notes for any long term prescription drugs, make sure you get the right jabs and tablets and it may be worth knowing your blood type.
  • Try to avoid carrying around too much cash with you.
  • Have someone know what journeys your making when moving cities or countries. I always let people know when i’m flying or catching a long bus.
  • Take a photo of your accomdation or take their card when going out at night. After a few drinks it’s easy to forget the way back or even where your staying.
  • Have a spare copy of your passport. I always leave one back at home and try and keep a spare copy with my stuff.

Click here for all Emergency numbers all over the world!