Saigon- A home away from home

When you go traveling like we are (i.e. living out of a backpack with a seriously small budget), it’s very easy to forget about the normal things you get so used to in your previous life. You quickly forget about simple things like having your own shower, getting washing done, being able to cook your own meal, drive yourself around,  and even just watching a bit of TV or using a Laptop are all the things that are so normal back home and missed whilst on the road. That’s not been an issue at all so far to be fair, but when you return to this kind of lifestyle you quickly remember what you’ve been missing!

On our final leg in Vietnam, we finished up in Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh). We were very fortunate to be staying with some old family friends from the UK, the Kelly’s. The family (Charlie and Janette, Blair and Cameron) moved here around 4 years ago when Charlie got a new job with a Vietnamese firm as their Director for the Vietnam office . They live in a wonderful compound in District 2; about 20 mins on a scooter from the famous backpacker area in the central District 1 of Saigon. Blair and Cameron are both still at school/college, but have been a joy to hang around with at the house in the evenings. They also have two awesome little dogs, Frankie and Pickle who managed to fill our doggy quotas very nicely!


Being at the Kelly’s and living with a familiar family has been the reboot we both needed! Having those creature comforts like a kitchen, a pool, and our own bathroom has been SUCH a nice treat, and company has been fantastic! We’ve been out for dinner with Janette (known by the Easties as JK) and Charlie a couple of times, as well as a family BBQ by the pool one evening: what a fab way to recharge after the non stop madness of Vietnam for a month. The Kelly’s were very kind and lent us their scooter for the time there as well, so we had free reign of the city when we needed. Honestly, if you guys are reading this, we can’t thank you enough for your amazing hospitality and making us feel so at home! We owe you BIG TIME!!!!

We stayed here for about 5 days, and head onto Cambodia next. On our first day here, Charlie drove me around his district to see the sights around the local district. This place is really cool, there’s a very strong arty feel around the whole area, mixed nicely with some very trendy restaurants and bars dotted along the river. D2 is clearly more geared for the more Western audience, with craft beer bars, artisan deli’s and a flood of shops selling American/British produce dotted all over the place, some very snazzy restaurants alongside the more traditional street food vendors you see all over the country.

D2 is TOTALLY different to anywhere else we’ve stayed in Vietnam. The Kelly’s live on a compound that is actually quiet at night to start with! The area is lovely and has everything you’d need surrounding you within 500metres at the most. I’ve also seen more 4×4 cars around here than in all of Vietnam for sure. Whilst it’s not a traditional backpacker spot, it’s been great to see stuff beyond the status quo for backpackers, there is actually so much to see here! We were able to eat at some quality restaurants, including a Thai street food place that needs a special mention. This was easily the best thai food i’ve ever eaten, the restaurant was hidden down a small alleyway and as you can see, it’s designed to look like a street food market (it reminded me quite a lot of the Street Feast pop ups in London to be honest). If you haven’t been to one of those, I wrote a blog about that too! 

When venturing into D1 for a couple of days to do the sights, we also discovered the Bến Thành Market and the new addition of the street food market. If you are in Saigon, you HAVE to stop over at both of these. Seriously, the market itself is crazy, and the new street food market adjacent to the old market is absolutely fantastic, with a great array of goodies to sample. HIGHLY recommended for some cheap grub and even cheaper clothes (if you’re good at haggling).

 I also need to give a shout out to Pasteur Street Brewery. I discovered this craft beer in Hanoi at the start of the trip, but it was sadly rather expensive in relation to our budget so didn’t get to enjoy it too many times on the trip. Kelly agreed that I should go and have a wee sample though whilst in it’s hometown, so we went to it’s bar. I can honestly say that some of their beers rival some of my favourites from around the world. I would HIGHLY recommend the coconut porter, the nitro porter, and the jasmine IPA, all of which were top class! There bar is again hidden down a tiny alleyway and can’t really be seen from the road, but it’s worth finding if you’re into craft beer, and Western food.
A lot of the activity in Saigon that’s a ‘must see’ is kind of based around the wars the country has endured. Over 2 days we visited the American War Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels. Needless to say, after the war museum, a beer or two was needed! It’s quite amazing how little we are taught about the atrocities that took place during the war. I knew it was pretty brutal, but had no idea about the level of chemical warfare that took place. If you don’t either, just have a Google about Agent Orange, an awful herbicide the Americans peppered all across the place, causing huge devastation at the time, but also continues to cause a number of genetic mutations in newborns. You can really see the impact around the country of Agent Orange, it really was a horrific thing to unleash on the country. I appreciate the museum is clearly one sided and somewhat propaganda fuelled, but the atrocities that occurred from both sides were truly appalling. I can’t imagine anything worse than what went on in the war. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t take any pictures there; it was bloody horrific and out of respect I didn’t think taking photos was the done thing.

We also spent a day at the Cu Chi Tunnels. Whilst this has been jazzed up for tourists, it’s a very good way to get a feel for the way things were during the war, and how the Viet Kong outsmarted the American Army. The Viet Kong basically built tunnels across the whole area, covering over 200km of underground tunnels. These tunnels were used to transport people and goods, but also keep people hidden during the war. The fact that people lived in these tiny tunnels up to 3 floors down is actually incredible. We both had a go clambering through the ‘touristy’ tunnels (slightly expanded for the slightly larger Western tourists). We endured the 60m route underground, that went down 3 floors underground. Now, i’m not someone who gets freaked out by small spaces, but this was something else. Firstly, it was BLOODY hot and humid, it was absolutely tiny (especially with a bag on my back), and super dark. Someone in front of Kel starting freaking out, which didn’t help things. Needless to say, the thought of getting stuck down there, not being able to turn or move past anyone isn’t that appealing!!! Whilst this was a bit touristy and at points felt a bit fake, it’s definitely something I’m glad I saw. I can’t understand though after seeing everything we did, people had the urge to shoot the bloody great guns that are there as more as an attraction; definitely not my cup of tea!

On our final day in Saigon, we took the scooter and rode across to the Mekong, as we didn’t have time to do a proper tour around the area. After a 30minute drive to the river, we boarded the boat to cross over. Unfortunately at this point, Kelly managed to burn herself really badly on a neighbouring motorbike that certainly put a dampener on things. We spent the next 2 hours riding into the delta, but didn’t get very far as we attempted to find something to cover and clean her leg with. We fortunately found a local doctor from the help of a lovely local lady, so decided to ride back to central Saigon along the back roads; again an experience in itself!

Whilst our trip to Saigon was made super special by the Kelly’s, the city itself is pretty awesome. I could definitely see myself living somewhere like this; it’s all so chilled and generally a nice place to be. The roads are f****** crazy though, you honestly can’t fathom how mental they are until you see them!

I think it’s safe to say, this will not be the last time we will be in Vietnam. I know I said i’d fallen in love with India previously, but this is another level. Vietnam has been such a nice (and EASY) change to the total madness we had in India! The people have been fantastic from start to finish, and so helpful at every occasion, the food has been out of this world, and the things we’ve seen I will never forget. I WILL be back one day for sure, and now definitely have the urge to buy a bike and ride from Hanoi to Saigion (Gary, Bub, and Sam, take note. I’m not letting this one go)!

Next stop, CAMBODIA! We start in Phnom Penh before moving South to Kampot and Kep and Sihanoukville. We’re going to spend a couple of nights on one of the Koh Rong islands to have a touch of beachy life again, before heading up to Siam Reap to experience Ankor Wat (well that’s the plan so far anyway). Now I just need to source some dollars!

Hoi An and Dalat- Different Different but Same

It’s amazing how you can pick up on similarities with home regardless of where you are in the world. I’ve found myself on a number of occasions on this trip saying “This reminds me of that place back in England”, but without a doubt I did this more in Hoi An and Dalat  than anywhere else we’ve been so far. The city itself reminds me of the backstreets in Brighton, with a mix of Cambridge and some hipster-esque ends of London too. The place is tiny though, and there’s only really a handful of key roads that people frequent in Hoi An. Regardless of this, the place is awesome, and has a huge amount of character different to many areas of Vietnam we’ve experienced so far.

We decided we wanted to stay closer to the beach than the city centre, and also decided to spend more time here than initially planned so we could just chill out and do nothing for a couple of days, which we definitely managed to do! In fact, we loved where we were staying so much, we booked an additional day beyond our initial stage. We booked into a place called SeaSun Homestay, close to the famous An Bang Beach. To be honest I couldn’t really rate this place higher for anyone traveling on a budget. We had a private room with AC and a BATH (yes, a bath, remember those kids). Every morning we had fantastic breakfasts made up of banana/pineapple pancakes or baguettes with an array of fillings; a great way to start the day. The host also let us use her scooter whilst we were there, which really helped out on a couple of days! The best thing is we paid less than £8 a night for all of this! If you are visiting Hoi An, I would say stay closer to the beach, drive into the city when desired and make the most of the sand and sea.

In total, we had 6 days in Hoi An. This consisted of a couple of days doing very little on the beach, a day exploring the city centre, a day on an un-planned pub crawl (thanks to a day of rain and randomly bumping into 6 people we met across Vietnam previously), and a trip out to My Son that became way more of an experience than we expected thanks to a flat tyre on the highway!

Hoi An City

There are 2 things that apparently everyone should do in Hoi An; get a suit made and do a cookery course. Initially, we intended to do both, but realised quite quickly that all the cooking courses were set at a really low level (I know how to make spring rolls and Pho thanks), and the idea of getting a suit made 2 months into a year away was a pretty shit idea (i’m very likely to expand or contract over that time). We decided fairly quickly to sack off these cliche activities and just explored the city, and realised very quickly that listening to ‘what the tourists do’ is often a TERRIBLE idea when backpacking!  As i’ve said already, the city itself reminded me so much of places like Brighton. Imagine the back street architecture mixed with the boutique nature of shops in Cambridge. This place is trawling with little boutique coffee shops, art shops, and independent furniture shops, not to mention the deluge of tailoring places that absolutely litter the whole area. Oh, and the street food and small shops are pretty much all amazing! Seriously, I think i’ll come here when i’m a proper grown up to just buy some suits, get some art and table decorations for my house (that I currently don’t have), and stock up on epically good coffee!


Apart from all the shops and stuff, there isn’t that much to do in the centre. The whole main area is accessible by walking, and you can easily see it all in a day. The thing is, there appears to be a charge to see some specific parts of the old quarter, but to be honest I wouldn’t bother paying (we didn’t and had a great time regardless). I would suggest spending a day exploring the old town is good, maybe spend a day getting something made, then a day on the beach and that would be enough.

Seeing familiar faces

It’s funny, regardless of where you are, you still see familiar faces. We’ve spent a month (ish) in Vietnam now, and have stopped in about 6 towns/cities, and we constantly bump into faces we recognise. In Hoi An this went to another level though!  We arrived at the homestay and immediately saw a couple we became friends with in Phong Nha from Denmark, so went for lunch with them. We then discovered another couple we met (from Colchester) were also in the city, so they joined. We THEN found out more people were in the city (via social media but also just bumping into them) so had a good little crew with us for the day. On this day the heavens decided to open, so we took refuge in bars for the whole day. This was actually quite a nice blow out! 

Alongside this, we also bumped into loads of the guys we met at the bar in Phong Nha (the Buffalo run crew) on the beach near our place, totally by chance. For those that haven’t traveled, it can actually be quite a solitary activity. Yes, Kelly and I always have each other to chat to, but spending every living moment in each others pockets can be challenging sometimes. Seeing people we’ve met along the way is a really nice reboot to the system and can really make a trip! Obviously, we linked up again in the City on a few occasions which was also lovely.

Working on my beach bum

To note, this has nothing to do with my bum…


An Bang Beach is quite famous, but to be honest I can’t really work out why. After arriving in Hoi An we went to check it out, and realised pretty quickly it’s totally saturated with expensive beach bars and, well, PEOPLE! We’d been told by a buddy in the city to find other areas along the beach, which we did. We discovered an area called Hidden beach (not that well hidden, it had a sign on the road) that was perfect. We were 2 of about 10 people on this large stretch of beach, and there were smaller restaurants we could make use of that weren’t that expensive (not all that good either, but you can’t win them all).


I must say though, this has quickly become one of my favourite beaches anywhere! The water was lively but okay to swim in (see note below though), and an absolutely beautiful temperature! The beach itself was clean and lovely sand, and the fact it was quiet at this stretch just made it. To top it off, I squeezed in a 4mile run along the beach which i’ve been dying to do for ages! If you’re ever in Hoi An, search out hidden beach and avoid An Bang like the plague! The only thing I’ll say is be careful here. The water is choppy, and we aren’t 100% sure, but we may have seen someone drown the day we arrived (we saw them get pulled out then carted off the beach, locals were saying they weren’t breathing).

Expect the unexpected

It’s often the way; you follow others reviews and find totally the opposite. Likewise, the stuff you don’t expect is often the best stuff you never forget. This trip had both experiences in about 7 hours…

After a few days of doing very little, we decided to ride to My Son, a Hindu temple area and UNESCO Heritage site that sadly has been ruined from all the wars this country has endured. After a 90min scooter ride we made it there (but check out these roads, they are certainly testing!)

To be honest it was cool, but somewhat underwhelming (and bloody sweltering too, making walking about 7k a battle). We rode back and got caught in a monsoon, which again, was quite the experience. En route home, we managed to get a flat tyre on the highway, surrounded by thousands of lorries and other bikes. As you can imagine this wasn’t the greatest experience ever. Kelly managed to run across to the nearest built up area, and somehow managed to get a family to call a mechanic via Google Translate (thanks Uncle Google). An hour later, and an extortionate (apparently) 300k (about £10) we had our rear tyre fixed and were back en route. This was actually quite a stressful situation; we literally couldn’t have broken down at a worse spot, and were still wet from monsooning it 30mins earlier, but it’s certainly something I won’t forget anytime soon.

Dalat

After a number of wonderful days in Hoi An, we decided to head to Dalat. Dalat is the main area in Vietnam where fruits and veg are grown; nearly 80% in fact (other than rice, obviously). Dalat is right up in the mountains, about 2000m above sea level, so the temperature is much more like Europe than anywhere else in Vietnam (it was about 20c most days and actually chilly at night)! After a 12 hour sleeper to Nha Trang, we moved onto a smaller bus to take us to Dalat. It was actually only 150km from Nha Trang but with the crazy windy roads through the mountains it took about 5 hours! I must say though, the roads were amazing and the views probably rivalled those on the Hai Van Pass.

Dalat is famous for canyoning, which is basically abseiling down a waterfall. I’d been really looking forward to this. Sadly whilst getting off the bus, I managed to roll my ankle on one of the steeply angled curbs. I know, how very rock’n’roll of me! This somewhat scuppered our plans whilst in Dalat, but at least we saved some money!

We hadn’t booked a hostel, so spent the morning we arrived trying to find a good one which didn’t break the bank. After a couple of hours, and far too much walking on a recently twisted ankle we checked into Dalat Backpackers, where we discovered the guys we shared a room with in Phong Nha were in the room opposite! That evening I went out for drinks with them whilst Kel went to bed. We explored the evening market and literally ate everything that we could see, including satay clams (probably my favourite thing to eat in all of Vietnam), a Dalat Pizza (a rice paper cooked over coals, with egg, spring onion, and dried shrimp), but then we went somewhat off piste and ate an array of the organs on sticks freshly barbecued.
I sampled brain, liver, lung and heart (I think mainly Chicken). Whilst not all were my cup of tea, it was good to try some different things and to be honest, I really enjoyed the heart and liver! I would definitely say to anyone get out of your comfort zone and try new things! That night we ended up in the 100 drop bar. Just go, it’s absolutely crazy and like no bar you will have been in before. 

The next day we met up with Sam from Colchester. We hired bikes and headed to the waterfalls. By doing this ourselves we saved about $20 each at least (another backpaker tip from me, sack off the tours to save mega bucks! En route, we stopped by the Crazy House, another must see in Dalat. Now the name is bang on, this place is utterly crazy! It’s actually a hotel, but i’m not sure i’d want to stay. I’d love to know what drugs the owner was taking when designing this place.

The waterfalls were really cool, and these are nothing by SE Asia standards, but my first experience none the less. We stopped by the Datanla waterfall as we kinda fell across it (plus it had a rollercoaster type ride to get to it).

We hiked to the fall (and snuck past guards to get further down the fall), saving ourselves probably £5 extra each, which was just great! I’d really recommend seeing this if you’re in Dalat; the whole experience was just great, very laid back, and quite easy. Many people recommend the Elephant waterfalls too which look much more grandiose, but i’ve heard they are quite polluted now.

The following day, we went to explore the town on our own. It was a very chilled day that didn’t consist of much, but was just lovely. It’s so nice to see the proper town as it is day to day just by walking around. We stumbled across the markets and became immediately mesmerised by the vibrance surrounding us. I’d like to think I am fairly good with produce, but I literally didn’t have a bloody clue at half the stuff I was looking at. What I did recognise looked so much nicer than the stuff we get back home too!

That night, I headed out with some guys from our hostel (more people we just happened to bump into that we’d met previously) , and ended up at a bar playing live western music. The band were AWESOME and we had a cracking night, until en route home a card machine swallowed my mates card. 2 hours later and still with no card, we made it back to a locked up hostel, so spent about 30mins trying to wake someone to get in. As you can imagine, at this point, I just wanted bed, especially as we had a bus at 8am the next day.

Hoi An and Dalat were great areas to visit. I’d highly recommend at least 3 days in each area, and try to get off the beaten track. We’re now in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) staying with the wonderful Kelly’s (family friends from Dedham). I’ll try and write that blog whilst crossing the boarder to Cambodia in a couple of days.

For anyone who has done this kind of trip before, I literally can’t get over how quickly it’s all going. Today is day 65 of being on the road, and a day before we reach our third country. It all feels far too quick for my liking! What I can say is we are both having the absolute time of our lives, with absolutely no regrets, a shit ton of wonderful memories and another 9 months of memories to make.

What’s in the bag?

It seems like a must do; you start a blog about travelling and writing a post about whats in the bag has to be done.

It’s now 43 hours until we are on our plane, and still definitely doesn’t feel real! We’ve both been so busy with last minute packing up (the house, not the bags) we’ve and saying goodbyes to old friends we’ve barely had a chance to stop and think! Only yesterday when I did round 1 and 2 of operation ‘get all my stuff for a year in a bag’ did it actually start to become a thing.

So. The important stuff…

Everyone I’ve spoken to strongly advised investing in good bags, so we both went for Osprey bags. Mine is 65l Aether and Kelly’s is 55l Arial, although she’s probably wishing she had a bigger one now! I’m so glad we listened because these bags are super comfortable and really sit nicely on our backs, even when full! I’ve also got a daypack for tech stuff to take on the plane, and obviously for day to day use

We (strangely enough) did quite a bit of research on what others recommend to take or use whilst away for a year. So here’s a list of the things that i’d also recommend. Don’t worry, this won’t be a post about EVERYTHING I am taking, just the useful stuff that you may not have thought of.

The general stuff

  • Packing cubes are a MUST! I can’t imagine not taking these backpacking. Just get some
  • Comfy flip flops. I foolishly bought some off Amazon that were rubbish and immediately gave myself blisters. I got these Teva flip flops later on as the brand was highly recommended, and I must say they are super comfy. It’s really worth spending more on these (and other shoes) as, well, you’re gonna be wearing them all the time!
  • GOOD trail shoes! Quite a lot of people swear by wearing hiking boots etc, but I can’t imagine anything worse, so went for some strong grip trail running shoes. I bought some Innov8 trail shoes as my OCR buddies raved about them. The idea is that these will cover general walking/hiking, but also running as they are super lightweight
  • Sandals. I wasn’t feeling buying sandals initially but actually, they are seriously comfy and more supportive than flip flops. Again, Teva are recommended, obviously wearing these with socks is NOT recommended

 

The Tech

So I was always going to take quite a bit of stuff, but i’ve tried to pull back a bit for this trip.what kind of digital nomad would I be if I didn’t include a section on tech!?

  • GoPro Hero 4 Black. Obviously an essential for underwater filming and just general filming. I’ve also got a bunch of attachments (remote, battery extender, etc) as well as a floating selfie stick, buoyancy aid and gorillapod 
  • Kindle, for all those long ass train journeys! This was a hand me down but does the job for sure. Kelly has a new PaperWhite which is so much nicer, but I wasn’t going to spend more on something I may not use.
  • iPad for everything else
  • iPhone for photography and day to day stuff (and staying in contact obviously for all family and friends reading this).
  • Garmin Fenix 2 multisport watch, for tracking activities (and to tell the time). I had this anyway and would have upgraded to a new Fenix 3 HR but Kelly would have KILLED ME!
  • Anker Power Charger. This was a present and is AWESOME! IT should charge all my stuff, but my phone about 6 times off one charge.
  • A wireless hard drive for backup and streaming of movies

And… A BOOK! To write in and everything! Joking apart this will be my recipe/scrap book for the trip.

Other things i’d recommend

  • Sleeping bag liner. You never know what you’ll be sleeping on/in. These have come recommended by people on so many blogs i’ve read
  • Travel pillow. We both got one that converts from a neck pillow to a normal pillow too
  • A LIFESTRAW! This was a must for us, especially considering some of the places we are going. Whilst it’s expensive it’s definitely worth it
  • Snorkel gear. We’ve looked into this and it can be a costly thing to hire. We purchased some gear on a recent holiday and thought it would be a good thing to take!
  • Get stuff that come with cases just in case. For example hard cases for things like sunglasses. For me with all the moving about we will be doing it’s not worth the risk of breaking valuable stuff on transit 
  • Sealable bags for keeping important stuff waterproof
  • Get an “airporter” for your bag. Convayerbelts at airports love to munch the dangly bits of backpacks.
  • Try and avoid taking random crap. I have a “thing” packing cube for odd bits but I’ve actually culled so much stuff out of it, although it may not look that way…


And to summarise some of the things others have said to us, and we’re definitely doing

  • Pack, pack, and repack! Seriously, be prepared to CULL clothes. We’ve probably done 3 rounds of repacking to remove stuff each time. DO IT!
  • Start early. I have mates who left this kinda thing till the last minute. I DO NOT recommend that!
  • Seriously, invest in a good bag. It’ll save your back
  • Really think about the climate you’re in. Do you really need to take 4 pairs of swim shorts if you’re trekking in a jungle for months? I’ve had to be really quite vicious with the tops I’m taking because of this, so no skinny fit polo shirts!
  • Be a little prepared for unexpected weather. I’m going to be chasing sun for a year but still taking a hoodie, fleece and waterproof coat. 
  • Keep your stuff to a minimum. I admit I’ve failed at this but remember you’re carrying all your stuff on your back!

So there you have it. My life for a year. I’ve got the weight down on the main bag to 13kg which is enirely manageable. I’m just glad i was hitting the gym lots before this trip really started to become reality!

 

Let the packing commence!

So this is the first time I’ve not worked since I was twelve years old (yes I am including a paper round in that), and instead of work my life is replaced with putting stuff in boxes. Oh the joy.

We’ve both been very fortunate to be living in my parents house the past four years, but now my sister and mum have moved home to enable Georgie (little sister) to get a job, pass her diving test, and actually see universities properly rather than by virtual tour. Regardless of this , we are packing up our lives into a plethora of boxes and sticking them in the loft,  effectively removing our existence from the home and humanity as we know it.

It’s quite an odd feeling doing this, especially as I’m not actually moving into another property. This all feels very similar to moving house during Uni days, but this time we have no f****** idea what’s actually coming around the corner.

Although we’ve been rather conservative on the purchasing front whilst living here, we still have a HUUUUGE amount of stuff, especially clothes. The next time Pinky (my new nickname for Kelly since rebelling against adulthood and dying her whole head a cocophony of colours) says she has no clothes, I’ll remind her of the 4 suitcases filled with her clothes currently residing in my loft! I should say, I’m not much better. Then there’s all the kitchen stuff, my array of instruments, my vinyl, gaming systems, movies, various bits of my photography printed onto canvas; you get the idea. Basically, if you’re gonna do similar and go away, start packing EARLY

The truly weird thing at the moment is the mix of emotions that come with the whole process. It definitely hasn’t actually sunk in that this time next week I’ll be walking around India, at the start of a 330day  adventure of a lifetime. It definitely didn’t seem real saying goodbye to all my amazing colleagues last week either, and to be honest it probably won’t until I’m dropping our pooch off at her foster parents house on Monday, which I am absolutely dreading to be honest. Fortunately, she’s staying with some amazing people who I’m truly honoured to call such good friends. Hannah, Emily, Harry and John, I can’t thank you enough for taking on Holly.

I’ve taken a break from packing up the world to have a pint and watch my sister work (HA). I’ll miss such good beer for sure! I very much doubt I’ll be drinking beautiful hoppy pale ales in India and south east Asia

Next stop is the actual packing of our backpacks! We’ve planned to get everything ready and at least packed on the first iteration by the Sunday before we go, but at this rate I have no idea if this will happen. We both did a dry run ahead of a family holiday in July , and we both had very light bags which was ace, but since then we’ve both bought way more than we had then, so I am a little worried to say the least. 

Right, back to it!