What we noticed first when we got to Hanoi and out of our Grab (taxi service like Uber), was the chaos on the street with hundreds of scooters. Here is a good article explains why with the challenges it comes with. Luckily the taxi driver stopped on the side of the road where we needed to be but we had no idea how we would cross the road. Observing the scooters, cars, bikes and road passengers move chaotically together was fun. They transport everything on their scooters from whole families of 4 to building tools and thousands of eggs. In Ho Chi Min there seemed to be a bit more structure to the traffic with traffic lights and everyone obeying traffic rules. Over our stay in Hanoi we did have to cross the road and we kept getting better at it. We even got assisted by a taxi driver at one point as he saw our struggles. The things to remember were: don’t hesitate or move unexpected- just go and the scooters will move around you AND move as small group of two rather than a family of four and again the scooters will go round you. It felt like a victory every time we made it! Funnily we never saw an accident and also were never stuck in traffic – imagine all those scooters turning into cars and the traffic jams that would cause.
After much fun with elephants and wild water rafting, we still had visiting waterfalls on our list of ‘like to do’. Northern Thailand is a great place for that and we were in Chiang Rai (no desire to visit caves though). We found this amazing blog with great non touristy ways to visit the waterfalls, but we needed transport. We got very excited when we realised we could rent scooters as by now we had traveled so much we were more confident PLUS it’s quiet(er) on the roads there. Jasper was quit worried as he heard Paul joking how I wouldn’t be able to do it. So after some crying he went with Paul first (he owned a scooter in Bletchingley). It was so much fun! The boys loved it sitting on the back. It’s a great sense of freedom and they actually get to see and experience nature more intensely (in the car/train/bus they were just on their devices!). The waterfall we went to was magical with two levels of pools, bit mucky water but lovely to be in. Probably the best day of our trip!
Our final stretch of Thailand is some island hopping. Paul has gone to Ko Toa for some diving and I am on Kho Phangan. Traveling with four people is challenging so a little break is good for everyone. Scooters are a must here as the taxis have a monopoly and charge far too much per ride per person. We visited several different beaches: Mae Haad and Ko Ma, Haad Salad and Haad Yoa. Don’t go over 40 km/ hour and test the breaks!