165, Finding myself and continuing to climb. 

I write to you today sat on step number 164 of the mua caves viewpoint of Ninh Binh.Knowing I will not reach the top it’s hard not to feel defeated.

See I’m usually physically pretty fit. I can walk and hike and could handle 500 steps but a week ago I sprained my ankle and today my body says no more and it sucks.


As my five other friends continue to the top my FOMO kicks in. Ever since I was a child I’ve been in awe of things of great heights and extraordinary colours and here I am not being able to hike to the top and see the beautiful shades of Green Vietnam has to offer me.

This is my ‘this sucks ‘ situation.

I don’t know what’s worse, my one cankle or the fact that literally toddlers have gone past me able to get up these 500 steps and my cankle says no. I hear the people out of breath coming to the top of the 100th step and I envy them. I’ve taken to just telling them they can do it! If i can’t I’m sure gonna encourage others.


I’m usually someone who tries hard to overcome challenges and usually use the old think this is my Everest trick. You know the one, if I can get through this I can do anything but the truth is, this is out of my control. I can’t magically heal my ankle I can’t stop the throbbing and I can’t instantly make it better. I’m annoyed to say the least.

So I’m going to pretend now that this view only has 165 steps. I’m going to do ONE more step and I’ll make believe that I did it.


I’m going to breathe I’m going to stop and I’m going to take this time to reflect on other challenges.

Basically if you take anything away from this post just know. Not everyone is climbing up the same mountain, but everyone is climbing somehow.


Everyone has different limits and goals they can physically and mentally achieve mine today was 165.

 What’s yours?!
Thanks for reading

Danielle Jade x

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What 6 months in Vietnam has taught me. 

Can you believe I’ve been in Vietnam six months now? I remember when I made my YouTube video saying I was moving here ; https://youtu.be/2Lt5kwr7IdY

Now it’s six months down the line and I’ve taken some time to reflect and appreciate my self growth. So here let me share with you; 

1. I learnt how to ride a scooter! Here in Hanoi. I know I’m crazy right. With only a couple of self taught driving lessons I’m now whizzing around Hanoi. The traffic is crazy and I did throw the bike across the parking lot at my work once but hey, this is still a major achievement for me! 


2. I’m a teacher. I literally teach tiny humans our crazy language. You know what else guys? I feel like I may just be good at this! I adore the children and I find my job thoroughly enjoyable. 


3. I’ve tried food I wouldn’t even dare to in England. The food scene here can be crazy different to back home so I think it’s important to try as much as possible, even though I don’t like it. I mean, who else can say they’ve eaten stingray just because…. 

4. On Mondays I take two dance classes Ballet and Contemporary , at a class where the teacher speaks no English and I no Vietnamese. Probably the biggest dance challenge of my life and that includes auditions. Yet, I loved it, dancing is something I adore and it was an amazing challenge to take on. He even made me solo for the group at the end- Petrifying. 

5. I’ve explored Thailand. I’ve seen from the south sunny island of Koh Phangan and up to the north little town of Pai. I’ve bathed in hot springs, splashed in waterfalls, walked with the elephants and explored temples all over the cities. 


6. I’ve learnt happiness is fundamental I’ve had significantly less negative MH days here in comparison to the UK. I truly believe this is because I’m happier than I was working my mundane job 24/7 in London. 


7. I’ve come to appreciate my loved ones so much more. Being away from them makes me miss their traits, but not in a homesick kind of way, but more of a splendorous kind of way. 


8. I’ve fallen more in love than ever. With my partner, with myself and with my life.

It’s really crazy how six months can change how you feel in different aspects of your life. 

So if today, you get the chance. Remember, you can do anything you want, be anything you want to be and life how you want to live. 

Please do comment and tell me something you’ve learnt about yourself in the past six months 
Danielle Jade 

Top 5 dishes you must eat in Hanoi (Vietnam) and where to find them! 

First of all, Hello welcome to Vietnam, or xin chao as we say over here.

Now, I must tell you Vietnam has some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted and that’s probably the biggest understatement. With its complete freshness and wonderful diversity the food is not only incredibly cheap but incredibly yummy!
First up;

BUN CHA.

Now for those of you who may be unfamiliar with Bun Cha let me explain what this dish consists of. Bun Cha is essentially Grilled Pork and noodles, but it’s the extra components that really makes this dish so delicious. The fatty pork also known as (Cha) is served with white noodles (Bun) a basket of fresh mixed greens and herbs usually but not limited to coriander, lettuce, mint and a dipping sauce of fish sauce, carrot and papaya.

Now don’t be confused there is only ONE real way to eat bun Cha, you take a small amount of each mix it together in the dipping sauce like a soup and tuck in.


COST?: Bun Cha typically costs around 30,000-45,000VND £1.61
WHERE?: This one is from Quan an Ngon

Next;

BUN BO NAM BO

Bun BO nam BO not only looks but tastes delicious. (Or so I’m told) Now I must say I don’t even eat beef but it’s hard not to feel good envy just looking at this dish. White noodles (Bun) make the base of this dish, mixed with green leaves, beef (BO) crispy shallots and crushed peanuts. This is more than the ordinary beef salad just look at it.


COST? 40,000-50,000VND £1.70
WHERE? 67 Hang Dieu

NEXT;

BAHN MI

Banh Mi is where you really get to see how the French have influenced food here in Hanoi. This baguette though, is more than just another sandwich. Usually given the choice of pork, pate, chicken or egg, you add cucumber coriander carrot and ‘spicy’ sauce to make the ultimate lunch snack. It’s the perfect fusion of Vietnamese and French food in one carbohydrate canoe. My personal favourite is honey chicken!


COST? 20,000VND -25,000VND £0.91

WHERE? 25 Hang Ca Street
Next;

FRESH SPRING ROLLS.

Now, i’d had the usual fried spring rolls way before i arrived in Vietnam, however i’d never had fresh spring rolls. I must admit that i now prefer the un fried version. I first learnt how to make these at my Hidden Hanoi cooking class . It’s a process where you take Rice paper rolls, and fill them with Vermicelli noodles, fresh green leaves, herbs, pineapple, carrot, chilli and crushed peanuts. You can also add in whatever meat/seafood base you prefer. I love this dish as it tastes super fresh and you can make it as adventurous or safe as you feel that day.


COST? 35,000-50,000VND £1.81
WHERE? 147 Nghi Tam Road (Hidden Hanoi)
PHO

Now I don’t think it would be possible to write a post on what to eat in Hanoi and not eat pho, its a must try. The amount of time that goes into this dish is what makes it so perfect. The broth is always left for the right amount of time to make the perfect base. Throw in the noodles, the chilli, the herbs and a squeeze of lime, wait hold that thought i gotta go, time for Pho.


COST? Around 35,000VND £2.00
WHERE? LITERALLY EVERY CORNER IN HANOI

Ok, now there are my top 5 dishes to eat in Vietnam! (Hanoi)

There are so many more I want to share with you so please comment below if that’s something you’d be interested in!

Thanks for reading,  Danielle Jade x

Hanoi (Vietnam) First Impressions. Get to know all about it!

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Hello everyone!
Im back today with another Travel/Lifestyle post, this one’s all about my first impressions of Hanoi Vietnam.

Travel:

Think of the busiest place you know, Westfield shopping centre, being at the front of your favourite festival, leaving the stadium after the match finishes. There, Hanoi. Put all those people on bikes and take away most of the rules when it comes to driving and you can fully understand how it feels to be on a scooter in the middle of the Old Quarter. It is mayhem to a new driver. Everyone needs to get somewhere and an inch of space is the perfect opportunity for someone to sneak by you and disappear up the road. I think the only way i can describe how it feels to be on a bike in the middle of Hanoi is, it’s like being in a real life Crash Bandicoot game, anyone could swerve around and in front of you at any minute, there may be someones cardigan dropped ahead that you need to swerve from and U-turns are a given here, so watch out for those bikes coming towards you down that ‘one way’ street.
That being said, after you get used to the mindset, being a driver in Hanoi is actually quite enjoyable. It’s always fascinating to see new places, as you drive around. There’s a sense of accomplishment too, like YEAH, i CAN do it. I CAN drive here!

Food:

Oh my, now the food here. Hanoi is overwhelmed with smells. Both good and bad but find a good place and the food is just incredible!
We have eaten at so many different places here in Hanoi both traditional and Western. Moving to Hanoi i was originally very nervous about what i would find to eat. This is because i am somewhat  picky with food to start with. I don’t eat red meat, i barely like any spices, i don’t really like dressings or sauces. I’m a foodies worst nightmare. So you can imagine when i see ‘mixed meat’ on the menu i am less than excited to know what they class as mixed meat, however I’m currently trying to live with a ‘well you only live once’ outlook on life, so you know what i ordered? That mixed meat rice. It was delicious. I did only notice tofu and chicken in it (which was lucky) but it was truly yummy. Naomi has taken to eating Pho at any opportunity and for only 30,000vnd a bowl (that’s £1.09) it’s more than incredible value.
One day after work we went to a Vietnamese place with work friends and i suddenly realised i am actually no where neat as adventurous as i first thought. As they brought out Goat, baby birds, stingray and other impressive and petrifying foods. I felt myself coward back to the comfort of my tiger beer and rice paper rolls. I tried some of the sting ray and i must say it was tasty!

Sights:

Hanoi is rich in culture. It’s such a beautiful place to explore. I love our journey to work because we travel about half an hour away from our little Tay Ho bubble and in that journey i notice new sights every trip. If you have a bike take some time to go explore. There’s so many wonderful places to seek out. Including but not limited to the museums. Within our first week in Hanoi we had done three museums, in particular i enjoyed the Women’s Museum. Learning about the history of the Vietnamese housewife, the mother, the dress makers and the women who served in the Army. I felt incredibly emotional come the end of the museum. I really recommend going to this museum when you are in Hanoi.
I must also point out one of my favourite ‘sites’ to enjoy en route to work are other people’s bikes! It’s amazing how much people load onto two wheels.

I wanted to share with you some of my other favourite sights below;

The Districts:

Within Hanoi the city is broken down into smaller chunks, these chunks are known as districts. The most popular two you may know about before arriving at The Old Quarter and Tay Ho. The old quarter is what you want to explore if you’re travelling here. The old quarter is home to Lake Hoan Kiem aka ‘lake of the returned sword’.

Here is where you can sit and watch the traffic zoom around whilst having a beer up on the rooftops. You can wander for hours down the different themed streets that are adjacent to Hoan Kiem. You can watch the  water puppet theatre shows, get your hands on the best kinds of souvenirs and find some incredible places to eat. Perhaps what I love the most about the Old Quarter is the people, Vietnamese run businesses are the only kind here. Very traditional.

Tay ho on the other hand is quite the opposite. It’s known as the bubble here because of the ability to live in Hanoi without leaving Tay Ho. Here is home to most of the expats. It’s full of teachers, i say this as i too a new teacher now live amongst all my colleagues here in the Tay Ho bubble. Around here you are likely to hear more American, English, and South African accents than anything else. Unless you meet our door man, he speaks no english and our conversations are beautiful engagements of us nodding and pretending to understand each other. Tay ho has some amazing bakeries, inspired by the french, there’s a few places i have come to love along To Ngoc Van.

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I could honestly go on forever about how i feel living in Hanoi but i will leave you here for now. If you would like to hear more about my life here, do leave a comment and don’t forget to follow me on Youtube! because that’s a thing I’m doing now.

Thanks for reading

Danielle Jade.

How to survive moving to a new place in 5 steps! 

Ok hello again everyone!

I’ve just recently moved to Hanoi and don’t get me wrong as amazing as it feels now…adjusting was harder than I imagined it was going to be. 

That’s why I’m here to give you all an insight to how I’ve dealt with moving and share some tips on how to make it easier for all of you with my 5 little hints! 

  1. Don’t hide your emotions. Now is not the time to put on a brave face. Being emotional does not make you vulnerable, being emotional makes you a person. You have to be prepared to not find everything easy right now. Moving to a new place is going to send your emotions crazy, and be prepared these emotions will hit you very easily every, day, hour,minute and if you’re like me…second.You are taking yourself away from your natural habitat, stripping yourself of your comforts and jumping into a whole new lifestyle so if you want to go ahead and cry. CRY.  Let it out- it’s justified.
  2. Take it one day at a time. STOP, thinking about 6 months from now because i will guarantee your immediate emotions and feelings to your new surroundings are going to change six months down the line. As humans we can instantly pick up and focus on the negatives so you know what, go ahead list all the things you don’t like about this new place! It smells weird, say it. It sounds different, say it. You don’t speak the language, say it. Get it out. Now think, what did you expect?. Moving to a new place is going to bring different smells,sounds & sights. Now look around, what do you like? What has made you smile, what has made you curious, what has made you feel comfortable? Hold on to those thoughts! Keep them. These are your new comforts.
  3. Explore. Go out, go look around. Go and say hello to some people, go and indulge in the culture, go and walk around where the locals are. Find areas you like, parks, lakes, rivers, museums, bars, restaurants. Explore different locations, different areas at different times of the day. Find a place that you feel comfortable in, and settle there for a while. This will instantly put you at ease, setting up at a hostel, hotel or apartment you can see yourself enjoying will make a world of difference. This is where you will retreat to. This is your sanctuary so make sure you’re comfortable.
  4. Language. If you’re moving to a new county then you should try and learn some of the basic phrases used there. You’re going to feel incredibly small landing in a country that is speaking a different language, so learn thank-you, learn hello, learn phrases that show gratitude. This will make you look polite and also like you are at least attempting to fit in in your new place. Something that will be highly respected by the locals. The last thing you want is to look like you have moved to a new country with an idea that the world owes you something. Universally, manners cost nothing. 
  5. Travel. Now immediately stop stressing because google maps has got us all sorted here. So the age old, i don’t know where i’m going, is a thing of the past. You can literally get from A-B with ease now, it’s all right there. Another incredible app (but limited to certain places) is Citymapper, now i even used to use this in my home country, from bus times, to tube times, to walking directions, ordering an uber and fin be out in real time how long it takes to get from place to place city mapper has you covered. Uber again is a key app to have downloaded! It really does work globally! Here in Vietnam you can get uber bike, you will literally be on the back of someone’s motorbike. 

I hope this helps you all! I think it has really helped me in the long run.
Stay beautiful, 

Danielle Jade x 

All the way to the USA ✈️🇺🇸

Hello everyone, fancy this, me actually having time to sit down and write. It’s a miracle. Im back!

Now if you don’t already follow me on Instagram, you may or may not know i went to the USA for just over two weeks.

I recently went to visit my Aunt and the family in San Diego, however we did pitstop at a few places along the way including, LA & Vegas BABY!

So Lets begin with : Los Angeles.

Hop on the plane from Manchester, fast forward 11hours (9 of which took my whole mental and physical will power and restraint not to pull the hair of the woman who’s messy bun, was messing all over my little head seat TV screen) and we finally touched down in sunny LA! 

‘You know, LA traffic where the city is slow’  and boy oh boy is the city  slow. The traffic is out of control here. 

Thankfully we had the worlds most optimistic uber driver playing the role of our own personal tour guide as we coasted towards our hotel, The Radisson Midtown USC.

It was around 4pm once we managed to get to our hotel, get changed and freshen up. So we decided why waste time? Lets go…Hollywood Blvd.


We walked up and down the street, hopping over peoples names and keeping an eye out for our favourites, enjoying the beautiful heat.
After a while we (very tiredly)  decided to take a ride on a tour of the city bus. You know the ones, they drive you around and point out everything there is to know about the city! We went up the hills to see the Hollywood sign and look out over the city. This was absolutely beautiful! The view was outstanding and we managed to get there before sunset.


As the sun began to set we started winding back down the hills and were pointed towards many different (mainly dead) celebrities houses. Perhaps my favourite moment was when we were literally showed a gate. yep, a famous persons gate. Now had we been more alert we could/should have found this tour interesting but instead we found ourselves laughing at the whole experience.
What can i say? It was one gate too many for us.
After exploring more of the city, getting to see the Chinese Theatre and the city at night. We decided, it’s time to head home.
Also i don’t know if you are aware but there are so many homeless people in LA, and as soon as the sun goes down, the city changes. There is a weird vibe around Hollywood and the atmosphere is less than glamorous. Fun fact: Cat calling is still a thing in LA, only here it tends to begin or end with some ‘white girl’ comment. Fantastic.

Heading back to the hotel, all i could think about is how much i wanted pizza. So you better believe it, i ordered some pizza. Well, by some pizza i mean, THE WORLDS LARGEST PIZZA. EVER. I literally woke Naomi up to eat some pizza with me as i felt bad by how much i would have left.

DAY TWO.

Up bright exceptionally early, we watched the sunrise over the city as our body clocks laughed at what little sleep we had. Choosing not to dwell we went for a walk around USC, grabbed some lunch and my favourite food : FRO-YO. This place challenged all Fro-Yo places. SO MANY FLAVOURS.  I had a coconut cheesecake flavour pot with different fruits on top.

As we wandered around midtown we became very aware we were in an academic area of LA. The pavement was covered with students walking to and from classes, young cool kids hopping on and off their bikes and the streets were beautiful here, big palm trees aligning the roads.


Oh and how LA is this? They were literally filming a movie on campus that day!

As the afternoon got closer as did our deadline to make it to the train station because we were about to hop onboard the Pacific Surfliner to Oceanside – San Diego where we would drop our cases before setting off to LAS VEGAS!


Stay tuned to hear all about our VEGAS adventure…coming up next.
Thanks for reading Danielle Jade x

10 ways to survive that dreaded long haul flight.

1.Choose your seat wisely. Ideally if you can choose a seat before you check in do it. Or turn up early and make sure you get a seat with whoever you are travelling with. Don’t be left alone on a flight thats going to take a while.
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2. Following up on that, if you can get a seat without anyone in front of you, do it. The last thing you want is what happened to me. (A guy thinking it’s completely acceptable to recline his seat onto my lap, wanna just come hop on over and spoon me whilst you’re at it? – if you can’t already tell, i was not impressed)

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3. SNACKS. SNACKS. SNACKS. Plane food, is NOT the win. Now i know some people are fine with that solid bread roll but i, i just cant compare it to an actual edible piece of bread so i take snacks. Sweet & Savoury and a whole lot of water. Keep hydrated.
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4. Try to set your body clock whilst you’re in the air. If it’s 11pm where you’re landing then you should be sleeping on that plane. Try to keep with what time of the day/night it would be in the country you’re about to touch down in.
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5. Wear comfy clothes. The plane is not a catwalk, you’re not going to look your best after being squashed in one seat for a long time anyway so the least you can do is give yourself the most comfort and embrace life in those comfy jumpers/leggings/baggy tee’s whatever it is you feel good in.
ALWAYS keep a jacket though, the air-con is going to hit you at one point so take something you can wrap up in should you need it.
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6. Get up and walk around. You should try to keep as active as possible, stretch your legs. Walk to the bathroom. Make sure you are moving, unless you like pins and needles that is.
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7. Two items i cannot get on a plane without are; headbands and chapstick. These two are my favourite pocket items on a long haul flight. They are simple but effective.
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8. Take advantage of the entertainment on board the flight. The movies, tv shows, music, games, podcasts.(the alcohol) Anything to keep the brain awake.
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9. Now is the perfect time to research and plan your upcoming trip, you have so much time to make an itinerary and to think about exactly what you’re going to do whilst you’re on holiday so make the most of it!
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10. Pack light. Take a nice size bag with all your essentials in it as carry on luggage. Keep your passport, phone, and anything else you’ll immediately need in a separate wallet so you can easy get to them when you need them at the border etc.
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*Credit: all gifs taken from http://www.giphy.com*