Tag Archives: Chinese New Year

The sugar rush (China beach, Vietnam)


As we travelled further northwards we began to meet the cooler winter weather. This meant that:
a) we were able to find a double room with a large balcony overlooking the sea for $7 a night, but
b) it was far too windy and cold to sit on the beach for any prolonged time. All the same, it was great to be able to walk along the beach and get some fresh air, even if it was a bit chilly.

China beach is a strange area. The development there is phenomenal. In a 5km stretch of beach there are already nine or ten huge 5 star complexes, with at least another ten at the planning or part built stages. I cannot imagine that once finished all of these establishments would ever be operating at full capacity, but that’s just my opinion.

backpacking with a baby SE Asia

'The boy' enjoys a walk on windy China beach

The guest house that we stayed in is one of the last remaining beach front guest houses still standing, as many of the previous old buildings have been bulldozed to make way for these huge hotels.  According to the literature we read, the guesthouse we stayed in is likely to suffer the same fate. It’s a real shame that a unique family business, built up over many years can be taken away from the local people so easily, replaced by a very uniform hotel complex.

backpacking with a baby SE Asia

Relaxing on the balcony

That evening we ate at one of the few local places that was open as many were still closed over the festive period. The food was absolutely terrible, some of the worst we’ve had on out trip, but the family that ran it were so friendly and happy to take ‘the boy’ of our hands that it gave us a nice break.  We even forced ourselves to return for round two the following evening, as the added bonus of childcare gave my hubby and I some precious relaxation time. It was on our first evening here, after watching ‘the boy’ bouncing manically up and down on the back of a chair at 10pm, that we first realised that we were witnessing his first sugar rush.

backpacking with a baby SE Asia

'The boy' plays with the sand on China Beach

Rewind 12 hours…

Throughout the morning, before catching our flight from Dalat,  ‘the boy’ was handed many treats from the New Years Day sweet box. As it was one off occasion, we decided to turn a blind eye to the sugared dried fruits and small biscuits that he was being given.

When we arrived at the airport ‘the boy’ had an abundance of energy. He found some older children to interact with and spent the next two hours running crazily around the departure hall. On most plane journeys he normally sleeps, but not today. In fact, we’d commented on how much energy he had and how unusual it was for him not to have a snooze. And so there we were, late evening, watching him bounce around the café, wired, when all we wanted to do was go back to our room and sleep.  It was only then that we realised that his unusual behaviour could be down to increased amount of sugar that he’d eaten during the day. Needless to say, the New Years treats were confiscated for the remainder of the festive period and ‘the boy’ reverted to his normal laid back self. Hurrah!

Top tip if the day:
On flights, we’ve found that our baby has more discomfort with the air pressure on the descent, rather than the ascent. On shorter flights we save his milk for the landing, and give him a sippy cup of water, or his dummy for the take off.


Swan Lake (Dalat, Vietnam)


Dalat is situated 5 hours by road from Mui Ne up in the highlands.  Our cramped little minibus left a lot to be desired, so we were pleased to arrive safely and to stretch our legs.

After a couple of months in the heat Dalat was a welcome drop in temperature. During the daytime the weather resembled that of a European summers day, but it got surprisingly chilly in the evenings. So much so that we had to make the fashion faux pas of wearing socks with our sandals, which is not a good look.

backpacking with a baby in SE Asia

Wrapping up for the cooler evenings

Dalat is the city where the majority of travellers head off the tourist bus routes, hire a driver, and explore the surrounding highlands on the back of a motorbike. Whilst most people were busy negotiating the cost of hiring an easyrider, we were busy negotiating the cost of taking a Swan shaped pedalo out on the town’s central lake.  Even ‘the boy’ thought that our choice of transport was tame and promptly fell asleep five minutes after pushing off from the deck, only waking as we got back onto land.

backpacking with a baby in SE Asia

'The boy' was unimpressed with the tame swan pedalo!

For the next few days we took advantage of the cooler climate by walking around the lake, visiting the local park and visiting one of Dalat’s famous sights, the crazy house. The crazy house is a just that, a crazy house built over five floors and made to look like a huge tree house. It has unexpected twists and turns with windy staircases, odd shaped themed rooms, round windows, mirrored walls and ceilings and enormous animal sculptures in the bedrooms. It was unusual to say the least and although the hubby and I had to take it in turns to explore the upper levels of the house, ‘the boy’ was happy toddling around the ornate gardens.

backpacking with a baby in SE Asia

The Bear room in the crazy house

Our visit to Dalat also coincided with Chinese New Year and the sights, sounds and excitement of this festive time made our visit more fun. Huge red balloons were being sold on every corner, Chinese dragons danced and weaved their way through the crowds and there was a hive of activity around the lake where the major parties and firework displays were being held later that night.

We took advantage of the time of year by booking our transport on New Years Day, considerably cheaper than the rest of the week. After some serious contemplation and feeling a bit disillusioned with our experience in Vietnam we decided to save ourselves many hours of travel on local buses and booked a flight direct from Dalat to Danang. A much simpler solution for us to continue our travel north.

backpacking with a baby in SE Asia

The balloon sellers on the streets on Chinese New Years eve

Top tip of the day:
Now our baby is faster on his feet we’ve been using his walking straps more regularly. Health and safety isn’t top priority in Asia, so we often find that walkways/paths often have broken fences/walls with hazards the other side. Even if your baby’s not at the walking stage when you set off on your trip, buy the straps before you leave the UK, as they are difficult to find in Asia.

backpacking with a baby in SE Asia

Learning to use chopsticks

backpacking with a baby in SE Asia

'The boy' entertains himself with his much loved car and dinosaurs