Ever wanted to quit your job, hock your belongings, and travel around the world full-time? Last month, we introduced you to Kim Farrell and Mady Johnston who are brazenly doing just that for the next 18 months. IN Kansas City is following the adventures of these two self-proclaimed “travel buddies” from Overland Park.
Since we last checked in with Kim and Mady, they’ve begun the journey south down the Vietnam coast. The dynamic duo has reached new heights in Sapa, cruised through the Hai Van Pass and biked across the old quarter of Hoi An.
What adventures have they had? First up, some quick stories and travel highlights on their last two weeks—and look out for their next globetrotting update in the coming weeks.
Kim: “Take the sleeper bus they said. It’ll be fun they said. As we mentioned in KIM + MADventures #2, the sleeper bus is the optimal way to travel over here in Southeast Asia. It’s designed for you to catch some zzz’s while you travel—which saves both money and daylight. In Vietnam these buses are scheduled at bizarre times and our last one was quite the adventure.
3 a.m. alarm goes off and we’re up and at ’em. This very merry duo is ready to get on this bus and get back to sleep. The bus is 30 minutes late and the hostel owner, who we confirmed with three timesthat we were on this 4 a.m. bus, begins to tell us we never confirmed. This must be a dream. The bus eventually arrives and we get on an empty bus with three other girls. It’s ideal—as we can sit wherever we want, right? Wrong. The bus driver has us all pile in on top of each other with commands of ‘You. There’. And then we were off to the races, literally. This driver must have been an ex-Nascar driver. He was whippin’ through those mountain turns at record speeds. From the sleeper bus, we all file onto a small 12-person bus to get into town. This 12-person bus was bursting at the seams with 22 people + 18 backpacker bags jammed in. Talk about a comfy 20-minute ride into town. We eventually make it into Huế and to this day can’t believe our early morning travels actually happened.”
Mady: “Our plans changed once we learned that seeing the National Park Caves in Phong Nha was a must. Phong Nha is between Hanoi and Hue, so an added bonus was breaking up the long bus ride and stretching out a pesky charley horse or two. Trekking through both the Paradise and Dark Caves was definitely a must and we’d recommend that anyone in the area should add that national park to their travel list. However, the highlight of our time in Phong Nha was at a local tourist trap called ‘The Duck Stop.’
We biked about 4.5 miles to get there and were given the offer of a lifetime upon arrival. For a ₫100,000 VND ($4.30 USD) package, we could get a full meal, a cold drink and be thrown into a pen of hungry ducks with our hands full of duck feed. Did we do it? Absolutely. And we left with some great ideas to share with Deanna Rose Farmstead. Remember—the best way to travel is without a plan or expectations. While we aren’t good at doing this all the time, some of our best memories are from days like this one. That day was—without a doubt—the most fun we’ve had on our trip so far. It’s going to be hard to beat.”
Currently in: Da Nang, Vietnam
+12 hours ahead of Kansas City
Learn the Lingo:
Cảm ơn (Kaam ern) – Thank you!
Egg Coffee — The Vietnamese take their coffee very seriously. To whip up this cup of joe, you’ll need an egg, condensed milk, sugar, coffee and some rum (depending on how lit you’re trying to get before 9 a.m.). We are egg-static about this newfound coffee addiction.
Last thing you ate?
“To be honest, the last thing we ate was some real traditional Vietnamese snacks including: Pringles, Oreos and Haribo Gummies to appease late night cravings.
Our last Vietnamese meal was vegetarian pho, which only set us back ₫25,000 VND ($1.08 USD) per bowl. We’ve been pleasantly surprised with all the different pho flavors and how full we are after eating just a brothy soup. Each bowl tastes different and that’s mainly due to the broth, which is made slightly different by each local shop and drastically altered by the amount of fresh chilis we decide to throw in that day.”
Last thing you bought?
Tickets to Sun World Ba Na Hills: ₫700,000 VND ($30 USD) “We’ve been obsessing over visiting the Gold Bridge in Da Nang after seeing a post from a travel influencer on Instagram a few months ago. After some research, we learned that the bridge is inside a theme park and that it’s pretty pricey (by Vietnamese standards) to enter. We wavered back and forth on going once learning the price tag. But after discussing with friends who had gone to the park, it was clear the experience would be worth the investment. And was it worth it? Absolutely. The picture tells the story.”
Learn the Lay of the Land:
“Did you know that pho is a traditional Vietnamese breakfast? Are you pho real?! It was hard for us to get on board with eating a hot soup for breakfast, but we have now fully converted. We’ve been joking that it’s our new take on cereal in Asia. Pho was purposefully constructed to provide all the nutrients needed for a farmer to work a long day out in the field: protein (beef, chicken or tofu), carbs (rice noodles), water and salt (broth), topped with leafy veggies like fresh mint leaves and basil. It makes a lot of sense, tastes delicious and a bit more nutritious than—you know—a typical bowl of American cereal.”
Last Night’s Stay + Cost:
“We’re currently hanging at Da Nang Backpackers for whopping $5 per night. This gets us free breakfast and a free beer daily, so we’re counting this as a steal in our book. The downside being that staying at a budget friendly hostel is definitely not bougie. We’re bunking in a room with 36 of our “closest” friends—so we weren’t planning on getting our best night’s sleep here. Luckily, we’ll only be here for three nights. You can do anything for 72 hours, right?!”
Wizard of Oz Tally: 24 (and counting)
“While we know Kansas City has a lot to offer, the majority of the world immediately affiliates us with one thing—The Wizard of Oz. We’re keeping a real-time tracker of all the Dorothy, Toto, and tornado references made to us along the way.”
“We couldn’t get enough of Hoi An, which is (not) ironically the food capital of Vietnam. Going back specifically to load up on the delicious, various versions of banh mi. Then will head down to Ninh Van, a beach resort area outside of Nha Trang known for cliff diving, kayaking and jungle trekking. More to come!”