Capturing our love for art, adventure and learning
13 weeks ago, we took on a Grand Tour in search of healing, peace and a new way of life.
We chose to pack our things away, leave the comforts of home and took that step of faith. We knew we wanted to travel and experience life to the fullest in honour of my late father whom we all still miss terribly. Travelling slowly has given us time to work through our grief individually and as a family. We know it is a privilege and we are thankful for it.
When we set aside Hiro & Jack Co's range of products to travel extensively, we also put away 6 years worth of sweat, tears and sleepless nights. It means that we put ourselves in a position of financial uncertainty trying to build a new way of life. We've never been this excited to do what we do now. You know people say you should find a job that you love doing so you won't ever need a vacation from it. We've found it in this!
As you know Debra is our chief illustrator and designer. She creates designs for apparel because she's inspired by them. She draws and enjoys drawing it. She also manages the product lifecycle while feeding the family and being there for the kids.
I've never been happier doing photography and writing up blog posts, social media posts and creating reels. I do this while homeschooling two of the kids and managing the travel itinerary.
Our end goal is to create an attractive apparel range with our original designs and publish a range of children's books exploring issues we discuss on this blog.
OUR GREATEST FEAR NOW
We are being very honest and transparent here because we think that this project cannot take off without you. With every project, growing an audience and making sufficient sales keeps it afloat. It also takes time to create a series of books while we travel, school the children and run the blog.
We hope that you'll help us by sharing our posts, engaging us in the comments because that is how our content gets showed! Share your suggestions via chat to help us improve our product range and content!
If you need a new t-shirt or decals stickers for your devices or crafts, please support us by shopping at www.hirojack.com/store
If you see meaning in our project and wish to support us in any form, we are happy to connect via the chat button, our social media messaging systems and our email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
WE HIT THE TOP OF INDOCHINA
We've been telling the kids how fortunate we are to be able to even begin on this project. We've given up a lot to be here. It is days like the one I'm attempting to describe that makes the sacrifices worth while.
Sapa is a key base for many hikers, climbers and travellers to access the Fansipan Mountain. Measuring 3143m (10312ft), Fansipan is the highest mountain in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). Even though it is situated in South East Asia, there's snowfall at altitude in the winter months.
The peak is a 6 hour hike (one-way) for fit hikers. We are glad that back in 2018, the entire system of funiculars and cable-cars were built for families/travellers like us who would otherwise not be able to reach its summit.
We spent about 2.7 million Vietnamese dong (S$160++) for two paying adults and one child ticket. The staff were kind enough to consider Gwyneth small enough (100cm or under) to qualify for free entry. Expect to spend at least an entire afternoon here! We started our trip at 11am and returned at 5pm.
We saw many videos on Youtube commenting on the cost and how they think it isn't worth spending the money on the cable car and upper funicular since the views from the lower funicular was good enough. I was apprehensive at first but I remembered that my dad paid more than S$200 PER PERSON for us to ride the funicular and trains up to Jungfraujoch in Switzerland. If you put that in context, this mountain is also 3000+m and you only pay S$200 for a family of 4.
I've lost count of the times we said "wow", "omg" "EPIC!!!" and "this is so beautiful". Feast your eyes on how epic this place is.
You will climb about 1410m in the Cable car. There were moments we experienced a complete whiteout when we went through the clouds. The distance between the pylons on this cable car system is so long you sometimes wonder if you are just floating. Once you arrive at the station, you're now at about 2900m above sea level.
At 3000m above sea level, you are experiencing 30% less oxygen available in the air. Some people experience severe lethargy, headaches, vomiting and rapid heart rates. Debra and I felt a little tired initially but quickly acclimatised to the lack of oxygen. I kept sick bags in my backpack incase the little ones got sick. Lo and behold, the two little ones became hyper excited. We were pleasantly surprised that the altitude did not affect them until a little later when we had to climb some stairs around to explore the area. Other than panting and aching a whole lot the next day, we thoroughly enjoyed the 15 celcius (probably about 10-12 if you consider the wind chill). No snow for us because it is summer but we loved it so much.
We love the fresh air, cold wind and peace that comes with being at altitude so much that Debra and I are dreaming on Fansipan of being able to afford a home in a mountain somewhere in a country that will take us in. If you know a place like that, please call us immediately. haha!
You'll find a massive magnificent buddha statue and some impressive architecture housing the different gods that the Vietnamese worship. The architecture reminded the kids of scenes from the Kungfu Panda movie. Don't mind their hilarious poses!
You can explore the buddha statues, temples and architecture either before or after you hit the roof of Indochina. We did half of the exploration first and headed up the second funicular to the summit so that we give ourselves some time to acclimatise to the altitude. You can watch our latest reel for the whole journey in videos here
The mountain top experience reached its climax as we laid our hands on the summit markers. 3143m above sea level. It is the highest we've been for the entire Grand Tour. Although we didn't physically climb the mountain, it still felt like an achievement to be there. Perhaps we'll be able to climb something in future when the kids are a little older. Have you done that before? We really want to know how it feels like!
We started the trip off with beautiful sunshine from Sapa and went through some thick clouds, and rain. Upon reaching the 2900m it was nice and sunny again. We went up to the summit and it remained foggy throughout the time we were there. We caught the giant buddha from afar in glorious sunlight but soon after we descended to where the statue is, a thick fog came and never left. What you get to catch that day is completely weather dependent. But that is what makes the views so special.
The weather on mountains are very unpredictable. We experienced sunny weather, cloudy skies, thick fog, cold heavy rains and relentless wind. Bring your ponchos and weather protection for your camera is they are not waterproof. We got ourselves a little wet when a sudden downpour came upon us. We were fortunate to be near the cafe and relaxed there over a drink.
We definitely recommend visiting Sapa and Fansipan and its surrounding attractions if you are planning to spend about 8-10 days around North Vietnam/Hanoi/Halong Bay.
This mountain top experience is truly a highlight of our 13 week trip. ALL of us cannot stop scrolling through our pictures of this incredible place. We hope we will have more opportunities to ascend more summits and peaks soon!
Sharing our love of art, travel and learning with you.