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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Good morning Vietnam!

As I woke up around 6am last Wednesday to the sun streaming through the bay windows in our hotel room in Cat Ba Island, I walked over to the window that overlooked Ha Long Bay, an off-shoot of the China Sea, opened it and yelled out “Good Morning Vietnam!” Yes, I’m a dork. But it had to be done.

 The calm sea in Vietnam is suitable for leisuring

Two of my girlfriends and I (that also love to travel) decided to book a 10 day trip to Vietnam. Why Vietnam you might ask? Why not? None of us had been there yet, and since we all have the same goal of visiting everywhere in the world, it seemed fitting…. And I can tell you that it didn’t disappoint. I highly, highly recommend Vietnam to anyone that likes sun and beauty and a good bang for your buck. I also highly recommend bringing an extra suitcase for all of the silk scarves, ties and pearls you will purchase while you are there. And maybe even allow an extra couple of days to get clothes tailored specifically to you. I mean, you can pick out exactly the outfits you want, and have them custom made to fit you perfectly… for super cheap! I learned this however on my last day in Vietnam, so I will save that for my next visit. This trip I was forced to leave solely with my newly purchased bootleg Samsonite luggage packed full of silk scarves and ties and jewelry and even a quilt, all hand made in the places where I visited. And they are all gorgeous.

A silk bag from Vietnam 

But because there is so much to do and see in Vietnam, we focused our travels on the Northern part of the country, visiting Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Island, Hanoi, Perfume Pagoda and Sapa. Over the next few days I will write blog posts on each of those places, because there is just too much to write in one little blog post, and each place was so amazing and different from the next that they each deserve their own entry. However, overall this was truly an amazing experience. One which included so much laughter, and forged memories, and good friends made, that it will be hard to top in future trips. Somehow, even though we had nothing planned other than our flights and a few nights booked at the Hilton using my Hilton points, we managed to figure out what to do, and how to do it, regardless of the arduous language barrier. Everything worked out perfectly…. From our private party boat which carted us across Ha Long Bay over to Cat Ba Island… to the Fancy Pants Express train that waited for us to depart while we finished getting our pedicures…to our new friend So who invited us into her home and cooked us a meal as we warmed up by an open fire to dry off after hiking through the forest in the rain. Everything was perfect, and looking back, I am amazed that it worked out so well.
 Halong Bay - The National Tresure and World Heritage as well 

 Cat Ba Island in the morning

I’m looking forward to going back there someday, the next time with Cameron (who probably wasn’t super thrilled with me taking off for 2 weeks right after we got engaged and right before he is moving to Chicago for the summer….but hopefully his new endless supply of silk ties will help make amends…) and taking him to meet my new Vietnamese friends, and showing him all of the cool places that I fell in love with, and spending more time visiting Southern Vietnam and branching out to Thailand and Cambodia and Laos. I absolutely adore Vietnam, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to visit such an amazing country!

This is a picture of the 3 of us - my friends Brittany and Brook, just before we hopped in one of those boats and headed up to Perfume Pagoda!

And this is a picture of me with my new friend So inside her house warming up... you can see I'm all wet from the rain. She dressed us all in her clothes that she made. This particular coat is indigenous to her tribe and took her over a year to make by hand out of hemp.


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