Round the World – Vietnam

by tessamarie

Welcome to our Round the World Tour! I’m filled with awe and wonder about the timing of this trip. We were able to travel and see the world, just weeks and days before the world suddenly changed and uncertainty spread like wildfire.

2019 was a year I learned to say “YES” to experiences that I’d either not taken time to do or decided were too expensive, among a list of other justifications as to why it wasn’t possible for me at this time. I scheduled these experiences and then used the remaining time to work.

I worked to live rather than lived to work.

So January 14 we departed for our trip around the globe. Circumnavigating the world as I had dreamed to do for many years. It’s no secret that I love Southeast Asia. It’s almost equal to how much I love to travel!

Vietnam has been a country on my list for many years and I was so excited that this was our first stop of the trip!

15 hours on a flight through Korea and then we hopped a flight in Ho Chi Minh where we explored for a few days while adjusting to the 12 hour time change! The city was so fascinating! I love the simplicity of the cafes, the restaurants, and the markets. Fresh markets in Asia are a cultural experience in and of themselves.

Highlights included: Learning to cross busy streets by following a local.. narrowing escaping death that first time! 😀 There are thousands upon thousands and bikes and very few stoplights or crosswalks. You cross by literally stepping into the street with confidence and continuous motion and the bikes just mold around you… it’s scary, bizarre, and thrilling all at the same time!

We enjoyed a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels from the war, I had an allergic reaction to something we ate there and my face swelled… thankfully it didn’t get any worse than that!

We also happened to walk by this swanky bar with fun drinks and decor and couldn’t help but stop to enjoy a drink and people watch. 😀

From HCM we headed North to Hoi An, my personal favorite town. It was highly recommended to me as it’s one of the few areas that escaped the war and was left mostly intact.

We found my favorite Pho in this little town- it came highly recommended and I felt quite accomplished to have figured out and found the little booth the said Pho was in!

Tailors and leather craftsmen seemed to be the trades of choice or specialty here. I found a few simple sundresses I loved and they not only did alterations for me but in the course of a few hours made a dress for me too! All for like $20. Crazy right!?

This town comes to life at night at sunset as the riverboats slowly pass through the canal/river and with the beautiful and multi-colored lanterns. There’s also plenty of street food and booths to enjoy too! One afternoon while walking along the river we encountered an English school with their students out asking questions of the tourists, practicing their language skills. This was actually quite fun and as there weren’t many tourists and we seemed to stand out we were approached by numerous groups. Conversing with these kids was quite fun and their energy was contagious. 🙂

From HoiAn we jumped a flight to Hanoi. It didn’t seem airports were anywhere near where we would stay, so we quickly learned an hour car ride was about average to get in or out of town.

Hanoi is a big city. It’s the dirtiest city and yet to me it’s most reflective of a typical city in this part of the world. Lots of traffic and endless sights smells and scenes to take in. We enjoyed walking the streets, exploring the markets and I enjoyed an Egg Coffee Latte.. it was delicious and I only wished I’d tried it sooner!

The most random thing I saw was a few ladies butchering chickens on the sidewalk- literally a new meaning to fresh chicken!

Our time in Vietnam ended with time in the Sa Pa region. Oh my gosh, it was a highlight of the entire trip for me! A 5-hour van rides north and through the mountains, we stayed at Topas Ecolodge. Little bungalows at the top of a mountain, ahh to go back!

I booked a couple of tours and given it was low season the group size was either just me, my husband, and I or up to 8 people! Biking through the Red Hmong villages and getting to engage with the local women who make the most beautiful and intricate purses and throw pillow covers by hand was a highlight for sure! This infinity pool, only to have more time here!

I would highly recommend a trip to the Sa Pa region and if you’re able to find your way to the Topas Ecolodge, I can assure you that you’ll not be disappointed!

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