Vivid colours, cheeky smiling faces, fresh spicy aromas and purple sunsets….these are just a few of the reasons to appreciate every single moment in Vietnam. How would I describe Vietnam…..? Unlike any place you’ve ever been!
Vietnam is one of most diverse, visually breathtaking and magical countries I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. My first experience was the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City, crammed with motorbikes and rickshaws and incredible street food on every corner. We ventured to the Ben Thanh markets for our first meal of duck salad, rice paper rolls and seared scallops (amazing), then wandered around exploring the incredible fresh seafood, coffee, condiments and produce that lines the alleys. There were some fairly hilarious moments in the city, like when a bunch of Vietnamese ladies spotted some spilled paint on my boyfriend’s toenails and openly laughed hysterically at him, pointing and giggling! You need a new manicure hehehe! And who could forget New Year’s Eve in the city, my partner and I both sitting on top of each other in a one person rickshaw gridlocked in insane motorbike traffic, pushing the wheels along and making ‘Englimese’ banter with our rickshaw driver, later watching a community concert with all the teenagers, families and little kids dancing on tables for the countdown!
Then it was on to Nha Trang, where there is unbelievable amounts of fun to be had at Vin Pearl Resort with its crazy water slides and Eiffel Tower cable car ride! Whilst in Nha Trang we made the decision to go on one of the most meaningful adventures of my life to date! We hired motorcycles and rode for five days from Nha Trang through the winding mountains down to Ho Chi Minh. On our trip we witnessed the most spectacular scenery, enormous rolling mountains in the clouds, miles of lush green rice paddies and stunning waterfalls. We also had the opportunity to experience a taste of Vietnamese culture by visiting isolated mountain communities, temples, pepper and coffee plantations, witnessing how silk and rice noodles are made, even tasting weasel poop coffee (surprisingly delicious), snake and scorpion!
However the culinary highlight for me was our visit to Phu Quoc, a Vietnamese Island just off the South West coast of Vietnam. Phu Quoc is largely national park and very focused on ecotourism, so it is still so untouched compared to many South-East Asian Islands. The beaches are breathtaking with warm crystal clear waters, and flourishing green mountain ranges. Whilst there we learnt that this is actually where a significant amount of Vietnam’s fish sauce and pepper is produced. The scene stealer for me was the incredible night seafood markets, with over 100 stalls where you can buy fresh seafood cooked to order… where the biggest challenge is having enough room to try every sensational dish!
What really remained with me after leaving Vietnam was the unconditional kindness, curiosity and cheekiness that I experienced from the Vietnamese people. The simple lifestyle that many Vietnamese live, and how unbelievably happy they are. Our trip to Vietnam completely changed my perspective on what we need in life to be content. I am the first to admit that I enjoy nice things, and previously somewhat based my self-worth and opinions of others on material belongings. Vietnam opened my eyes to what is truly important, having no regrets about the life you have lived. What I witnessed in Vietnam inspired me to make significant change within my life, and I have decided to rethink my corporate career, and spend (at least!) 12 months travelling South East Asia. I plan to spend time in 13 countries over this period, and dedicate my time to many hardworking charities working with orphans, disabled children and animals. I am leaving with an open heart and open mind, and no commitment to return, so who knows where this journey will take me? If I do have to eventually return, I will certainly not leave with any regrets about how I have chosen to spend my precious time in this life.
About the Author: I am a free spirit who loves travel, food, yoga and meeting new people. I believe life is about finding love, light and fulfillment in all of our adventures.
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