Over my spring break, I went on a trip to Vietnam and Taiwan. It was a fantastic trip, each day full of excitement, adventure, and great memories. I had a good travel buddy – Peter, one of my best friends from college. Vietnam instantly became one of my favorite countries, and continued to amaze, charm, and surprise me throughout my stay. Vietnam has warm weather, delicious, fresh food, buzzing cities, friendly people, gorgeous natural scenery, and a fascinating history. It’s laid-back, but with a ton of life and character. And it’s so cheap! My chump change is big money in Vietnam, and it definitely made me appreciate my status as an American, and grateful for how fortunate I really am.
Our trip lasted two weeks, and we visited four different places in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, formerly Saigon), Phu Quoc Island, Ha Long Bay, and Hanoi, and stopped for a couple days in Taipei, Taiwan on our way back to Tokyo. Each location offered a completely different experience, worthy of its own post, which you can read here: Saigon, Phu Quoc, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and Taipei.
Due to the nation’s turbulent past, north and south Vietnam differ greatly, so much that they could almost be different countries, and it was very interesting to see both sides of Vietnam. We lived both the dirty backpacker and the luxury lifestyle, spending $5 a night on hostels in HCMC, and staying at a four-star beach resort in Phu Quoc (which still cost less than a Motel 6 in the US). We met great people, ate our hearts out on delicious Vietnamese food, saw many amazing sights, rode motorbikes, went swimming and snorkeling, and of enjoyed the abundance of cheap beer. It was a perfect vacation.
The only thing that could have made the trip more perfect would have been not getting sick. On day three, I came down with a nasty sinus and respiratory infection, which lingered throughout the whole trip. It was a really bad infection and the most sick I have been in years, which definitely put a damper on the experience. But, I was able to get the medicine I needed, and still managed to enjoy myself and make the most of the trip.
It was somewhat difficult to come back to Japan and back to reality after such a whirlwind of a trip, but we arrived at the perfect time. The sakura (cherry blossoms) are in full bloom. It’s the quintessentially Japanese experience, and it’s lovely. I’m back at work for the start of the new school year, and while I’m less than thrilled to be sitting at my desk all day again, at least I can watch the sakura fall right outside my window.