Where do I even begin?!
I guess with Vietnam, because it was the first country I traveled to in what I’ll be referring to as The Grand Adventure. This summer I was fortunate enough to travel around Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand with one of my longest childhood friends. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, fueled by wanderlust and the priority to travel!
I arrived in Melbourne after 32 hours of travel, and the following day my friend and I turned around and jumped on a plane to Da Nang, Vietnam (to travel to Hội An). That turned out to be a 40+ hour trip due to a delayed flight, missed connections, and then more delayed flights the following day. After many laughs and new friendships through the craziest travel experience, we finally made it to Hội An.
This picturesque Ancient Town located on the river lined with colorful french-inspired buildings stole my heart.
Riding bikes through the streets of Hội An was a major highlight of the trip… mostly because I survived. If you’ve been to Vietnam, then you know that the streets can be somewhat treacherous, with cars driving every which way, along side mopeds darting in and out of the road, and honking as a means of communication for everyone. For someone who doesn’t even ride in the bike lane of Minneapolis, accomplishment doesn’t even begin to describe it!
Hội An Roastery // I had my first traditional Vietnamese coffee here – addicted from day one!
Morning Glory Restaurant // Picture a table on a second-story balcony overlooking the streets of Ancient Town, where cars are not allowed so bikes and mopeds roam the streets. Add in a Tiger beer, and gourmet authentic Vietnamese food… heavenly.
After Hội An we headed to Hanoi for a night before going on a cruise through Ha Long Bay for a night, and finally we came back to Hanoi. Hanoi is a busy city with many historical sites, temples, and lots to do. You can walk for days and never get bored!
The French influence throughout Vietnam was just incredible to see – a juxtaposition of sorts – to see the Opera House, that felt like I’d just stepped out onto the streets of any given city in Europe, only to be in Vietnam eating Pho and endless spring rolls.
Hỏa Lò Prison // A prison that was first used by French colonists for political prisoners and later by Northern Vietnam for U.S. prisoners during the Vietnam War – there was a lot of history in here. It was quite an eye-opening experience to view it from another perspective.
Ngon Villa // a Vietnamese feast! This restaurant offered an “all you can eat” option – allowing you to sample numerous Vietnamese traditional dishes in a gourmet setting. Yes, I ordered more than I could eat. Yes, I loved every minute of it.
The best breakfast = a fresh Vietnamese baguette and egg coffee! Yes, egg coffee. One of the most amazing things I had on my trip. An egg yolk is whipped with cream and layered on top of strong Vietnamese coffee, resulting in silky, creamy, luscious coffee! Tell me – have you tried egg coffee before?! Would you be willing to give it a go? I’m dying to make one myself (and find the best in Minneapolis).
Ha Long Bay
Hands down, a highlight of the trip (very difficult to narrow that down though). A one-night cruise through the emerald bay with limestone islands covered in rainforests. Words cannot describe, and the pictures don’t do it justice, but let’s see if they can convince you…
We stopped on an island as part of an excursion and explored a cave and kayaked around one of the mountains. It was so peaceful to be on the open water – and then it became terrifying when giant jelly fish began floating right by our paddles. Luckily we stayed in the kayak the entire time (!!!). Much of the time was spent on our cruise boat (pictured in one of the photos above) admiring the sights. We took a smaller row boat through a fishing village where we viewed fishing homes – the bright colorful ones – and a pearl farm. I am still amazed, thankful, and incredibly grateful for such an experience.
Next up… Siem Reap, Cambodia.