Vietnam is absolutely beautiful. I have enjoyed parts of it immensely. It is more expensive than the other SE Asian countries, but it is still about half U.S. prices, and there are much more luxurious options than in Laos or Cambodia for spas, dining, etc.
Vietnam has a strange contrast. Its beautiful beaches and wonderfully quaint towns are mixed with dirty and crowded cities. I didn’t take many pictures, because we were told not to take a handbag out. Bags are frequently sliced or grabbed and cameras and phones are often snatched from tourists’ hands in the larger cities. Yet, these are just crimes of opportunity, and the average Vietnamese person was extremely friendly and kind.
Crossing the street in Saigon and Hanoi was one the the scariest things I’ve every done. Everyone rides scooters. There are no traffic lights and no pedestrian lights. You just walk out into traffic at a slow and steady pace and the scooters judge how to maneuver around you. Don’t speed up or stop or you’ll splat like frogger!
The City of Nah Trang was beautiful but quite confusing to me, as I felt like I crossed space and time back to Miami. The beach bars and restaurants were trendy, with cabanas, pools, electronic music playing in the background, and great ocean-view dining.
Hoi An is famous for its tailors. I aspire to one day have a lifestyle where I can fly to Hoi An on occasion to have my wardrobe designed! The city itself is perfectly Vietnamese with a western flare. I enjoyed the markets (minus the rats), the cuisine, the French pastries, and my newly tailored dress!
By far my favorite day in Vietnam was yesterday. Last night we stayed on a Chinese Junk Boat on Halong Bay. We kayaked through the gorgeous limestone islets. Before dinner we jumped into the bay from the rooftop of the boat, then enjoyed a great (nearly) final evening of the trip together.
It has been an amazing adventure through China and Southeast Asia. I am so glad I had the opportunity to take this journey, meet new friends, experience cultures beyond anything I’ve previously encountered, and create memories that will last a life time.