For the past 14 years, it has been a tradition for me to celebrate my birthday (August 16th) abroad. Typically, I make the decision about my chosen destination by March. This year was somewhat difficult.
Initially, I wanted to go to Morocco; but I couldn’t find a tour with my specific dates. I guess it is too hot to be in Northern Africa and in the desert in August. Then I started to see a friend’s Facebook post on East Asia. In particular, Vietnam and Cambodia and thought “Wow! Just beautiful”. Well, the decision was made. I will be celebrating my birthday in Vietnam. I found a great deal with Gate 1 Travel. It was a 12-day trip that included the following cities: Ho Chin Minh City (Saigon), Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay, and Hanoi. I had the opportunity to see the South, Central, and North of Vietnam. What an adventure!
I did get some side-eyes from friends. My ex-boyfriend asked do I just wake up and pick a country. I smiled and said yes. Others asked, “Why Vietnam?” My response is “Why not?” Why do we limit ourselves to certain or the same places? There is a world out there to be explored. Why not go outside your comfort zone and do something different (outside the norm).
Anywho, while in Vietnam, I learned about their tradition and culture. See my blog on Traditional Vietnamese. I found out that there are female monks called nuns. I am still in shock about this one. Read about the Female Monks.
Below are highlights from each city that I visited.
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon)
While I was in Ho Chi Minh City, I finally understood the Fall of Saigon. When you are a teenager learning history, you are just going through the process. However, while I was there and listening to the history of Saigon and the Vietnam War, it finally clicked. Does that make sense?
The city tour and the Cu Chi Tunnels were the highlights of my two days
Da Nang and Hoi An
To be honest, Hoi An is my favorite city in Vietnam. The charm! The intimacy! The History! I just fell in love and I would have loved to spend more than 2 days to further explore.
Before we arrived in Hoi An, we stopped in Da Nang and enjoyed a few minutes at the beach. Of course, I had to do my signature jump.
In Hoi An, we walked around the Old City, a boat trip on the Thu Bon River, visited the Kim Bong Carpentry Village and the Tra Que Organic Village. Of course, I took a cooking lesson at the organic village. The good news is I didn’t burn down the village with my cooking lol
The City of Hue
Hue is a contrast from Hoi An. Hoi An is modern (the city had free WiFi) while Hue has an old charm. Hue was the city that I celebrated my 45th birthday. We did a walking tour and visited the Thai Hoa Place, the Imperial Capital modeled after Beijing’s Forbidden City, Kim Long Village, Cyclo ride, and the Citadel.
Halong Bay was a wash. There was a typhoon approaching the area when we arrived. Basically, I stayed in the hotel and had a massage. However, it did cross my mind that I left Florida’s hurricane season to meet a Typhoon in Vietnam.
Since Hanoi is the Capital of Vietnam, there was so much to do and see. Of course, I did a tour of the Thay Pagoda which was my favorite of all the Pagodas I saw throughout Vietnam. I interacted with the people in the So Village and enjoyed a water puppet show. Yes, I went to a puppet show. It was different.