Summer in Vietnam Part 1
Vietnam. Definitely the highlight of my summer. Having ticked off over 45 countries, I tend to think of myself as an avid traveler. However, I'm quite embarrassed to admit that Vietnam is the first country in Asia that I have ever visited -- but it sure won't be the last! I spent the most amazing two weeks traveling across Vietnam, tasting some of the best foods and meeting some of the friendliest people. Even if these two weeks just gave me a taste of what this country has to offer, I can't wait to go back. Here are just a few of the many highlights of my trip!
Hanoi - The Bustling Capital of Vietnam
After around 15 hours of traveling, we finally arrived in hot & humid Hanoi! Looking out the plane window, I was amazed at the lush, jungle-like agriculture and the quantity of green rice fields. I couldn't wait to get out of the airport and start exploring! This excitement was quickly shut down with the news that our luggage had not made it to Vietnam. In 35 degree heat and high humidity, all I wanted to do was change into shorts and a tank top. I decided to brave the Vietnamese heat in my black leggings and hoodie and made it to the hotel.
I was shocked by the number of motorcycles navigating the narrow streets of Hanoi. Families of four huddled together on tiny motorcycles with no more than horse-riding helmets on. Some women even wore helmets with a special opening for their ponytails. Crossing the street was a memorable adventure, especially the first few times when I did not dare to step into the masses of motorcycles coming my way. With all this chaos, I was happy to sit down and watch the sunset along the banks of the Hoàn Kiếm Lake, sipping on delicious fresh coconut water.
We had dinner at a Vietnamese roof-top restaurant, overlooking the city lights and Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Every dish offered the most elegant flavors and aromas. Vietnam was already my food paradise.
One of the most interesting Vietnamese delicacies I tasted was the traditional egg-coffee. Our tour guide brought us to the renown Giang Café where we sat on tiny stools and eagerly waited for an egg coffee. This treat includes a thick cream of beaten egg yolks, condensed milk, and sugar mixed in with local coffee. It was so rich I could not finish my cup! The few spoonfuls of egg cream I ate were absolutely delicious - if you're ever in Hanoi make sure to try an egg coffee (on an empty stomach because it REALLY fills you up).
Hạ Long Bay
Probably my favorite part of the whole trip was our overnight stay on a boat in Hạ Long Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers one of the most astounding manifestations of nature's beauty. This bay includes thousands of limestone islands of all different shapes and sizes, rising up from the clear-blue water. This site has been used to shoot numerous movies, such as James Bond, King Kong, and Indochine.
I definitely recommend booking an over-night stay on a cruise-boat to take in the beauty of this site. The crew on board made it such a lovely stay, with evening Vietnamese cooking lessons and sunrise Tai chi sessions.
We were able to visit the fishing villages of the bay, where families reside full-time on floating houses to be able to make utmost use of the fishing opportunities around them.
That night we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. For a full two minutes, the sky around us illuminated into fiery colors of every shade of red and yellow possible. I was mesmerised by what I was seeing, no picture could ever do it justice. Did I mention I was loving Vietnam already?
Stay tuned for part 2 of my adventures in Vietnam!