Entries “From the Road” are written while traveling — often quickly on my phone or with spotty wifi connection. Please excuse any typos or nonsensical thoughts! We’re back! Three weeks…
Entries “From the Road” are written while traveling — often quickly on my phone or with spotty wifi connection. Please excuse any typos or nonsensical thoughts!
We’re back! Three weeks survived together, feeling our best, looking like hell, as backpackers do (and we didn’t even go all-in!) I had so much time to write when we were traveling solo, but once we arrived in Saigon and Seoul, family and friends were to be seen. Before I realized it, late nights were filled with exhausted rest, instead of recaps.
So, here’s a quickie to end my journaling for this trip — solid guides to follow.
Saigon was AMAZING! I grew up with stories about Saigon (or, Ho Chi Minh City) painted strictly in the war era. Being able to see it myself now, and applying what I know (youth population is dominating Vietnam, old ways are changing — as is the government, it seems), an optimistic, modern outlook is in store for the motherland. Over three weeks, Michael and I enjoyed endless social commentary and speculation in this world we were exploring. Despite sadness that some ancient culture is dissolving, young people are clearly working hard to express their dreams, which can be seen through non-foreign-owned business ventures, and even every day style. This is a short way of saying that Saigon, compared to much of the north we explored, is very modern, nearly apathetic to tourists, and do-able for most travelers. I’ll write a more specific post on what to do and see (and drink!).
We met with some family in Saigon — two instances were pleasant, as we were all able to enjoy conversation and share mutual interests like traveling and asking questions about each other’s cultures. My third visit with family was a stretched effort to visit a more closed, religious community, and to no one’s surprise, I got to experience once again being ridiculed for my lack of language fluency and my evil American boyfriend. Note: Maybe not waste time/energy there next time. Though the experience is common, it’s left a bad taste in my mouth for days.
Fly to Seoul! My first time in Korea. I hate to be that person, but eating in Vietnam was not really new to me. My dad had a restaurant, and my parents fearlessly exposed me to the wildest dishes one can hope to see as a child. The only difference in Vietnam was the freshness of the food. Seafood and beautiful greens impressed me to no end.
But in Seoul!!!! I got to experience an entire culture shock, which I am relieved to have had before the trip ended. I enthusiastically ate and drank everything that friends recommended, from student street food, to more traditional dishes (like the Korean version of moonshine). We stayed at an Airbnb for the first two nights, that a fellow blogger and old friend, Nadia, managed to snag us a whole house in the Bukchon Hanok Village. Nadia is my absolute favorite person, with the dependable traveling advice and endless enthusiasm to go with it. I’m so delighted to have had her as a tour guide (along with Michael) and enjoyed her recommendations for food, fun, and even dance (hello, Korean 90’s dance club!). I met her in Philly last year as Michael’s guest, and can’t wait to have her back.
I feel like just a summary won’t do either place justice, so I’ll tie up the journaling now and get to work on the real thing.
This has been one of the best trips of my life. As I told Michael, new brain wrinkles were massaged every day we faced a new challenge, whether looking for food, trying to communicate with the locals, or communicating with each other. My mind and my body felt every moment, and now being home, I’m steadily recovering from being both trashed and adored from the experiences.
And now. Back in Philly. Something that not many are able to say, or maybe even realize: I’m so fortunate to be able to leave one amazing experience, only to return to another lovely life. Thank you for reading!