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Tuesday Travel Diaries: Vietnam

28 February 2012

It's my favorite blogging day of the week!
Welcome back for another week of Tuesday Travel Diaries :)
This week, I'm happy to feature one of my favorite bloggers:
Emily @ Hope Squared.
Besides having an awesome name, Emily takes pictures of
her cat in a bow tie.  You should seriously check her out!

Tuesday Travel Diaries

When I saw this series posted on Emily's blog I just had to participate. 
 Hi my name is also Emily and I blog over at Hope Squared.  
I got the travel bug when I first left the Canada in 2002 and it's often all I can think about. 
 My husband and I started dating while living and teaching abroad. 
We started in South Korea for a year and moved on to Vietnam for two more. 
 Naturally we celebrated our engagement with a three week tour around Vietnam - 
I mean every newly engaged couple does this right? 
 Today I am going to share with you some highlights of that amazing trip. 
 And hopefully it will leave you longing to travel to this beautiful country 
that I think of as my second home. 

The basics: where, when, & how long?
As I mentioned above we travelled for 21 days from mid-March to early April 2010.  Our itinerary included:
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) --> Mui Ne --> Hoi An --> Ninh Binh --> Ha Noi --> Ha Long Bay --> Sapa --> Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). 


What route did you take? And how much was the flight?
We flew out of the Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Because we got a discounted ticket {My husband, Steve, works in the industry so we only had to pay the taxes and fuel surcharge - what?! what?!} we had to take a pretty annoying route that made the journey feel like an eternity.  Since we flew with United Airlines our connecting flight was in San Fransisco.  Normally we would opt to connect in Vancouver to bypass the US security which usually takes up to an hour or an hour and a half.  However we were freshly engaged and didn't really grumble too much about it.  Our route Toronto - San Fransisco - Hong Kong - Ho Chi Minh City.  Total travel time - roughly 15 -17 hours.  
Who did you travel with?  
My, at the time, new fiance - now husband Steve.  Best travel companion ever.

Tell us where you stayed.
Because we got such an amazing deal - there were obviously some strings attached.  Steve had to do a few hotel inspections which meant we had to move around a lot.  I was alright with this because I too like checking out new hotels.  From this trip there were two hotels that we stayed in that really stuck out - simply because both of them were just amazing and I was sad to check out of both of them.  First the Park Hyatt Saigon.  First of all - this is the hotel that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stayed in when they were adopting their son Pax.  So you get an idea how fancy pants this place is.  I mean - they do check in in your room.  Amazing right?  The pool was on the rooftop and it felt as though you could have been on the ground level.

Second the Movenpick Hanoi.  The interior design of this hotel in impeccable.  I love it so much that I want to design my future home in the same style.  Our room was painted a dark brown and was accented with bright green, black and grey.  I could have literally hung out in that room all day. 

Did you encounter anything unexpected?
Having lived in Vietnam for two years prior to this trip - we had a good grasp on Vietnamese culture.  Most people comment on the amount of traffic (both human and vehicles in the bigger cities) and I agree at times it can be chaotic.  However an organized chaos. 

Traffic in Ha Noi on a quiet afternoon
How accurate are the stereotypes?
I might be a little bias having lived in the country for two years that I no longer noticed the typical stereotypes of Vietnamese.  Also - I am not even sure what typical Vietnamese stereotypes are.  Please share with me and I will try to tell you if I think they are true. 

Tell us about the food.
Though it's not my favourite cuisine - I do love Vietnamese food.  Obviously one of my favourite meals is Pho.  If you haven't tried this delicious soup - you must.  Dining in Vietnam is relatively on the cheap side and usually everything is great.  You can run into some odd things on the menu - but if you stick to the beaten path you should be able to find whatever you are looking for.  However this trip was all about the breakfast buffets.  I love a good breakfast buffet.  Especially one where you can order amazing things like this.  A french toast grilled cheese sandwich - poolside.  Are you kidding me? 

Were there any must see’s?
Can I start with saying everything in Vietnam is a must see - but I will show you a few of my favourite things to do/see.

Visit Ha Long Bay -  Even when it's cloudy and rainy.  Its landscapes are literally breathtaking.
Take a bike ride in the countryside. 
Visit any of the colourful and lively markets - This is from the weekend market in Sapa
Take a hike  - literally.  This country is best explored on foot {or motorbike}
After all that - hit the beach and relax.
Do you have any regrets?
Coming home?  Not booking a longer trip?  No - I have no regrets.  This trip was the perfect way to kick off our engagement. 
Would you go back?
The answer is yes. I plan to retire here.  I'm not joking. 
Anything else you'd like to share about the trip?
Not necessarily about this trip - but for any trip.  Immerse yourself in the culture.  Try new things.  Eat different foods.  Live like the locals.   And you'll come home with memories that will last a lifetime.

I hope you enjoyed this small taste of Vietnam as much as I have enjoyed reliving the best trip of my life.  And thank you Emily for letting me hang out on your blog today. 

Hope Squared
Go check out Emily's blog!  You'll be glad you did :)

Thanks, Em, for sharing Vietnam with us!
Do you have a trip that you'd like to share?
I'm looking for more bloggers to feature for TTD.
If you're interested, please email me.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Emily! How amazing...wish I could take off with my feller and tour the world for three weeks!


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