It’s been months, plural, since I’ve updated this blog. I do apologize and highly appreciate those of you still reading. First there was far too much fun in South Korea with the Ultimate Couchsurfing Loft & the awesome Korean friends, meeting an amazing Korean girl named Yeona (who I think will be the fourth life-long friend I have made travelling) and adventuring around Jeju-do & Seoul, and hanging out with the magical fellow couchsurfing girl, Michelle. More on Korea later.
Then there’s been Vietnam and a broken laptop. Saigon, Phu Quoc, Hoi An, Phong Nha, Ninh Binh, and now I am in Hanoi. And Hanoi is…new friends over street food, hidden cafes with family shrines, too much beer, dodging motorbikes and motorbike taxis, being teased by Canadians and Austrialians and Brits about the fact that I’m American. Hanoi is sweltering heat and being ripped off by street vendors. Hanoi is meeting new friends over bia hoi. Hanoi is being taught Vietnamese. Hanoi is laughter and flirting and two kisses on each cheek as a greeting (why the hell haven’t Americans stolen this from Europeans and antipodeans already? It’s pretty much the most charming thing ever and I love it more every time it happens). Hanoi is power outages and contemplating telling people I am from Iceland. Hanoi is almost one month in Vietnam, and realizing that I don’t understand the first damn thing about this country at all. Hanoi is being told once again that I need to write a book. Hanoi is also, fortuanately for yours truly, staying in a party hostel and picking up three new excellent books for free from the bookshelf. Hanoi is meeting South African-Australians in the hallway at 2.45am and discussing life plans and literature. Hanoi is dragging an Australian to a reggae bar out in the middle of god knows where via motorbike on the recommendation of a cool Canadian expat met over beers on the street. Hanoi is sitting and chatting with an English club that managed to snag me, teaching them American slang and idioms and rude phrases, and thoroughly enjoying myself.
As for Vietnam, well, Vietnam is having my palm read and my fortunes told, Vietnam is the most beautiful country I’ve been to since Ireland.
Vietnam leaves me wanting more and knowing that I will only understand a tiny fraction of this heartbreakingly beautiful country. Vietnam is both the toughest and the easiest place I’ve travelled so far. Vietnam is missing China – maybe that’s always, because I find myself talking about China all the time and seriously contemplating ditching Laos and heading up into Yunnan province – and missing amazing friends in China. Vietnam is almost buying a ticket home but meeting an awesome British friend and renting motorbikes and being mobbed by butterflies in a national park.
Vietnam is knowing with every fiber of my being that I would never trade this life for anything else, and knowing how incredibly blessed I am to have this chance to travel.