My trip to Vietnam didn’t go as expected this time.
When I was a child, I recalled how my parents told me there will be a day where we could all go as a family to Vietnam, but I knew it was merely a desire that was hard to attain. It wasn’t until I taught in South Korea that I decided to visit Vietnam on my own for the first time. It was a very significant journey because it was a “first” for me on many aspects. I have a huge extended family, and it was the very first time to meet them all at once. There were just so many things to do, to eat, to see, but each time I visited Vietnam, I only chose to stay for only a week. This time was different.
I chose to stay longer than intended- a month to be exact- so my extended family and friends had to go on with their mundane activities such as work and school. At first, I was a bit hesitant to do things on my own, yet after a week, I decided to adapt by wandering around the bustling streets in Saigon. I managed to locate cafe shops in the hidden alley ways. To kill even more time, I signed up for a language exchange to help locals practice their English, befriended expats in Saigon, attended a Taize retreat session, went to a Vietnamese book cafe to read Vietnamese novels, etc.
My cousin and I breezed through Central Asia mainly by motorbike. My hair was tangled as I inhaled in the musty air and soaked in the high humidity weather. The sun slightly burned my pale skin yet the scenic routes were nothing but worth it. Throughout the journey, I realized the endless opportunities to learn about Vietnam. For example, I couldn’t understand the local’s thick Vietnamese dialect in Danang, but people in Danang were extremely friendly and hospitable; they would never hesitate to offer a hand or even a kind smile.
In Danang, there is also a phenomenal place call Ba Na Hills. You’ll have to take the cable car to get to this area; once you are way up to where the clouds are visible, you’ll locate a small French Village that was once built by the French during 1900’s before it was abandoned after World War II.
In Hoi An, my cousin and I discovered the extravagantly historical architecture. The buildings are rusty and has the ancient vintage look to it. During the night, the streets are lit with shimmering lanterns as the full moon glimmered down upon us.
The trip in Vietnam is about to come to an end for now. Yet, as I wrapped my mind around the journey, I am fascinated with the historical French and Chinese influences in Vietnam. I can’t help but feel appreciative and perhaps even more curious, I’m appreciative because I’m proud to be Vietnamese. I’m curious because there are times where I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to relive my parents’ life in Vietnam today. Is there anything I could contribute or do for my motherland? The imagination continues, but perhaps it’s only a simple thought that shall only be instilled in my mind for now.
In the end, I think this trip didn’t go as expected because I ended up falling more in love with my heritage, extended family, the locals, and culture. I am happy I had the chance to stay longer. I honestly don’t know when I will return to Vietnam once I return to the states, but I surely know it will be impossible to forget this significant moment. So cheers to the very last page in my passport, I will surely dedicate it to my Que Huong (my motherland)- Vietnam.
Love and Joys,