As Americans, many people have asked us “why, of all places, did you choose to visit Vietnam?”. Honestly, it wasn’t a question I was prepared to answer at first. I hadn’t really thought about justifying it to anyone. Some people asked because their only exposure to Vietnam was related to the US and Vietnam war, while others were concerned for our safety. And then of course, the question that got posed the most frequently, “why travel so far for vacation?”.
The answers to these questions are always impossible to communicate without a more in-depth conversation. Which can be said for most of our trips. It always comes back to “why we do what we do”. That why is rooted in a specific feeling. It’s the feeling of stepping off of an airplane and knowing you are in a completely different part of our world. The people are different, the language is different, the food is different…literally everything is different. That newness sparks curiosity for us. It ignites adventure. It makes us remember how small we are. For Kailah and I, it isn’t just a “vacation”. I try not to even use the word because it comes with the implication of escape. We don’t want to escape anything. We just want to live more. And for us, that living is defined by experiencing new cultures.
We chose Vietnam because we had such an amazing experience during our first trip to Asia and we wanted to have another adventure just like it (Not to mention the low cost!). We decided that our perfect recipe this time around would be “a dash” of city and the balance spent near a beach, with copious amounts of culture. After visiting Thailand, we knew we wanted to explore some of the other surrounding countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. We also knew that during our time frame, the most southern Asian and Indonesian countries would be in the middle of Typhoon season, so we wanted to be certain to avoid a dreary trip. Following in-depth research and conversations with other travelers, we landed on sunny southern Vietnam.
A deciding factor, the culture piece is so important to us when traveling. Like anyone else, we enjoy lounging on the beach with our beverage of choice, but we also generally try to combine it with a new authentic experience. In Vietnam, we were able to get the best of both worlds by exploring Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon) for a couple days and then spending the balance of the week on the tropical island of Phu Quoc. Bustling Ho Chi Minh gave us exposure to the chaos of everyday life in Vietnam’s capital, delicious Vietnamese restaurants (shout out to Bep Me In) and the bustling night life of Bui Vien Walking Street. In Phu Quoc, we were able to slow way down, enjoying more Vietnamese cuisine on the beach, but also exploring a nightly open air market, organic bee farm, pepper farm and panoramic gondola over to Hon Thom island. I will never forget the garlic and herb, pork Bun Cha dish served near our hotel. It was a simple, traditional, mouth watering dish served by smiling locals.
There ya have it. The “why” for Kailah and I. We will continue to return to Southeast Asia (and everywhere else we can get our hands on) in continued search of the curiosity and inspiration that we get from stepping off a plane for the first time. Hopefully this helps put in perspective why we love to do what we do. More details coming soon on our Vietnam adventures!