I’m officially on vacation, and jump-starting it at the beach! It’s been quite a busy month, working six days a week in Hanoi. I hardly had a chance to even talk about it. Within hours of arriving back from Sapa, we flew off to Danang for our work vacation. Thanks to our generous boss, we’ve been doing not much other than soaking up the sun at a lovely resort villa. Our fully-equipped two-story villa came with a private infiniti pool and the beach just beyond our backyard. We stocked our fridge with food and drinks, and we’ve been taking turns cooking meals. I forgot how nice it is to eat home cooked meals and just relax!
The sunny dining area.
Taurin cooked some delicious kimchi bacon cheese burgers. Of course, we also had dill pickles, french fries, and rum + coke on ice. Yum!
Van cooked us pho from scratch, and it was amazing. She taught me how to make the broth, which really takes an entire day to get it just right.
We bought some tropical fruits at the grocery store. I think this one’s called sugar apples.
I don’t think I’ve ever been this tan before, and I’m not complaining!
Last week, Taurin and I took an overnight train from Hanoi for a trekking trip through highland villages nearby Sapa, Northwest Vietnam. We were mostly with the Black Hmong community, distinguished by their dark, indigo-dyed clothing. Our new friends taught us how to walk along hidden paths that weave through the mountains and terraced rice paddies. At the Hmong village, we didn’t have electricity at night, but it was wonderful to see all the stars in the sky and fall asleep early to the sound of breeze softly blowing against the wooden house.
I met a small kitten.
I loved seeing all the hand-embroidered textiles.
Taurin and me on the mountain.
A little Hmong girl named Jo.
Tiny paths along the mountain.
Me looking sweaty but happy with a new friend.
We picked some wild herbs with Little Zao for lunch.
The village where we spent the evening.
Indigo plant in a barrel.
Colorful Hmong textile, embroidered by hand.
I really liked riding the rustic Vietnamese trains, especially because we opted for the comfortable soft-sleeper train with AC. I slept through the entire ride until we arrived back in Hanoi. I dreamt about mountains!
Finally, here is the long-awaited update from Southeast Asia! My flight from DC to Hanoi was just over 20 hours, with a brief layover in Singapore. Singapore airport was full of surprises – complete with a lush butterfly garden, petite koi ponds surrounded by lilies, stationary stores, and dessert shops. We even found a napping area with comfy chairs. Why can’t all airports be this exciting?
On my return flight, I have almost a full-day layover in Singapore, and I’m looking forward to exploring the city. If you have any recommendations for food/shopping/neighborhoods, please let me know!
I love my mustard yellow (15-1062) Pantone passport holder and comfy color block shoes.
And finally, Hanoi:
Hoan Kiem Lake
The best thing about summer work abroad is that I have a few weeks of free time to travel after my work contract ends. I’ve been checking Coop holiday for travel packages. Indonesia and Thailand are on top of the list for this region, but we are leaning towards traveling down the coast of Vietnam. I’ve always wanted to visit Hoi An and Hue!
I just read that Vietnam is the world’s second happiest country, based on life expectancy, happiness, and environmental sustainability. There’s so much nature and old architecture in Hanoi. Despite the urban setting, the lifestyle here is really laid back (especially in comparison to Shanghai and New York) and the food is amazing. I’m learning more food vocabulary each day, so I can order at most street noodle shops and restaurants. And of course, I’m saving up all the mealtime photos for a big post dedicated to Vietnamese food.