I wrote this short account of Vietnam a couple months ago and promptly got super busy and (lazily) forgot to post. Apologies.
An inevitable benefit of working in China is the relative proximity of southeast Asia. Now that the spring semester is over and we have some time off before our summer program starts, I decided to go to Vietnam! Everyone and their mom talks about Vietnam’s amazing food, beautiful scenery, bustling cities, etc. and it’s all true. I usually like my coffee black, like my evil soul, but I swear I’m addicted to this sugary “café sua” stuff they sell everywhere. I dream of simultaneously zooming around this country on a motor scooter and chugging coffee, for the rest of my days.
One of the most interesting things I observed was during a travel day in which we spent 9 hours getting stuffed in and out of various cramped vans and buses, trying to make our way to the city of Canh Tho. I was sitting in the back of this van underneath my backpack with a fever, sweating through my clothes, deliriously watching this woman at the front of the van run the entire show. During the 3 hours I spent in this particular van, we probably stopped at least 15 times in random places to pick up and drop off various people and packages. Each time we stopped, this woman would jump out, throw open the back of the car, and exchange wrapped packages sometimes twice her size. Sometimes we’d just slow down near the side of the road, the woman would throw open the side door, point to a guy (how did she know which guy?!), he’d jump into our van, and she’d slam the door behind him as we continued on our merry way. We could have been transporting drugs for all I knew about the comings and going of items in our vehicle. All I know is that the woman running the operation was efficient, tough, and didn’t take bullshit from anyone. I want to be her when I grow up.
We’ve stayed in hostels throughout our travels, which meant that we also met a lot of people from all over the world. Perhaps due to the proximity of southeast Asia, we met a lot of Europeans that are also currently working in China and/or Hong Kong and Singapore. One of our many roommates was in the middle of traveling for months all around Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand on a motorbike…an inspiring adventure to say the least. We met three girls from Holland in the first hostel we stayed in and, after realizing that we had similar plans, decided to travel together for the next week. We went to Canh Tho together and got to take a beautiful tour early morning tour of floating markets on the Mekong Delta. It’s amazing how much work these people can get done by 5:30am. Cruising around in our little boat, sipping on coffee, watching women throw watermelons to each other was definitely the highlight of our trip.
Here is some photo evidence of the adventure: