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10 Reasons I’d go back to Vietnam.

9 Apr

I thought prior to my trip to Vietnam that with all the travel forum reading and youtube travel video watching, maybe I’d know what to expect once I got there.  Vietnam ended up being a whirlwind in the the best way possible.  I’m still trying to digest all the things I saw and experienced.  Here are some of the many reasons why I’d go back in a heart beat.

1. You don’t have to sit in traffic, ever.

Watch this: I shot this from a bar looking over an intersection.  You’re also expected to cross the street through this.

2.  A name means something.

In the U.S., we tend to name things after something from the past.  For instance, calling a hiking trail, “Buffalo Trail” would be an ode to the buffalos that used to roam the land.  In Vietnam, if something is named, “Buffalo Trail,” it means, “WATCH OUT for some mother f’n BUFFALOS!”  Here’s a photo I took of our road block.

Also, this:

3.  You can eat soup for breakfast.

Pho was our cereal every morning for breakfast.  On about every street block, you can find a lady set up on the street, and when I say street, I mean just that.  She’s cooking 6 inches from the pavement, which you then enjoy 8 inches from the pavement.  Damn delicious.

4. Thatched roof bungalow on top of a mountain is an Expedia.com hotel option.

What’s not to love?

Our excitement isn’t contained.

5.  There’s no limit to what you can throw on the back of a scooter.

I always felt limited as a stylist to drive a serious mom mobile because all the crap I always have with me, (hence, the Subaru Outback I tote around), but the Vietnamese have shown me I can do it on a scooter.  We saw a guy with an industrialize size freezer chest strapped to the back.  Don’t ask me how that works, but it did.  Here’s another common example.

6. It’s easy to pretend you’re a pirate.

We took a boat (for about what it costs to stay at a Hampton Inn) around some unchartered territory.  Sadly, there were no Johnny Depp sightings.

7.  1954 Russian Jeep is a public transportation option.

Lesson learned; always say YES if someone offers you a ride.  We took this hummer down a mountain, because only helicopters and Russian tanks can do the job since the “road” is actual a trail of aligned boulders.  (Again, a surprise.  We thought we were taking a shuttle bus with a bunch of bucket hat wearing travelers down the road.)

8. Public restrooms are never alike.

There are a wide range of public restroom possibilities in Vietnam.  The one that took the cake was in a mountain village where I was forced to balance on two adjacent boulders that harnessed a rushing waterfall next to a pig pen.  Check that one off the list.  Sorry, no pictures.

9.  I’m considered a billionaire.

In Vietnamese dong (country’s currency), but I’ll take it.  Vietnam is insanely cheap.  This room costs the same as it did to board our dog for the night, AND you get a free toothbrush and sample bottle of skin whitening lotion.  I tried the lotion, but my skin is still a pale pinkish blue.  Perhaps my skin’s starting point was already off the whitening promises chart.

10. Scooters, then cars, then you.

If you were to research Vietnam, you’ll find a lot about how to cross the street, which to westerners seems elementary.  You’ll rarely see a little green guy counting down to tell you when it’s ok to enter the gas fed mosh pit.  Instead, you lead with your rice noodle filled gut… slowly.  As a pedestrian, you come last in the importance of street occupancy.  You’re never going to find a break in traffic to feel completely safe, therefore you must enter like you enter a parking lot of drunk Jimmy Buffet tailgaters: slowly with both eyes open and a serious game face.

Back to work I go.

Chips A’ Hoy!

1 Jul

I’m about to embark on my first cruise through the Greek Islands.  It’s only natural to expect the following:

I’m still on my Iceland kick.

9 Sep

Another interesting thing about Iceland, there isn’t any American retail or restaurant chains.  I know, catch your breathe.  They’re able to dress themselves without the Gap, Old Navy, and whatever other retail chain that Americans rely on so much in the morning.  There is one large mall where they have a TopShop (British retail chain), Zara (Spanish chain, now in the US) and G Star Raw.  The outcome to their attire is more thought and purpose in what they wear.  If it’s not that, it’s based on function in wearing hiking gear or protective clothing to keep them dry from the rainy weather.

Here’s a street blog I found that captures what you see walking around the downtown area.  Click on the link to direct you to Reykajavik LOOKs blog.

Farmer’s Market – Iceland

7 Sep

In a country where there are more sheep than people (only 300,000 in the entire country!), Icelanders  put a lot of thought in exclaiming their individuality.  Seeing how a wool sweater is the token souvenir for tourists to acquire because of the quality of their sheep’s wool, most natives rather be caught dead than blending in with the camera clicking crowd.  Then came Farmer’s Market.  What I love is that the husband and wife team behind Farmer’s Market decided not to rebel against the grain, rather work with their nation’s prize product and elevate it.  The outcome is a line of wool products that are hand knitted to flattering silhouettes while still being functional, and maintains a quality that would last you a lifetime.  I usually don’t buy things while I travel because I tend to only bring a backpack, but this time I made an exception worth testing my bag’s zippers capabilities.

Here is the billboard that sparked my interest as I came off the plane in the Keflavik airport.  I’m a sucker for anything woodsy and nostalgic looking.  It got me thinking about how in a country that is almost completely self sustainable in receiving very few imports manages to create such great advertising.  Maybe all you need is unlimited breath-taking scenery in every direction, the ability to breathe the cleanest air in the world, and a sheep to call your friend.  There are many more things to gush about in Iceland, but Farmer’s Market is a good place to start.  Make sure you check out their website.

And here’s a shot of their store in Reykjavik.

You’ll never get bjored with Bjork.

30 Aug

I remember when I was in London I saw an Iceland tourism billboard that read, “You’ll never get bjored in Iceland.”    This week I’m off to the great desolate land of active volcanoes and wild horses to see if that stands true.  Worse comes to worse and I do get bjored, at least I know I’ll never get bjored of Bjork.  I hope to see her in a hot spring swimming around as some sort of bird.  Now that would be a picture.