Vietnamese Motorbike Magic: How Do They Do It?

The motorbikes of Vietnam deserve its own post, because the culture is just mind-blowing. First of all, the sheer number of bikes on the road are impressive enough. There are around 39 million motorbikes and only 2 million cars. On our first trip to Vietnam I wrote about learning how to cross the road in a place where pedestrians don’t really have the right away and there are no crosswalks.

Here’s a basic summary:  You just GO (and pray really hard).

Yeah, those people aren't going to stop for you.
Yeah, those people aren’t going to stop for you.

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Vietnam: Wrap Up

We spent a total of 18 days in Vietnam. We were seriously looking forward to this leg of the trip, as it was previously one of our favorite countries in the world. We’ve changed our minds.

Okay, that is a little dramatic. We really did enjoy most of our time here. It completely paled in comparison to our 12-day trip that we took last year though. This is because last year we were vacationing, and money wasn’t a really problem. Last year we took one of the most expensive cruises through Bai Tu Long Bay (still cheap by American standards though). We signed up for street food tours that were $30. Each. It wasn’t a big deal then because we were on vacation.

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Foggy Cat Ba Island. Last year the weather was amazing and so our expectations for Vietnam were set high.

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Beautiful Bai Tu Long Bay 

Better than Imagined

Cruising through a gorgeous, seemingly infinite number of limestone karsts. Sea kayaking through hidden lagoons from a secluded beach. Jumping off a junk boat into calm, cool, crystal water. Learning how to use fresh ingredients to cook authentic vietnamese cuisine.  Eating a deluxe dinner inside a romantic candlelit cave.

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Saigon From the Back of a Bike

“Beep Beep! Beeeeeep Beeeeeep HONK!!”

Welcome to Chaos

The sights and sounds of Siagon as we left the airport threw us immediately into the fast-paced vibe of the city. Motorbikes whizzing by, business folks wearing face-masks and talking on cellphones while running through speeding traffic, vendors sweeping the floors of their stalls while selling gifts for Tet. Each of these well-oiled gears run smoothly amongst one another and can only be described as organized chaos.

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Hanging Out in Hoi An

We immensely enjoyed our retreat spent in Hoi An, a small little town along the coast of central Vietnam. We call it a retreat because the sleepiness of the town was a warm welcome after dodging motorbikes and swarms of tourists in Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok. We spent the longest length of time in Hoi An, with 4 wonderful nights relaxing and recuperating from the previous chaos.

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Hello Asia!

In a little over two weeks, Robert and I will depart on a new adventure. We are flying from Jacksonville to Bangkok to explore Southeast Asia for almost three weeks! We will start off in Bangkok, where will we then travel to Vietnam, and spend the majority of our time exploring this country. We’ll end the trip in Cambodia, before beginning our 44-hour journey home!

This trip has been a long time coming, and it’s been a dream of Robert’s since I met him. I was hesitant at first, mostly due to ignorance. I knew nothing about that part of the world, and it just didn’t interest me all that much. Since being introduced to Vietnamese cuisine, reading a book about the Cambodian genocide, and hearing friend’s story of her adventures in Bangkok, my attitude has changed toward this part of the world.

It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced before, and that is what scared me. I realized that I was being irrational and unjust by not even giving it a chance. How can I knock something if I’ve never experienced for myself? Furthermore, how can I truly give it a fighting chance if I go into it with a negative outlook? Once I took a deeper look into myself and realized that I was just simply scared of the unknown, I abandoned my hesitation and decided to try it for myself so I could draw my own conclusions.

So, without further ado, here are some of the things that I am looking forward to in SE Asia:

1. Vietnamese street food- Pho is like crack. It’s cheap, it’s plentiful, it’s addicting. Also, I like my coffee cold and sweet, and I hear Vietnam knows how to do that perfectly.

2. Halong Bay- I’m a sucker for beautiful beaches. Add a kayaking trip and some caves and I’m sold.

3. Angkor Wat- Everyone says that the pictures just don’t do it justice. I need to experience this for myself!

4. Thai Massage- I can’t tell if I’m more nervous or excited. I’m not limber, at all. So, this should be interesting when they try to contort my body.

5. Spending time with my hubby- Anytime that we are on the same sleeping schedule together is a treat. I get 19 days of waking up next to him and I couldn’t be more excited!

 

And, any pre-trip ramblings would not be complete without sharing what I’m nervous about…..

1. Squatty potties– No, just no. I’m still a diva at heart.

2. Chopstick efficiency- I only learned how to use chopsticks properly a few months ago. I’m still worried that I won’t be able grab my noodles correctly and that all of the locals will be laughing at me (that’s why I’m carrying around an emergency spork).

<——This is me.

3. Getting ripped off by a tuk-tuk driver- We don’t speak the language and we’re clearly tourists that need a ride. Why wouldn’t they try to get an extra dollar from us?

4. Falling off an elephant- As my plans DO include riding an elephant in Cambodia, I can’t help but to be a *little* paranoid that I might fall off and break my neck. Or worse…. what if I get trampled?!

 

All of these things and more I shall soon discover! Keep posted for updates during the trip.
-Kaylee