Hoi An is a beautiful town in central Vietnam that we decided to rest in for a few days to recharge our batteries. It’s full of old, historic buildings, lantern lined canals and it’s claim to fame – tailor shops. After reading countless reviews from harsh critics on Lonely Planet forums that the tailors are tourist shams, I was a little apprehensive, but decided to go for it anyways.
For our second day trip out of Saigon, we went about 4 hours north to a beach town called Mui Ne. The town is famous for the windswept beaches that make it a haven for kite surfers from around the world. However, the main draw are the giant red and white sand dunes that push right up to the edge of the ocean .
Our friends suggested we get out in the Mekong Delta region for a few days, so we connected with a guide they knew and headed out to Ben Tre. The rivers and canals we went to explore were the same ones war boats traveled through at the start of the Vietnam war. The trip was definitely an adventure and we learned some valuable lessons along the way.
After a few days of heat, stress and manic tuk-tuk drivers in Phnom Penh we jumped on a bus and headed to Saigon for some much needed R&R with our friends Shauna and Randy. Shauna and Randy were the ones who convinced us to teach in Korea in the first place. They had been in Saigon for about 7 months after finishing their contracts in Ulsan. We were excited to see some familiar faces and have a few lazy days with no sightseeing, maps or guidebooks.
We decided to stop in Phnom Penh (PP) to break up the tortuously long bus ride to Saigon. A friend recommended a hostel that promised to change your mind about Phnom Pehn’s layover status, so we went for it. Wouldn’t say they were exactly successful.
The first stop on our two month Southeast Asian adventure definitely did not disappoint. Immediately after we stepped off the plane the birds were singing, the air was breezy and Siem Reap began blowing out my expectations. This city proved to be something special that went beyond the monumental wats.
Our time is quickly ticking away in our last 5 days and there is barely time to reflect on the past year amid all the frantic packing and closing of our affairs. When I’m not having anxiety attacks I’ve been thinking about what a wonderful year it’s been and all the amazing people I had the chance to meet. When first deciding to pack up my Miami life and move to Korea for a year, I was hoping for a life changing experience that would result in an undeniable epiphany on what I wanted out of life. As most find out who hope for that, it did not occur. What did occur were small, eye-opening experiences and encounters that started to change the way you look at the world and the life you can imagine for yourself. Living abroad seemed so daunting only a year ago, but now it’s something I know I can do and enjoy.
For the first time in my life I have absolutely no plan and no vision for where I’ll be 6 months from now, but that’s ok. If there’s anything I learned from living in South Korea for a year it’s to not have any expectations and just take life as it comes.
So thanks Korea for all your valuable lessons and for all the wonderful people I otherwise would have never met. I’ll never forget it.
And of course the year wouldn’t have been the same without the endearing, mischievous kiddies and great teachers I worked with all year, so here’s a little video with some highlights:
Even though I don’t have a plan for 6 months from now, we do have a plan for the next two! Coming this Saturday we will be leaving for our most epic traveling adventure yet, venturing through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Hopefully we’ll have the chance to post updates along the way, so stay tuned, and if you’ll be in that corner of the world in March and April let us know!
To all those in the US, see you April 24th!!!!!!