Bye Bye Beautiful Vietnam
the last three weeks have been amazing, adventurous, refreshing and heart warming. I can definitely say that I’ve found a way to live in Vietnam. Yes it took some adjusting, but boy oh boy I had so much fun.
The last 2 weeks we finally got more time to explore the country as well, and I definitely made use of that. Something that was on my list from the beginning was the Halong Bay. It is a bay connected to the sea in the north of Vietnam and it is breathtaking. It used to be a mountainous area, but what happened is that, because it was lower than the sea level, all this water went in between the lower parts of the mountain. So now it looks like rocks emerging out of nowhere. We took a boat tour and went kayaking in between the rocks.
You know a thing here is that, something that doesn’t seem to be possible is possible in Vietnam. They’ll find a way to do it anyway even tho it’s incredibly unsafe. But I guess they either don’t know or they don’t care.
So when we were literally in the kayak for 5 minutes the guide said: ‘okay now we’ll go into this cave, it’s dark so turn on your headlights and follow me’. AAaaannd he was gone. Above the cave there was a sign that said: DANGER do not enter. But we all went in. Inside the cave it was super duper dark and (of course haha) our light didn’t work. We kept bumping into the walls, it was very interesting and a little scary as well. The rest of the tour was beautiful. Imagine kayaking in bright blue water, between very big rocks covered in greenery. We even saw monkeys jumping in between trees on the rock. I was very amazed and excited. But Annie, who is from India wasn’t very impressed. She told me that there are loads of monkeys in her college and when she encounters a group of them, she needs to drop her bag and run away. They’ll steal her food. That sounds so funny to me, but in India it is actually real haha.
The day after I drove a motorbike around CatBa Island. It was the first time I drove a motorbike and I did it in Vietnam right away ;). (don’t worry, it wasn’t as crazy as Hanoi traffic can be). We went to the national park and when we needed to get gasoline a woman just filled my motorbike with petrol that came out of a plastic waterbottle with her bare hands. To me all of that is so new, imagine if a fire would even come close to that… But as I said before, what doesn’t seem possible actually IS possible here.
We finished our project. It turned out to be very rewarding and really empowered me. The teens are lovely and it was really tough to say goodbye to them. The last day we spent together was ‘Closing day’. It was a very special day where everybody held a little speech. We sang and danced together and I had some really good conversations. We ended the day by writing letters to each other and putting them in each others little sugar cubes. I got almost 30 letters with thank you’s, stories and very touching words. I ended up reading them with tears in my eyes. It’s a very special feeling to feel like to you did something that mattered.
I spent Christmas eve with a bunch of other volunteers (form another project) in Spring Hill. We sat around a campfire and roasted our own food. It’s a very different Christmas eve than normal, but It was a very good one. Being surrounded with international friends, doing something that isn’t part of your daily life really gives a sense of freedom. Oh and my buddy Camila, who is also a part of Aiesec, hung up all these Christmas gifts in a tree. That was very cool, and she made them herself!!
Christmas day and the days after were spend in Hoi An. A beautiful city in the middle of Vietnam that is covered in lanterns, colours and creative beings. I felt so at peace there. There are also very many tailors and shops for leather there. In comparison to other countries it is ridiculously cheap. We strolled around, had an amazing breakfast (a smoothie bowl which was just to die for) and I got my own personal leather bag made! I could choose the leather, style and inside fabric that I wanted and I am very happy with it. As you might know, I am very picky when buying bags haha and I wanted a new one for forever.
In the evening you would see all these little lights floating on the water, it is truly a magical sight. I put a little lantern on the water as well, and it is supposed to give you luck. I think I loved Hoi An the most in the evening, when there are lights and colours everywhere. If you are ever in Vietnam, make sure you don’t miss Hoi An.
I could tell you so much more but I will do that in real life. I am incredibly thankful for this experience and the people that I’ve met. It made me cry when I had to leave them and I truly hope to meet them again. They’re so passionate, smart and beautiful. They inspired me very much. Even tho I feel very sad to leave, I feel ready for a new adventure. I am so excited to see you and Veerle again. And our travel through Indonesia is already going to be great. Can’t wait to hear all your stories and see you soon!
Lots of love,