Adventures as Miss Saigon

So it’s been about a week since I’ve blogged…I got caught up in HCMC with a friend from home and spending time with the family that I worked for when I lived there. Had a few days by the pool and have so many good stories to tell.

Unfortunately, there’s also a not so good story to tell, that made me decide to end my trip a few days early. But for now, I’m just gonna say that everyone is safe and in one piece, and I have just arrived back in Toronto.

In a few hours, I’ll be back in London, and I’m so excited to see my family, friends and furbaby! But all in good time…first, I need a shower and a good night’s sleep!

Thailand…Vietnam…5 weeks solo travel, many friends made and visited along the way, thousands of pictures taken…it’s been an amazing trip!!

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Courtesy of Dreams Hotel in Dalat!

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Well, I made it! I arrived in Dalat a few hours ago. This would have been the original end to my motorbike trip, but I have been having such a great time that I extended my trip! Tomorrow, Sinh shows me around Dalat, and then the next day we go to Jungle Beach for one night, then back to Dalat before I leave the morning of the 24th!

So, where to begin on this motorbike recap…first off, this wouldn’t have been the same trip without Sinh. His personal stories, experiences, connections with people around the area and expert driving skills made the trip what it was. Each morning, he would take me someplace nearby for breakfast, order me some food and then I would meet him afterwards and we would set off! He showed me many ways the local people make their livings, from cashew farmers and factories, to bamboo basket weaving, to honey/beekeeping, to coffee and rice farming, Sinh knows it all. If we passed a farmer tending his crop, we would stop by the side of the road, Sinh would offer him a cigarette and we would stand there talking for a few minutes. Sinh would explain the processes to me and answer my questions. The farmers and factory workers were always warm and welcoming, some having never met a foreigner before!

My absolute highlight of the trip (and what doesn’t show up in my pictures) was the children! From their wide eyed stares, to their shouts of hello, hiding behind their moms and friends, or touching me before we drove away, the children were amazing! We met them in minority villages and in fields, passed by their schools and homes. I felt a bit like a celebrity as we drove by, waving. Who knows if it’s because of the colour of my skin, that I’m a single female on the back of a motorbike, or because I’m much bigger than the average Asian (as many of the women enjoyed pointing out, with comments such as “your husband feeds you well”). It’s was all part of the experience!

The roads were sometimes busy, sometimes bumpy, sometimes narrow or nonexistent, but Sinh handled them with easy. As part of the experience, we adopted an “American standard” joke, in reference to how I had to get on and off Sinh’s bike. Sinh was a safe and knowledgeable driver, and never once did I feel at risk. I’m sure this comes from his 21 years of doing these sorts of trips and tours.

Sinh showed me so many places of history, places involved in the war or the building of a country. We skipped the tourist attractions (as I’d already done them) and focused on what was not in any guide book, things that Sinh has learned from his older brothers, his father and uncles, all of whom were a part of the war that took place here. Sinh has so many incredible stories from his life here…I am in awe of this man!

Over delicious lunches or dinners, we discussed history, Buddhism, love and marriage, life in Vietnam, our families and philosophies on life. Sinh is such a wise man and has been amazing company the past four days. Yesterday, he took me to visit his friends that live in a bamboo house in a minority village. The whole family welcomed me in with open arms, and had me drinking with them all afternoon. Even though I didn’t speak any of their language, their smiles and hand gestures told me a lot! Sometimes if I was very lost, Sinh would fill me in, but for the most part, it wasn’t necessary. After a quick shower, Sinh and I went to karaoke! And just to say I did it, I sang Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”…an instant Asian classic!

I know there are stories from our journey here that I haven’t shared, but I’m so overwhelmed with the awesomeness of this trip, that I think that’s enough writing for now!

Now, I’m in Dalat. And I’m already in love with this city. We drove in through flower greenhouses filled with Gerber daisies and roses, I’ve just had an incredible meal at this little restaurant I stumbled upon, and I’m ready to explore tomorrow! It helps having a tour guide, and it will be really incredible having Sinh as my tour guide once again!

Amazing day 3…will write soon…but the day ended with karaoke and me singing “My Heart Will Go On”…a true Asian classic! Yup, that did happen.

There is so much to say from my first 2 days on my motorbike trip…but being on the road all day in the sun and having a few drinks at the end of the day with my guide, Sinh, is leaving me totally exhausted!

So, for now, I’m just going to say I’m having such an amazing time that I’ve decided to extend my motorbike trip…instead of 4, it’s now going to be 7! So fun!

Night night!

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