After 4 months of traveling on the cheap, my mom and dad bought backpacks and gave us a chance to share a bit of our current lives with them in Vietnam.
Sure, we let them spoil us…but not until we had initiated them first.
Over 40 painful hours of flying and waiting for delayed flights, my parents were finally here, in Hanoi!
Completely jet-lagged in the early morning, they pushed their confused bodies out of bed at 6 AM and we set out to the park to find a unique sight.
People walking while punching their chests, arms, legs, and moving their heads in funny ways. Couples dancing Lambada, Vietnamese Salsa and Tango. Groups doing some kind of slow-motion fighting aka Tai Chi. Badminton all over the place, and groups of men squatting down surrounding games of Chinese chess while smoking cigarettes.
For my parents, everything was so…. different!
Exploring our favorite sites around Hanoi
Amazing Hanoi food tour with Windy of Asia Pearl Travel
Overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa
A slippery start:
After a pleasant train ride, we found ourselves surrounded by some of the most amazing views we’ve seen in our lives at the rice terraces of Sapa. 2 minutes into our trek, we noticed a group of 6 women, about 70 years old and dressed in long colorful traditional clothes with Vietnamese sombreros, mysteriously following us.
“Don’t worry” said Vu, our guide, in surprisingly good english, “They only want sell you the souvenir.”
Just minutes after beginning to descend the steep muddy hills, we found ourselves surrounded.
Two women were suddenly holding each of our arms, preventing us from rolling down the rugged mountain. It was pretty dangerous, but the situation was also absolutely hilarious!
Andres and I, too proud to accept the help, attempted to do it on our own. This is when the scene became even more hilarious as the women whose help we rejected now glued themselves to my parents, meaning they now had 8 hands holding each of them up!
Picture yourself walking down a muddy hill and seeing your mom laughing her heart out, nervous about seriously injuring herself while being carried like royalty by 4 traditionally clothed women in their 70s!
Dad fell down so many times, and ended up so dirty, that the women mockingly called him “The Water Buffalo.”
Our guide Vu dressed in traditional clothing
“Rice is Life” in this part of the world. Billions of people rely on it for income, and even more rely on it to feed themselves.
After a few days of hiking and a lot of mud aerobics, we rewarded ourselves with good beer and massages.
The beer was good…but those massages were painful!
Before they continued spoiling us, we had to teach my parents a few lessons in budgeting:
Exhibit A: Paying for a checked bag is The Holy Sin for budget travelers; it must be avoided at all costs. So here we are layering up to reduce weight and avoid baggage fees. Hey, those $30 go a loooong way in Asia.
Exhibit B: NEVER hire a private driver, travel local. We saved a few dollars and experienced a strange new bus format, a mix between a bed and a seat. Also, there were no other tourists.
Finally they had enough of the budgeting lessons and decided to spoil us by takin a high-end cruise in the absolutely beautiful Halong Bay, also among our top 5 most beautiful places.
Our attempt at Tai Chi
After 3 days of relaxation in Halong bay, mom rented bikes and put us to work. We rode, swam, did yoga, and even became chefs for an afternoon, learning how to make all of our favorite Vietnamese dishes. If you want to try just let me know……I’ll ask my mom to make them for you 🙂
If you know my mom, you know she is a fruit extremist radical fanatic. Throughout these 2 weeks she was in heaven with so many new exotic fruits she had never seen!
Beautiful rambutan tree
Fruit trees are fair game for Sary in Miami, Vietnam or anywhere in the world!
Hung bi: a little sour, a lot delicious
Jackfruits the size of my head!
Nos Encantó ‘Can Tho’
In the southern town of Can Tho we woke up at 5am and soon found ourselves on a boat in the middle of the Mekong delta, navigating through local fruit wholesale boats where clients buy boxes of Rambutan, Hungbee, mangostine, Jackfruit, and others. If no tourists came here, the market would be exactly the same as today. This fact proves its authenticity, and since gems like these are not easy to come by, it was extremely interesting.
One of the many fruit selling boats on the river
The last place we visited together was Ho Chi Minh City. Don’t let the guy below fool you, this is not a city for the lazy. Similar to Hanoi it’s noisy, dirty, and overwhelming but we enjoyed every minute of our last few days here together.
Sharing part of our year with my mom and dad was special, beyond words… Thank you!!!