Sunday, January 16, 2011

Vietnam Vacation

This holiday season, Chris and I set out on an 18 day trip to Vietnam with 4 great friends: Richard, Alyna, Meg and Adam. We made our way from Hanoi in northern Vietnam to Saigon in the south traveling by train, bus, boat, taxi and motorcycle. It was an amazing trip made even more special because we shared it with our friends. In one month when we all leave Korea, we will be going our separate ways in different parts of the US. Even though I'm sure we'll meet up again soon somewhere in the world, it was so nice to spend the holidays with them.
Here is a very abbreviated list of what we did over 2.5 weeks in Vietnam.
*See all our pictures on PICASA.

-visited the Hanoi Hilton and saw, among many other things, John McCain's flight suit he was wearing when he was captured
-spent Christmas eve on a Halong Bay house boat and woke up sleeping passengers by singing karaoke Christmas songs
- Sat on tiny plastic stools to eat delicious PHO on the street and didn't always get sick
- counted hundreds of "santa babies." Vietnamese people dress their babies and toddlers up in Santa outfits. This is a tradition the US needs to get behind because its freaking adorable.

- got a ton of tailored clothes made on the cheap (a suit, dress shirts, and wool coat for Chris and a dress and wool coat for me)
- celebrated New Years Eve on the beach and with BUCKETS. Some of you will understand this. Mom, thankfully you will not.
- ate a bahn mi (vietnamese sandwich) everyday. Sometimes twice a day.
- took a cooking class and were partly responsible for cooking some of the most delicious food ever eaten
- drank Vietnamese coffee like it was our jobs

- took an overnight bus which was so...cozy... that it necessitated the use of prescription sleeping pills. So I don't really remember much of that.
- met up with an awesome group of motorcycle drivers who took us on a 4 day tour south to Saigon
- stopped along the way at many different farms (peppercorn, starfruit, passionfruit, rubbertree, cocoa, silk worm)
- rode through the beautiful countryside and met some locals living in rural parts of Vietnam, just a few kilometers from Cambodia. And we might have given some of their kids belly-blows.

- sobered up with a gallery of Agent Orange victims at the War Remnants Museum
- walked around as best we could in a city of 5 million people and 3 million motorbikes
- said a sad, tearful goodbye to our magnificent motorcycle drivers. They not only showed us a unique side of Vietnam that we couldn't have accessed on our own, they were also a lot of fun and really kind. If anyone's thinking of doing a motorcycle tour in Vietnam--I highly recommend it!


  1. Hi Laura!

    I love your blog! My name's Scott, and I'm currently teaching English at YBM ECC in Junggye. A lot of my students study at Sangmyeong Elementary School, so I found many of your posts and pictures quite interesting. I even found some of my students photos on your page. Perhaps you know Will, Rachel, or Esther? Rachel is one of my brightest students, and often talks about "Laura Teacher" during class. Anyways, how do you like your job at Sangmyeong? My job is alright, but I think I would rather work at an elementary school next year.



  2. Hey Scott--Thanks for commenting and for reading our blog. It's great to hear that you know some of our students...Rachel, Esther, and Will are such special kids. Chris and I are actually packing up our apartment in Nowon right now and are heading back to the US Saturday. We will miss our students and Korea so much. We worked at a hagwan (YES Youngdo) our first year in Korea and, while we made good money, there were definetly some negative parts to the job which I'm sure you can relate to. Working at Sangmyeong has meant better hours and vacation time, less actual teaching time and a closer relationship with the students (since kids arent signing up and dropping every month, and classes aren't changing so often like they did at our hagwan). Also the main difference between Sangmyeong and a public school is that Sangmyeong has 26 native English teachers so to me, it's not as lonely as a public job and there's a lot more support.
    Anyway- great to hear from you! Tell those Sangmyeong-ers Laura Teacher says Hello!


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