Thursday, December 5, 2013

Vietnam Wrap Up and Reviews

Ha Long Bay on a cloudy day.
In our eight days in Vietnam, we slept at, ate at, and saw many things. There are still things we wish we could have experienced, but I don’t regret skipping anything. Thanks to recommendations from friends, coworkers, and the internet, we were able to have a great time. So what should you see? I'll show you!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Vietnam Vacation: Day Eight

Motorbikes pass by the Notre Dame Basilica.
[For a recap of our fun last day in beautiful Phu Quoc, read HERE. We went on a tour of the island and saw everything from wineries to a war/torture museum.]

It had finally come, our last day in Vietnam. I had set up our flights so we could have a long layover in Ho Chi Minh City. That way, we could experience the city without having to take away from relaxing in Phu Quoc or getting to know Hanoi. The bigger, more urban Ho Chi Minh City was less of a priority, so we decided we did not need to spend too much time there.

Early in the morning, we took the shuttle van out to the airport. Boarding the plane there, we were soon in Ho Chi Minh City. (From here on out, I'll call Ho Chi Minh by its older name: Saigon. It is used a lot in Vietnam anyway, plus it is easier to type)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Vietnam Vacation: Day Seven

Unlike TLC, we always go chasing waterfalls.
[We had spent the day before we had massages on the beach, checked out a lighthouse with a temple attached, visited the nearby town, and made a new little friend at a bar]

Our seventh day in Vietnam, our third in Phu Quoc, started with a tour of the southern part of the island. We set it up through the night ght ce resort employee we had met on the first day at the Sea Star Resort (I believe his name was Khan). It was not expensive, and we wanted to see some more of the island. I figured a tour would be a nice way to see it.

However, the rain threatened to ruin our fun. The clouds and rain came and went the past two days, but these ones stayed around for nearly our entire tour. Torrents of rain crashed down around us as we jumped onto the shuttle bus and met our guide for the morning. We then set out to pick up a couple of other couples at another resort.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vietnam Vacation: Day Six

Bright colors are everywhere in Vietnam (but especially in Phu Quoc)

[Previously, we spent the our first day in Phu Quoc getting our bearings. It rained a ton from the moment we touched down, but we were still able to relax from our room's porch and get some great food.]

As day broke on our second full day on Phu Quoc, we decided to do some exploring. However, first, we needed some more relaxing. We planned to hit up the local market, check out the nearby town, and get a massage on the beach.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vietnam Vacation: Day Five


[You can read the previous day's entry HERE. It includes how we spent our one full day in Hanoi: cooking class, meeting a not nice person, checking out the sights, and eating, eating, eating]

It was finally our last day in Hanoi. Sadly, we packed our bags and trudged our way down to wait for the shuttle bus. The bus came around and collected us. While I had become used to traveling around the city by foot, I was in no way used to being in a motor vehicle. The bus driver drove like a maniac. I spent most of the trip looking out the window and freaking out as he narrowly missed running into many, many, many things.

We quickly moved through the security line. Actually, it was surprisingly easy. Coming from the United States, you have to take off your shoes, all metal objects, take your laptops out of any bags, dump out your liquids, and go through a metal detector or two. For this domestic flight, we put our stuff through a metal detector, but they just waved me through as I was trying to take off my belt. The line moved super fast. Nobody had to take off their shoes. It was nice.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Vietnam Vacation: Day Four


We stayed in a little before heading downstairs for breakfast. We ate on the first level of the Hanoi Diamond Hotel. It was a simple, but tasty meal.

Me (at least my feet) relaxing in the hotel, browsing Google Plus. (Courtesy of Jackie Eckles)
Then we headed out for the day. It would be our only full day in Hanoi, and we wanted to make the most of it. I had read that public transportation in Vietnam is easy and cheap; however, our hotel was in such a great location, we were able to walk everywhere.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vietnam Vacation: Day Three

Sunrise in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
[Last time, we had taken a long bus ride out to the countryside in order to board a junk boat and stay a couple days in Ha Long Bay. It rained a ton, but we were still able to see the cave, play on the beach, kayak (even though I can't swim), and eat lots of great food.]


The next morning, we awoke on the boat. It was a great night's sleep. +Jackie Eckles had gone out before sunrise in order to take some photos with her new camera. I decided to join her. The sun had just begun to come out from behind the clouds as we stood and whispered to each other. Some of the crew slept in the dining room and in the control room (I'm not sure what it is called, the room with steering wheel). The entire scene was very peaceful and relaxing. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning at all.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vietnam Vacation: Day Two

The view of Ha Long Bay is beautiful.
[The previous day, we had arrived in Hanoi and checked into our hostel before exploring the Old Quarter. We mostly ate and hung out while overlooking the big lake. It was a lot of fun, but we were ready for some new experiences]

The next morning, we woke up ready for a new adventure. We would be leaving for Ha Long Bay where we would be staying for the majority of Sunday and Monday. We waited in the lobby of the hostel and were finally taken to a large van that already contained a few passengers. For the next 15 minutes, we picked up new people until our van was full, about 18 in all.

The drive took almost four hours. It was a bit frustrating to have to be sitting for so long, but it also allowed us to see a great deal of the Vietnamese countryside. We saw a great deal of construction, some factories, many small towns, fields of many kinds of fruits and vegetables, rice paddies, cows, goats, and a bunch of gas stations. Most of the natural surroundings were beautiful. I wish we could have stopped along the way to check some things out.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Vietnam Vacation: Day One


[In my last post, I discussed all the steps leading up to the vacation: how to exchange money, how we booked our flights and hotels, got our visas done, and packed up.]

In my excitement to write about the preparation to Vietnam, I forgot to say how we chose what we needed to do when we got there. I looked at many sources, including blogs, Foursquare reviews, TripAdvisor, and Google Plus place reviews. After initially wanting to spend a night in Saigon, we eventually decided Hanoi was the city to spend time in and we would rather relax in Phu Quoc at the beach than deal with another busy city. That is why we only decided to spend 12 hours there.]

Also, we used Google Maps to mark down all the important places to go. We usually use Google Maps and share it between us, but we found out that with the new Google Maps app updates, we would no longer be able to access them on our phones. That really took away a lot of our use for the app unfortunately. It also meant I wasted a bit of time having worked on that map for a couple months. Oh well. Supposedly, access to those private maps will eventually come back to the app. I hope it is soon. Those are a big help.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Preparing for Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Each year I get two weeks of vacation, one in the summer, one in the winter. That does not seem like a lot, and it is not, but I enjoy my job anyway. However, I really needed this vacation. We had decided to check out Vietnam on the recommendation of one of Jackie's coworkers. He really loved the place. Over the course of the next few months, we started to set up our trip.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Year in Review: Part Three of Three

The Seoul Lantern Festival in November 2012

I am finally up to the last review post for 2012... Yeah! I can finally move onto 2013 posts now! You can catch up on the last two posts here and here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Year in Review: Part Two of Three



[You can find Part One here]

Wow. It has taken me forever to get to part two... It has been a super busy half of a year. So allow me to push these other posts out quickly.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Year in Review: Part One of Three

Outside the window of my apartment in Tigard, OR
Since the first month of 2013 is almost over, I should review what happened all of last year. This has been the most change-y year of my life by far. It would probably work better if I started from the beginning.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Apple Picking and Jazz Festival


I am a bit behind in my posts, but it has been a busy last couple of months. Let me fill you in on the biggest event that happened this Fall. On November 3, +Jackie Masar and I went apple picking with Adventure Korea. The great thing about Adventure Korea is they pick out awesome things to do the whole day, and this trip was no exception. We were also able to experience a 1,500-year-old Buddhist temple.