Where was my favorite place?

I still can’t believe our year is over.

I just can’t get it through my head, despite dozens of conversations over the past couple weeks with friends, family and acquaintances about our next steps.

In all of those conversations, one question always comes up: Where is your favorite place?

Every place is so different from the others. They all offered unique experiences that I’ll never forget. It would be like choosing my favorite child to pick only one, but there is a place that, no matter the day or who’s asking, it always comes to mind.

Vietnam stands out to me for many reasons but mostly because it was surprising. I’ve wanted to go to Vietnam for years and it didn’t only hold up, it exceeded expectations. My heart still melts a little ever time I see a photo on my phone or open my kitchen drawer and see the soup spoons that made it home unscathed.

Over three weeks we traveled from Hanoi in the north to the Mekong Delta in the south and a few stops in between, including my favorite city HoiAn. I already gushed over the people, places, markets and food in Vietnam so rather than repeating all of the things I loved, I thought you’d like a little glimpse into our trip. Maybe this will give you a little taste of what I loved so much.

We started in Hanoi.

We didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d liked in Hanoi but there is an energy in that city that was irresistible.
You really don’t want to mess with these women. Those things are heavy.
Sometimes it’s just the little things. This is from a temple.
Oh, just another morning business call, heels and a pencil skirt while side-saddling a scooter in the most terrifying traffic jam I’ve ever experienced.

Took a quick trip to Sapa for some hiking.

Heavy fog outside of Sapa added to the already beautiful scenery of the layered rice fields.
We met the most amazing people on our overnight hike in Sapa.
Villages were almost invisible on our second morning with fog blanketing the entire valley.
Not the wildlife we’re used to seeing on hikes but these water buffalo were fun to watch.
A quick stop for photos of the waterfall.
When the clouds lifted patches of rice fields covered our view.
The sprawling rice fields outside of Sapa are incredible. I can’t wait to go back during harvest time when they turn yellow.
We hiked by several villages outside of Sapa where a simpler way of life is necessary and still valued by the people that live there.
My trail shoes were barely enough to keep me standing on the rough, slippery trails but locals were killing it barefoot.

Next up, Halong Bay for a cruise and a private beach bungalow. Not too shabby.

Islands, Island everywhere. Jagged little rocks sandwiched between large boulders surrounded by massive islands. Halong Bay did not disappoint.
At night all the cruise boats drop anchor in the same cove in Halong Bay. It was like a light show on the water watching them all pull up.
I did not boost the color in this. The water actually looks like that. I swear.
I ate that. It was chewy.
Just more islands from Halong Bay.
Giant cave formations inside the Surprise Cave in Halong Bay.

Then on to the center of the country where we fell in love with HoiAn, which you already know about, and discovered some interesting sites in Hue. 

Temples are so full of color in Vietnam. Yes, I think I’ll bring my camera.
Moms don’t look!
More color in case you hadn’t seen enough. Incense sticks being sold at a local market.
That’s inside of the Mausoleum of Khai Dinh. The entire interior of this building was covered in the most gorgeous mosaics I’ve ever seen. Spectacular.
Everyone in Vietnam wears those hats. This is not a gimmick as I suspected. They’re legit.
Yap, he’s touching dangerous animals again. But he’s still alive and I got fresh honey so let’s call it a win win.

Now we’re moving south to find the floating market in the Mekong Delta.

Baskets of water and sea creatures were sprawled across a massive warehouse where vendors were tossing fish from one side of the aisle to the other. It was chaotic and amazing.
An early morning visit to the fishing market in Can Tho was worth every minute of sleep I lost.
Dead meat hanging all over the fish market too. I’m pretty sure these workers don’t sleep. She was doing that when I went to bed at midnight that night and there again at 5:30 a.m. when I came for the fish market.
Imagine a sea of boats completely loaded down with produce and goods. This doesn’t do it justice. The floating market was truly something to see.
I ate that pineapple right after she cut it and it was insanely delicious. Turns out they’re sweeter over there. So good.
These women amaze me. I aspire to be this strong, hardworking and dedicated. Also, those hats.
When I say they were loaded down I’m not joking. Think Costco but on boats. We’re talking bulk people.
It’s fascinating what goes into these markets. I love these people.
COCONUT EVERYWHERE! These flakes were being drained for coconut milk that was used to make fresh candies, which were to die for!
Buddha temples everywhere. This guy was gigantic.

Last, but certainly not least, a prolonged visit to Ho Chi Minh (Saignon) where we spent about 10 days exploring the city while James got his first root canal. 

Ho Chi Minh is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever visited and there was plenty of stellar street art surrounding the hippest sections of town.
Mr. Phueng worked at the post office for 70 years handwriting letters for people who could not read or write. He’s retired now but still comes to the Central Post office every week Monday through Saturday to write post cards for visitors. He wrote two for us.
The beautiful ceiling of the Central Post Office.
Had the best Baja fish taco of my life at Sancho’s Craft Beer + Mexican Kitchen! Honestly, we went three times. Tell Calvin we sent you. (Thanks for the photo Sancho’s!)
The view from inside Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh, which was the home and office of the president of South Vietnam during the war with the US.
Communication radio equipment from the Vietnam War in the bunker of the Independence Palace. Talk about retro.
That time we paid way too much for coconut water but it’s OK because James got to carry this thing and do all of the work… wait.

If you made it all the way to the end then congrats and thanks for hanging in there! Where’s the place that surprised you the most? Comment below. We love hearing from you guys! 



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