Vietnam 2023 - Saigon, Da Nang & Phong Nha

Aug. 1, 2023

Vietnam, a land scarred by history, yet pulsating with life. I ventured into this abyss with two companions, and the journey began with the chaos of existence. The neon lights of Saigon greeted us, but fate played its cards. One of us was trapped in the bureaucratic snare - a mere passport number anomaly (the idiot friend put the wrong passort number on his Visa Application 😂). The choice was to pay a price, either in currency or in freedom. The universe isn’t always kind.

Our escape from the airport led us to a humble abode, and as night descended, we found solace in the ancient post office and the park. The streets, a juxtaposition of history and modern hedonism, pulsed with life.

Morning brought with it the bittersweet embrace of Vietnamese coffee. A dance of dark bitterness and saccharine milk, it’s reminiscent of life itself – contrasting yet harmonious.

The Cu Chi Tunnels beckoned us next. A testament to human resilience and the horrors of war. The narrow confines whispered tales of survival, and the firing range echoed the sounds of a time long gone. We got to shoot M16 and AK47 guns. It was fire! (get it?🔫). Amidst this, a bamboo backdrop provided a fleeting moment of serenity.

Da Nang awaited. The simple pleasures of Banh Mi sandwiches and the vastness of the ocean kept us grounded. And amidst the vast sea and sand, a connection to the locals - a momentary brush with fame, reminding us of the interwoven fabric of global culture. (A few Vietnamese university students approached us for photographs. Mini Celebrity Moment ✅. Pretty friendly people. Turns out Balika Vadhu is really popular in Vietnam.)

Time stood still as we gazed at the horizon from our beachside haven. The roaring waves, the spicy embrace of ramen, and the calming sip of green tea – a symphony of experiences.

My Khe beach reminded us of the impermanence of life. Waves, smaller than expected, yet the vastness of the ocean was humbling. As the sun dipped, gastronomic adventures awaited, with a simple pork sausage challenging preconceived notions.

The next day was a travel day. We almost missed our train. We reached around 8 PM. Phong Nha, a place where time seemed to have paused. The night brought hunger and a quest. Amidst the enveloping darkness, the taste of Chicken Pho became an existential experience.

The caves of Phong Nha whispered secrets of the earth. Vietnam has the largest caves in the world. We were here for the second-largest cave. Kayaking in the heart of darkness, with just our headlights piercing the void, we confronted nature’s majesty and mystery. We kayaked for about 2KM and rock climbed another 2KM. There was no light in the caves, just our headlights. The cave was huge. It was full of stalactites and stalagmites. I was shocked to see how crystal white they were. The jagged rocks, a testament to the relentless march of time, challenged us, and the journey became a reflection of our own existence.

Exhausted, we sought refuge in the homestay, with dreams filled with the day’s adventures.

Hue, a town echoing the footsteps of emperors. The imperial palace stood as a testament to the fleeting nature of power. And amidst this grandeur, the simple beauty of Koi Carp reminded us of life’s delicate balance. Plus I got a Wes Andersonesque photo 😂 -

Our journey neared its end, but not without the skies weeping over Da Nang. A final embrace of the beach, a last taste of Bahn Mi, and memories etched in time.

The flavors of Vietnam:

In reflection, Vietnam was a journey through the tapestry of existence.

Food – A symphony of flavors, albeit limited for the vegetarian soul: 8/10

Natural beauty – A reminder of the universe’s artistry: 9/10

Affordability – A testament to life’s simple pleasures: 10/10

Would I traverse this path again? Perhaps not. Some journeys are meant to be taken once, leaving an indelible mark on the soul.

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