Exploring Vietnam in awesome Asia

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This is part three of a three-part series exploring my travels in Asia.

If you want the background on the travel series, visit my earlier posts on Thailand and Malaysia and Indonesia. The last post in this series highlights Vietnam.

Hanging in Hanoi 

Our entry into Vietnam was rather eventful. We discovered that while we had our Visa’s, we did not have the special fee due upon entry. There were no ATM machines and the patrol guards didn’t much care about our financial dilemma. So we turned around and humbly started asking for money and graciously paid the good Samaritans back once we accessed ATM machines.

Once we dropped our bags in our homestay, we headed into the streets of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Zim’s friend, Đào Thu Hằng, accompanied us and introduced me to Hanoi street food: Bánh mi (Vietnamese word for bread) stuffed with pork, cucumbers and chili sauce.

Hang graciously shared her city home. We took in the memorabilia at the Hanoi War Museum and strolled the streets in the Old Quarter and the French Quarter. Turns out, there is a big French influence here, particularly in the architecture. The highlight was attending a traditional water puppet show.

The city life with people in the streets visiting, eating and walking in the Old Quarter of Hanoi Vietnam

In the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Scrap metal sculpture from the Vietnam War at the Hanoi War Museum

A sculpture of scrap metal from the Vietnam War at the Hanoi War Museum

A group of twenty teenagers play guitars and sing in a park in Hanoi Vietnam and a crowd gathers to listen

Musicians and singers gather lakeside 

A water puppet show with a dragon and actors in the water in Hanoi Vietnam

A traditional water puppet show

Hearkening heaven on Ha Long Bay. 

No surprise, my heart sang in Vietnam as we traveled across the waters of Ha Long Bay. That’s the water baby in me, even though it was a three-hour bus ride, one way. As our ship moved across the bay, I broke bread with Korean boys and English girls with a community-style meal featuring fish stew. We witnessed living and working communities on the water: families living in one room homes and making a living by selling fish. The highlight of Ha Long was kayaking among the coves, caves and cliffs. On the trip inland, we passed by two rocks referred to as the ‘Kissing Rocks.’

The floating homes of people who work and live on Halong Bay in Vietnam

Home community on Ha Long Bay

Fish stew enjoyed in Halong Bay made from shrimp, fish, chicken and scalllions


Showing joy with arms up as we kayaki in Halong Bay Vietnam

Honoring Zim’s birthday with a kayak trip 

A view of Kissing Rocks. These two rocks are called this because of their close proximity to each other in the middle of Halong Bay in Vietnam.

‘Kissing Rocks’ in Ha Long Bay

Zim Ugochukwu, founder and CEO of Travel Noire, put the Awesome in the Awesome Asia journey. (Follow the organization on Twitter and @travelnoire on Instagram). Zim is foremost, my friend. In addition to this gift, she is a crazy amazing entrepreneur and a traveling goddess guru. We navigated Asia with smiles and surprises due to her cultural brokering and friendship.

Now its your turn. Do you have a trip, either stateside or abroad, that continues to inspire you? I welcome your shared memories in the comments section.

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Martha · at

I have enjoyed your 3-part series each time. I think you should build on your writing skills and do something with your talent. When I visited Japan, I will have to admit that I had difficulty with the fish stew. I tried very hard to show the respect that I felt inwardly and which I think is so very important when traveling in another country. I think it is so exciting to experience other cultures and only serves to broaden our perspectives on life.

cooldeb · at

Thank you for sharing your perspective Martha. I also appreciate you reading and commenting on the posts in the series. I think everyone should travel abroad to experience being lost and (most often) not able to speak the language fluently. Once you negotiate this, there’s not much in life that proves to be daunting. These situations provide great lessons in courage and fortitude.

Đào Thu Hằng · at


It’s so nice having my name in your post. I still remember that was Zim’s birthday for your strip to HaLong Bay. I am at sunny Lisbon but I do miss Hanoi a lot. Who knows we might have chance bump into each other again some day ;). Keep up your good writing Debbie.

As your call, I would want to share one of my favorite traveling experiences in Vienna. Hope you enjoy it 😉

    cooldeb · at

    Hang, so awesome to hear from you! I enjoyed your Vienna post and appreciate the share. I wished I would have taken a picture of the three of us! Cheers my friend…

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