"Tomorrow, Nice Hotel!"—Off-The-Map Adventures In Southeast Asia
Oct. 16, 2014, Hanoi, Vietnam: Discover Vietnam beyond the packaged tours for Western travelers.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
For my husband David and me, one of the most gratifying aspects of living in Southeast Asia has been the chances we've had to do local things. To get to know our local neighbors and to be treated as though we're one of them, a real part of the community.
Our friend Tuan owns a minivan and makes his living as a private tour guide. He is Vietnamese, and most of his customers are also Vietnamese. This year, a group of ladies from Saigon hired him to show them Vietnam's remote Northwest Loop. There were two extra seats available in the van, and he asked David and me if we'd like to ride along on the five-day trip.
We were excited by the opportunity. It would have been difficult to undertake this journey on our own. Many places along this 700-mile trip are so remote that planning the logistics ourselves would have been almost impossible. Navigating tiny, winding, barely maintained roads through high mountains and soaring passes presents plenty of challenges.
We asked Tuan if we would be staying in hotels, and he assured us that we would be very comfortable. Great.
We enthusiastically accepted Tuan's offer, and certainly we're glad we made the trip, but we realized quickly after setting out that this would not be like any adventure we'd had in Vietnam before.
We were not traveling as Western tourists but as part of a Vietnamese group. Fortunately most of our traveling companions spoke English, making it easy enough for us to communicate. By the end of the trip, we had all become good friends.