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Written on: Friday June 2nd, 2006

A journal entry from: SOUTHEAST ASIA

Tan Mai Phai Guesthouse

We've arrived at our last stop on our journey up the Vietnamese coast. Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam's next big city on the rise. While Brea freshens-up from our overnight bus ride, I thought I'd take this opportunity to summarize what we've managed to get ourselves into (and out of) this past week.

This country has been a pleasant surprise and its people quite delightful. Our brief encounter with the Vietnamese has given us only a glimpse into their history-thick culture that has been embedded into their way of life today.

Upon arriving in Saigon we quickly learned of the country's war-torn history and our visit to the Cu Chi tunnels (an extensive web of underground passageways) gave us real insight as to how the American Forces impacted Vietnam. During our visit to the tunnels we were able to enjoy some tapioca and sip on green tea with some of the friendliest foreigners to come our way. Our big city experience ended with quite the scare as tempers were lost and Brea and I literally became captive to Vietnam's collective ways. Ironically and thankfully, we were rescued by an American-Vietnamese named Jack.

Swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, singing, and dancing encapsulate our one-day boat trip to the miniature islands of Nha Trang. Where I luckily sampled some traditional Vietnamese remedies that included a rubdown with some sort of magical potion free-of-charge. A floating bar with free wine and fruit completed our experience.

Bicycles became our main mode of transportation and in each town we sought out primarily sand and sun. The pristine beaches we found along the South China Sea were ruled by locals and peasant merchants, but they warmly welcomed us and our handfuls of dong.

Now regardless of the fair warnings received we easily succumbed to Vietnamese Au CoutureŁ and embraced our shopaholic addictions in Hoi An. I promise we have the excess baggage to prove it.

Lastly, my defining experience in Vietnam would have to be our motorbike tour in Hue, as I recall Brea clinging on for dear life, to the back of her crazed adrenaline junkie tour guide - hold on tight! From ricefields to monasteries, our appetites were always satisfied by either a steaming bowl of traditional Vietnamese noodle soup or simply a fresh baguette with a side of non-perishable cheese. As we made our way from HCM to Hanoi we tore apart every market in hopes of finding the perfect batch of postcards, hairpick and fridge magnets. But as for haircuts and massages one should always expect more than they bargained for. It is for those reasons and so much more, that Vietnam has effortlessly fallen into our list of favorites.

Now the time has arrived when I begin counting down the hours until Brea boards the plane home and we depart our separate ways, but I am grateful for the time we had together and the memories made that will last us a lifetime. Now for the remainder of the morning we've decided to splurge on a Cyclo to roam around the Old Quarter. So what's on the menu for breakfast before we hit the streets?