Mom and Dad have now packed their bags and headed back to sunny Saskatchewan! It was an amazing four weeks full of adventures, and Shawna and I couldn’t have been happier that they came to spend their winter vacation with us.
Here are a few reasons why:
1) A Different Perspective
It took about a week for it to set in, but one day Mom blurts out:
“I think I am experiencing culture shock!”
It was probably while walking through the alley where our guesthouse in Saigon was located…. likely stepping past the man who was chopping up raw pig meat on the side of the road. Or maybe walking beside the ladies who were picking knits out of their friends’ hair. Either way, she realized that the Vietnamese culture is different, very different, from what goes on back home.
After you have been travelling for a while I think you tend to forget about those differences, or you simply do not see them as being as incredible as you might once have. You brush over them a little too quickly which is unfortunate, because the actions, customs, and cultures of people around the globe are one of the greatest parts of travel. Having Mom and Dad here with us reawakened our senses to that a little.
Sidenote: in fairness to Mom, she probably didn’t actually ‘blurt’ it out as I said above. Mom simply isn’t a blurt-er. I have no doubt that she thought over what she was going to say for an extensive period of time. But the verb seemed to work as I was typing, so for the sake of this story… she was blurting.
2) They Are Great Couriers
When travelling, we are constantly running into things which we would love to have back at home. And virtually every time we have walked away from these things because it simply doesn’t make sense. It costs too much to send home, and we certainly are not going to carry it around with us for the rest of our trip.
Enter…Mom and Dad, the finest pack mules money can buy! With just over month on the road, they had some shopping to do, and brought the extra empty luggage to prove it. Fortunately, there was even enough space for us to send them home with a few gifts for others and even one or two things we found for ourselves.
3) A Different Pace
Shawna and I travel at fairly typical pace (at least we think so) for a couple who is hoping to see as much as they can of the world over a 15-18 month time period. We haven’t stayed in any one place for months on end, but we take our time travelling overland as much as possibly and smell the roses (or in the case of Vietnam, smell the fish sauce) whenever possible. However, for our 25 days with Rick and Jackie, we did quicken the pace just a little:
Arrive in Saigon (2 nights)
Fly to Phu Quoc Island (5 nights)
Fly back to Saigon (1 night)
Bus to Dalat (2 nights)
Fly to Danang, then taxi to Hoi An (3 nights)
Overnight train to Hanoi (1 night on the train, 1 night in Hanoi)
Halong Bay, Aboard the Calypso Cruiser (2 nights)
Bus back to Hanoi (1 night)
Fly to Nha Trang (3 nights)
Train to Saigon (1 night)
Bus to Mekong Delta for a homestay (1 night)
Return to Saigon (2 night)
Head to airport and say goodbye!
WOW! I am outta breath just typing that! We saw and did an incredible amount in the time they were here... and we absolutely loved it! Sure Shawna and I typically move a little slower, but we didn’t feel that we were skimming over anything we did. We got everything out of each day that we could – no one can argue with that. And do you know what? Every once in awhile it is really refreshing to take a 90 minute plane ride, as opposed to a soul-draining 15 hour bus ride.
4) We Were ‘A Little’ Spoiled
Oh sure, we spent a little more in Vietnam than we typically would have (and I’ll give you all the thrilling details of that in the next budget post), but I can assure you we saw more value for our money here than in any other country, and for that….we have only two people to thank.
Because each couple was travelling on a different budget, we often looked for places a little more high-end for Mom and Dad, and then a nearby hostel or guesthouse for Shawna and I. The deal was that we would take M&D to their place first to ensure that they were settled in and that all was in order and then we would head to our place and slum it out (okay, maybe it wasn’t that tragic). Well on two of these occasions, namely the Nha Trang Sheraton and the Bamboo Village Bungalows in Hoi An, they must have seen the not-so-well-hidden envy in our eyes, and suddenly the deals were on the table. It wasn’t free accommodation, but I doubt there are many people who paid the paltry sum that we did to stay in these outstanding establishments.
And that is not even including the generosity shown to us for our 5-nights in the Saigon Phu Quoc Resort which kicked of our time together in Vietnam!
5) They Represent A Little Piece Of Home
Travel is awesome. Really awesome. But family is awesomer. And so when we had the opportunity to spend almost four weeks with Mom and Dad (and just after that six weeks with Shawna’s sister!!) we couldn’t have been more thrilled! There is no better way to have kicked off the first few months of 2012 than to have visitors like this who mean so much to us!
I don’t miss much from back home, but family is one thing that I do wish I could keep a little closer to me. Their visit was simply good for the soul. Heck, if I could get family to visit us every four months I would probably travel forever….. although I suppose Shawna might have something to say about that!
Thanks for the visit guys! We love ya tons and are so glad you came….and the next Vietnamese Beach Resort is on us!!