Terrifying traffic, the constant sound of horns, and a city that reminded us a little of San Francisco welcomed us to Vietnam. Hanoi, the current capital, is in the North of Vietnam. Unfortunately, since we only had about a week, we weren’t able to travel any further South, which is something I regret, but gives me motivation to return.

We spent three days in Halong Bay, a beautiful, dreamy, mystical place. The boat we stayed on was so much nicer than we expected, and I wish we could have stayed both nights on the water. But meals were delicious, the staff was fun and friendly, and the other passengers were nice, interesting people.

Our stay in Halong Bay was occupied with caves, kayaking, karaoke, a pearl farm, bike riding, and beautiful long boat rides through lush green mountains. I really enjoyed the weather we had, because although it was cold, I feel lucky to see Halong Bay in a way tourists rarely do. We also took a short day trip to Tam Coc to be pedaled down the river by a woman with her feet. I wasn’t too keen on this trip because I felt as though it was a major scam, asking us to buy the pictures they took of us, overcharging for snacks for the rowers, expensive souvenirs, etc.

Throughout Hanoi we visited our fair share of museums, which were all so interesting. Some made us feel weird as Americans to be there, some were informational, and some were just confusing. But it definitely increased my interest in the Vietnam War, and made me ashamed to know so little about something so important. It is really amazing to me how much of the world is ignored throughout education and that as Americans, we seem to accept that as if it is okay. Living and traveling throughout Southeast Asia has really opened my eyes to a world I knew nothing about, and a world my friends at home don’t understand. I am excited to educate myself about these places that have taken hold of my heart and to return one day, with a deeper understanding than I have even now.