It’s been an interesting few weeks, blogfam. The trip to Vietnam was, of course, a highlight. We really aren’t so sure we will ever go back, but there were certainly some good times while we were there. There’s a lot to catch up on, so here goes!
First, the trip. We started in HCMC (Saigon), flew to Hanoi, overnighted on Halong Bay, took an overnight train to Hue, took a bus to Hoi An, flew to Saigon for a quick overnight, then on to Phu Quoc Island, and finally back to Saigon for two nights to catch our flight home. We spend NYE in Saigon, which was just perfect. There was an incredible amount of chaos, lots of good times, and great cheer. In talking to other travelers who spent NYE elsewhere (especially in Hanoi), it seems that we made a good decision in spending the night in Saigon. It was so much fun, and I didn’t even realize how tired and jet-lagged we were. A 30-hour flight and a 12-hour time difference can be a real drag.
Hanoi was interesting, but far from my favorite. To be fair, we didn’t see it at its best (cold, overcast, and rainy), and we had just come from warm, sunny, vibrant Saigon. It’s a very old city with a lot of history, and the food is pretty good (home of pho, after all). It was so much more serious than the south, and there was absolutely no nightlife to speak of (mandatory curfew and all). We decided that we couldn’t stand spending 4 whole days there, so we booked a fairly cheap overnight boat trip on Halong Bay. Again, we did not see it at its best, but it was worth it. We met some interesting people on our boat and saw some beautiful sights. Can’t ask for much more than that, really.
Once we hit the central coast, we both had a much better time. There was still some rain to contend with, but the temperatures were much more to our liking. Hue was the old imperial capital, so there was a lot to see there. Hoi An is an old port town that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Sight, so while not entirely “real,” it was beautiful. We took advantage of the shopping scene there to buy our Christmas gifts, and we are hoping that their intended recipients enjoy what we found. I don’t normally see vacations as an opportunity to shop, but sometimes it can be an interesting cultural experience.
Once we got to down to Phu Quoc Island, we began to see Vietnam’s charms. Phu Quoc is, by some accounts, “the next Phuket.” I am hoping that this is not true, as the unspoiled beauty of the island is its primary attraction. We stayed at an amazing eco-resort whose mere existence is threatened by the impending developments, and so I am firmly in the “keep things as they are” camp. We’ll see what happens. We spent four lazy days snorkeling, lazing on a beach, reading and napping in hammocks, and spending time with a truly international crowd of travelers (UK, Germany, France, Greece, Denmark, Spain, The Philippines, and a few expats living in Vietnam). Every night, we had an amazing 5-course communal dinner that often drew out for 3 or 4 hours. Truly, truly magical.
Now, it’s back to reality. My teaching is going fairly well so far. I have a full load of students (and an overload in one section), but they all seem pretty good. I have a campus visit later next week, and I’m registered to take the FSOT two weeks from Friday. Research and other things are going well. During our trip, I learned that my revise and resubmit had turned into an Accept! One more pub can’t possibly be a bad thing, and it was a nice boost. All in all, I am fairly happy right now, despite the impending uncertainties that I try so hard to ignore.