More than we expected of Vietnam, fascination, awe and wonder…It has it all…Where does familiarity fall into the mix?

This, dear readers, so much bespeaks Vietnam in today’s world.

Yesterday afternoon, when we took off on foot from the hotel, we were excited to be walking. With the cruise officially starting tomorrow, I needed to get out walking to test how I’d do on the many upcoming treks over the next two weeks.

The streets are packed with locals, drinking famous Vietnamese coffee, tea while happily commiserating among friends.

Determined to be able to participate fully, we decided to walk until I couldn’t take another step which lasted nearly two hours. Not only was exercise my mission, but capturing as many possible photos to share here was on my mind.

Vendor cooking on the street with the barest of essentials.

It was raining off and on during the entire walk, although at no point were we soaked. There were plenty of overhangs and trees to shelter us during the downpours. We continued on when each block we explored provided its own unique flavor of Vietnam.

There are over 5 million motorbikes in Hanoi.  Walking across any road is challenging.

The sights, the sounds and the smells of lemongrass wafting through the air created a unique persona, unlike any we’ve experience anywhere else in the world. 

Colorful lanterns, balls, balloons and toys line the streets.

As we’ve begun to explore Southeast Asia in our worldwide travels, no doubt these assaults to our senses will become more familiar and less intoxicating. You know how it is…familiarity…well, in this case it doesn’t “breed contempt” as the saying goes. 

Folding cut paper art.

For us, it instills a familiarity that we incorporate into the vast experiences we glean in this special life we’ve chosen to live. Now, that I’m  feeling better and hopeful again for the future, I’ve become philosophical in the enormity of it all. 

We stopped in a tiny shop to find grandma aka, Bà nội  (in Vietnames) asleep on the floor.

This morning after breakfast on the elevator back up to our floor, Tom picked a tiny bit of food out of my hair and said, “I can’t take you anywhere!”  In a flash, he added, “But I take you everywhere!”

Vegetable in the basket of a shopper’s bicycle.

We both laughed over his usual instantaneous wit and…the irony of it all. We ask ourselves, “What are we doing in Vietnam in a five star hotel having the time of our lives…once again?” We’ll never become too familiar with the excitement and adventure to ever take it for granted.

Eggs tied the a motorbike handle for a hopefully safe trip home.

Last night during happy hour/buffet dinner in the Club Lounge we met a fabulous couple, Sally and Richard and their lovely teenage daughter Isabel, originally from the UK, currently living in Singapore, also with vast world travel experience. We joined them at their big booth for an outrageously delightful evening.

A Hoan Kiem lake and park across the road.

Within moments of engaging in light conversation, we all clicked and magic happened. The complimentary cocktails flowed (iced tea for me) along with the laughter and endless animated chatter. 

Ho Chi Minh artistic piece on an office building

It couldn’t have been more fun!  We’re planning to do the same again this evening, if time allows for all of us. If not, we leave behind one more memorable night in our ever growing repertoire of social interactions we’ll always treasure.

Many large beautiful trees remain in Hanoi.

Add what we’re finding so far during this short period in Hanoi and we’ll leave with a happy heart even before the cruise actually begins. Tonight at 5:00 pm, we’ll attend a Viking cruise meeting to get our bearings including a description of the itinerary and activities over the next many days.  With a maximum of only 60 passengers on the entire cruise/tour, it should be enjoyable in many ways.

An old woman selling fruit on the street.

We’ll be back with more photos tomorrow with an update on the timing for future posts based on the upcoming cruise/tour schedule. 

May familiarity enhance your day in many ways.

Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2015:

A year ago today, we posted this photo of Nash’s remaining fuzz  which didn’t deter him from being ready to fledge out to sea. Only five months old, he’d yet to shed his chick fluff but the dark lined eyes were very grown up. Our friends in Kauai sent us videos of the  actual which we missed having left before the momentous events. For more photos and videos, please click here.

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