“what a wonderful world”
Welcome to the adventures of Lil’ Kim :). Remember I’m just a lil’ girl with a big camera hoping to have some pretty huge life experiences :). I travel as much as possible because I think there are soooo many fascinating places to see and experience out there. I just LOVE visiting new places – admiring the architecture, learning the history, engaging in the customs and traditions of the people and most definitely enjoying all of the local eats. Sometimes I even find myself planning my trip around where I am going to eat…lol. A few weeks ago, I went to Vietnam for the first time and I can say it was definitely one of the best trips I have ever been on. I was kind of nervous at first because I had never been there before – my family had fled Vietnam in 1980 and I was born shortly after they arrived in the United States. I only knew Vietnam from my parents’ stories and what I read in my history classes. But, it didn’t take me long to feel very comfortable with my people, the culture and feel right at home. Vietnam has definitely advanced from when my parents left and it’s interesting to see how the country grows and blends technology & tradition. I also found myself falling in love with the lifestyle there. Even in some of Vietnam’s biggest cities, everything seemed so much slower and easier. I also did not expect to communicate so easily with the locals. I don’t consider myself that fluent in Vietnamese, but all the locals were surprised that I had been born in the states because I spoke Vietnamese so well :). I guess you can go to a new place and learn a lot about yourself :).
I went on this 18 day trip with my sister, her husband and one of my good friends. I have family & friends who live in Vietnam so I was fortunate to also spend some time with them. I was sad that I missed some of my favorite holidays – Thanksgiving & Black Friday, but I wouldn’t trade any of my recent experiences for anything. In 18 days, we ended up visiting a total of 6 cities in Vietnam and 1 city in Cambodia. I think I took around 2000 photographs on the trip. There were just so many unique parts of Vietnam and soooo many things that inspired me as an artist and a person. Due to the plethora of photos, I will be blogging the trip in parts according to areas I visited. So you will definitely have to revisit the blog often to see all of the awesomeness :).
Vietnam has very many different parts of the country. Our first stop was the largest city in Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City or as most people call it Saigon. I felt the most at home in Saigon because it had a great metropolitan area. It is the most populated area in Vietnam – almost every street seemed busy and bustling with people and activity.
Good morning Vietnam!
The streets were busy like this everywhere. Vietnam is a growing country – it is the 13th most populated country in the world with a population of over 86 million! Most people in Saigon own a motorbike and drive like I’ve never seen in my life. I like to call it organized chaos. I am not even kidding! I thought there was going to be an accident every 5 seconds and was incredibly surprised I did not see a single one while I was there. Pedestrian right of way also does not exist in Vietnam. The best thing to do is just to keep walking. It took me about 15 minutes to cross the street the first day and on the 18th day in Vietnam, I found myself walking like a Saigon pro :).
Visiting our friend living in Vietnam. It’s always nice to see a familiar face 🙂
And have a nice, big, yummy, inexpensive meal 🙂
Red Hot Chili Peppers 🙂
My everyday staples in Vietnam – iced coffee and fresh fruit 🙂
We had yummy PHO from a local chain called PHO 24. I guess that means PHO 24/7 – PHO for breakfast, lunch and dinner 🙂
The famous Ben Thanh Market in Saigon, where I spent lots of dong (Vietnamese currency) 🙂
We visited my wonderful family who lived near Saigon. It was so heartwarming to see my aunt again, my uncle visiting from Australia, and lots of lovely cousins whom I have never met before. They were so sweet and funny like the rest of my family – I felt like I had known them my whole life. I guess that’s how family makes you feel right??? ! Here I am with one of my cute lil’ cousins – his twin sister is sleeping on the floor (see bottom right).
This was my grandfather’s house – built many, many years ago!
More local scenery:
My friend Neha and I took a day trip from Saigon to the Mekong Delta, which is a region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. Life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river, and many of the villages are often accessible by rivers and canals rather than by road. The people in the Mekong Delta are mostly farmers and fisherman who work extremely hard for everyday living. Our tour guide told us that most older folks work all day not to afford the cost of living which is very little, but to save their earnings so their children can receive an education. Vietnam is a developing country, and many Vietnamese parents cannot afford for their children to attend schools.
It was really cool how we got to ride in the river. I just love how our boat rower had a “Los Angeles” shirt on. LOL. Must be a Laker fan :).
Alcohol with snake blood. I didn’t drink it. It’s suppose to be..um..good for men =/.
“Elephant” fish – a specialty from the Mekong Delta:
At the local market in Mekong:
Check back soon for PART 2!!!