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Excuse the lack of any coherent sentence in this video. A girl can’t be expected to speak eloquently when there are wild monkeys in her midst.

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You don’t order off a menu; you just wait to see the ripples from her paddle and hear the sound of her heavily-accented voice.

“Skew-meee!! Buy some-teeen?”

Don’t try to duck under the window. She already saw you. And you know you want those Oreos anyway.

Vietnamese room service: it’s like a drive-thru, except they come to you, and you get to negotiate the price. So basically, it’s the best thing ever.

I’m a sunshine girl. I grew up by the beach and nothing makes me happier than a bright and sunny, 85-degree day. Show me a rainy morning and I’ll duck back under the covers and tell you to wake me up tomorrow.

But in Halong Bay, even I can’t deny the beauty of the fog. Because while the bright green karsts and the deep turquoise sea sparkle in the sun, it’s when they’re clouded in the fog that they truly shine. There’s something about the eery iridescence that makes every view feel like a scene; every vision a painting. And then when the fog goes away, the karsts and the sea seem lonely.

You go to Halong Bay for the islands the sea; but it’s the fog that captures you.

This is our Sapa guide Chi and her son Jahn. She is five feet tall and made of muscle. She  eats bamboo and dandelion greens from the side of the road, gave birth in her thatched-roof home, and has never heard of mail. She is a proud guide when there’s tourists and a happy rice farmer when there’s not. She never went to a day of school in her life.

In two days, Chi taught me more about Vietnamese culture and life in general than I learned on the rest of the trip combined, and I developed a deep affinity for her unassuming nature and no-nonsense style. Ten thousand miles from home she made me feel welcome and safe, and her easy manner made me smile for hours of hard trekking.

This is Chi, the only woman who ever has, and who ever will, get me to ride on a motorbike.

This lady was not our guide in Sapa, but she followed us through 5 hours of strenuous hiking anyway. She followed us for miles of ascents and descents. She held my hand as I struggled to balance on steep, rocky slopes in my expensive sneakers, while she climbed easily in flimsy plastic sandals with a baby on her back. She followed us for 5 hours; all with the hope of selling us $5 worth of embroidery at the end. And then she went home to stitch more embroidery for the next day.

She smiled the whole time.

I’ll tell you one thing about French occupation: it makes for some damn good omelettes. I ate one of these every morning I could, usually with a big, doughy croissant or an even bigger baguette. After a long night sleeping in an old train, I don’t think anything could taste better.

A photo of me.

About me

Hi, I'm Pam. I'm a runner, reader and recent MBA grad living in Baltimore with my husband. I work in PR, but I spend my off-hours writing here about my life, which mostly revolves around family, friends, fashion and fitness. Sometimes I throw in the occasional food photo just to make sure you're paying attention.

Contact

For questions or freelance opportunities, contact me at theinspirationfiles {at} gmail {dot} com. I'd love to hear from you!

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