Halong Bay to Homestay: How I discovered the Real Vietnam

Motorbikes revving, construction pounding, horns blaring — Vietnam calling. Every single day, the symphony of sounds reminds me just how visceral life is here in Vietnam. Ever since I arrived here half a year ago, I have constantly been enamored with the possibility of discoveries hidden in each day. Vietnam is not the most-recognized destination in Southeast Asia, but it is poised to become the next “it” spot. Even in this generation, Vietnam remains cloaked in an air of mysticism. The country transcends timelines, stalling at various points in the millennia — historic sites show no signs of aging and time-honored cooking traditions are still practiced — the ways of the past echo into the future.

And more so, the people have truly charmed me. There is nothing more heartwarming than my local coffee barista answering my attempts at broken Vietnamese with a small word bank of English. Every afternoon, down the small alleyway I live on, I am greeted by a spunky three-year-old who runs to me and waits for me to pick her up and throw her in the air. The Vietnamese are genuinely gregarious and generous — it’s a special thing to witness, being surrounded by a people who live with a real gentleness of being. One thing I have come to learn about Vietnam is that there is always something new to capture your imagination.

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