Monday Mood - Vietnam

This time last year Jeremia and I were getting amped up for our big life changes - you know, traveling around Southeast Asia for three months and then up and moving to New York. It's mind blowing when I realize that we have now lived in New York for longer than we spent in Asia. How does time fly so fast here? I swear those three months of travel felt like a year, while three months in New York feel more like one.

So today I'm looking back to inspire myself to move forward. I am looking back at one of the craziest, out of the norm months in my life to date; the month we spent in Vietnam. I've written about Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Saigon. I've even told you about our epic 'On the Road' saga. Still, though, there are so many more stories and sights from our month in Vietnam that continue to live in my head and in my heart.

To me, Vietnam is fishermen and motorcycles. Pineapples and mangoes vibrantly thriving in the midst of hot, dusty towns. Vietnam is salty water and gravel, dirt and jungle mist. I have never been more relaxed than I was when we sat on the side of the road slowly sipping iced coffee. I have never been more daring than the time that I fell off my motorcycle and saw that the only thing to do was to get right back up. I have never feel more connected to a provincial, older way of life than I did as I stood in the middle of verdant fields surrounding villages comprised of huts. I'll never forget the wind in my hair, the dirt under my fingernails and the feeling of utter freedom and lack of responsibility to anything other than today.

The collection of images below represent what our experience in Vietnam meant to me. There is so much more spirit in the country that I can't capture in my images, but I hope you'll enjoy seeing it through my eyes anyway. If you want to see more, check out the travel archives

Vietnam, mood board monday, spirit of Vietnam, travel 2015 SE Asia, fayelessler.com Faye Lessler photography, design

All images taken and edited by me.

On the Road

If there isn't a market nearby, there is certainly a side-of-the-road cafe, complete with red plastic tables and hammocks. If we are riding in the hot afternoon, we stop to relax and drink ca phe da (iced coffee) before continuing on our way. 

When we have bike troubles on the road - we need a kick start or I somehow let my bike fall over - we don't need to look far for help. A very skilled and equally scrappy mechanic is surely nearby. Or a flip-flop wearing Vietnamese man will drive up on his scooter and stop to help out. I think they were born with the ability to quick-fix a motorbike.

The roads between the tourist cities are long and sometimes rough. We could spend one long day on HWY 1 and reach the next popular place by night, but instead we choose to spend three long days on the smaller, less hectic roads. We experience much more this way. Those little towns between the tourist spots are much more exciting and real than any beach town covered in Russian and English signage. 

Besides, it is always better to be on any road but HWY 1. I'll take dirt and hills over honking trucks and diesel fumes any day. The scenery off of HWY 1 is infinitely better, too. When you round a corner and suddenly the ocean is sparkling beside you, it's hard not to smile. When you go up a small hill and the agriculture turns into a heavily fogged jungle, it's scary but so awesome. A bit more frightening is the moment the pavement turns into sand and gravel (these small roads are constantly under construction it seems). I just hold on tight to my clutch and my handlebars and then celebrate when the pavement returns.

Still, the dirt, gravel, hairpin turns, and hilly terrain are much better than HWY 1 where buses honk in my ear as they whiz past. Going from pavement to gravel is much less frightening than dealing with trucks that come barreling towards my face as they pass the motorbikes on their own side of the road. The three day rides are totally worth not riding on that death trap.

Really, those long three day rides that make us so tired and so smelly are what allow us to actually see Vietnam. A lot of people live here and there are so many incredible sights to see. If you are into the great outdoors - whether your thing is the beach, the desert, the mountain, the river or the jungle - there's sure to be an eyeful of it right around the corner. Vietnam has incredible terrain, and seeing it from the back of a buzzing motorbike is exhilarating. You couldn't convince me to get on one more charter bus with overzealous honking and air conditioning ever again. 

On the road, it is hard not to stop every 15 minutes and pull out my camera. I've managed to capture a few moments for you, but I've taken so many more mental images that I hope will never leave me.