Who are we?
We're two eager travelers with roots in the US. Having explored quite a bit of our home country together, we set our sights abroad and kick started our foreign travels in Southeast Asia. With everything we owned in our backpacks, we set off on our five-month trip.
Having traveled Japan for the past 35 days, we're well on our way to our new home for the following two weeks, Vietnam.
There are countless ways to explore this developing nation, and everyone has their own take on the subject matter. From the busy city life with endless markets and awesome street food to the pristine beaches and breathtaking mountain views, Vietnam has a little something for every kind of traveler.
The options can be overwhelming when considering your trip to Vietnam, so to help narrow down the possibilities, we'll highlight some of our experiences to give you some inspiration and personal know-how!
Where in the world did we end up today?
Today is Tuesday, the 20th of November, 2018. After enough time spent in Saigon, we opted for a trip out to Mui Ne!
Where did we stay in Mui Ne?
We ended up staying the night at Mui Ne Garden Hostel. For a whopping $5, we got a comfy room, a swimming pool, hammocks, and a short walk to the beach and restaurants.
What did we explore today in Mui Ne?
After catching some shut-eye at the BFF Saigon hostel, we wiped away our eye-boogers and greeted the sun from the balcony. Our silence was interrupted as the family had begun to awaken (unbeknownst to us, their room was one floor above the balcony.)
Plotting our travel plans, the lady who worked at the hostel had fixed us and others some breakfast consisting of an egg and bread. An older gentleman, in true Vietnamese fashion (shirtless and barefoot) entered the balcony. Wearing a blank expression, he drew a square from his pocket and lit up the cancer stick. A thick cloud of carcinogens permeated all of our lungs and we welcomed the day one step closer to death.
Figuring we'd better get a move on from the city life, we bought a bus ticket to Mui Ne. We grabbed a couple pastries and climbed onboard, not realizing it was a sleeper bus. Taking off our sandals and stashing them in a plastic bag, we saw people providing tickets to the bus staff. Absent of ours, we were accommodated just the same with some stylish seats and a window view.
Hours later, we arrived at a rest stop to stretch out a bit before getting back on the bus for another long leg of driving.
Eventually, we arrived to Mui Ne around 1500. Arrived is a loose term to put it, seeing as how when we informed the staff member on the bus that we had no hotel reservation, he had us grab our bags and depart the bus immediately. Walking down the street past the endless resorts, spas, and restaurants, we ended up at the Mui Ne Garden Hostel and ended up booking a night there. After we threw our bags down, we headed out just in time to catch the sunset.
We watched a spectacular sunset from the Mui Ne Beach
If Ho Chi Minh isn't catered toward westerners, then the city of Mui Ne certainly is. Resorts line the sidewalks as restaurants with hamburgers and french fries tote menus in five different languages. The occasional guy whispers, "marijuana?" as each massage parlor competes for business.
Escaping from the western scene, we ventured off following the smell of salt and misty seas. A 30 minute walk planted us bare into murky waters and sights of bowl-like fishing boats. It was the first time we saw such boats, and odd they were! Perhaps not so odd as the locals were adept at riding them out in the open waters, and hauling them back in at ease.
In under half an hour, we were greeted with one of the most impressive sunsets we've seen in a long time. The whole sky boasted a rich blend of orange and yellow hues as people swam about in the sea.
Enjoying the moment we experienced the fullness of this life. We stood mesmerized by the swimmer’s heads bobbing up and down like fishing buoys, smiles shining between each other, and splashing flickering in the light; such is the ever present moment or the infinite now.
These spectacles last in short time, but that is why they impact us so much. Following the colors rise and fall away, blend and distort the sky in swirly patterns, we saw the causality of change—that which is constant.
Bringing the sky into our lives, we may see the change in ourselves as we travel, and the impact it has had on ourselves. Every thought becomes a new perspective, quip or grip. Merely going from destination to destination, we may dismiss gazing upon ourselves as we would our environment traveling. Without seeing within, we fail to witness the change of who we are, into what we become.
Coming back to you with a floodgate of indifference, it’s like you missed yourself somewhere along the way. Stopping and taking a breather as you would watch the sky instead to watch inward of yourself, can open many doors to change.
Old thoughts were replaced by new ones, old ideas and ways of living, suggested in another direction. Since you aren’t living as you used to, there is room to change right here and right now. By seeing this change, you may adjust as necessary. Otherwise, to miss out on this opportunity to face who you are and the changes you embrace traveling, they slip by and you return to who you were.
In our personal observations, we realize change permeates within everything. Taking our external view inward then becomes another tool of our mindful adventures, apt to change our mindset and thus perception of how we view this reality; by seeing change, we change.
We drowned ourselves in smoothies
Smoothie stands are populous throughout Mui Ne, and we simply couldn't resist. Under a dollar for a fresh, local fruit smoothie!? That's a no-brainer. We grabbed a dragonfruit and orange/passionfruit smoothie, vowing to sample every flavor at least once before we left.
Local fruits brings to mind our perceptions of the past. While here, we’re constantly comparing to where we’ve been, and what we’ve done before. “Back in the states” we might say, as smoothies are so cheap here in Mui Ne compared to the States, but truly as we wander the world, the prices are here in this moment.
Whether we deem them worthy of the price or not is determined by how we choose to think of them now. Shall we favor the opportunity, or dismiss it? That’s where the mindful traveler differs from others. Yet similarly, seeing our thoughts and recollection of the past is part of this experience we all share. To use it for our benefit is how we master our lives. It helps us to lose the grip of safety on who we think we should be or what we should do, for who we authentically know ourselves to be.
We read book length menus at every restaurant
We ended up eating a restaurant who's menu was as thick as a phone book. Garrett got some Pho and spring rolls, and Ben opted to eat somewhere else later.
That somewhere else had happened to have been something eerily similar to the first restaurant. We'd been accustomed to menus of one or two items; now, it was like reading a novel. Shuffling through the food selection consisting of shark, snake, snail, duck, ostrich, and shrimp, Ben opted for fried chicken and rice in a pineapple, and Garrett got some tofu stir fry. Both dishes were pretty good and we left satisfied back to our hostel for the night.
Seeing the same options twice gets you thinking… Sometimes we prolong our actions thinking the future will hold better benefit, but then what happens when that future moment occurs and it is the exact same? Call this synchronicity or mere coincidence, but realigned with the same options twice created an opportunity to see within this moment in time, and use it for what it is worth. We know what options are before us. So why not take them why they are here? Waiting for the next moment doesn’t always move us into a better position, when that position is now.
How has mindfulness aided your travels? Or do you see any merit in it at all? Let us know your thoughts below or through our Facebook page. Thank you for all the support! :)