Naturally beautiful, exotic, and utterly captivating… Vietnam is one of those countries where you can expect to receive true Southeast Asian hospitality. A humble country that’s been torn several times in different wars and now a communist nation, its people are naturally kind, with a happy semblance that bears no grudge or regret, only contentment and peace. On my journey I had traveled between Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and Mai Chau… and what I saw made me fall in love with the country’s rural beauty.
New York has always been on my bucket list of cities to visit. Since I was small I always thought I’d come and live here one day. Well I’m not living in this city yet, but it’s confirmed – I love this city and I think it loves me back. The energy is just contagious. I woke up at 5 am one day and to my surprise, it wasn’t lonely to walk around the city at this time. Of course I wasn’t really alone either, I was with my partner in crime traveling in the dodgy metros at that ungodly hour to catch a sunrise across a bridge. I can’t say he liked waking up that early, and neither did I, but it was nice to see a huge city wake up slowly.
Paris was everything as I imagined it to be. My first time to visit was in November 2013, and all the photos in this post was from that visit. So many things have happened since that time, and now I feel that if I go back it would probably feel so different. It’s hard to imagine that one day Europe will cease to exist as a continent, if we are to believe war and prophecies of the EU falling apart, as well as Baba Vanga’s prophecies of Europe being Muslim occupied in a few years time.
Instead of thinking about the dim future, I would like to remember Europe with its old charm. The music that plays in the streets, the pastries, beignets, coffee cups, stranger’s smiles, that general lightness in the air.
I was so excited on my first visit to Paris, I wanted to see so many things and I remember there was even a Paris Photo exhibit at the Grand Palais exactly at the same time when I was visiting. Although at that time I was more excited to just be in the city with my then boyfriend than really any architecture or art in Paris itself, we still managed to see so many things and I’ve grown to appreciate them more after some time.
Traveling is amazing that way, sometimes you don’t see the beauty of something until much after, like when you accidentally see those old pictures and remember what it felt like during that trip.
“There is no one who is born under an unlucky star, there are only people who don’t know how to read the sky” – the Dalai Lama.
This travel post may be a bit late but I thought it would be unfair not to share because of the story behind it. I wasn’t always traveling and I didn’t have that much passion for traveling until the first time I stepped into Europe. It wasn’t so much the destination, I think. It was the mere fact that this was the first place I traveled more than 15 hours by plane to, ON MY OWN. It scared the hell out of me of course.
I guess I can be called a late bloomer, I started traveling long haul alone only when I was 23. And I can still remember how my flight went like it just happened yesterday. I was traveling on a semi-mutilated passport which I freely blame to the poor quality of passports being issued in my country. I knew I could get into trouble and I was praying non-stop to reach Europe. And while on a stopover in Moscow on my way to Paris, the immigration officer told me this was illegal! I must have looked so pitiful that in the end they just let me through, and I reached my destination without any more questions.
From Paris I took an RER train to reach Dijon, the capital city of the Burgundy region in the Eastern part of France. You may have heard of one of their most famous products – the dijon mustard. It was a beautiful time when I went, even though it was late November and the weather was starting to get cold. I saw everything through rose tinted glasses, La Vie en Rose, since it was my first time to fall in love and be in Europe.
My boyfriend at that time who was a local in Dijon, took me around everywhere. I thought everything was wonderful, except for the part where my French was limited to “ça va bien, et toi?” But aside from my vocabulary, everything else felt magical in my newbie eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I had traveled to different parts of the world before, but just not on my own. So this was the first time I felt traveling independently.
Like many European cities, Dijon had a lot of history and retained it’s historic charm. Many of the houses in the city center kept the old facade, as you can see in the photos here.
I had the chance to experience how local life was, we made meals at home, and even tried making macarons. Even though the macarons didn’t end up looking as good as was in the shops, it was still pretty delicious.
Bourgogne was not too far from Dijon, so we set aside a day where we drove out into the countryside. There we were greeted with beautiful vineyards and vast greenery. Sad to say I have very strong “Asian genes” when it comes to drinking alcohol – what people know as a form of allergy to drinking in that your liver can’t filter down the alcohol as well as other people. I turn extremely red with a few sips! So I’m not a big wine drinker, but if you are, Bourgogne would be a delightful stop.
I would recommend if you’re planning to travel to these regions, to get a local guide or host so you’ll be able to enjoy your trip more. Remember, a lot of things you’ll see won’t be translated, and having someone local to tour you around just makes the experience more enjoyable.