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#90 - my last night in vietnam!

Hanoi Travel Blog

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in the danang airport, heading to hanoi
i just sent out this e-mail to my family & friends, so i figured i would post it here - it helps sum up my experience in vietnam...

xin chow, as i'm sure you guessed, is HELLO in vietnamese. :) i'm just so multi-lingual. :)

so, i can't believe it, but tonight is my last night in vietnam & i'm heading to india tomorrow. wow - i REALLY can't believe it.

i haven't had much time over the past three weeks to write in my blog or to really sit and process everything that has happened. it's just been so unbelievably incredible, i don't know if i will ever be able to really find the words....but i will give it a shot...just know that whatever i say can't truly capture all of the experiences, thoughts, feelings, interactions, etc....

so, last time i e-mailed i had just arrived for my habitat for humanity trip in vietnam.
wendy & kelli at the pizza place...yest, we had pizza & beer on our last night in vietnam
what a beyond amazing opportunity!

i worked for two weeks digging holes, mixing cement, laying bricks, sifting sand, and doing all sorts of manual labor things that i can honestly say i have NEVER EVER done before in my life. i was so proud of myself!!! you should have seen me...i had dirt & concrete & sweat all over me...it was such a pretty sight. :) the group of people i was with were awesome - a mix of people from across the US & canada - all with very different backgrounds..- it was such a pleasure to meet, work with & get to know this group of people i would have never met otherwise. so, the experience of doing something i've never done before and doing it with an incredible group of people was just very cool.

and beyond the actual work we were doing, the most important and amazing part for me was that i connected with the vietnamese people & the country in a way i could never have done as a tourist.
melinda & me - last night at pizza place
we worked side by side with the families, ate lunch with them, were invited to sit for tea, played games with the kids (which was by far my favorite part!!!), and developed relationships with these people who we couldn't even have a conversation with. when we were doing our closing ceremonies on each house, the outpouring of emotion and thankfulness and warmth was unbelievable. i was a complete mess. and even when i type this and i think about all the interactions i had with the families, it brings a lump to my throat. it's so sad for me to think that i most likely will never see these wonderful families again. and it's so moving to see how LITTLE they live on & how happy they are. it's something we all know that money doesn't buy you happiness...but man, when you see such incredible examples of it, it really makes you stop and think.
viet anh - last night in vietnam
they were also not only obviously grateful for our help in improving/building their houses....but they were equally, if not more grateful for our smiles, our energy, and our connections with them. i feel like i'm rambling, but as i said - it's just so hard to capture everything that happened in that little town of vinh yen for those two weeks!!!

needless to say, it was an experience of a lifetime. i'm still processing it & i may write another e-mail at some point with more about it!!!

right now, i'm sitting in a hotel in hanoi for my last night in vietnam. i just spent four days in hoi an traveling with max, a friend from the habitat for humanity trip. we had so much fun in this adorable little town. we went biking, hung out at the beach, went SCUBA diving, ate AMAZING vietnamese food (some of the best i've had here) & got a lot of clothes made! hee hee.
last tiger beer in vietnam with melinda, kelli, wingman & greg
:) i didn't think i was going to do it - but there are tailors basically every other store & i eventually got sucked in. it was a lot of fun!!! i would highly recommend going back to hoi an! i already miss it.

so, i'm getting ready to meet up with 3 others from the habitat trip who are staying in hanoi as well tonight & plan to have a farewell drink to this wonderful country. it feels so weird to be leaving right now....and as i said at the beginning of my e-mail, i really can't believe i'm off to india. just seems so surreal to be typing that.

one thing that has been challenging on this trip is all the transitions. i was a little nauseous yesterday when i was thinking of my trip to india. i'm super excited about it - but it can just be hard to make the switch to a new experience & to think about the airplane trip, the logistics in the airport, the shift in cultural experience, the HEAT, etc, etc.
last night in vietnam
also, i had such a meaningful experience on the habitat trip, that as i said, i well up when i think about the families, the gratitude, the friends i made on the trip & just how lucky i am to be doing all of this!!! i know i'm in for an amazing adventure in india...but right now, i'm going to soak up my last night in vietnam. :) (i had the same tough time leaving new zealand & thailand & laos, so i know i'll be ok...but still...it's not easy!)

so tomorrow - i fly to bangkok (hopefully everything in the airport is going to be okay!) & then onto dehli. mark zugsmitgh (a friend from growing up) is picking me up from the airport (SOOOOO beyond awesome & made my nauseous stomach feel better knowing i have someone meeting me there!!!) and then i'll be hanging out in vrindavan for a few days (where he lives). we'll do the taj mahal as well!!! on the 19th (i think, or maybe it's the 20th) - i head up to dharamsala to do a buddhist meditation retreat for 10 days! i won't have access to phone or e-mail or anything during that time. i'm definitely a bit nervous about the whole being silent for 10 days thing, but i know it's going to be an incredible experience!!!

okay, i think i need to get myself out of this hotel & head out into the streets. speaking of the streest here, the traffic is SO nuts!!! if you have been to hanoi, you know what i'm talking about - but if you haven't, just picture hundreds of cars, bikes, motorcyles, etc flying through the streets, horns honking, red lights not mattering & everyone just bobbing & weaving. it can definitely be an intense experience just crossing the strreet sometimes!!!

oh and one more thing.....not sure if i've mentioned this to everyone, but i've decided to work at mountain camp this summer when i get back from my trip! :) i'm going to be the head girl's counselor!!! i'm VERY excited!!! the *only* bummer is that i will be back in california for about 4 or 5 days (can't remember exactly!) before i head up to tahoe for 3 months. so, hopefully i'll get to see you before i head to tahoe....but if not, 1) i will be back in SF at the end of the summer or 2) you can come visit me in tahoe & do some camping! :)

and on that note - if anyone knows anyone who is looking for a place in SF for the summer - please let me know! i'd love to have someone stay in my place while i'm gone. just throwing it out there! :)

okay, now i'm going for real!

i hope everything is wonderful in your world and that you are appreciating all of the friends, family and wonderful things you have in your life. everyone on this e-mail list *definitely* won the birth lottery & we are all so lucky with where we ended up & the situation we ended up in on this planet.

mwwwwaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
rachelle

_________
so i met up with wendy, kelli & melinda in hanoi tonight. we also got to see greg & heather as well. :) wendy, kelli, melinda & i went out for dinner & it was funny that we ended up getting pizza & beer on our last night in vietnam. we tried to find some restaurant greg told us about - but his directions were not exactly right - in fact, they were very wrong. :) soooo - it was all good - we got pizza & beer & then met up with greg for a final beer in vietnam. we sat on those little blue plastic chairs on the side of the road & got tiger beer. kind of the perfect way to finish the final night hanoi!
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in the danang airport, heading to …
in the danang airport, heading to…
wendy & kelli at the pizza place..…
wendy & kelli at the pizza place.…
melinda & me - last night at pizza…
melinda & me - last night at pizz…
viet anh - last night in vietnam
viet anh - last night in vietnam
last tiger beer in vietnam with me…
last tiger beer in vietnam with m…
last night in vietnam
last night in vietnam
Hanoi
photo by: mario26