As I sit at the Hanoi airport ready to depart to Thailand, the awesome memories for the last 20 days in Vietnam come to mind. Vietnam was an incredible experience and I highly recommend it. In particular, the memories I made in the remote region of Sapa will stay with me for a long time. This post is dedicated to all of the incredible people who made my journey special, to my students in Sapa who inspired me and the children selling bracelets who highlighted for me the need to work harder on empowerment for all. Their story inspired me to create ‘Bracelets of Hope’ concept which hopefully we will land this year to contribute positively to children’s education around the world. In summary, this visual post is structured in three key categories:
- The People – My students, Vietnamese friends, Mr. Tung (my host in Sapa) and many travellers who made this journey special. You can read about my teaching experience at Teaching Leadership and English in Sapa, Vietnam
- Bracelets of Hope – Children who inspired me to work harder towards children’s education
- #MyWorkplace – places I worked from as the digital nomad on my passion, the empowering Experience Your Life organization
1. THE PEOPLE
2. Bracelets of Hope
3. #MyWorkplaces – These places inspired me to work harder on Experience Your Life Expo. I am thrilled to share we had a lot of incredible organizations confirm their attendance such as Engineers Without Borders that will open up tremendous opportunities for attendees
For anyone heading out to Vietnam, here are some recommendation (these are tons of guidebooks that will go into specific hotels – the points below are actually focused on a style of travel that will help you maximize your experience):
- Pick a few places and explore them well! Vietnam is BIG, especially if you are going to travel by road. For example, from Hanoi to Saigon is a 40 hour bus ride. I saw many travellers trying to ‘rush it’ to see it all often at the expense of quality of interaction and experience. My recommendation is to pick a few areas and take your time experiencing them. I highly recommend Sapa as well as Hanoi. A good next stop will be Halong Bay, then down to Danang/Hoi An and finally ending in Saigon.
- Volunteer! This one word sums up probably the best way to travel around the world and Vietnam is no different. You can arrange an organized volunteering experience but I personally prefer a more grass root style. There are PLENTY of people you will meet who need help with English and teach them about western tourists. It can mean the difference between the person getting a front desk job that accelerates their career or getting a much lower non-customer facing position that severely limits their ability to succeed. I volunteered in Sapa after I met an incredible leader (Mr. Tung) who runs the #1 hotel on trip advisor in Sapa (Sapa Dragon Hotel). He organized a training routine for his staff and internees to help them in their journey. It was grass root and real and I made real friends who will last a long time. You can read more at Teaching Leadership and English in Sapa, Vietnam.
- Workaway.Info ! You can also check out the amazing site http://www.workaway.info which is basically the Kijiji of international projects. The host provides your accommodation and food and in return you volunteer with them. Its that simple (note that I recommend only applying for positions that have a lot of feedback recorded on the site so you know it’s real, safe and other’s have done it too. Read the details carefully on the site before applying)
- Try the local sports. Vietnamese people are very friendly and there is nothing better to get to know them then through sports or food! There is in particular a very fascinating game called “De Cau” in which people stand in a circle and kick a small badminton type shuttle around with the feet. The level of skill that the average person had was INSANE. It was a great way to get to know people and conversations flow from there:
- Visit Hanoi over a weekend. The place is TOTALLY different as the old quarter area and the streets surrounding the lake are closed to motorbikes. You can roam around freely and every 20 metres there is some type of streets performance. I got a chance to play Djembe (my favorite instrument) with a group of performers!
Next Stop: Thailand!