A Trip to Northern Vietnam

Written by Dave Mix, (Franklin & Marshall College) Student Correspondent CET Public Health & Service-Learning in Ho Chi Minh City, Fall 2015

Fall Break is over. Kevin Dinh and I spent one week traveling throughout northern Vietnam, visiting Hạ Long Bay, a World UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hà Nội, the capital of Vietnam, and Sa Pa, a city in the mountains which is home to Fansipan, the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia, as well as various ethnic minorities like the H’Mong and Rad Dao.

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My first experience with phở in Hà Nội, it’s more popular home: phở gà!

 All in all, this trip was quite a trek, literally and figuratively. We flew over 2,000 kilometers, train-ed over 250 kilometers, sleeper bused over 250 kilometers, drove over 200 kilometers, taxied about 50 kilometers, and even walked over 40 kilometers, mostly trekking through the mountains and rice paddies of Sa Pa. Take a look at some of our adventures below!

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Photos have a hard time of capturing the beauty of Ha Long Bay.

From preparations for a 17 year old marriage to herbal baths with friends to british companions, this was an incredible trip and an incredible fall break. Meeting the H’Mong and the Red Dao people was quite an eye-opening experience to the different cultures of people living within Vietnam. These ethnic minorities have their own languages and customs, and it was fascinating to see and witness their lives in our one night stay in the home of a Red Dao family.

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Kayaking in Hạ Long Bay!

Kayaking in Hạ Long Bay!

Kayaking in Hạ Long Bay!

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Very foggy view of Sapa, one of the worse views of Sapa during our trip.

One of the highlights of my trip was the night at the homestay. My own twin brother is an astrophysics major at my college, so I come from a place of relatively good understanding and awareness of stars and other things in the night sky. But before I came to the top of that mountain that night, I had never seen the milky way with my naked eye. Nor has my brother, who is dedicating at least four years of his life to studying physics, stars, and the night sky around us, so to see such a wonder of the world was an incredible experience. To top it off, I even saw a shooting star!

Milky way as captured on October 14, 2015.

Milky way as captured on October 14, 2015.

 The entire trip was incredible, and I will remember the crazy morning exercises, the border of China, and all the other adventures for a lifetime. Until next week, northern Vietnam!

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The pit stop so high up that clouds engulf it.