This winter break, my family and I embarked on a two-week adventure across Vietnam, immersing ourselves in the vibrant tapestry of this diverse country. From the historical city of Ho Chi Minh to the northern allure of Hanoi, with many enchanting cities in between, our journey was not just a geographical exploration but a celebration of family bonds and newfound perspectives.
As my children have grown older—two in college and one in high school—I've come to realize the preciousness of our time together. Our travel tradition, initiated seven years ago after my divorce, has become a cherished pastime that brings us closer and opens our eyes to the multitude of ways people live their lives around the world.
In the northern city of Sa Pa, we encountered the fascinating Red Dao ethnic group. The married women adorned scarves or red hats, with a distinctive custom of shaving eyebrows and a portion of the forehead hair for beauty. Their unique attire, featuring blue and black shirts adorned with red and white patterns, sparked reflections from my son. It became evident that the world is vast, and the perspectives of those we met challenged the notion that everything revolves around the USA. Our experiences served as a humbling reminder that we are merely a speck on the global map.
Venturing into Hanoi, the capital city, revealed a bustling street life, French colonial architecture, and a vibrant food scene. Hanoi's charm extended beyond its physical beauty; it unfolded as a photographer's paradise with ancient temples and captivating people. The French Quarter, in particular, showcased a city where high fashion thrives. Fashion shoots dotted the streets, underscoring the appreciation for style in this dynamic metropolis.
Wearing a red dress, I learned that red clothing is considered a symbol of luckiness in Vietnamese culture. Engaging with locals during fashion shoots in Hanoi, I discovered their excitement to model a NANDANIE tie, merging my accessory with the traditional ao dai, Vietnam's national dress for both men and women. It was a delightful fusion of cultures and a testament to the beauty of connections made through travel.
This journey was not just a physical exploration of Vietnam; it was a revelation of cultural diversity, a celebration of family, and a testament to the transformative power of travel. As we returned home, the memories of our adventures lingered, reminding us that the world is vast, and the joy of discovery is an everlasting gift.