A month in Vietnam, 2010
I traveled to Vietnam at the end of 2010 after saving up vacation days for two years. Through a combination of diligent research and blind luck, I was able to participate in two separate group experiences while there. The first was a two-week volunteer project through i-to-i, a group that helps to pair in-country opportunities with international travelers. We helped to build a single-family home in the My Tho Delta, south of Ho Chi Minh City. Then a few days after that ended, I joined a two-week Intrepid Travel group that would start in the northern city of Hanoi and travel the length of the country back down to HCMC and visiting cities along the way.
The circumstances that draw me to a particular country at a given time, the people with whom I connect while there, and the length of my stay all inform my perceptions of a destination and my place in it. The pairing of these two separate trip styles proved to be really valuable in helping me realize what I want out of my travel experiences, and at a very basic level, why I do it.
I had intermittent internet access throughout my trip, primarily via internet cafes, and these are the dispatches I sent home throughout my time there.