Never Mind the Migraine Gremlins! Vietnam is Beckoning… Again!

The last time I was packing to go to Vietnam, I was wrestling with the remnants of my worst case of the flu in years. This time, I have no flu. Just a pounding migraine. As I sit here typing this, I feel as if an evil gremlin is gently tapping a nail into my skull. I do wish he would go away, and perhaps go visit Sarah Palin instead.

IMG_0644Nevertheless, in 36 hours, I will have just flown from Seattle to San Francisco, and will be boarding a flight to Hong Kong, which will then continue to Ho Chi Minh City (a.k.a. Saigon), Vietnam. I am hoping the aforementioned gremlin gets stopped at security.

This will be my third trip to Vietnam in less than two years. The first time I went, in April, 2008, I was excited but apprehensive. Born in America in 1968, I grew up hearing horrific war stories. But once I arrived in Vietnam, I fell instantly in love with the country. I was captivated by the scenery, the cuisine, and most of all, the people — who overwhelmed me with their friendliness, gentleness, industriousness, and resilience.

Eleven months later, I went back for a second visit. I caught up with friends I made my first time there.  On my final night in Saigon, the sadness I felt about leaving was more intense than I feel in most places. Vietnam was beginning to feel like home.

IMG_0497Tempted last month by the lure of crazy-low air fares, I started flirting with the idea of going back again. I was just there in March, but I feel homesick for Ho Chi Minh City, a place that intimidated me before I arrived my first time. Now it’s one of my favorite places on Earth. But zipping across the Pacific for a quick trip, even at rock-bottom prices, seemed frivolous. I just spent all summer guiding tours in Europe. In January, I’m going to Africa to teach travel journaling classes on a safari in Botswana. In the meantime, I’ve got projects at home I should be working on. Bouncing over to Asia… I just couldn’t justify it.

Or could I?

Oh yes.

I have a plan. And you’re invited.

IMG_0677 I’m going back to Vietnam this coming week to organize a travel journaling and essay writing tour. I’ve been kicking the idea around for a while. It’s time to make it happen. So that’s what I’m doing — a whirlwind trip, eight days of meetings with tour companies, hotels, and restaurants — to plan a unique and exciting tour, tentatively scheduled for October, 2010, for writers of all skill levels. Beginners are welcome and encouraged.

Next year, our group of no more than 12 participants will explore the diversities of southern Vietnam. We’ll marvel at frenetic and friendly Saigon, immerse ourselves in the floating markets at Cai Be, explore lush palm tree jungles and rural villages in the Mekong Delta, romp in the Mui Ne sand dunes, and splash in the South China Sea. We’ll travel with a local, licensed Vietnamese guide… and I’ll be teaching travel journaling and essay writing classes along the way to help you capture your experiences in writing. My book, Globejotting, teaches how to write more meaningful and exciting travel diaries. This tour will put the book into action as we learn while exploring.

Vietnam 2009 228I hope to have full details available by early January. In the meantime, if you would like to guarantee a spot for yourself, with no obligation until the details and prices are finalized, just drop me an e-mail at [email protected] and I will give you first priority when I start taking deposits. (You can also subscribe to my free e-mail list if you would like updates when they’re available.)

My tentative plans for the next week and a half (keeping in mind that Vietnam is on the other side of the International Date Line from the United States, so it’s a day later there than in the US) are:

  • November 27: Depart Seattle early morning. Cross the Date Line.
  • November 28: Arrive in Saigon late at night.
  • November 29-30: Meetings in Saigon.
  • December 1: Day trip into the Mekong Delta to check out accommodations.
  • December 2-4: Check out hotels and restaurants in Mui Ne. (Okay, and drink a mojito on the beach while I watch the kite surfers.)
  • December 5-6: Back in Saigon.
  • December 7: Fly home.

I’ll be blogging as time and technology allow. Stay tuned!

Oh, and if anyone out there has any gremlin repellent, could you send some my way?

Published on Thursday, November 26, 2009

Leave a Reply