People collect all sorts of things as souvenirs from their holidays. My recent trip to Vietnam with a friend revealed to me that my token souvenirs are in fact hats. Since moving to South-East Asia I have collected a wide-rimmed straw hat with a brown ribbon from Bali, a white cotton hat from Chiang Mai and more recently two more hats from Vietnam, a straw Panama hat and an olive green cap with a distinct red star on the forehead. I have also lost a hat, but that was a typical Lao farmer’s cone hat that was offered to the nagis occupying the Nam Song river whilst tubing in Vang Vieng. For a non-hat person, this is definitely impressive.
Apart from hat shopping, here are some top moments from my holiday.
★ Getting my hair washed at a salon in Ho Chi Minh City – who knew this would include 45 minutes of head and shoulder massage in a dimly lit room with soft music and a cup of really good green tea?
★ Four dives into the deep blue with Rainbow Divers – with amazing diving buddies, a great boat crew and a dog named Scuba. The universe must have decided I was having too much fun as the situation was balanced by broken swim ware. Below is a picture of our last dive site at Coconut Island just South of Phu Quoc island.
★ Gate-crashing the beach of the island’s only four-star resort. Because we could and because we had a few hours to kill.
★ Shopping pearls. Though probably not quite as fresh from the ocean as the seafood we enjoyed at the same night market, I fell for the locally produced pearls and went a little bit crazy. But they’re beautiful!
★ Smiling with the locals. While the Vietnamese have the ability to go from zero to furious in next to no time, they are just like the Lao in their inability to return a smile with anything but a wider one.
Whilst writing this: I just learned about Restaurant Day, a great concept created back home in Finland. For one day roughly every three months, anyone can set up a pop-up restaurant anywhere and share their passion for food. I look forward to taking part next time I’m in Finland for this!
Currently reading: The last few pages of Colin Cotterill’s first Dr. Siri Payboun book, The Coroner’s Lunch. I’ve already lined up the next two in the series on top of my reading list and can’t wait to get my hands on them! I’ve also made some discoveries at the Phnom Penh airport bookshop and one of the local second-hand bookshops here in Vientiane so all I really need now is time.