High in Vietnam’s northwest lies the beautiful mountain town of Sapa. In the shadow of Mt Fansipan and 1,600 meters above sea level, Sapa started out as a retreat for French colonialists desperate to find respite from the heat and humidity of Hanoi and the plains of Vietnam.
An emerald sea dotted with thousands of towering limestone islets, pillars, and arches, each coated in thickets of green jungle. That is the allure of Halong Bay, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, and huge 1,553 kilometer2 seascape east of Hanoi, in Vietnam’s Quang Ninh Province.
Last February, Rich and I started the process of plotting out the details of our wedding. With a guest list that would see people flying in from the United States, Australia, Sweden, Hong Kong, and Japan, we needed to find a venue and location that could mix the tastes of East and West, spark the curiosities of all, and work as a happy mid-point for everyone.
Victoria Falls now behind us, we were headed back south towards South Africa. With only another day and a half in Zimbabwe, it felt like the end of our trip was quickly approaching. Happily, one of my favorite experiences of our time in Africa was yet to come.
Saying our farewells to the desert, Namibia, and extremely cheap beer (we were able to get a 6-pack of quality beer for about US$4) we found our way to the northern border between Namibia and Botswana. The first stop during our time in Botswana would be in the stunning Okavango Delta.
With the undeniable beauty of Sossusvlei behind us, we were now driving towards Swakopmund and its neighboring sites. A heavily German influenced area and Namibia’s largest coastal town, Swakopmund was like nothing I had ever anticipated finding in Africa. Our time here and throughout the surrounding region, was at times exciting, full of some very high highs and some awful lows.
Leaving behind what turned out be a surprisingly great trip through the Desert Camp, we were headed north. We weren’t sure what to expect for the next day’s journey, whether it’d be wonderful or awfully boring. However, headed deeper into the desert, what we found waiting for us was simply spectacular.
After a night of fearing the doll’s dress above our bed and the haunted town outside, I was ready to get to a happy place. As Rich knows all too well, when you have a sad, scared or depressed Lis there is one surefire way to bring a smile to my face and a lasting happy demeanor: add water, big great expanses of water. Thankfully the next day would have us crossing into Namibia, and spending two days paddling our way along the calm waters of the Orange River.