My Summer Vacation, where I’m going to be fed

I haven’t taken a personal vacation in years. To be exact, it’s been two years and 9 months. To be even further precise, dramatic (and redundant), it’s been 1,015 days, which feels like a lifetime for me.

Every time Todd and I plan on a vacation, an opportunity arrives at our door step and we accept it, putting our personal vacation aside till next the next month. Our choice to take these gigs over vacation isn’t because it’s about the money, but rather, they’re jobs that will help us grow as photographers, filmmakers and more importantly, as people. We’ll accept the jobs, travel to the location, work our butts off and then make a mini-vacation out of the time that we’re there.

This chaotic workflow has always been satisfying, numbing some of the longing to actually go somewhere for personal, rather than professional reasons. Until recently.  My well has dried out and I’m thirsty, yearning to be replenished on an journey for my own.

Todd and I are now planning our next trip, this time it’ll be a personal trip for us, especially for me.

I’ve been wanting to start backwards, at the bottom of my huge wish list of places to journey. My dream list of places to visit started back in early High School, all stemming from my first influential teachers. Thank goodness for my school teachers, my mentors.

Egypt was always on my top list, including many more seductive locations such as Mongolia, Nepal, Burma, Galopagos Islands, New Zealand and the whole continent of Africa. It’s been 21 years since I graduated from High School and I’ve yet to explore anything on my world roster. I’m deciding it’s about time to start checking off my whole list within the next 5 years.

Todd and I narrowed down this trip to Egypt or New Zealand, both in very different parts of the world and full of stories to discover. But in the back of my mind, Vietnam has always been haunting me, privately terrifying me, calling me back when I’m not ready.

My last trip to Vietnam was in 2008 and it was a glorious trip for many reasons. Todd was with me to visit my birthplace for the first time, and my family so proud to sport their “white family member” around town on a scooter. My journey back home with just Todd was beyond wonderful. It was especially deeply personal for me because he met my maternal grandmother (ba ngoai) for the first time. She was becoming more frail. A lifetime of war and heart-ache can weather a person quickly.

I wanted and needed Todd to meet her because to see her and the place of my birthplace would allow for our relationship to come full circle. For him to experience my Grandmother, my Vietnam would give him complete understanding as to who I was as a person. This trip was that important to me for him to be there, immersed in my Vietnamese culture. I think that trip sealed the deal between us.

My Grandmother passed in 2009 and since then, I’ve still been in mourning. The thought of returning to Viet-Nam haunts me because my soul was in her and she’s gone. I haven’t had the urge to return because my wounds are still fresh and I never felt ready to confront my Viet-Nam without her there.

Viet-Nam feels like a lonely place without her.

So vacation planning for this year included many countries on my list, but Viet-Nam was never one of them, until now.

Planning a vacation and avoiding Viet-Nam because of the immense sadness would be selfish of me. I need to pay respects to my Grandmother and confront the pain, have closure and embrace the beauty of my Viet-Nam again.

Every time I return to Viet-Nam it nurtures me and feeds my soul. I’ll return again to be fed. Egypt and New Zealand will just have to wait because my Grandmother is calling me.

Where do you go to be fed? I’d love to for you to share.



{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Carrie Dupic Huynh

    My husband is Vietnamese and he has not returned to Vietnam since his family left at age 3. We plan to visit in December 2012. We will meet his parents’ siblings, travel the country and eat delicious, delicious food, I’m sure. Your post is inspring–I hope you find peace and a new longing to return to Vietnam soon.

  2. Agnes Mercado

    Thank you so much ! Life took some turns and I have not read you forever. I was born in Manila and my entire family is there. So that is the place I can say I have been going where I get replenished and fed. I understand your hesitation to revisit. It took me 3 years to go to Vietnam after my fiance passed. He was Jewish and I have never been to Vietnam but he dreamed of that country. When I saw the skies of Vietnam and her people I knew why. It was a healing trip I made. I also read Dante’s Eulogy today as well. My Sadie passed last month at age 14. I understand the ache.

    I have to admit you two are my favorite couple. It started with the jack fruit and your garden. I am happy you have continued your passions. I wish you wellness and joy.

  3. sarah-mai

    What a great post. I’m half Vietnamese and my grandmother, who I also call ba ngoai, passed away a few years ago. My husband and I got to visit France, where most of my extended family lives, about 6 months before she passed away. I was so happy that she got to meet him. I still haven’t had the chance to visit Vietnam, but I’m hoping to next year with my mother and sister. My family left Saigon 4 days before it fell and most haven’t been back since.

    Loved reading your memories of your grandmother and of your birthplace.

  4. Jolisa

    Hi, i came across your website totally by accident but so glad that i did. Your work is phenomenal, i love every picture taken and i aspire to be a writer someday as well as dabble in photography. Your posts are beautiful and inspiring, i would suggest that you take that very much need trip as you would be able to reconnect, rejuvenate and come back refreshed! Have an awesome time.

    From a Caribbean girl,


  5. VeggieGirl

    I am always torn between visiting places that are special to me (I grew up all over the world so= India, Australia, London, Nepal…) and adding fresh places to my memories!

  6. Fran

    I hope you have a healing trip and find peace. and wow! this post is so timely. After the food crawl trip to Augusta and BlogHer with fellow Food Blog Camp friends this week I pretty much decided to finally take the culinary tour of Viet-Nam I’ve been wanting to take since 2000. But then I decided I’d like to go back to the Philippines and do a “culinary expedition” kind of thing and see if some food blogging friends will join me if I set it all up. I’m very excited. I’ve missed it so much and miss my “family” so if I can pull this off, it will be a trip of a lifetime!

    So that’s what’s on my plate, although it won’t be until the late fall or early winter. After typhoon season. 🙂 And it won’t have the same meaning … just different meaning.

  7. Lucy Lean

    Oh Diane – where to begin? I’ve been ‘avoiding’ London for similar reasons I think – Didier met my grandmother before she died back in 2002 (I was pregnant with Minty at the time and I feel she knew) – but it’s just not been the same without her there and I’d rather go to France – I know this trip will be so much more meaningful for you than Egypt or Africa or New Zealand – these can wait – perhaps a job will come up that will take you there?! ; )

  8. Jake

    You have certainly earned the right for a vacation… I hope you have a great time this summer.

  9. Lori Lynn

    Hi Diane – I am sorry for the loss of your Grandmother. I suspect she’ll be there when you go to visit, albeit in a different form. I look forward to reading about your trip and experiencing your soulful photography.

    To be fed? And to cook with family. Chicago. Several times a year.

  10. Chris & Skip in Avl

    To be fed, Skip and I go to the most foreign places we can afford. Love to immerse ourselves in a place that’s as different from our daily existence as possible. That’s why we rarely go to Europe. It’s just an older, smarter, version of here. Lately we’ve travelled a lot around Mexico, but our real passion is for Asia, specifically Viet Nam. We’ve been three times and STILL hunger to return for more. When the conversation turns to travel and people ask “Where’s the best place you’ve been” we both answer in unison, without hesitation, Viet Nam. We’re two caucasian gay guys, no Asian heritage, but we both feel an affinity to the country, to the people, to the lifestyle, to the food. As exotic as it is compared to Asheville, Viet Name, and to some degree, Cambodia and Thailand, feel totally Normal to us. Like we could belong there. And not to get Woo Woo (because we aren’t the sort), familiar like a place we’ve lived before. So all our best wishes and good thoughts go with you two on your journey to OUR favorite place in the world as well. Send our love 😉

  11. Hahn

    Being Korean American, i’m somewhat torn between countries. I am American through and through but every time i visit Korea, there’s a connection i cannot deny. I have gone every other year since i was 13, but this was the first year i did not go.

    My mother, father, brother, and I are the only ones here in the United States so it can be hard.

  12. norma

    I am silent and full of good feelings for you…

  13. Fiona

    I went to Hong Kong last year with white husband in tow. It was a first trip for him and I had visited when I was 5 but had no memories. My parents are from Hong Kong and that showed us around. I was a little nervous about going and imagined all my relatives making fun of my Cantonese. I was pleasantly surprised that my Chinese was nowhere as bad as I thought and my husband and I were able to wander around with ease (which none of my relatives could believe!) It was one of those trips where something clicked in place inside me, and I found that I wasn’t quite the outsider that I feared. We also could not get over the delicious seafood.

  14. Helene

    hmmm sorry for the start of the sentence…i guess my thoughts jumped together for a minute there!

  15. Helene

    Like you, it’s aI return to Provence. That’s where my grandmother was born and raised and where I was born and raised. She moved up North but always told me to stay South. I did as long as I could then moved Southern US. Another South. Now she is gone, going back to my roots this past summer was the most amazing experience. There was not a step taken or a stone moved without a story. It was filled with the most wonderful gift of love, hope, heartaches and compassion. Right now we are staying here to be close to Bill’s parents who are in their early 90s and help as much as we can and then we’ll move back home to do the same with my parents. My brother is wonderful with them and his kids are perfect granddaughters and I want to know my mother as a grandmother too.
    I know your next trip to Vietnam will be felt with every fiber of your being and I am looking forward to reading it.

  16. allison ash

    I just got back from Vietnam a couple of months ago and I’m still full! The food there was sensational, just like you said it would be. Have a great trip!

  17. Jen at The Three Little Piglets

    To the beach…I grew up on the coast of Maine and haven’t been back in over a decade. When I really need that quiet I head to the closest beach. It’s not the same, but something is better than nothing. My troubles always wash away with the tide, and I feel happy and whole again.

  18. Ashley

    That’s a great question. I think for me it’s my hometown, Fort Lauderdale. Going back to where I grew up and spending time with my dad, just doing simple things, nourishes me in a way nothing else does.

  19. Diem

    Diane, I’m so glad you decided to go back to Vietnam and are taking the time for a real vacation. I hope you find everything you need there. I was born there and went back in 2000, 25 years after leaving. Although, I was too young to remember a whole lot – I feel a large part of me is Vietnamese even though I spent the majority of my life in the U.S. I can relate to your list of other countries to visit, but Vietnam is always in the wings. My husband (of Scandinavian descent) and I plan on going back with our two little boys one day (4 and 5 1/2).

    Btw, I have been making your Vietnamese yogurt for the boys at least once a week and they love it. They call it Momma yogurt. Thanks for all the great recipes and beautiful photographs.

  20. Susan

    I am so touched by the poignancy of your story today … I felt each word about your grandmother. I long for those gentler times almost daily and I have my little ol’ Granny’s Bible with her hand-scribbled notes to soothe the ache in my heart. I lost her in 1992 and my Mother in 1996 and this past Mother’s Day was one of the very worst in terms of longing and aching for them. Thanks for sharing your life … return to your VietNam and know that your Grandmother will be there in every moment of the trip!

  21. TheKitchenWitch

    I can feel the longing in your voice–it jumps off the screen. I’d love to visit Vietnam, as it’s the homeland of my favorite cuisine in the world! You so deserve the vacation.

    I never tasted food so simply prepared and yet so purely delicious as I did when in Greece. We were at this little cafe on a stretch of beach in Crete, and these little fishing boats would pull up, slap a bagful of newly caught fish on the dock, and the proprietor would promptly put the fish on ice in the kitchen. When she came to our table, rather than hand us a menu, she took us into the kitchen to pick the fish we wanted to eat. That steamy day, we feasted on garlic-lemon infused mussels, a simple tomato salad, and ate snapper off the bone, pulling it with our bare fingers and popping little juicy bits in our mouths. And of course there was chilled white wine. I’ve never been so happy in my life. It was a revelation.

    ps: Did I mention that you so deserve that vacation?

  22. Helene

    This brought me back memories that when my grandma died, years ago, the night she died in my dream I saw her dying in her bed. This is where they found her the next morning. I wish I was there with her and that she did not died alone. I think about that night a lot and I am still morning her like your are. I have her wedding band and this gets me through hard times.

    For vacation my husband and I will have a week off, with no kids, this summer. It has been a long time since we had a vacation just the two of us. We will probably return to Nevada. We just want to relax and enjoy this precious time.

  23. Haley

    Yeah, totally agree, your article is so emotional that it makes me to go back to Danang right now, I think you and I share the same birthplace :), yeah!

  24. JulieD

    I visited Viet-Nam for the first time ever at 19 years old, 12 years ago. I remember the sights and sounds and the food, oh the food. We stayed with family and I had a wonderful time. I even attended like three weddings. I would love to return and bring my husband along. I understand what you mean about certain things haunting you. I do believe that after your visit, you’ll be glad you did and you won’t regret it. I look forward to hearing about the trip & seeing the beautiful photographs. I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandmother.

  25. Elizabeth

    I was blessed to be able to live in a small town in Italy for a month in 2006, studying the language, and immersing myself in the food and culture. I haven’t been able to return physically yet, but I often return there via my imagination, traveling to familiar places in memory, and conjuring images of the places I would love to see eventually. Through reading others’ tales of adventures in Italy, and recreating the flavors of the country in my own kitchen, I travel back to feed this part of myself. I hope you have a wonderful trip!

  26. Julia

    I hope you have a wonderful trip! I spent a few months in Viet Nam in 2004 and recall enjoying Ha Noi quite a bit. I’m sure you’ll soak up every moment and indeed feed your soul while you’re there. Taking time off is so, so important for us all.

    I hope you’ll make it to New Zealand one of these days. I’ve been very fortunate to see many amazing places, and New Zealand still ranks near the top of my list for scenery and sheer beauty. The landscapes are incredible, and thanks to mostly organic farming throughout the entire country, the ice cream is so delicious that you’ll want to eat it for breakfast!

    Ecuador is probably that one place that always calls me back. I lived there from 1998-2001, and it really left its mark on me. I’ve been back twice since then and would like to go back again soon. I spent part of my childhood in South Korea and have been thinking lately that I’d like to go back there, too, and see how things have changed. What a joy it is to travel…

  27. amy

    Have a wonderful time. 🙂 I’m sure going there will be a great way to replenish and refresh your soul as well as honor your heritage once and again. : )

  28. Geri Miller

    Thank you for sharing what was a very intimate experience for you and Todd! It is a pleasure joining you on your journey….wherever it may take you. xxoo gm

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Geri, thanks dear Geri. Hope you are doing well and can’t wait to see you again soon. xo

  29. anhsfoodblog

    This post makes me cry! I want to fly back home so badly.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      anh, you are such a beautiful soul? did i ever get to tell you that? I’m always thrilled to hear of your return to Hanoi and am always heartbroken when you leave too.
      Now it’s time to make that journey back soon.

  30. Carrie Oliver

    Diane, San Francisco – the entire Bay Area is home to me and where I go to be fed. It may not be the same but when I read your heartfelt post about Vietnam I see my home and relate, at least a bit, to your pull toward the land of your grandmother. Perhaps it’s because the land of my grandmother is the Bay Area? Have a wonderful vacation, both of you.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Carrie- thank you Carrie, you’ve enriched my life more than you know. And I owe you a 20 page email!!!
      love and hugs to you,

  31. Susie

    What an absolutely beautiful post! All of my close family is gone now. I only visit them in my dreams, but I believe that they live on every time that I think of them and that gives me the peace that I need. I know that your visit will bring you peace that you seek.

    Where is my soul fed? As silly as it may sound…in my kitchen. Cooking for my family and friends is the grounding force in my life. My soul is nurtured where I nurture others.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Susie- your kitchen answer is the best one and the most grounding. I’m happy that you’re nurturing others where it means the most to you.

  32. Susan Gayle

    It is wonderful that you have a connection, an anchor to a place that can feed you. I grew up in the suburbs of a city in Indiana with only my nuclear family. Neither my mother’s or father’s families had strong ties to another country of origin. Later, after I had left the Midwest for San Francisco, my parents relocated to Michigan and lived until they were both diagnosed with terminal illnesses.

    They moved to where I am now, in Austin, Texas, to live out their remaining time where my brother and I could participate in their care. Needless to say this was a very difficult time. It is now many years later and I have no regrets.

    The place I go to feed my soul, in the sense of feeling those ties, and the strong presence of particularly my mother in my heart — is my own kitchen and dining room. Whether I am cooking for an feeding a large group, or sitting at the table and talking with a friend who needs a supportive ear, this is where I feel her and my soul feels comfort of my own.

    Blessings to you.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Susan, your comment really resonates with me because of how I feel about my parents. I’m living close to them because I want to make sure that I am near to care for them. When the time comes, I will never have any regrets knowing that I was there for them.
      Your kitchen is a soulful place, I know that for sure. Everyone who feeds from you is darn lucky. I hope they know that!

  33. Renee

    While physically your grandmother is gone, she is still very much alive in you and all that you do. Your trip home will be wonderful and I am sure sad. I hope you will find some peace and healing there. And most importantly, have your soul fed and filled to the brim, if not overflowing. Enjoy your time with your family, safe travels and G-d speed.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Thank you Renee. I’ve been needing that peace and healing for quite some time now, and I’m finally ready.

  34. sreelu

    India, its been more than two years since I have seen my parents, everytime I go back see them getting older, wish world was a smaller place and taking time off was not so complicated.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Sreelu, India has been calling out to me for a long time now too. I hope to visit there within the next year or so. And I hope you get a chance to make your journey back to visit your parents soon again.

  35. Charr

    Beautiful. I have to agree the soul needs feeding the most.

  36. Sharon Miro

    Diane, I had to walk away form this and come back so I could type without tears on the keyboard.

    What a brave and honest post. I am glad that are returning to that place that”feeds” your spirit. I think that you will find that the sense of loss and sadness you expect might not be there, and when you step from the plane you will exhale, fully, experiencing feelings of relief and relaxation, and being safe. Belonging.

    I didn’t know what to expect the first time I went to Italy-what happened was an immense feeling of safe return-to a place I had never been! Each time it is the same, I feel like I have come home to a part of my heart. I look forward to that agian this fall.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      sharon, thank you for always feeding me too. You’re a sweet heart, amazing daughter, sister and most importantly, mother. Kristina is so lucky to have you.

  37. Tyler Ngo

    will be excited to hear about your adventure there!

  38. TripleScoop

    I’ve been wanting to return to Vietnam, my birth country as well. I left when I was 2 so I have no memories of it. I hope you have a wonderful journey back home and I hope it brings you much peace and happiness.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Bao- I seriously, can’t wait till you return. it will be a life changing trip for you. Hope it happens soon, very soon. xo

  39. EatLiveRun

    absolutely beautiful post.

  40. Steve-Anna

    Hi Diane, what a lovely and deeply personal post. I’m so happy Todd will be there to support you as you honor your ba ngoai’s passing, and honor your Viet-nam.

    I love the question, “where do you go to be fed?” I’m feeling the same need right now, and a bit desperate for that replenishment. For me, the short answer is Nature. Anywhere there are critters and trees and water or mountains, that feeds me. The more specific answer is the Serengeti. Since I was a small child, I have always loved the big cats. Lions, leopards, cheetahs… I traveled to the Serengeti during the migration in 1996 and it was the trip of my life.

    Thank you for making me realize it might be time be refilled~!

    Sending love to you and Todd xoxoxo

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Steve-Anna, we thank the world for you. Meeting you has been one of our life highlights and we’re not exaggerating!! thank you for everything that you do for us, both mentally and spiritually.
      Nature is one of our deepest loves too, but it’s been a while since we took a serious trip out. Thanks for the reminder, it’s about time we start packing our bags again.
      Our deepest gratitude to you and your friendship Steve-Anna,

  41. Lisa

    My family farm always feeds my soul–it’s my favorite place in the world. Have a wonderful visit in Vietnam, and may your vacation bring you much needed rest and rejuvenation, as well as the chance to feel closure about your grandmother. While I’m not as far away from my family as you are, I understand completely how you feel.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Lisa, what an amazing place your family farm must be. I hope you make that trip back often. I know how homesick you often get. 😉
      love and hugs to you,

  42. lisa dowling

    What a beautifully written post. I long to return to Florence, Italy, where I met my husband of 15 years. I long for the smells of the streets and the sound of the church bells. I long to walk along the Arno holding his hand in my right hand and my daughter’s hand in my left.

    May your trip bring you peace.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Lisa, I hope you make that walk along the Arno soon, what a beautiful scene that will be. Italy is a special place for me and it changed my life when I was there in 2001.
      It will be an amazing family trip for sure.

  43. Gastronomer

    I am returning to Vietnam this year as well! What a coincidence 😉 Happy travels, Diane and Todd. I know Vietnam will feed you spiritually and physically. It always does.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Cathy, i’m thrilled for your trip back too!

  44. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    I hope this trip serves to fill you with thoughts of your Grandmother, good thoughts; sweet thoughts and in those will help you to put some closure on your mourning. Time does serve to help heal the wound of losing those we love (yes, people and our pets) and allows us to relive the memories without the attendant sadness. I hope you have a wonderful, blessed trip that is truly good for your soul.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Barbara, thank you for this. We recently lost a pet too, so it’s certainly been an emotional month for us. Your words mean alot to me and I’m more ready than ever to make this journey back.

  45. tea_austen

    Oh my dear, I can relate so much to this. I’m planning my own trip back, to Japan. It’s bittersweet, but feels important now. It’s been thirteen years since I left–or will be in August, when I plan to go. I have an adopted mother there I need to spend time with, while I still can. I want to go, but I don’t want to confront the changes I know are waiting for me.

    Sending you huge big hugs as you begin to make your journey home.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      tara, your trip back to Japan will be extraordinary. I’m breathless just thinking about what you will be confronting and encountering on this journey back.
      i look forward to reading and clinging on to your every word, as always.

  46. amelia from z tasty life

    so heart-felt. I feel that same “pull” for my home, Italy. Just got tickets for this summer. Can’t wait to “be fed” by my mother.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      amelia- i’m so excited that you have your tickets! you’re mother is waiting anxiously. I can only imagine how excited she is to have you in her arms again.

  47. Erika

    Like you, my feeding ground would be my homeland: the Philippines. Everything about her nourishes me—the hills, the endless shores, the people as rich in hospitality as they are impoverished of material wealth, the oppressive heat, the humidity that sticks to your skin like tar, the vibrant colors and noisy streets, and even the musty scent of rust, neglect, and sea salt.

    Sometimes the world moves so fast, it leaves us gasping for breath. It is in those moments that we most need the reminders that take us back to our childhood, that show us where we came from so that we can better appreciate where we are headed.

    I go home to be fed, to be buoyed by the ever-constant love of my family, to remember who I am, and to understand who I’ve become.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Erika- your beautiful comment echoed everything I wrote when I returned from first trip to Viet-nam. I feel like we’re soul sisters. Your well runs deep Erika and I’m so grateful for that.
      I thank the internet world for bringing you into my life!

    2. Tata

      This touched me so much. I feel the same way. I go back to family for my soul to be fed

  48. Tracy

    This is beautiful and makes me think of my own grandmother whose ashes are in St. Avold,Lorraine spread out on my grandfather’s grave. Me thinkest its time to visit them both.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Tracy, I knowest it’s time for you to visit. And what a peaceful journey that will be for you, especially to St. Avold, Lorraine!

  49. Kristina

    Love that you are going back to Vietnam for all the right reasons. Not that there is a wrong reason, but that it feels right to you. I adored Vietnam and know I will return there many times.

    I’ve traveled all over the world, but yes, there are places I return to again and again. Italy is one of those places and I’ll go back in the Fall for what is probably my 10th trip. I feel at home there in so many ways. Cambodia has become my other “place” where I go to volunteer and it nourishes my soul in different way. I hope to go back again next year.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Kristina, you are an inspiration and i love hearing of all your travels, especially to Cambodia where you do much much amazing humanitarian work. You’re one of the few people i know who travel for all the right reasons.
      You’re a gift to the world.

  50. Melissa

    It’s amazing how many appetites I entertain as one person. I think about the girls weekend, the family vacation, the solo-soul trip. Life has opened up for me in so many ways and I have so much gratitude but at this time, I need to nourish my marriage. We are planning a hike of Kilimanjaro next September together as a couple. Disconnecting from everything else so we can reconnect to each other. It’s easy to get lost. We are still madly in love, exchanging smiles and hold hands, but through daily living, we have forgotten that there is something bigger than our insulated world and the daily grind. Climbing together, connecting with locals, eating local African fare and standing at the top of the summit will surely feed us individually and as a team.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Melissa, I read your comment 10 times and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve dreamed of Kilimanjaro since school, always wanting to make that trek myself. But your journey seems so much more meaning, profound and necessary. The summit awaits you both. And I can’t wait for you to reach it.

  51. saVUryandsweet

    My ba ngoai is pretty fragile, she’s 93, I’ve seen her three times in my life – having been born in the states. When planning vacation Vietnam is always in the back of my mind, but it’s a long way back, and Europe is so charming, but to see ba ngoai once more makes the decision very difficult. My last trip back in 2009 was bittersweet, as my ong ngoai passed before my arrival. It was sad not to have him embrace me, but wonderful to visit his grave in Da lat and hear the story of how he’d picked the plot to face the Lang Bian mountains he so loved. I’m sorry for your loss, I hope that your trip home is full of good times with family, good food, and brings you revitalization and closure.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Rosa- I’m fell so lucky to have met you in Mexico.
      Your ong ngoai is resting in beautiful Lang Bian mountains, i know he’s in such gorgeous peace. Let me know when you return again, I want to live vicariously through you during your journey back.

  52. Nancy@acommunaltable

    Hi Diane,

    I am so glad that you are going to Vietnam – from your post it sounds as if you are ready. The trip will be a bittersweet one, but I think you will find the healing that you need. Although it’s hard to revisit those places we’ve shared with those we love after they are gone there is peace in that as well.
    After losing my parents, it was hard at first to re visit the area where I grew up . What I found though, is that those we love never truly leave us for they are always in our hearts – that sounds a bit trite, but it is true. I think you will find that your grandmother will be there in Vietnam – she will be in the smiles of your family and in their laughter, she will be there as you enjoy the meals from your childhood and she will be there in the sights and sounds of the land of your birth. It will bring some tears, but it will also bring joy.. and peace.
    I hope you and Todd have a beautiful trip – hugs to you both!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Nancy, you are always the word of wisdom, kindness and heart. You are the light in my life Nancy!!
      When I’m with my Grandma’s smiles, I will always think of you.
      much love,

  53. ravenouscouple

    can’t begin to express how warm and touching your writing is on this post, and it’s tugging on our hearts too. Kim hasn’t been back ever and Vietnam’s calling her back too. So happy for you both to make the journey again!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hong- omg, what an amazing journey it will be for you both when you return home. I look forward to reading about it. You both are amazing.

  54. Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga)

    Well I am looking forward to being “fed” by you in Boulder in August! I actually can’t wait and it’s going to be the highlight of my summer!!!

    I am currently in Aruba, my second “home”. Spend about 6-8 weeks here every year and just arrived on Saturday.

    Have an amazing trip in Vietnam!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Aveie- I’m happy to read that you’re in beautiful Aruba! and I look forward to meeting you and being fed by you in Boulder as well. xoox

  55. Sra

    A poignant post, Diane! Where do I begin? One place, of course, is home. To where I grew up, where my parents live. New York City. Quiet homes in quiet corners. But another place is all those places I’ve wanted to go to and I fear there mayn’t be enough time to visit – both inside and outside my country. I guess travel, anywhere, feeds my soul.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Sra- it looks like the world is your feeding ground. What a wonderful place to be in, the world! and I love your words: quiet homes in quite corners. thank you.


    i want to go home; september will mark the 10th anniversary of my dad’s passing and i haven’t been back home since then . . . so much has happened . . . so much loss. i too, have been avoiding. i look forward to hearing/reading about your adventures Diane. i want to know how it feels, how you feel about going back. and i pray/wish with all my heart that your spirit is fed.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      my dearest Debra- I hope to be there with you when you go back home one day. I’m so drawn to that beautiful place. Thank you for sharing the depth and beauty of Walla Walla with me last year. I’m forever connected to your story. xo

  57. Tam

    In 2009, my husband (the white guy) and I (the Vietnamese girl) made the same trip you speak of. It was also important for me (and for us) to have him know my roots, where I come from, who I come from, and who I am. My family loved him and he fit in so well in my mother country that his skin color did not matter. Riding through the countryside on the back of a motorbike with my caucasian husband at the helm was something I never would have imagined in a thousand years. My father was so proud of his son-in-law, so proud to show off his son-in-law’s motorbike skills. That acceptance of him by my family (my people) and the understanding he gained about them completed me and completed us in a way I had not expected. We look forward to many trips back to Vietnam in our future and with our children. I hope you have a wonderful trip and may it bring you closure as well as fulfillment.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Tam- we’re like sisters from another mother. Your story is exactly like mine and I’m so happy you took the time to let me hear it. I’m especially excited that you want to take your children there. You’re an amazing Mom, Vietnamese woman. xo

  58. cheryl

    Diane, this strikes me as a beautiful way of honoring your grandmother’s memory. Not just to return to the place of your last interaction with her, but to confront the sense of pain head on and work through it right there, with her memory still both fresh and present. I hope you find the journey healing.

    I lived in Africa for 2 years with my husband. The country was Eritrea, a place we loved deeply but that has been ridden with political strife since we left. I’d like desperately to return and introduce my children to the land they’ve heard so much about, but it isn’t yet safe to do so. Some day I will, though, and when I do go back, many beloved and familiar faces will no longer be there. I imagine that will be a difficult, bittersweet journey as well.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      cheryl- thank you for your comment, it especially struck a personal chord with me. Since High School, I dreamed of going to Africa. There’s always been a deep spiritual connection that I have there. I do hope you make that journey back soon and if we run into each other in Africa, I will feel like the luckiest person in the world. xo

  59. Melissa

    I read this at the perfect time. My husband just called me to say that he needs a week off. He is fed up at work and needs a vacation. We havent been on vacation for a really long time. I think its time to go. Thanks for the reminder that we all need a break every once in a while.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Melissa- I sincerely hope you both journey out together again soon. That will be such a well deserved escape and personal trip for you both. xo

  60. Snippets of Thyme

    What an inspiring article that sounds so deeply heartfelt and necessary. We just watched documentary recently called “China’s Lost Girls” and your post reminded me of need for identity to one’s past and culture. We recently moved back to southern US. I am a cajun from crawfish country Louisiana. Showing my kids New Orleans, and Lafayette and the small poor towns that create such beautiful food has been a journey this year. My kids are teens so they are so-so interested right now but I hope they will be curious about their southern roots in years to come. Bon voyage!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Snippets- I’m going to search for that documentary, thank you for sharing that and for your thoughts here. What an amazing journey it will be for you as a family to discover the poor, yet culturally rich towns of the South.

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