Return from Việt-Nam, fresh perspectives.

Ha Long Bay Vietnam Travel Essays

Vịnh Hạ Long Bay, Northern Việt-Nam

Whenever we return from a trip away our familiar surroundings, we are constantly reminded to remain grounded, sane and humble. Vietnam reinforced everything we understood about people, culture, society and cuisine. We both should never assume and teach that how we live and what we eat here in America is definitive of our backgrounds. Every reunion, set of tears, alley stroll, food stall, family meal, scooter ride, interview and conversation is a continuous learning experience.

Our stomachs were pleasantly nourished with different flavors,
Phợ (beef noodle soup) is not always served with basil, but with plenty of fresh mint,
Bún Bò Huế (spicy Hue noodle soup) is not always served with rau răm, but with plenty of fresh basil,
Nor is there a vegetable platter at every bowl.
The big cities change, thrive and flourish with each passing day,
while small rural towns struggle to keep up with the rising cost of rice.
Many youths have the splendor of living with modern conveniences,
while others will never see the privilege of running water.

Cousins are healthier, happier and prosperous,
Aunties have a television to watch American shows,
Uncles have digital cameras that helps them earn a living,
and Grandma still reminisces about the past,
reminding us all the importance of family, respect and kindness.

Ancient city of Hội An, Central Việt-Nam

Thanks for joining us on our trip through our Twitters. As we organize all our photographs, video’s and thoughts together, we’ll be sharing SO MUCH MORE with all of you over time. Until then, we’ll share shorter thoughts through our photographs on a regular basis.

Here are some sights of our trip.

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P.S. Go watch a Paul Newman movie in tribute to this immense legend. He was one of the coolest, and savviest actors of our era. And a good man. Thank you Mr. Newman for the wonderful moments you’ve given us.

Previous Viet-Nam posts you might enjoy reading and viewing:

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. matt

    and to think I couldn’t be more in love with you guys than before…. THIS PHOTO!

    DAMN!!!!! It makes me melt!!!!!!! so so so beautiful and I’m so glad to know you both…….

  2. Helen

    Wow – what a fantastic trip! I have been waiting for these posts. I just made myself a lovely cup of tea and I’m getting all comfy to read through them all!

  3. Tony

    wow, I missed out on a lot these past couple of weeks :-\ These photos are absolutely stunning! I especially liked the peddling pineapples 🙂

  4. We Are Never Full

    this is late but work has taken me away from blog watching recently. welcome home and you are right – travel always does bring fresh perspectives. every time. always. which is why i think it is the ultimate educational experience. sometimes we can only travel through food – that’s all I have so far w/ viet nam… but hopefully one day i’ll experience it in person.

  5. Jen Yu

    Awesome! I love the pics and you guys look like you are having such a good time. It’s beautiful there. Is it hot? *cringe* Thanks for sharing such beauty with all of us!!

  6. Simply...Gluten-free

    Your photos are AMAZING! Thanks for the trip and hear, hear about Mr. Cool Hand himself. Can’t wait for more, glad you had a great trip.

  7. Melissa

    Love the photos, love the perspective and tone even more. And I’m sure it’s due to where you were, but you both look absolutely gorgeous and happy, as if you’re glowing from the inside. Can’t wait to read more.

  8. Amanda Szucsik

    Love the photos, guys. Glad to hear that you had an awesome time abroad. Can’t wait to hear (and read) all about the trip. Happy that you arrived home in California safe and sound. Did the pooches miss you? 🙂

  9. Julie

    Sounds (and looks) like a fabulous trip. The photos really feel brilliantly full of life. Beautiful! Welcome back!:)

  10. MPG

    These shots (custard apple! – did you eat it?) are excellent! Your descriptions read like a book that is so real, for those who have lived in or visited Asia…they remind me terribly of India! I would love to visit Việt-Nam one day and I cannot wait to see more shots from you guys!

  11. Nan Slaughter

    First I read you’re on your way to Vietnam and now I read you’re already back! Boy, I blink and I almost missed the entire trip! Your pictures are amazing – worthy of National Geographic! Can’t wait to read all the details!

  12. Precious Pea

    Welcome back! For sure you must have a great family reunion. Looking forward to more great posts!

  13. Hélène

    Beautiful pictures. These are great memories. Hope it’s not too hard to be back to normal life.

  14. Brooke

    Welcome back. Thank you so much for generously sharing your GORGEOUS photos. You both look so beautiful, peaceful and at home. What an incredible trip. My dream is to get to a point where our writing can pay for us to travel together!

    Great to know you’re back. Can’t wait to see and read more about your adventures.

  15. Rebecca (Foodie With Family)

    Todd and Diane- Welcome back. I missed you 🙂

    My little sister got a chance to visit Viet Nam while visiting family in Cambodia a couple years ago. I’m a little jealous, but I’m glad she at least went. She brought back lots of great memories, photos, scarves and recipes. I can’t wait to hear more about what you did and saw.

  16. Abby @ mangerlaville

    What a beautiful couple. Your pictures are stunning and well simply “picturesque.” I can’t wait to see more. It sounds incredible.

  17. mikky

    beautiful pictures… and welcome back… looking forward to your post soon… 🙂

  18. Sandie

    Welcome back T&D! Glad your visit to Vietnam was lovely. I’m looking forward to more photos/videos, not to mention some new, amazing foods and recipes.

  19. White on Rice Couple

    ECM- We’re not selling anything at this point, but thank you for the compliment!

    toonz- we were a little tired after the flight back home, but got back to local time asap because of work. ugh!

    pop2003- we shot with two cameras Nikon D100 and D300, but mostly with the D300.

    veron – the pork was soooooo good! wish you could have tried it!

    Christine D- thanks for the Twitter friendship!

    Lisa- we miss ya too! yes, we’ve got lots of recipes lined up!

    Maybelle – we were so sad about Paul, he’s one of our favorites. We’re fans of his older movies.

    Shari & Cynthia- thank you!!

    Tenina- OK! I’ll get going on that bread!

    Andrea- thanks for following our tweets!

    Manggy- yes. we brought over 90 G of media storage and used over 78 G! That’s how much beauty we saw!

    hong P- you are totally correct! Viet food in America is SO different from the home country. Much of what we see in America is reflective of Southern influences.

    Hilary – wow, two months in Vietnam? Great! I’ll have to check to see if you posted anything about your trip!

    Lydia- Yes, Hoi An is great, but such a tourist trap now. My first trip to Hoi An was back in 1995. I was shocked to see so many changes!

    Christie & Cakelaw- thanks! you two Aussies were not too far from us!

    Happy Cook, Grace, Alexandra & Recipe Girl – Thank you all! We’ve got lots more to share.

    Mollie- We really miss Paul and were very sad too to hear of his passing.

  20. Mollie

    I loved the twitters and can’t wait to see and hear more! So fantastic.
    Paul Newman passing was so sad… I just adored him.

  21. alexandra's kitchen

    My gosh, all of your pictures could and should be in a magazine. I want to go to Vietnam right now!

  22. noobcook

    welcome back!! Sounds like you guys had the most amazing trip. Luv the gorgeous photos … can’t wait for more! 😉

  23. RecipeGirl

    Wonderful pics! Can’t wait to read more about your trip 🙂

  24. grace

    welcome home! i’m sure your trip was a fabulous experience–thanks for letting us live vicariously through you! keep those pictures coming! 🙂

  25. Happy Cook

    Welcome back, looks like you had a wonderufl time and looking forward to hear more about your trip.

  26. Cakelaw

    Wow, looks like you had a terrific time! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

  27. Christie@fig&cherry

    Gorgeous photos! Can’t wait to see the rest. So glad you had a great time – I loved being part of it via Twitter!

  28. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Welcome home! I’m so glad you got to Hoi An, one of my favorite places on earth. Looking forward to more reports from this wonderful trip.

  29. Hilary

    I spent two months in Vietnam in 2005. Halong Bay was one of my favorite places. This post brings back a lot of memories.

  30. hong p

    Great photos!!! The regional differences with different “classic” dishes surprised me too. Even though my family is originally from the north, I found it much “harder” to eat while in Hanoi and that the dishes in southern regions/Saigon more similar to the ones here in America.

  31. Manggy

    I am so happy you guys had a great time and maximized every minute of it, it seems! All your pics are exquisite– but I suppose it won’t be difficult to take beautiful pictures when you’re surrounded with so much beauty, isn’t it? 🙂

  32. Andrea

    Welcome back! It was fun to keep up with you through your tweets, and your photos are beautiful. Looking forward to more photos and stories!

  33. Tenina

    I LOVE Vietnam, wow, what a beautiful trip and great pics. Looking forward to some stunning recipes from you guys…with a Vietnamese twist.
    As for archiving my bread recipe….archive nothing, make, bake and EAT I say!

  34. Cynthia

    Welcome back. Love the photographs and can’t wait for you to share more.

  35. Shari

    Beautiful photo catalog. Can’t wait to see more!

  36. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle)

    Glad it was a good trip…and I agree about Paul Newman, a Clevelander and great actor.

  37. Lisa

    I missed your guys. The twittering held me over, but I’m glad to have you back in the good ole USA and I can’t wait to see more, more more! Glad you had such a fantastic trip! Bring home any new recipes??? Huh? Huh?

  38. Christine D.

    Great photos! I’ve also enjoyed your little updates on Twitter and I’ll be looking forward to reading more about your trip.

  39. veron

    Welcome Back! That streetside grilled pork looks delicious!

  40. pop2003

    I love your pictures and recipes. Just curious, what type of camera do you use?

  41. toontz

    I really enjoyed your little snippets on twitter of your trip. Looking forward to seeing more (gorgeous!) photos and hearing about your trip. Glad to hear you are both home safe, if not tired.

  42. evil chef mom

    i’m so happy you’re back! i love the photos! sooooo, when are you gonna sell some of yours? (wink, wink) i can’t wait to see and hear about more!

    again… the photos, especially the elder, is stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful…

  43. White on Rice Couple

    Sharon – Yes, no matter how sad it is to leave, my return to VietNam trips are always wonderful. Thank you.

    Kitt- If you ONLY knew how much we ate! But yes, we ate and drank for you as well.

    Marvin- We’ll have so much to share, just like you did on your trip back to the Phillipines. Thanks for those pics!

    WC- Yeah, what we eat here in America isn’t always the same back home, not at all. People will be amazed at Viet dishes in VN vs. Viet dishes in the USA.

    Wendy – Thank you. Please check back later for more!

  44. Wendy

    Stunning photographs! Especially love the people ones. You take really lovely potraits. 🙂

  45. Wandering Chopsticks

    Welcome back!

    Funny! I was just saying how serving mint with pho is weird. But I guess someone’s doing it. 😛

  46. Marvin

    Welcome back Todd and Diane. I can’t wait to read more about your trip. Looking forward to learning through your perspectives.

  47. Kitt

    More! More! What a fabulous trip. I hope you ate some good things for me, too!

  48. sharon

    Gorgeous photos! I can’t wait to see more. Returning “home” to visit relatives is always a beautiful learning experience!

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