Meet the Wilde Family:
Justin, Leigh, Gavin (16), and Graham (14) are a fun-loving, globe-trotting, food-loving, sport-obsessed, adventure-seeking family that we have the pleasure to work with on their travels. We thought it would be fun to have introduce an occasional guest blog to our communications repertoire and the Wilde’s agreed to share a bit about their recent spring break trip to Vietnam.
How did you choose Vietnam?
Leigh chose Vietnam for this trip because of the history between the US and Vietnam, the beauty of the country, and since flights were so expensive everywhere, why not just bit the bullet an go to Asia. The trip was relatively inexpensive outside of the flights. An incredible value.
Did the destination surprise you in any way?
The people were incredibly nice, which was amazing to the whole family. The Mekong Delta experience surprised us, seeing the fisheries, and fishing for crabs (below) was just super cool. We were also surprised by the number of visitors from dozens of cultures and countries as we moved around the country.
What struck Gavin and Graham as the most interesting, strangest, or funniest thing they experienced?
The Cuchi Tunnels were the most interesting to them as we could not believe how extensive they were and that people survived in them. They were definitely not the size that today’s Americans could fit in to, much less live. Gavin and Graham both fit in them though and we got to try them out and even meet Uncle Nam who survived the war, only had one arm from a mine explosion, and fought for the Viet Kong. The second item was just the amount of scooters buzzing around everywhere. In Saigon alone, there were 7 million registered scooters for about 14 million people. On average you would see 2.4 people on a scooter, and sometimes two dogs, or someone carrying a mattress, or someone with 50 ducks taking them to a restaurant.
What were the trip highlights for your family?
1) Definitely the Vespa Food tour – getting a chance to ride on a Vespa behind a local on those crazy streets of Saigon was exhilarating. The food we were able to try was also spectacular everywhere, including pho, lettuce wraps, and local fresh fish.
2) The cuchi tunnels
3) Halong Bay overnight boat stay on a traditional “Junk” boat – the topography was incredible – they had to come up with the idea of Avatar there, the food and service on the boat was really top notch, and climbing to the top of one of the mountains gave just beautiful views on this breathtakingly un-real bay.
4) Visiting Hoi An was Leigh’s and my favorite – while it was more touristy it was just plain beautiful, especially at night with all the colors and for 1 Dong (the Vietnamese currency), you could light a candle, and let it float in the river; we also bought some gorgeous silk garments and ate at some most incredible restaurants.
The river in Hoi An.
What advice would you give other families considering Vietnam for a holiday?
Get ready for the long flight, however, it is totally worth it!! Get your family prepared for the food. While we loved it, and really appreciate Asian food, other families may want to try various International Asian foods before they go.
Did the Vietnamese people make an impact on your family?
We were all impacted by how hard-working the Vietnamese people are. Many of them had multiple jobs, and the whole family contributed to the household wealth. We went on a wonderful bike ride through the country and stopped at many homes to see various products made, such as nail files, a sleeping mat, rice wine, lanterns, and hammocks.
A local we met who makes a hammock from local bamboo reeds that takes about 3 days and is sold to support their family.
Tell us more about your food experiences in Vietnam?
The Vespa food tour is a must and I would also do a street food tour in Hanoi. We had a wonderful guide, who spoke perfect English, but also liked to joke around a lot. We laughed that most of our guides were named “Kevin”. In Hanoi we had egg coffee, a noodle soup where you could add the ingredients you wanted to make the soup more or less spicy, and also had some wonderful lettuce wraps.
What types of families would love Vietnam?
Adventurous families who like to hike, walk around the cities, and also want an educational experience.
Where would you like to take your family on a future trip to SE Asia?
The Vietnam experience definitely opened our eyes to southeast Asia. If we ever return, we would want to visit Thailand first and maybe a quick stop to Laos or Cambodia.
What else is on your family’s bucket list?
African safari, Alaska, Eastern Europe, a golf and futbol trip to the UK, and the Grand Canyon.
What is your only regret about the trip you took to Vietnam?
No real regrets, though we hear there are some amazing open air caverns in the middle of the country where it is more mountainous. If anything, maybe a few more days to see it all.
What did the boys tell their friends about their trip to Vietnam?
Gavin used the experience to answer questions on his AP World History test around communism. Graham’s favorite part was the Cuchi tunnels that I referenced above. He enjoyed meeting Mr. Nam and thought it was incredible that he shared the experiences of losing his arm and how he saved many of his troops.
How do you think these types of trips shape your boys and their world perspectives?
Leigh and I think they enjoyed the trip but will appreciate the experience more as they get older. We appreciated them seeing a completely different culture and since we also went to Cuba, a different twist on communism.