On New Years Eve 2016, we decided to spend the night bringing in 2017 on the breathtaking Ha Long Bay. Locals say Ha Long Bay contains 1,969 islands - the same year Ho Chi Minh died. In reality there's probably closer to over 2,000 of them, but I like the idea of 1,969 to represent 1969. Halong translates to "where the dragon descends into the sea". Legend has it that the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon from the mountains who charged towards the coast, with its flailing tail gouging out valleys and crevasses. The area filled with water when the dragon plunged into the sea. Another legend says that the people prayed to be protected from the pirates. A dragon appeared and spit fire that turned into pearls, which then became limestone islands in the sea. The pirates then crashed into the islands and the people were saved. Either way, a dragon supposedly helped create this majestic site :) #dragonsdoexist #didtheycreateotherbeautifulareasaroundtheworld? #wemayneverknow
After our morning flight from Saigon, we arrived in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi. The city is known for it's rich culture and old architecture, influenced by both the French and Chinese, with a flurry of scooters driving around. The narrow streets around the Old Quarter are roughly arranged by trade and the goods they are selling And around the serene Hoan Kiem Lake, many locals perform t-ai chi at dawn, creating a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.
The day after Christmas again, Nate and I took another big trip to take advantage of the Holidays and living in Asia :) #iwanttoseeeverycountry #travel After our layover in Taipei (read more about that here), we found ourselves in Vietnam - a country we've always wanted to visit. #musteatallthepho
Nate and I were super excited to visit the beautiful country of Vietnam. Influenced by the many wars fought in the country, France, China, Japan, and America have all left a unique mark. This Communist nation is filled with motorbikes, gorgeous views (from beaches, to limestone mountains, and ricefields), history, and delicious food (including some of the best baguettes I've had!). #mmmmmfood #eatingourwayacrosstheworld
We began our journey in the bustling, exciting city of Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as some still call it. The city is a mix of commerce and culture, wealthy and budget travelers alike, yummy street food, and a ton of motorbikes! #neverendingbikes #iwanttoeatallthefood
We began this Christmas season with brunch wtih some friends at the officers club on Kadena, where low and behold, Santa decided to visit! #santa! #iknowhim! Of course we had to take a pic with him while we were there #stepasidechildren #santalooksalittletoohappy After unlimited mimosas, and some day drinking festivities, we thought karaoke sounded like a great idea. #naturally For those who have never experienced karaoke at an Asian business or country - please do yourself a favor and go now. You get a private room (#nooneneedstohearmyhorriblevoice #exceptfriendsandfamily #andmaybepeopleinnearbyrooms...), with a phone that you can pick up and order food and drinks, which they then come deliver to you! #perfect Most places around Okinawa are either a BYOB and cheap price for the room per hour, or you pay a set price for 2 hours per person but it includes an all you can drink, drink menu. We had a blast singing the night away with our friends Charlie and Katie
Sumo comes to Okinawa only once a year. Nate and I knew we had to get tickets to witness this historic sport during our last few months in Japan #bucketlist On a beautiful Saturday in December, we went to our friend Hiro's Holiday BBQ party, and then headed to the sumo event!! #excited
It was fascinating watching everything that went into the tournament and learning the traditional meaning behind it (throwing salt, clapping, etc) As well as some fun, weird facts about sumo - read on to learn more :)
Jill and I had a long day of traveling from Coron. A flight to Manila, a flight from Manila to Cebu; taxi ride to the port; and finally a 2.5 hour ferry ride from Cebu to Bohol. After we got settled in at the South Palms Resort in Bohol, we got a knock at the door and Jill got another birthday surprise: More singing and another birthday cheesecake! #birthdayround2 Sadly, once we got to the cake after ordering dinner, ants had descended upon it.... #moreprotein?? We got in a few ant free bites but had to leave the rest of it outside and get the ants to follow it.
On our 2nd day in Coron, I opted for scuba diving and Jill had a nice relaxing day by the pool. Coron is listed as one of the top dive spots in the world due to the many shipwrecks you can dive around here.
It's still under debate whether the Japanese fleet was spotted by an aerial photo reconnaissance or if Japanese radio transmissions were intercepted, but the Japanese fleet that was hiding in the bays of Coron after being bombed near Manila, was spotted. On September 24th, 1944, a US Navy strike force and dive bombers attacked 24 Japanese ships at anchor near Coron Bay and Busuanga Island. As many of 12 of those ships have been discovered today, which makes for some excellent wreck diving!
After our few days in Cebu, Jill and I hopped on a plane - made a quick stop in Manila, and then took a quick 45 minute flight over to the beautiful island of Coron located in the Palawan area of the Philippines. Coron is known best for it's world class scuba diving (listed as one of Forbe's top 10 diving spots in the world) with around 10 Japanese shipwrecks, it's white sand beaches, and gorgeous limestone cliffs. This area has been one of my favorite spots in all of Asia to travel to so far.
We quickly were loaded into a shuttle van until it could not fit anymore people, or luggage, and headed into town.
Right after Seoul, South Korea, Jill and I flew down to Cebu in the Philippines for 10 days to celebrate her 29th birthday #shesgettingsoold! #sisteradventure Nate, unfortunately, had to go back to work #someonesgottapaythebills Jill wanted to go to the Philippines because many of the nurses she works with have visited and had nothing but great things to say - and it was still on my list of many countries to visit - so I was definitely in!
The Philippines consists of over 7,000 islands #damn and has some of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. On top of the gorgeous views, the country is filled with friendly, happy-go-lucky people everywhere - many of which speak English - making our vacation even more enjoyable.
Our first stop on our Philippines adventure was Cebu, located in the central part of the country. It is the oldest city and was the first capital of the country. We didn't land in the city until around 2am. From there we were able to head to our hotel and get some rest. The next morning, we woke up and exchanged our cash for pesos at the mall. Once we got to the mall, there were security guards at every entrance (with guns) as well as metal detectors - is this normal??? Apparently it is - don't be alarmed...? Then one of Jill's friends from work in LA, her sister lives in Cebu and picked us up and drove us to our main hotel on Macatan island - the Movenpick. Because her sister knew the owner, we were upgraded to a room with a view of the beach #score
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!