PHU QUOC: PEACE WITHIN AN ARM'S REACH

In the blink of an eye, I found myself in Phu Quoc. Indeed, the flight from HCMC to Phu Quoc is only 40 minutes. We barely had time to get comfortable into our seats that the captain announced the cabin crew to prepare for landing. Such a short flight makes it convenient for a weekend getaway on what is reputed to be Vietnam's paradise island.

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HALONG BAY: CRUISING THROUGH THE DESCENDING DRAGON

On the occasion of yet another long weekend in Vietnam - for three days this time - I decided to fly North to Halong Bay. The UNESCO World Heritage Site. Max - a colleague from the headquarters in Germany and based in Vietnam for a three-month short-term assignment - and I decided to pair up to visit this magnificent sight that is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Our very ambitious initial plan was to combine Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Halong Bay in three days only. This itinerary was proposed by another colleague of ours who had been through this journey about a month ago. When Max first told me about this plan, my immediate thought was that this was simply not doable. My normal travelling style requires that I visit fewer locations, but in much more depth. Quality over quantity!

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HOI AN: A TALE OF RED LANTERNS

It's 6:30am on Saturday morning and I am sitting in the waiting area of the Saigon Airport. My friend Chau had insisted on bringing me to Hoi An on the occasion of the four-day weekend celebrating both the Vietnamese Reunification Day and the International Labor Day back to back. Since I am.new to the country and only had the chance to spend time in Ho Chi Minh City during two business trips, Chau insisted on showing me another face of Vietnam that is has a more traditional flavor to it. Getting the local experience is not an occasion that presents itself every day. Therefore, I seized the opportunity as it came. Although, I must admit I have hesitated before accepting this tempting offer. In the Western culture, bringing semi-acquaintances over to their parents does not happen precociously. Especially not in my family. Believe it or not, I have childhood friends who have never set foot in my family's house until my farewell party before I moved to Germany.

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HO CHI MINH CITY: BONUS TRACK IN SAIGON

Just like a rap album from the early 2000's, a bonus track was added to the regular listing. Indeed, I learnt last week that I would spend a few days in Vietnam to visit a newly settled factory around an hour driving outside of Ho Chi Minh City. This business trip within a business trip was not originally planned and I only had a little amount of time to figure out the visa, flight ticket and accommodation. Alls well ends well, I managed to book everything on time and off I flew from Guangzhou to the city locals still refer to as Saigon.

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