Between the end of the school year in Korea and start of winter English camps in January, I found myself with two empty weeks and a world of opportunities. My younger brother decided he would rather backpack with me than show up for the first week of second semester classes at university, so we made plans to meet somewhere in Asia and backpack for two weeks together.
Two weeks with a family member may be daunting for a lot of people, but not for my family. We’re veterans of the good ol’ family road trip. Every summer growing up, you’d find the six of us in our Suburban driving somewhere in North America, watching the beautiful scenery go by. We’re no stranger to driving 12+ hours a day or sleeping in the car so we could make it as far as possible across the wide continent.
What I love most about our family vacations is that they’re never planned, never scheduled. I remember one summer in particular, when we had the truck and trailer all packed up with our clothing collections, multiple coolers (for easy access to snacks and cold drinks), a variety of cassettes, a mini-library, and maps for every state and province. We were ready. We backed out of the driveway, headed down our country road, and drove on the highway for a full sixty seconds before pulling into a truck stop. We ordered a plate of fries to share. East or west? We just couldn’t decide. After all the fries were gone, we hit the road, eastward bound. Only a couple hours into the journey, Mom requested we turn ourselves around and head west towards her beloved Rocky Mountains. So we did. For us, travelling is about the journey, not just the destination.
Just like that trip, my brother and I had trouble deciding on a destination. Our first choice, Thailand, proved to be too popular and I had trouble locating plane tickets. Knowing little about anywhere in Asia, other than fragments from TV and movies, we decided any country could provide a great adventure for us. Scenes of Vietnam from Magnum, P.I. and Forrest Gump—along with an availability of plane tickets from both Seoul and Toronto—guided us to this gorgeous country.