Semester Abroad in Hong Kong – Travels through South East Asia Part 2
The second half of my South East Asia travels were just as fun as the first half. On May 1, we arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam, and thanks to our hotel receptionist, we had the most amazing Vietnamese food I’ve ever had. I must admit carrying millions of Vietnamese Dong around in my wallet made me feel pretty rich.
The next day we departed for beautiful Halong Bay. In the picture below, you can see the famous rock formation (left) that’s printed on the 200,000 Dong bill being held below it. The islands seemed never ending and the mix of rock and water created a very peaceful ambience through our three-day, two-night cruise.
We had a chance to visit a vast cave that was very enchanting, in the middle of which, was a rock formation that looked like the Bhuddhavista.
As the sun began to set, the sky turned a beautiful orange and the heat slowly dispelled into a nice gentle breeze.
We took the opportunity to jump into the water for some good ol’ frolicking before the sky turned completely black. I was probably the least graceful of the bunch jumping into the water.
That night I slept on the roof gazing into the stars, and woke up to a 1.4 million Dong bar tab. Before we left Halong Bay, we stayed overnight at a large island and got some beach time in. On the last day, we also learned to make spring rolls from the crew.
On May 6, I said goodbye to my friends and met up with a fellow Sternie, Juan Gonzalez, in Ho Chi Minh. There, we visited the Cu Chi Tunnels and got firsthand experience what it was like to crawl through these tunnels.
The next day, we toured the Me Kong Delta by boat and visited small villages. During one of the pit stops, we met some new friends that were all over Juan.
The rainy season was just beginning and though our Me Kong Delta tour was cut short by the rain, we were very lucky when we went to the floating village the next day. There, complete structures of houses, stores and even a basketball court, were floating on a lake. The villagers and visitors would transport themselves around by boat, but the water was shallow enough to step in. The villagers, especially the kids, were not shy to approach us, often hoping to earn a quick dollar.
The last leg of my trip was Siem Reap, Cambodia, home of the infamous Angkor Wat. Many temples are housed in Siem Reap, but the one that was most amazing to me was Ta Promh. The picture below captures a tree that’s growing literally on top of the temple, a scene that’s seen throughout the complex. Our tour guide reminded us that, though it is quite beautiful for our generation to see, as the trees grow, the buildings will eventually completely collapse and future generations will no longer be able to witness the amazing structures.
The final temple we saw was the Bayon temple, home of the four-faced Buddha statues. From a distance, the temple looked normal. But upon closer inspection, each pillar was brought to life by the faces of the Buddhas. The shot below is from gate as we were departing, and is a good representation of how I felt about my trip around South East Asia.
From Cambodia, we headed back to Hong Kong and then New York, where just a couple of days later we joined our classmates in the NYU Stern convocation ceremonies. My exchange semester in Hong Kong is definitely one of the highlights of my Stern MBA experience, and I’m very grateful to the school and the friends I have made for making these last two years the best years of my life.