By Jeremy Bass

I believe I can speak for everyone when I say that traveling is an activity that can bring about the best and worst of surprises. From our departure in February, we have experienced unexpected acts of generosity, crazy early bus arrivals, surprisingly friendly chickens and cows, crazy late and unresponsive buses, spectacularly hidden food stands, mass food sickness out of nowhere, and, among tons of other occurrences, numerous uses for bamboo that few of us can fully keep track of. Sure enough, on the first day of Student Directed Travel, we have had a visit from the element of surprise.

We arrived in Hoi An on April 29 following our four days of scuba diving, planning on a nice free day this day and then a great beach day on Cham Island the next. Apparently, Cham Island has an entrance fee not specified on the internet, causing the actual price to be much higher than our projected price. We decided to change our plans to visit My Son, an archaeological site of ancient Cham temples and towers. Afterward, we would travel to the local beach to relax in the sand and wade in the waters. Continuing with our lovely surprises, My Son has some amazing structures originating as far back as 4th century; however, our early sunrise visit was filled with rain clouds. The beach was beautiful with fabulous, cool waves, though we got dropped off at the wrong beach. I would love to show photos of our first two days of exploration, but all computer shops are closed and/or non-existent due to the lantern-lighting holiday, a time where all of Hoi An is light up only by lanterns at night. As such, this message is being brought to you by Jon’s phone (thanks Jon).

As we look forward to the rest of our journey, we leave Hoi An after visiting Marble Mountain, a combination of caves, temples, and mountains just outside the city. We then make our way to the river city of Halong Bay, looking to kayak along the coast and into the caves, and finally arriving in Hanoi on the afternoon of the 4th, planning on having multiple activity options to choose from. The road ahead as we slowly reach the end is incredibly exciting, though, as seen before, this schedule may be subject to change…