I won the lottery when I was a kid. Not in the scratch-off ticket instant money kind-of-win. But in an instant life-changing win all the same.
When I was four years old, my family immigrated to the United States in 1998. My aunt was a refugee in the Vietnam War and moved to America many years before us. She slowly built a life for herself in a small town in Ohio. Through a tedious process and many years of trying, she eventually was able to sponsor my family for immigration. My parents in their late 30’s / early 40’s at this time, uprooted their entire life for the American dream. They left loved ones and everything they knew behind. With little formal education and no knowledge of English – their journey to America was filled with uncertainty and obstacles. Looking back now, I realized just how incredibly brave my mom and dad were. Their leap of faith would set the course for my life.
The summer of 2016 was the first time my family traveled back to Vietnam. Since this was 18 years later, I didn’t really know what to expect. My recollection of memories was vague and distant at this point. However, the trip turned out to be a colorful whirlwind adventure leaving me with vivid new memories. From sightseeing ancient temples to visiting the idyllic countryside village where my father grew up – I felt like a tourist because I was captivated by it all. Some of my favorite pictures I took are down below. 🙂 I also got to see my family members that I have not seen since I was a little baby. It was a rush of emotion, to say the least. I felt overwhelmed with love – because no matter the span of time and distance, your family is still your family after all. Seeing where I came from left a profound impact on me. It made me appreciate my parent’s selfless sacrifices so much more. This trip will always remain near and dear to my heart. ~b
Hue, Vietnam was the capital of the Vietnamese empire during the Nguyen Dynasty. Today the city still honors its rich past by preserving the beautiful ancient architecture. One of my favorite tourist attractions located in Hue was the vibrant ‘Imperial City‘. This exquisite site is home to numerous temples, monuments, and tombs. Walking into the sprawling grounds you can just feel the royal history of the palace. Even if you are not a history fanatic, there’s just something so astonishing about the ornate colorful architecture. The intricate detailing was something I found so striking because it was so meticulously crafted. From the well-kept gardens to the lavish historic buildings, this is an absolutely amazing place to spend an afternoon stroll! ~b
P.S. This is a throwback post…these pictures were taken about 3 years ago!
Haleakala’s summit is easily one of the most spectacular places to watch a sunrise. With an elevation of 10,000 feet above sea level, it’s a pretty incredible view. Around dawn, on a good day, you will be able to witness the sun ascending above a sea of fluffy white clouds.
To experience this breathtaking sunrise, wake up super early to get to Haleakala National Park. Once you arrive at the visitor area, you will want to get away from the huge tourist crowds ASAP. I highly recommend taking the Pa Ka’oao White Hill trail. Not a lot of people are up for a mini-hike in the early morning so this spot is not as packed (offering better photograph opportunities). I honestly think it’s one of the best viewpoints!
From the top outlook, you will be able to see the clouds drifting and gliding across the mountain slopes. It’s a mesmerizing sight! However, your attention will soon be shifted to the beaming sun rays peeking through the horizon. As the sun slowly rises to the top, it illuminates the sky with the most beautiful colors. From warm tangerine to soft yellow – the pastel hues cast the perfect glow to mark the beginning of a new day. It’s a moment to take in and feel appreciative of being awake and alive. The Haleakala sunrise is truly a worthwhile experience on Maui. ~b
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend two amazing weeks in Hawaii this past year. Since I was there for a good amount of time, I also visited Honolulu for a couple of days. One of my favorite activities I did there was the Lanikia Pillbox hike. It was a little bit unplanned (hence why I am wearing flip-flops in these pictures), but still a fun memory to look back on. The climb was not too intensive and offered a rewarding view of Mokulua islands, Lanikia beach, and the surrounding residential neighborhood. I included a few of my favorite snapshots from the hike in this post! ~b
Nakalele Blowhole is another cool attraction that you can do on Maui. It’s located on the northwestern part of the island. This is home to the more underdeveloped rural areas so the road conditions can be pretty bad getting there. However, you will definitely be able to see some really stunning views along the way (see pics below)!
Once you reached the site, you will have to do a short hike to the bottom. The blowhole is easy to spot because it is always active and forms geyser-like eruptions every few minutes. Though a pretty interesting sight to see, it’s important to note that it can also be extremely dangerous. I would not recommend getting anywhere near it or walking on the wet rocks. There have been a few serious accidents here which ultimately ended in deaths. It’s a scary thought to process but as long as you are careful, this area is a beautiful place to explore! ~b
Wherever I travel, I often find myself gravitating towards beautiful architecture. Perhaps it’s the impeccable craftsmanship or the rich history but I am always captivated by these places. I believe these old regal buildings are the heart and soul of a city and within their walls lies stories of the past. Iolani Palace was the royal residence for the Hawaiian monarchy. Today, it stands proudly as a national historic landmark on the island of Honolulu. It’s a marvel of opulence and innovation, definitely worth a visit! ~b
Maui, Hawaii may be known for its beautiful beaches, but its unique landscape also offers a wide range of breathtaking sceneries. If you adventure on the Pipiwai Trail you will discover bamboo forests and majestic waterfalls. It is one of the most popular hikes on the island because it leads to the famous 400 feet, Waimoku Falls. The four-mile trail is fairly easy with a ton of photo opportunities along the way. Here are some of my favorites! ~b