Good morning, Vietnam

And just like that we say goodbye to Europe. Four months of great Beer, solid food and good times. During the opening act of Kaizen we travelled as a group to four countries but individually probably set foot on more than 30.

Some Kaizen’s chose to run with the Bulls, some rode camels through the Saharan desert. We went swimming in the Adriatic, Aegean, Mediterranean, Black sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Visited ancient ruins, walked the walls of medieval castles.

We partied, oh how we partied. Sometimes in to the wee hours in small obscure back ally bar, other times raising the the Kaizen Kall in a stadium full of revellers.

Kaizens in their natural habitatWe sent Europe off in style with a party at a crazy mansion on the outskirts of Sofia that was abandoned before construction was completed. Now the shell of the house is rented out for parties. The event was bittersweet not just because we were leaving Europe but we also had to say goodbye to one of our Kaizens. Unable to find the work he was hoping for whilst travelling, had leave the program and head home - hopefully to make a return at some stage.

As the weeks and months went by we knew the end of the Europe adventure was drawing close. The start of the Asia experience loomed large in front of us. For a number of our group this was quite a daunting prospect, many having never travelled to Asia, not knowing what to expect. Myself having spent a lot of time in Asia had an idea of what to expect and braced myself accordingly.

That said, no matter how many times I visit countries in Asia, the first few days are a shock to the system. The noise, the oppressive heat, the thick air and strange smells coalesce to create a disassociation from reality, it just doesn’t feel real. Am I really here, is this really happening.

Am I really here, is this really happening.

Breakfast in HanoiAs time passes, you learn to go with the chaos rather than to make sense of it. What days ago would have been unthinkable becomes commonplace and even normal. Comfort is somehow found within discomfort, crossing the street no long seems like Russian roulette, the strange foods being peddled by street vendors with tiny chairs is no longer that scene from Indiana Jones. “I’m getting the hang of this”, Then BAM! Food poisoning, back to the start again (note this hasn’t happened yet but I know it will).

I have been in country a week now and after a week of the Hanoi chaos I jumped at the opportunity to take some time out on the coast at Ha Long Bay. First up a two day party cruise with the Kaizen’s, 36 of us in total taking over two cruise boats. Then a bit of me time at a resort in Ha long for a few days - where I am now, writing this post from my 9th floor suite overlooking Ha Long bay. Then another more luxurious, relaxed cruise before heading back to Hanoi.

Just what I needed to reset myself a little bit and take stock - I think a swim then a massage.