Amazing, Wondrous, Unexpected Vietnam

It is April 2016. I leave the overwhelming heat of Cambodia by cruising down the Mekong River on a comfortable yet noisy speedboat for three hours and head into the just-as-overwhelming heat of Vietnam. At least it is cooler on the river.  The boat pulls to the shore in the middle of nowhere. We step off the boat and trek a few dozen yards to a little ramshackle building tucked into the jungle where a tiny Cambodian man in a tiny hut stamps our exit visas. We walk another few dozen yards up the bank of the river and get our Vietnam visas checked and stamped by a tiny Vietnamese man in a tiny hut, who spends his entire day checking and stamping visas in the middle of the jungle.

Mekong River
Boating from Cambodia to Vietnam

We all pile back onto the boat, and a couple of hours later I check into the Floating Hotel in Chau Doc, Vietnam. Right away I meet Steven, the owner of the hotel. Steven is Vietnamese and lived in California for many years before returning to Vietnam in 2003. He has become a successful business owner, having opened the Floating Hotel, two restaurants, and a large tour company, among other ventures.

The Floating Hotel, Chau Doc, Vietnam
The Floating Hotel, Chau Doc, Vietnam

As we chat, one topic of conversation leads to another, and I end up agreeing to Continue reading