I Saw The Sign | Week 17 Abroad

I Saw The Sign | Week 17 Abroad

Last week I was starting to feel homesick and apprehensive about our plans to travel to Thailand. This week I have a whole new outlook on life.

Ben and I have been debating where to go after Vietnam. At one point we talked about heading to Thailand, since flights from Da Nang to Bankok or Chiang Mai are so inexpensive. I suddenly felt tired of Southeast Asia and begged Ben for a brief hiatus before heading there. He told me it was my job to find an alternative, so I did what any rational traveler would do: looked up month-long cruises to Antarctica. Did you know those trips can cost $10-20,000 per person? Yikes!

Ben still really wanted to go to Thailand, so he called a friend who lives in Chiang Mai for some help. We are hoping to spend time with this friend’s family while there, so Ben thought knowing if he was planning to be around in the next few weeks would help us narrow things down.

After their phone call Ben came into my office (aka our bedroom) and said, “Susannah, we need to talk.” Uh-oh. I closed my computer, sat up a little straighter, and braced  myself for whatever was going to come next.

“No, it’s good news.” he clarified.

As it turns out our friend is leaving for a 2 week trip when we might be arriving. He offered for us to stay in their house while they are gone, or to come with them on their trip. To Nepal.

Nepal is one of my Top 5 Bucket List Countries, which Ben well knows. I’ve been joking about training for Everest for years. I held my breath as Ben continued, not daring to hope I’d hear what he actually said:

“Honestly, if we’re going to go to Nepal eventually anyway I’d prefer to go with other people now.”

Deep breath. This is happening.

To recap (because it’s still hard for me to believe): 

  • Two weeks ago we considered staying in Vietnam for another month. It’s a fine enough place to be, we’re saving a lot of money, and can get a lot of work done because we’ve settled into a great routine. We decided we would only stay if we could find a new place to live within walking distance to the beach, however.
  • One week ago we decided to leave Vietnam. We weren’t able to find a house on the beach, much to everyone’s surprise. Divine intervention?
  • We couldn’t decide where to go, but knew we had to leave by October 10. Ben wants Thailand, Suz wants somewhere more exotic and researches Nepal, Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, and Antarctica.
  • Ben asks a friend for advice on Thailand and ends up invited on a multi-family trip. To Nepal. Leaving two days after our lease in Vietnam is up.

Coincidence? I think not!

We are member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and have had to rely on our faith in Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father to get us through these last few months. While most of our time traveling is amazing, we are still left with questions and insecurities, options we can’t decide on, and feelings of stress and homesickness. We are also running three businesses while we travel which we are constantly second-guessing and raising a 6-year-old. That’s a lot!

We pray as a family and individually each day and ask for help knowing what to do and where to go, patience and inspiration to know how to parent and teach our son on the road, for safety, peace, and joy as we travel as a family, and for knowledge and motivation to work on our businesses. Sometimes we feel immediate peace or inspiration and we know our journey is being led. Other times we don’t and we know the decisions are up to us.

The path for us to spend 2 weeks in Nepal and then settle in Thailand is so clear and pre-arranged that it feels like a direct answer to prayer. This experience solidifies that we are being watched over and guided, even if we don’t always feel that way. I’m sorry to admit that I’m weak and need these experiences to remind myself of in times of trial!

We regretfully told the many friends we’ve made in Hoi An about our sudden plans to leave, and have had a packed last week in town trying to fit in all the last minute things we wanted to do and people we want to see.

We took a ceramics class from a local potter. We spent an afternoon at our favorite local theme park.

Hoi An Pottery Class LIving in Vietnam the Obriens Abroad Family Travel


We spent the weekend in a new town 90 minutes south of us, where a close Vietnamese friend graciously showed us around her native village. Her extended family welcomed us with laughter and hugs and we went for long walks around rice paddies, cows, and village children. She introduced us to new foods and cooking techniques, and overall gave us the sort of experience one only gets when willing to step out of your comfort zone and make a new friend. Thank you, Thuan.


Living in Vietnam The OBriens Abroad Family Travel


We picked Whit up early from school yesterday to ride another 90 minutes away to My Son, a famous archaeological religious site in the foothills of central Vietnam. No official tours were running by the time we arrived, so we had the magnificent Hindu ruins to ourselves as the sun set against the red stones.


My Son Vietnam Living in Vietnam The Obriens Abroad Family Travel


Today we’ll be going to another small town on an official rice paddy tour where we’ll finally get to see how rice is made from seed to sowing and rice water buffalo. Better late than never!


Water buffalo Hoi An Vietnam Living in Vietnam The OBriens Abroad Family Travel

We’ve eaten at two different restaurants we’d had our eye on, had hilarious meals with 3 families we’ll dearly miss when we leave, and tried to pack in all the last-minute stuff we thought we’d have more time for. Funny how time runs out, isn’t it?

Yes, our month in Hoi An felt relaxed, slow, and deliciously boring, but now that we’re moving on so hurriedly I’m afraid there’s a lot we’ve missed out on. Maybe another trip is in our future?

Probably not, but it’s always easier to leave a place when you don’t fully close the door.