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A Kaleidoscope Journey into Flashpacking Northern Vietnam

Not just any kind of travel but simply travel the Flashpacking way. Images appearing from a digital cam's viewfinder will see what's inside the world of travelling light albeit a little more comfort than the traditional backpacking style.

From scuba diving to the world of electronic gadget travelling with Flashpacks, this article journey will emerge a new look into work, life and travel. Let's begin with a simplistic understanding about the meaning of travel in the 21st century .

Backpacking tradition as we know is to travel to far-flung corners of the world in the name of global exploration.  Very often backpackers will hitch hike along the way to reach their destinations. This phenomenon started during the glory years of the adventurous hippies in the 60s.

Remembering our good old school days where we have those outdoor camping activities?  Somehow this kind of survival course offers plenty of life skills to serve as a good foundation in exploring countries abroad and taking care of one-self.  One of the most valuable skill is turning oneself to being self-independent when leaving behind family members to explore places for a couple of days or weeks.

Children today are more academically driven by parents.  The missing skills in outdoor survival such as cooking with limited food ration, using creative thinking for planning ahead, put up a night in the wilderness, etc. are the basic foundation for bravery to travel solo in later years.

The new generation backpackers want their 'authentic’ experience complete with smartphone, laptop, iPad, Wi-Fi access and modern comfy accommodations (not those dorm rooms, camping tents or sleeping bags).  This type of new gadget-driven generation backpackers is termed as Flashpackers on the go with their technology gadgets and a trusted backpack.

In all aspects, Flashpackers are solo travelers who liked to take their adventures in a more stylish manner and comfort. The average flashpacker backpack would consist of a smartphone, Go Pro or DSLR camera, laptop or tablet along with a good headphones.  Wherever they go, they’re tech savvy travelers utilizing the social media like Facebook, Instagram, Tweeter, Pinterest, e-mails, etc. to keep up-to-date of their travel status with friends and families back home.

Internet access is essential for flashpacker to connect their gadgets via Wi-Fi or 3G/4G networks. In a constantly connected world today, the Internet is a marvel for travelers of all kinds.  Finding the best restaurant and cafe pub by scrolling down the smartphone installed with a mobile apps is a way of life in this new era of modern travel.

Flashpackers on the other hand represent the keen wanderers of Generation X that crave for adventures in more comfort like an en suite bathroom, boutique hotels and of course authentic cultural experience.  Hotel that provide good Wi-Fi coverage is a key consideration.

Packing Light for Flashpackers
From our previous experience, the key to a successful flashpacking travel is to pack light. Only essential items are taken along because we do not want the weight to pull us down during the whole travel journey.  Just an idea here's a list of travel gears we've packed into an Atmos 65 liter Anti-Gravity suspension system backpack for this flashpacking adventure.

Sunglasses and cap
Compact Camera (Olympus Tough. Really Tough piece of compact camera)
Phone USB charger
International Adapter
Camera charger
Re-useable collapsible bag (for grocery shopping and such or dirty laundry)
iPad to serve as Journal/notebook (one of my best piece of travel gear)
Headphone for Skype conversations or listening to music
Passport and flight/hotels itinerary details
Inflatable pillow for airplane and bus rides
2 collar T-shirts 
2 round-necked T-shirts 
Fleece Jacket
4 Pairs of pants 
Cargo pants
Swimming shorts
Microfiber towel
4 pairs of socks
External Pendrive (for backup)
Walking sandals
Toiletry bag (toothbrush, electric shaver, facial wash, etc.)
First-aid bag (essential medicines e.g. Panadol, stomach ache pills, antiseptic creams)

By the time you've filled all the above items up, there rise the fear that you may not bring enough clean clothing to wear for a week long travel.  There's always laundry services in city areas for as cheap as USD 2 to get all your soiled clothing refreshed.

You may wonder how am I going to stuff all those souvenirs into a tightly compact backpack with no extra room.  Flashpacking is about travelling light to experience places, people and culture. See as in seeing with your eyes, and capturing what you've seen on the camera lens with the memory stored in memory cards. This way you will definitely travel light with a peace of mind not being bothered about overweight luggage issues.

Regardless, if you are a backpacker who takes pride in staying at guest house/backpacker lodge while skipping taxis for a slow bus ride; or if you are a flashpacker that prefers some level of comfort of a boutique hotel while making your way with Google Maps on your smartphone or iPad over the traditional folding paper map; you have one thing in common: the desire to experience places of interest around the world in an authentic manner with complete Freedom.

As an astute believer of protective amulets, we will never leave home without our trusted amulets particularly when travelling to faraway places.  These 3 pieces of amulets; LP Tuad, LP Koon, LP Paew was brought along to provide peace of mind during this flashpacking travel.

The Charming Attractions of North Vietnam

Fine arts and craft are pretty well known in Vietnam apart from its superb coffee beans. Working with traditional material like oil, acrylic, lacquer on wood, it's been a part of the Vietnamese artists for generations of artistry since the Lý Dynasty and Nguyễn Dynasty era.  Many of the Vietnamese artists have evolved into performing arts and had attained international recognition for their artworks and exhibitions worldwide.

Vietnamese silk painting is one of the most popular art forms in Vietnam. The favored design motives are mostly associated with mythical beings, countryside, landscapes, pagodas, historical events or scenes of daily life. French influence was also absorbed into Vietnamese art and the liberal and modern use of color especially began to differentiate Vietnamese silk paintings and embroideries from their Chinese or Japanese counterparts.

As a well-seasoned traveler of all sort, we must be clear of what would be the most ideal souvenir to represent a country that you've visited. In short, if you're seriously thinking about a memorable souvenir from Vietnam that you can easily snug into your backpack to bring it home, you may want to consider these 2 items to represent your holiday trip.  Coffee powder and stainless steel filter cup, and other would be a rolled up canvas of painting (oil or silk painting). You can easily frame up the paintings at your local frame shop.  This kind of souvenir shopping goes really well with most light and easy travelers, The oil-on-canvas painting entirely handpainted by the talented artists will surely mesmerized you while sipping a cup of authentic Vietnamese coffee at your home in the evening.

The Valley of Sea Dragons 

Known for its emerald waters and amazing seascape view of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests, Ha Long Bay is inside our flashpacking kaleidoscope. This mystical landscape of limestone islets offers boat cruise and cave exploration. The stunning beauty can only be captured from your camera to tell the tales to others back home (via Facebook and Wi-Fi access).

There're many tour cruises that you could possibly hop on at the jetty terminal. However, it is best to make prior arrangement upon arriving to Hanoi the gateway city to the northern part of Vietnam. It's a 4 hour journey by land transport to this jetty to board the junk cruise. Therefore, it's advisable to make arrangement in advance to avoid peak seasonal holidays where you'll end up with too many locals and foreign tourists.

Simply spectacular and stunning! That's what we could say about Ha Long Bay - a designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The captivating seascape and many limestone islets will surely mesmerize every visitors to this valley of sea dragons.

After collecting lots of enchanting moments at Ha Long Bay, our flashpacking adventure will go to Danang that is located in the central part of Vietnam in order to visit Hoi An's ancient city.  Passing by a vast area of paddy fields on the way we came across some road side vendors selling seasonal fruits.

Getting a taste of these organically grown food produce (naturally fresh) plays an important diet in Vietnamese cuisine.  Fresh vegetables, meat, soup, Pho noodles, coffee and tea, everything that goes into the stomach has to be fresh.

Atmospheric Hội An
Graceful, historic Hoi An is Vietnam's most atmospheric and delightful ancient town. A former port city’s dating back some 500 years ago is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings.

Hoi An plays an important role in Vietnam's tourism for its allure and rustic scenery. There're plenty of beaches within reach. Renting bicycle to tour around this ancient township is very popular for tourists. Probably that's a good idea because the environment is bicycle-friendly. No crazy hectic traffic in this part of the world.

Danang is 30 minutes away from Hoi An. The sandy beaches are popular for holiday makers both local and from abroad with plenty of eatery joints and beach resorts. Most folks will stopover at Danang for shopping, spa and massage, or sun tanning at the beach while holidaying here. We've got to get our backpacks to Danang before departing this central part of Vietnam.

This is how Flashpacking travel is being done with a backpack, Internet connectivity and of course to a high sense of personal safety with protective talismans.  Pack light, travel light, embrace the cultural experience when you travel.

cảm ơn bạn đã đọc Thanks for reading.

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