Lanterns, Friends and Tears of Joy | Our Travellers Stories

This week Maria shares her #HandsOnJourneys moment with us from the beautiful UNESCO Old Town of Hoi An.

16 days felt like eternity…

From meeting and getting to know an extraordinary group of travelers, to trying exquisite local cuisine and serving villages that had nothing left but hope, to all night parties and heritage sites, to tuk-tuks, beautiful conversations with strangers and divinely good massages… Our journey was full of experiences that could have been easily called ones of a lifetime.

But a memory of our last day, our final night, is something I will treasure forever.

Hoi An

I must begin by saying that Hoi An, a little town South of Da Nang, is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to.

Its well-preserved Ancient Town takes you back in time, literally. Its unique architecture, peaceful canals and colorful lanterns make you want to put away your phone and camera, as no matter how hard you try the lens doesn’t do justice to the beauty and depth this popular destination has to offer.

As you can imagine, over the span of 16 days our group got pretty close. After all, we traveled, explored, shared tear and shared a powerful experience of serving others together. And as a group, we knew, that Simla and Hands On Journeys crew would make sure our final night ended of a high.

And it did.

Stepping outside of the hotel, we found individual bicycle rickshaws waiting for us. As we met our drivers and settled in, there was another surprise… A digital brochure that had a video of our HOJ experience together…

Maria in Cambodia

Let me tell you, there were tears of joy and immense gratitude flowing in that moment.

And if that wasn’t enough, we soon found out that our dinner was actually on a boat. A private boat, to be exact.

We stepped on board, sat down around the table and drifted away from the shore.

I don’t remember what we ate, I just remember the food being delicious.

I don’t remember how long was our ride, I just know it was perfectly timed.

I can’t recall what each and every one of us said, I just know we expressed gratitude and admiration for each other, as well as the unforgettable experience we shared.

And if I may be honest with you, in this timeless bubble of positive emotions, I remember feeling at peace. In the right place, at the right time, surrounded by people who value travel, community and impact as much as I do.

And in that moment, I couldn’t have asked for more.

Hoi An Lanterns

PS As we stepped off the boat and crossed the river, we were greeted with music, buckets of delicious cocktails and lots and lots of dancing. But that’s a whole another post in itself 🙂