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  Busch family Sabbatical to Vietnam & Cambodia

 When contemplating his upcoming Sabbatical from his law practise at Lowndes Jordan,  Mike Busch knew he wanted to take his wife, Rachael, and 3 teenage children - Ashley, Abbey and Josh - somewhere that they could share the adventure together.  Mike's love of photography, Rachael's love of culture-shock, and the kid's love of new experiences provided its own unique challenge - LateralLife's expertise throughout South America, Africa and S.E.Asia threw up lots of exciting options and a healthy discussion followed around the breakfast table.

It was through their shared passion to enjoy a 'first' together that eventually turned the Busch family to choosing S.E.Asia and to discover the exotic charms of Vietnam and Cambodia. While these fascinating countries have an incredible history and reputation for intrigue and the unknown, it was also the simple pleasures of tasting new food, exploring new cultures, and all in a wonderfully warm climate that proved as appealing as anything. And arriving in Hanoi on Christmas Eve would be the perfect way to start their adventure with barely a sign of Santa Claus anywhere - this was NOT New Zealand !

The next 4 weeks would take them from Hanoi, in north Vietnam, southbound along the coast to Hoi An and Hue, landing in Saigon and an incredible tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels, up the Mekong Delta via river boat and bike, before heading over the border in to Cambodia at Phnom Penh. From there, the family headed to Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor, before finishing with a glorious week of beach, fun and sunbathing at Phan Thiet. However, no one can describe it better than the intrepid Lateral-travellers themselves….

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Abbey (15yrs)

"We went on the most amazing bike tour around the streets of Hanoi. They were lined with narrow but tall shops, the walls hung with what seemed to be endless rows of crockery, fake gold objects, soft toys, lanterns and many other things. Masses of wire hung above us in an unsolvable mess (phone wires). Men were given hair cuts in front of mirrors that were attached to the wall on the street and birds tweeted from cane baskets that hung from corrugated iron awnings.

I loved the boat trip at Halong Bay. Out of the windows of the boat you could see huge silhouettes that were barely visable in the low fog. We drove out and soon the silhouettes were revealed. It's hard to describe the amazing foliage and canopy covered islands that were scattered across the glistening serene waters of Halong Bay.

It was fascinating hearing the stories from our guides, Maria and Tuan. My favourite was how boys wrote poems for the girl they liked and put them between the palm leaf as they made the hats (konocal hats) so that when the girl was working in the fields, the sun would come down on them and reveal the poem. I just thought that was very cute."

The weather had been mostly hot and glorious but one day the heavens opened and Chin (our guide) insisted on Dad buying a fluro-green rain coat that came to his knees. SPOT THE TOURIST!"

lisa

 Rachael (Mum)

"What can I say about Vietnam, it was absolutely amazing, everything we had hoped for and more. From the second we landed in the dead of night you could see we were in a completely different world. Hanoi was still a crazy bustling place at one in the morning. Traveling in the North in December there is a constant haze lingering in the air but the sights and sounds of 9 million people certainly made up for it. One of my greatest fears was crossing the street with the appearance of no road rules what so ever and wall-to-wall traffic. However, we trusted the numerous hints from friends and stepped out onto the road, and kept walking slowly no matter what was heading to towards us. After a day we were experts.

 One of the highlights for me was our Christmas day street food tour of the old quarter in Hanoi. With the expert experience from our guide we were taken into the heart of the old city, experiencing some of the most basic but delicious food to the more exotic traditional family recipes. There was always an abundance of fresh vegetables, unusual fruit, aromatic herbs, unbeatable flavoursome broths, and meat and seafood that I had never even seen before. We managed to eat (and drink) our way through Vietnam and not put on weight! Best Mojitos in the world for only $3-4 NZ dollar! We started drinking them like water!

 Shopping in Vietnam - it is certainly the place to find 'real imitation' clothing, shoes and cosmetics of every European and American brand. But more intriguing was the tailored clothing services in Hoi An, a jacket made to measure in 6 hours, four items designed and made in 24 hours. All made from images saved on the i-Phone.  We didn't have as much luck with the made-to-measure shoes unfortunately.

 With three teenagers we had discussed how they would keep in contact with their friends over the four weeks we were away. As it turned out, every hotel and almost every café or restaurant had free WiFi. The kids were able to instagram and facebook their every move.

 Although warned about pic-pockets etc we were never once targeted and felt completely safe at all times. The Vietnamese people were always so warm and welcoming. They appeared to be quite taken by the children, even asking for photos with Josh.

 Vietnam has an extraordinary landscape, beautiful people, delicious food, and a haunting history, but most memorable were the connections we made with the people we met. Tuan and Duc our guides, Mary, who took us into her home and feed us rice wine 60% proof, the adorable old man in the orchard who sang the kids a Vietnamese lullaby whilst rocking them to sleep in a hammock, and my favourite friend, Tsun, the little monkey (I so want a monkey!).

 Vietnam and Cambodia will be forever etched in my minds. Thank you Mark and the LateralLife team for a truly spectacular holiday !"

mike

Mike  (Dad).

"Clearing the desk before taking a sabbatical was always going to be a challenge.  Thankfully, having LateralLife organize every detail of our trip through Viet Nam and Cambodia meant that I could focus on ensuring that my practice would run smoothly in my absence.  Knowing that the LateralLife team would put together a tailored itinerary on the basis of their first-hand experience of Southeast Asia was reassuring.  LateralLife certainly delivered.  The travel experience exceeded my expectations on many levels.  Every connection and transfer was taken care of, the guides were fantastic and the itinerary was invigorating - pitched perfectly for our family with three teenage children.  The support from LateralLife was ever present throughout the trip.  When I left my sunglasses behind on a visit just before we departed Hanoi, it took only one call to LateralLife and arrangements were in place for them to be retrieved and sent to our next hotel.  Thanks Mark Wood and the LateralLife team for delivering an enriching and unforgettable experience and for your professionalism throughout."

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 We're delighted that the Busch family got so much out of their holiday to this fantastic part of the World and that Mike's Sabbatical enabled him to escape, momentarily, from the stresses of being a senior law partner at his Auckland law firm. Our passion for connecting all Lateral-travellers with real people and sharing genuine experiences continues to be our  motivation and we enjoyed following them every exciting step along the way.

 Yours Laterally

 Mark and the team at LateralLife.

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