Give me Adventure:
Here at pocketvillage we’re going out and meeting people with amazing travel experiences. We’re getting the stories, asking about the things you’ve always wanted to know and sharing these insights with you. We have compiled these stories into a new series on our blog called ‘Give Me Adventure’. For today’s feature I’d like to introduce you to my sister, Tanya Watkins who went on a butterfly research trip to Vietnam. Hope you enjoy this week’s story for ‘Give Me Adventure’, everyone.
Inspired by Dr Vu and his team of fellow researchers, Tanya had her eyes opened to the weird and wonderful creatures of the deep Vietnamese rainforests and witnessed the true passion of real scientists in the field.
Butterflies in Vietnam
My first time travelling alone was to Vietnam where I joined an international scientific research expedition surveying butterflies
at Tam Dao National Park, North Vietnam, just 75 kilometres from Hanoi.
There were so many unknowns. I had never been to Hanoi before, what if I got lost and couldn’t find the rendezvous point? As an arts/humanites student, how could I possibly be of any use to these scientists? What if I wasn’t fit enough to keep up with the rest of the group? What would the rest of the team be like, would I get on with them or not? Plus, I heard there were leeches!
I quickly overcame my initial trepidations after meeting up with Dr Vu Van Lien, the Principal Investigator, his fellow researchers and the rest of the team. With no funding from the Vietnamese Government, it was amazing meeting people from all over the world that were willing to volunteer their time and money to help these passionate scientists with much needed butterfly research.
I started to learn about why butterflies were so important. Butterflies, it turns out, tell a lot about the health of an ecosystem, in this case the Vietnamese rainforest. When butterfly populations begin to dwindle, it’s a warning sign that something isn’t quite right and it’s only been in recent years scientsts have begun to understand just how important they really are.
Throughout the expedition we stayed in a small village community and shared meals with the locals, usually fresh fish, vegetables and rice, and at night time this was followed by rounds of shots of a potent home brew made out of pineapples that was a speciality of the region. Despite being complete strangers and unable to speak the language, I have never felt so genuinely welcome and the smiles and laughter of the local villagers were infectious.
It’s only now, looking back at this amazing experience that I have put my finger on why it was such a great trip. I didn’t feel like a tourist! I had broken through that barrier of being an outsider looking in by taking on a more active role and becoming involved in a community. For the first time I felt truly immersed in another culture and I loved every minute of it!
If you enjoy this story, please leave a comment to show Tanya some love. Also, let us know- have you ever felt that exhiliration for travel? How did you feel and what were you doing?