June 7, 2013

My Dirty Thirty! (Lang Co, Vietnam)

You guys, I have the best friends in the world. And, beyond that, my husband is the bomb-dizzle. He's the cat's pajamas. He's the bee's knees. He's my numero uno. Seriously, you should be jealous that my husband is so fantastic. And that my friends are so amazing. Here's why.

I turned into a grown-up a few months ago. That's right, I turned 30. And, because my life is amazing right now, I turned 30 IN VIETNAM! I have to admit that I was a little down about turning 30 away from home and my friends. We make a big deal out of birthdays in my circle and both of my BFFs (also turning 30) had surprise parties for their big days. (I made special videos for them. Check out the videos I made for Ashley and Lauren.) There was a part of me that really wished I was going to be home for my 30th and showered with attention, surprises, tiaras, theme parties, and feather boas by my pals. But, of course, I was still psyched to be lucky enough to be in VIETNAM for the big day! My biggest request for my birthday was that it be a bit luxurious. I didn't want to deal with haggling over a room rate, the possibility of bed bugs, or running out of hot water mid-shampoo. We used Luxury Link to find amazing deals on high end hotels for our honeymoon three years ago. (Read about our awesome honeymoon here.) Remembering how well Luxury Link worked for us before, my awesome husband (see above) returned to the site to book a place for my birthday and settled on the Angsana Resort in Lang Co, Vietnam. (Part of the Banyan Tree brand of properties.)

Embarrassing Sneak Peek of me, the Birthday Girl
After Ho Chi Minh (read here), we flew to Danang and were greeted and picked up by the resort. People, the van they picked us up in had an iPad and WiFi!!! Suddenly, it's like I was J.Lo and these people were my bitches. All those months of roughing it and becoming accustomed to living with less were out the window and all I wanted in the world was an expensive glass of champagne, adjustable mood lighting, and overpriced cake from room service. It was amazing.

Our room was ridiculously cool! There were delicious sweets and fruit juice waiting for us. We had our own pool! Our first night at the resort was pretty low key - we just had dinner, watched some cable TV, and raved about the incredibly luxurious sheets on our giant bed. Mostly, we just relaxed and got excited for my birthday, which was the next day. Tom told me he had a few things planned, but I didn't know what he had up his sleeve, and he had asked me multiple times not to ask questions and that I just please go along with whatever he suggested that day without objecting. While I don't like surprises in most parts of life (control issues), I'm a girl who thinks the world exists to celebrate my birthday. I'm not joking. My birthday is April 8, but I actually believe that my birthday begins on March 8 and goes through to May 8. That's just the way it goes. So, naturally, when Tom hinted at some surprises for my birthday, I was all, "Hell YES Husband! Surprise me!"

Yes, that's me, having a cocktail in the bathtub.

But I had no idea what a fantastic day it would be. This is how the whole thing went down. When I woke up, Tom suggested a walk on the beach. I know I said I would go along with his plans and that I love surprises, but I politely declined. It was pretty cold. It was raining-ish. "No thanks," I said. "Yes," he insisted. "Fine," I caved. 

So here we are, walking down the abandoned (but beautiful) beach. The waves are crashing and I joke to Tom that it sort of feels like he's proposing but, of course, we've already done that. And then I look far down the beach and see someone dressed in orange. It's barely a speck. Immediately, I freeze, because my gut tells me that I know this person. And then I keep walking because, of course I don't know this person! We're in Vietnam. That's absurd. So we walk more and the speck of orange gets closer. I freeze again. Suddenly, I am completely sure that I know this person and that it's one of my most favorite people in the entire universe. "Who is that?" I ask. "It looks like a Vietnamese guy in a Haz-Mat suit," Tom replies. I know he's lying and I take off running towards the Orange Man and am SO relieved to see that, I was right! It's Roman!!!

Roman is the best. We love him so much that, when we got engaged, Tom and I actually argued over who got to have him as a bridesmaid/groomsman. We compromised and asked him to be our officiant instead. He married us, which basically means that the three of us will be together forever. And he flew all the way to Vietnam from Chicago just for my birthday. I screamed and squealed and hugged and cried and gawked in disbelief. He was dressed in head-to-toe orange. He wore an orange tuxedo, orange shirt, orange bow tie, and orange sunglasses. He's a weirdo and he's my favorite.

Decked out in all my surprises!
Back in our suite, the surprises kept coming. Tom dumped a box of envelopes and small packages into my lap and I opened cards and presents and poems and pictures and bubbles (BUBBLES!!!) from my friends at home. (Side note: the only tangible birthday gift I had really asked for was hair ties. I hadn't been able to find the kind I like anywhere in Asia. And my friends delivered. I probably received 300 hair ties of various sizes, 10 elastic head bands, and 50 barrettes. You never know how wonderful it is to have hair ties that don't break your hair until you go without. I was crazy grateful.) You know what else I got? FANCY CLOTHES!!!! BFFs Ashley and Lauren had picked out a sassy dress, heeled sandals, and trendy jewelry and sent it with Roman for me to wear on my birthday. (Every girl deserves something new and pink on her 30th!) Lauren sent me FOUR birthday cards and Ash sent nail polish, mascara, drawings and a letter, and a mustache on a stick from her son (my favorite 8 year old in the world). My friend Stokes (remember her?) sent me a super fun fascinator (she's living in England right now, so she's basically a member of the Royal Family), Kristy and Dave sent me a feather boa, hot pink fingerless fishnet gloves, fancy shampoo and conditioner (huzzah!), American flags, and tons of 30th birthday garb. And that's just the tip of the ice berg. I received talking cards and lip gloss and a coin purse and letters and stickers and photos and handprints from my favorite little people. I was loaded with goodies and I was overwhelmed by the love. I Skyped and phoned with my mom and my wonderful sisters-in-law, nieces, and mother-in-law. And another surprise came when Tom rushed me through breakfast so that we could get back to the room in time for a scheduled Skype session with Ashley. I was happily surprised when the video turned on and, not only was Ashley and her son Kole on screen, but Lauren had driven down from Kansas City so that we could all Skype together! They were wearing birthday hats and had a cake with candles (which wasn't homemade, I'm told…ahem, Ashley), and they sang to me! I even received this hilarious and amazing video of our friend's two-year old calling me a dirty hippy.

You know what else happened? Facebook was taken over by my friends. They had a friend of ours create a special profile pic and they all switched their pages to it. When I logged on to Facebook that day, nearly every person I know had replaced their profile pic with this:

And then Tom surprised me with a gorgeous ring and a pair of earrings from a jewelry designer we found in Siem Reap, Cambodia. They're gorgeous! I'm the luckiest girl in the entire world for a million different reasons!
Photos courtesy of Garden of Desire
I was kind of worried Tom would have a jam-packed day for us, but he knows me better than that. The rest of the day, we hung out in our private pool, roamed the property (sampling each of the resort's hot tubs), ordered room service, and drank cocktails made from the booze we purchased duty free (clever Swains). It was the best.day.ever. And then, that night, I got dressed up! I blow dried and curled my hair! I put on make up! I wore my bright, sassy dress (that hadn't been wadded up in my backpack for 8 months)! I.PUT.ON.HEELS! I felt like myself and it was glorious. And then we went to a fantastic restaurant on the property that night and I DRANK CHAMPAGNE! At the end of the meal, the servers brought out an entire cake just for us! It was chocolate. It was decadent. It was my birthday and it was perfect! And, while many of my friends and family made me feel incredibly special on my birthday, Tom was the one who orchestrated it all. I told you he's the bomb-dizzle.

Roman and Me in our pool
All gussied up (Yes, that's a different dress....it's a long story)
So Happeeeeeeee!!!!
Over the next few days, the three of us had a blast. We explored the resort, took day trips to Hoi An and Hue (more on these later), swam in the ocean, ate delicious meals and laughed and laughed and laughed. It was the best break from backpacking and roughing it. How did I get so lucky to be able to take this amazing trip, have these incredible experiences, and still get to celebrate my birthday with my friends and husband?!?!

Ooh La La 
Another night, another FANTASTIC dinner!
Thank you SO very much to everyone for making my birthday so special - to all the friends and family who emailed me, Facebooked me, and sent cards and letters and goodies my way. This trip is amazing, but I can feel a bit outside of the loop sometimes. On that day, I felt like I was in the center of it. I especially want to say thanks to Lauren, Ashley, and Roman. Lauren and Ashley - no girl in the world is as lucky as me for having you both in my life.  To have not just one, but two people in my life who know me as well as both of you do is the greatest thing ever. I love you both a crap ton. Roman - I can never, EVER tell you enough how much it means to me that you came all the way to Vietnam to be with me on my birthday. You are one in a million and life is better with you. Most of all, to Tom - I know I have high expectations for birthdays and I know they're not always your "thing." And I know that, when you married me, you begrudgingly signed up for a life time of me insisting my birthday lasts two months each year. You have impressed me a lot over the years, but this was above and beyond. I never needed grand gestures to know how wonderful you are (but champagne and surprises and jewelry don't hurt)! I know that half the women in Southeast Asia were infatuated with you, but I'm the lucky one since you're MY Handsome Man #1.

Me and my ladies (An old picture...not in Vietnam, unfortunately)
Being goofy with Roman
My Handsome Man #1
Check out all of our pics from Lang Co here. Check out all of Roman's pics here. A few more of our favorites are below.

Roman and Tom...together again

Crying while reading a letter from Ashley; With mustache and champers; My cake!

Pool time in the rain

Seriously, the room was amaze-balls

Could life be any sweeter?

Check out all of our pics from Lang Co here. Check out all of Roman's pics here

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