My name is Jason Gaspero. I’m a freelance copywriter. And it’s my job to use words to sell everything from products and services to private memberships, special events and more.
But here’s the thing.
Even though I’ve been a freelance copywriter for over six years now, have lived and worked in over a dozen countries, and use words to make a full-time living, I fear I won’t be able to put into words what I recently saw with my own two eyes.
I’ll fully admit it. Right now. That’s because, quite frankly, I’ve never, ever seen or experienced anything like I just did last month. I’m still in complete awe. I mean…absolutely mesmerized.
But you know what? I’m going to give it a shot anyway. Why? Because what I’m about to reveal to you is something I feel everyone should see and experience once before they die. Seriously. I’m talking about “top-of-the-bucket-list” stuff.
Here’s the story.
On Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 9.00 p.m. in Hanoi, Vietnam, I had just finished up a conference call with one of my clients. (One of the biggest benefits of the freelance copywriter’s lifestyle is that you can make a living from almost anywhere in the world.)
The call only lasted about 20 minutes or so. But as soon as my conference call was over, I had no time to waste. I had to pack. That’s because early the next morning, I’d be heading out to see a place I’ve wanted to see for many, many years.
The next morning, I and 31 well-seasoned world travelers from 12 different countries boarded two mini-vans and headed five hours east to the northeast coast of Vietnam.
At about 2.00 p.m. on a clear, sunny day, we arrived at the coast. We then got out of our mini-vans, walked to the harbor, hopped into several small longtail boats, departed the shoreline, and boarded our sleeping boat, The Jolly Roger, a few minutes later.
Then…we set sail into what seemed like another universe. I’m talking about the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay.
If you haven’t already been there, or heard about it, Ha Long Bay is widely considered one of the greatest highlights of any trip to Southeast Asia…if not the entire world. In fact, it was just named one of the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World a few days ago.
And it looks stunningly beautiful…even when viewing it from the harbor…miles and miles away. But as I looked at Ha Long Bay from the harbor, I had no idea just how moved I would be by it until we really got in there amongst it all. The Jolly Roger sailed out of the harbor and about an hour or so later, we finally started to move deep into the heart of Ha Long Bay.
I’m telling you…words like stunning, beautiful, spectacular or awe-inspiring weren’t anywhere near strong enough to describe what all of us were actually seeing. It was if we had been transported into another universe.
At one point, almost every single one of us had our cameras out…furiously taking photos of the thousands upon thousands of towering limestone islands jutting hundreds of feet straight up from the mint-toothpaste colored sea all around us. And when we weren’t taking photos, we simply gazed out…jaws dropped…with looks of complete disbelief. Take a look at the photo above.
As I looked around at my fellow passengers, I could tell we were all sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience together at the same time. It was a really special moment. And it reminded me once again why overseas travel can be such a priceless treasure.
We marveled at the almost-otherworldly scenery for another hour or so. Then, about an hour before sunset, The Jolly Roger set anchor. That’s when Luke, our trusty tour leader, advised us that it was the perfect time to jump off the top of the boat into the sea for a pre-sunset swim.
It was only about a five-meter jump or so off the top of the boat. Nothing death-defying, really. But it was still high enough to scare one of our fellow passengers, Eileen, completely witless. Eventually, after much persuasion from all of us (Come on Eileen! Jump!) she finally took the plunge. She loved it.
We spent the next few days sea kayaking around the islands…exploring dark and mysterious limestone caves…encountering floating fishing villages with inhabitants that had never once set a foot on dry land…going wakeboarding, rock climbing. At night, we went swimming amongst “glow-in-the-dark” phosphorescent plankton and exchanged stories under the stars.
It was one of the best times I’ve had. Ever.
And I’m so, so grateful that I finally experienced this…thanks to the freedom the freelance copywriter’s lifestyle provides.
Editor’s note: Copywriting is all about the lifestyle. You choose where you work—so Panama City, Rome or Rio can be your playground. You pick your own hours—so you can take the morning off to go swimming in the warm Pacific, have a lingering breakfast in an Old World café looking out over a colonial plaza or catch up on some hammock time. But the best thing about this career is that anyone can do it. Here’s how to get started.