Never one to shy away from an opportunity to learn or experience something different, Carl Edwards planned his big offseason trip to a place where many Americans would never think to vacation: Vietnam.
Edwards and a few friends spent 10 days in Vietnam exploring the country and riding bikes, learning about another culture all along the way.
Though he called the trip a "neat experience," Edwards said he missed the United States after only a short time in Vietnam. The vast difference between the cultures – not only the language barrier, but the lack of basics for many Vietnamese – left him appreciating home more than ever.
"I had this trip planned, thinking it was going to be this great escape and a lot of fun," he said. "And a few days in, I was really ready to come home and see the family."
Edwards listed Vietnam's "general living conditions, the amount of food they didn't have, the quality of the water (and) the way their news and information was delivered" among the eye-openers on his trip.
The driver was particularly struck by the biased nature of the exhibits in Ho Chi Minh City's "War Remnants Museum" (which was formerly called the "American War Crimes Museum"). Edwards said the "lack of objective media" was surprising.
Though the museum didn't change his mind about the United States' role in the war, he said it did succeed in showing how truly terrible war can be.
"I respect more than ever our veterans who were over there fighting, because I can't imagine fighting a war in that environment, with that culture," he said. "The language barrier is impossible (and) the geography of the land would be nearly impossible to navigate through. Just a tough place."
Edwards said no one in Vietnam recognized him, though a funny moment occurred when he spotted a man wearing a Ford Racing T-shirt. The Roush Fenway Racing driver stopped his bike and tried to communicate with the man, but the language barrier meant "zero language interaction," Edwards said with a chuckle.
"I got him to pose with me for a picture, and he didn't even know that what I liked was his T-shirt," Edwards said. "He had no clue why this guy stopped on his bicycle and took a picture with him. But it was a lot of fun."