OK so after 60 days, it is time for me to finally leave Vietnam. As i sit here and begin to ponder my time here, i think not only about the sights i have seen, i also must reflect on the people i have met and the experiences i have encountered....
I really had no idea what to expect when i got off the bus in Hanoi, i knew by this point i was pretty a solid traveller having
made it through China, but i was ready for something different. I was also looking forward to being in a country where people at least had a concept of English!
I made it across town, found my hostel, checked in, was given a free beer and told i just made it in time for 2 for 1 happy hour, and the BBQ was starting in 30 mins......I'm home i thought!!!!!!! ha ha i ended up staying 5 weeks!
Vietnam has some beautiful sights at every corner, from the green of the rice paddies, to the stunning mountains, to the beautiful beaches. It is a country rich in culture, and has a fascinating history.
When you think of the word Vietnam the immediate image that comes to most peoples minds is of the wars that were raged here, especially the battle between the Americans & the Viet Cong.
It can be hard to imagine that this generation of Vietnamese is probably the only one not to see fighting. Indeed it is hard to imagine that so much pain and horrific suffering these people were subjected to. On my travels i encountered villages where farmers try what they can to support themselves in areas where chemical warfare means crops cannot grow, i spoke with people who were translators for the US Marines and were at the front line of the fighting, i visited museams where horrific pictures of war victims were put on display, with pretty shameless propaganda slogans under them (Crazy American Devils was a popular one). I saw the smiles of girls who walk with one leg as a result of standing on a land mine.
I also was taken on cyclo city tours by people who were qualified doctors and dentists, but as a result of their alliance with the democratic south (and the USA), were unable to work as they did not work with '"Revolutionary practices"". I must admit my knowledge on Vietnams history was only based upon films i had seen, but i now leave here with a deep respect for these people, especially the women who are forced to work shifts we would never dream of, just to survive and knowing that her children will not have the future we all desire for our children.
I had some wicked experiences during my 2 month stay, i ate stuff i thought i never would, dont ever try dog it tastes like a dog smells. Crocodile meat was pretty bland and i dont want to talk about snake again im still trying to forget the fact that i drank snake bile!
I came to Vietnam alone, but i met so many people and interacted with some great characters along my way. I also met a special someone who really gave me a great insight into Vietnamese life and i experienced the culture the way only a few people get a chance to do as they travel the'"tourist trail"". The second half of my trip from Hanoi on down to Saigon i was joined by my girl and we had a great time for a month travelling together, but it has now come to an end and although i am sad that i may never see this girl again, im truly grateful that i had this opportunity, and i regret not one thing.
So onwards to my next stop...Cambodia! I leave in the morning via the Mekong Delta (kick ass way to exit and enter a country). I hope to stay there for around 3 weeks but you never know what happens eh!?!
I leave you with a quote that a dear friend of mine left me with that i really feel sums up my experience in the last few months. "Travel is more than the seeing of sights: It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent in the ideas of living"
Until Next time good peoples