“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ~ T. S. Eliot
Six years has passed in a flash. In 2007, I set foot upon Vietnam for the first time and I fell in love. Ho Chi Minh city was still commonly known as Saigon then. Along with a crazy girlfriend from the travel trade, we planned a week-long holiday much to the chagrin of worried family members and well-intentioned friends. “Two girls in Vietnam?”, “Don’t get mugged by drug lords!”, “I heard the streets are occupied by gang leaders!” etc. We certainly had enough warnings prior to our trip but young hearts rarely listen… or do they?
(Phan Thiet, Vietnam, dated 2012)
We certainly didn’t. I was 22 then and Mel’s two years my junior. Youth propelled us forward without a backwards glance and before we knew it, we were there. Like everyone else then, we did not know much about Vietnam, simply because it was just starting to open up. People rarely like to explore beyond their comfort zone but I am glad that we went on that trip, for I realised during our quest for fun that Vietnam has much to offer.
That First Time
Stepping out of the airport, we were enveloped in a dusty hug of warm and sticky air. The lively sounds of Vietnam traffic still ring in my ears, and the incessant honking that sparked mild amusement that first time, has transformed into familiar music that tugs at my heart. Each time I returned, it feels like homecoming.
Six years later, Vietnam remains at the top of my “Favourite Asian Countries” list. Akin to a young lady, she has developed from a disgruntled teenager to an alluring female, radiating sophistication in spite of her traditional self.
With experiences from the South to North, including Ho ChiMinh, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Dalat, Hoi An, Danang, Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa, I’ve complied a humble list of 05 Things I Appreciate About Vietnam alongside with some Tips To Enjoy Vietnam to The Max. Do click on the following and happy exploring!