I’ve been calling my experience in Vietnam an experience rather than a holiday. The travel guides claim that there’s a lot of development going on in the country but this is more from overseas investors building exclusive hotels and golf courses rather than the country itself moving forward.
There were plenty of times when I was sick of being hassled by street sellers, dodging traffic and trying to get served in restaurants. In hindsight, travelling from Siem Reap with the Buddhist and Hindu temples to Saigon with it’s infamous traffic and war memorials probably wasn’t great planning.
Still, I have some great memories from Vietnam and these were my top three.
1. Hoi An.
Even though I was really ill at this stage in the trip, I loved everything about Hoi An. It’s like a little artisan town with great shopping and restaurants nestled in to old French Colonial buildings. There’s also a lot of Japanese architecture to see and every night the place is lit by coloured lanterns which is really beautiful.
Earth Hour in Hoi An was heralded in with the sound of an air-raid siren, which is something I’ll never forget. I have to admit, there was a little part of me that wanted to bolt to an underground shelter when the siren began and the lights shut down.
2. Ha Long Bay.
It’s stunning. I only saw about thirty minutes of sunshine the entire time but it was still beautiful even in the fog and gloom. The water is quite shallow and a really incredible green colour. I also got to walk through one of the caves, go kayaking and visit the local fishing village which was a great experience.
3. Temple of Literature.
Yep, I saved this one ’til last. You have to dodge traffic to get to the temple but once you’re inside the walls block out most of the noise and it’s really peaceful. The temple is dedicated to Confucius and local students pray at the temple for good marks in their exams. I had a rejection the day before I visited the temple (the nasty things even follow you overseas!) so it felt timely to be there.
So I’m back to routine and reality until I’ve saved enough for my next trip. I’m not sure where yet but I think an English-speaking country could be a nice change.