Good Morning, Vietnam

Every year I make it a goal to travel to new destinations both within and out of the country. This past summer I wanted to fly away, fly away far, to a continent I wasn’t familiar with. I wanted this place to be culturally rich, filled with amazing people, have delicious food, and great landscape. So I chose Vietnam, it was by far my favorite travel experience to date and yes just like Anthony Bourdain said, quite “life changing”.

I began my journey in the capital, Ho Chi Minh City, which is located in the southern part of Vietnam. I steadily made my way up north and stood in Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay, and finally Hanoi.
I learned quickly that Vietnamese cuisine consisted of more than just pho and banh mi. Each dish that I ordered incorporated all of the five taste senses spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and sweet. All of the meals that I ate awakened my five senses and left my mouth watering for more.

More importantly, I gained a strong respect for Vietnamese people. The country has suffered through turmoil but despite war, poverty, and government antics, the people always come out even stronger.There are so many beautiful memories that I made in this part of the world, from motorbiking along the coast in search of a temple in Nha Trang, hunting the streets for the best street food in Hanoi, watching women plant rice in a rural village somewhere near Hoi An, watching the sun rise on a boat in Halong Bay, etc. On one of my last days of the trip I went on a tour to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and I’ll never forget what the tour guide told our bus group on the way back to our hotel. He stated that many young people like ourselves are so fortunate to visit his country and see the beauty that his people at times cannot see. It is easy for some tourist to stay in Vietnam for months at a time but sadly many Vietnamese will save a lifetimes worth of money but die before trying to move to the US. A majority of the country still lives under the poverty line and works in agriculture but the will of the people is so strong that they’ll do anything to make ends meet.This man stated these words with such honesty that I’m sure the whole bus felt guilty for enjoying ourselves. He didn’t share this to make us feel bad but only to inform us of the reality of his fellow citizens. He thanked us for visiting because tourism is a large part of the economy and how people survive.He ended by asking that we share the beauty of his country with our family and friends. So I’m spreading my part and suggesting that you go visit Vietnam, this stunning country filled with rich culture and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever encounter.

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