Xin chào from Vietnam

Hello from Vietnam

I left Darwin, after several months, and flew to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam where I’m going to spend four weeks traveling from South to North before heading to Germany over Christmas and New Year.

Since I returned from Numbulwar a few months ago, I had been making plans for further travels around Australia, but I just didn’t know what I wanted – going East, or West, or why should I travel at all? I couldn’t see a reason why I should leave Darwin and travel back South where it’s cold. The hot climate in Darwin is all I ever wanted, all I ever dreamed of while I stayed in Tasmania. Of course there’s heaps in Australia I would still like to see, but somehow I also felt increasingly tired of moving around.

People's Committee Building
People's Committee Building

So I stayed in Darwin and simply waited for something to happen, after all I didn’t have pressure or schedules to meet. In the meantime I did some work on projects here and there. A few weeks ago I noticed that flights to Asia are quite cheap from Darwin and then I just decided to spend a few weeks in Asia (vacation from the vacation) and afterwards taking the chance to spend a few weeks or months in Germany. While I’m freelancing there’s no better opportunity for it, I can leave my return flight open.

I spent the last four weeks learning about Vietnam and organising a basic itinerary. I will spend a week here in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and probably do some day tours over the next days, on the Saigon river tomorrow and possibly to the Mekong Delta or even further, maybe some cooking courses and lots of sightseeing. Then I’ll fly into Central Vietnam and spend another week in the area of Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An. The last two weeks will be in Hanoi, where I’ll go on a one-week hiking tour with a private guide around the Northern mountains. Hiking across rice paddies, visiting remote hill tribes and staying with locals – sounds like a great adventure. I will finish my trip with a three-day cruise across Ha Long Bay, famous scenery from James Bond – The man with the golden gun.

Traffic
Traffic

So, why Vietnam? Whenever I travel between Europe and Australia I try to stay in Asia for at least a few days. Flying from Australia to Singapore (the usual route to Europe) and then with only a few hours stop-over flying on to Europe for another 14h or so – it’s horrible. You really feel awful after around 30h in airplanes and airports, and about 10h difference in time zone. It’s much more relaxing to fly to Asia, enjoy a couple of days there, then fly on to Europe.

I’ve already visited Singapore and Thailand and while Singapore was interesting, it was the beautiful culture and tradition in Thailand that fascinated me the most. Vietnam in the same corner has always been a country that I wanted to visit. A country ravaged by war like few others – they fought off the Chinese, the French and then the Americans. The US military invasion was based on lies from the beginning (just like in Iraq) and without a doubt, what the Americans did in Vietnam, like the spraying of Agent Orange, and the My Lai massacre, are among the most despicable and inhuman war crimes ever committed in history. In the end it was all worthless, but the damage was gigantic and it has an impact on the Vietnamese even today.

Cong Vien Van Hoa Park
Cong Vien Van Hoa Park

With that in mind I find it immensely interesting to get to see with my own eyes how this proud nation has recovered from its turbulent history and how the different cultures in South and North Vietnam get along.

I have been here for only two days now and every day so far has been full of impressions. From the daily struggle not to fall for scams on the street or buy heaps of stuff I don’t need, to the noodles (phở) and rice (cơm) that are served for breakfast in my guesthouse, it has been great so far.