There are few things in this life that inspire, challenge and satisfy me like travel does. It's a cliche for sure, but like most cliche's, it's for a reason.
This year I wanted to travel. So I've done a couple of big trips. I feel proud that I made it happen, happy that I live in a time where it's so easy to see the world, and a little anxious, because I don't have much money left in my bank account!
This trip to Vietnam was just a friend and I. We have been good friends for a while, but there's nothing like time pressure to accelerate the understanding of someone else's personality. We did Saigon (Ho Chi Minh), Hoi An, the Mekong Delta, and a week on a strange little island call Phu Quoc. Vietnam is probably my favourite place in South East Asia so far. It's so raw with layers of culture and history that make it so fascinating. And cheap. So cheap.
I would 10/10 visit again, I think we only scraped the surface of what is possible.
What a magical, fairy tale town to stumble across. This was a last minute decision while we were already there and had a few days to fill in. I could have spent longer, but 2 nights at the time of full moon was perfect if you've only got a short amount of time. Lanterns and lights abound, and the perfection of the aging buildings, and street life made me feel like I was in a film.
HO CHI MINH
The madness is glorious. It's really mad. I wouldn't take my kids there, it's hectic enough trying to perserve your own life! Millions of motorbikes, and chaos that seems to make perfect sense. District 1 seems to never sleep, and the vast walks of life make it infinitely interesting. We stayed next door to a year round christmas themed bar, which incidentally was not a very friendly place for tourists. Ben Thanh Markets were close by, but my favourite was the Ho Chi Minh Fine Art Museum. A short distance from where we stayed in District 1, the walk there was busy and exciting, if not anxiety inducing. But once you get there, and step in out of the hectic streets, it's like a step back in time, and into a rich cultural experience. The aging French colonial buildings are again, like a movie set. With only a handful of people inside, I could wander and think, stop and soak in the history and the beauty.
We also took an Uber Moto across town to a very strange theme park, all of which was very exhilarating.
We toured through the south of Vietnam, vistiing Can Tho and Cai Be to make our way to Ha Tien to catch the ferry to Phu Quoc. Life on the river was beautiful, poor, and fascinating. Many floating markets and interesting buildings. The temple where a beautiful giant tree had grown back from a US bombing site, (image witha painted red circle was amazingly spiritual. Where beauty had grown from death and destruction, I found peace and a tangible sense of hope. I also felt unbelievably privileged in this moment. I'd seen the John Lennon circular memorial in Central Park in New York, which in some ways related very strongly to the circle I was standing on. To have the ability to stand on such places in our magical and mysterious earth is something I certainly do not take for granted.
PHU QUOC ISLAND
This place was beautiful, but actually really strange. Touted a few years ago, as the new Phuket of South East Asia, it just hasn't quite made it there. There has been some serious investment with the construction of a gigantic cable car, and countless resorts in the north, there is a lot of unfinished business. The roads were littered, the tourists in the resort we stayed in, seemed very miserable. Which I found strange in such a beautiful place. Now I'm not going to generically name countries, but there were certainly a particular nationality the sombre faces belonged to. Lets leave that there.
One of my new favourite places on earth, and I've only just scratched the surface of a rich and deep culture. Love. Vietnam.