Sunday, September 16, 2012

18 Days in the Land of the Ascending Dragon - Vietnam

It has always been my dream to travel to Vietnam, a land that was once sprung into the throes off conflict only a few decades ago to overcome its ravaged landscape and the wounds left behind by atrocities few of us could ever understand. Some scars still remain but adversity was overcome by the strong people who call this remarkable land home and who rebuilt a stronger country from the ground up to make it one of the most sought out destinations on the planet. Vietnam is certainly at the top of my travel list.

A week doesn’t seem like enough time to see the beautiful countryside and sprawling cities let alone be immersed in the culture and learn about Vietnam’s long and turbulent history but eighteen days is plenty. Visitors to this land of majestic mountains and tropical forests populated by some of the friendliest and down-to earth people on the continent depart the country awestruck and changed forever. Vietnam has that effect on you; it is having that effect on me and I have never been there. Thus far, I have only dreamed about going there.

I dream of walking the streets on ancient Hanoi with its historical buildings and ruins dating back 1000 years, its bustling street markets and Old Quarter restaurants and cafes where I can indulge in mouth-watering Vietnamese cuisine. I long to sail the emerald waters of Halong Bay in a traditional Junk Boat and admire the limestone islands, distinctive rock formations and grottos. When I close my eyes, I can see myself roaming the lush valleys of the Sapa region and learning about the ancient cultures of the various tribes and how their way of life has scarcely changed for centuries. I fancy visiting the colorful floating markets of the Mekong Delta before making my way to Ho Chi Minh City with its French architecture and museums that emphasize the plights of the Vietnamese people through various conflicts and exploring the Cu Chi tunnels.

So much to see. So much to do. So much to experience. So much to learn. I can barely stop myself from booking this trip as I write this. One day soon, Vietnam will be added to my inventory of spectacular places I have visited.

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