Kim and I have family and friends all over the place. It’s great to visit them, and we love them, but it sometimes results in us exploring less than we’d like to. So we decided to go on a 3-week trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. The first ten days we spent in Vietnam, and we saw wonderful sights, lived amazing adventures, and spent time at great locations.
We arrived in Hanoi. Hanoi was my favourite city of this trip. It has an amazing vibe, great food, and a welcoming street culture. We stayed in the old town, and on Christmas day were entertained by hundreds of people joining the streets around the Hoàn Kiếm lake for traditional games and street performances everywhere.
In between time in Hanoi, we went to Hạ Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the top things on our list. We used the tour of Vega Travel. For a good price, they took us along between and on the islands of the area. It was beyond our comprehension to swim between the ancient rocks, kayak, go into caves, cycle on an island, boat in a floating village, drink snake rice wine, and trek in the jungle. I still can’t believe we did all of that in only two days. We highly recommend Vega Travel by the way.
After that, we went down to Hội An, which I would say is the Bruges of Vietnam. It’s super touristy but very cute. Unfortunately, we had bad weather most of the time so the experience wasn’t what it could have been.
The lousy weather was also the main ingredient for a motorcycle tour we did between the rice fields and on the Hải Vân Pass; the pass separating North and South Vietnam. Luckily, the travel company we used took us on a less touristy route and immersed us in the local farmlands.
We then took the train down from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon). Ho Chi Minh City was the capital of South Vietnam and still has a lot more riches than the North. In Ho Chi Minh City, we took the time to explore the war history of this resilient nation. We visited the Củ Chi tunnels, the ultimate sign of Vietnam’s resilience. For months, the Viet Cong lived underground preparing for the Tết Offensive and were conducting a guerilla war against the USA. I had read about this in several books – and even had played a game level in them with Call of Duty: Black Ops – so I definitely wanted to see it. Even after having made the tunnels larger, it was still an utterly claustrophobic experience. I cannot fathom that people lived underground like that.
On our last day, we visited the War Remnants Museum. The Vietnam War is almost always depicted from an American perspective in the West. It was good to encounter a different angle, albeit just as biased. What shocked us the most, was learning more about Agent Orange, the nerve gas used by the American troops that affected thousands of innocent people and still today causes disabilities in the second and third generation after that.
It makes one wonder why the USA has never been put in front of an international tribunal for these atrocities. The case of Vietnamese victims opened in New York against the USA earlier this century was dismissed. I can’t help but think this would have been a different story if it were Vietnam using these toxins on US soldiers.
Go to Vietnam!
In sum, Vietnam was amazing. We can highly recommend anyone go there. The food is great. The people are super friendly. The streets are vibrant. The culture is attractive. The history is rich. The scenery is stunning.
Here’s a selection of my pictures.