Crawling through the Củ Chi tunnels.
Drying sheets of rice.
Hanging out with my mom in the rubber tree forest.
The system of extracting rubber from the trees. Pretty nifty huh?
Relaxing and sipping on my sugar cane juice.
Hustling and bustling Hanoi.
The typical method of transporting food around the city.
My favorite store in the city with vibrant propaganda posters.
Why have one bird cage on your balcony when you can have five?
One of many street vendors lining the streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Hi Everyone! I hope that you’re having a fabulous week so far. I’ve been a little delayed in writing about my trip because I met my best friend from college in Spain last month and nothing productive ever comes of putting the two of us together. She and I reached Paris a couple of days ago, which is the second to last city that we’ll be visiting on this trip. I can’t believe that my world adventure is already coming to a close! In my last post, I detailed the first country that I visited on this trip, Cambodia, and mentioned that my second was Vietnam.
At this point, my mom was still traveling with me and we started our journey through Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh, also commonly called Saigon there. Here we stayed at the cutest guesthouse run by university students called Christina’s. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip because our little apartment was so perfectly decorated and the people running it so friendly. We spent both of our two full days in Saigon on tours with a company associated with Christina’s, called One Trip.
The first was a city tour with a local university student who did a wonderful job of introducing us to the city. We started our day at a little hole in the wall restaurant serving strictly Pho soup, which was definitely a first for me as a breakfast! So yummy! We then took a walk through the city to learn about some of the major historic sites such as the Reunification Place, also known as Independence Palace because it was where the Vietnam War ended. We also ventured into the post office, which I know sounds strange but it was one fancy post office and very hustling and bustling so definitely a sight to see. One of my favorite parts of the day was stopping by the Jade Emperor Pagoda, which was built to honor one of the Taoist gods, and because we were there during the Chinese New Year, the festivities were in full force. The pagoda is filled with wooden carvings, statues, and figurines that are both Taoist and Buddhist. Outside, in the temple courtyard, were turtles, birds, and fish to be released as a part of the celebrations. Our tour concluded at the War Remnants Museum, a serious and emotional experience but very enlightening one. Here there were hundreds of well-renowned photos and many artifacts from the Vietnam War, or as it is called there, the War against the Americans.
The next day we ventured out to the Củ Chi Tunnels, on the way stopping for traditional Vietnamese coffee, visits to the rice field and rubber tree forest, and to try sugar cane juice. Did you know that Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer? I could see why, when trying their coffee. I am a total addict and this was the most flavorful coffee that I’ve ever tried! Visiting the Củ Chi tunnels was my mom’s request and one of the most fascinating experiences from this trip. This enormous network of underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war served as not only hiding spots, but routes to communicate with one another, residences, weapon storage, and hospital sites. Even after crawling through stretches of the very narrow tunnels (not my favorite experience) and seeing the many booby traps and craters from bombs dropped in the area, I could still barely believe the lengths that people went to during the war.
We then traveled to Hanoi, in the northern part of Vietnam. This was by far the craziest city that I have visited. We stayed in the Old Quarter, which was comprised of the most narrow streets. Practically every inch of these small streets was covered with cars, motorbikes, vendors, and small stools for restaurant seating. Good luck trying to find some space where your toes won’t get run over!
Our time in Hanoi was much less structured and we mostly roamed the city, stopping at cute shops and yummy restaurants. My mom took ahold of my camera during our stay there because she was so entertained by the aesthetic of Hanoi and so all photo credit goes out to Mama Warner!
I can say that the biggest lesson learned during my time in Vietnam is that the Vietnamese are a very forgiving people. Many countries have waged war against them over the years, with devastating effects even decades later on the current generation, and people hold no grudges. We learned that because of all the war that they have experienced in their country, incidences such as a car crash do not incite anger in people because they have seen enough conflict to last several lifetimes. My experience there definitely shed light on the thought that one can’t have peace without forgiveness.
Gotta run! It’s time to visit the Musée d’Orsay and Montmartre neighborhood in Paris. Thanks for stopping by and see you again soon!