24 September 2016

Vietnam - A Land Divided - Part Two

Hoi An
Hoi An is a visibly stunning place to visit and full of culture. Similar to Luang Prabang the old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but one that is much more touristy, i.e. plenty of street vendors, restaurants and shops. There're a number of museums and old buildings where you can learn about the history and culture of the town but it is at night when the true beauty of Hoi An shines.
On our second day in Hoi An Liz and I split and I embarked on an organised Bicycle tour, to see the "real Vietnam." Regardless if it felt like an almost staged version of the 'real Vietnam', being shown very candid locals in their 'natural routine', such as a happy Vietnamese household, weavers and carpenters, I was still able to learn a lot from our tour guides, by asking them plenty of (probably too many) questions about their own lives.
Having been travelling non-stop, doing something different every day (Liz more so than me), we rented bicycles and spent a much needed day on a beach in the nearby town Da Nang. White sand, few people and food served to your sun lounger, what more could you want.
It is safe to say that Hoi An was one of my favourite places in Vietnam.

After my experience in Ho Chi Minh City, I flew into Vietnam's capital City, Hanoi, with low expectations. With my negative feelings towards capital cities, this time, I decided to do things a little differently. One of my friends, from my time volunteering in Zambia, has been living in Hanoi for the past six months teaching English. She was an extremely gracious host and was able to show me what 'real' Vietnamese city life was like. Eating at street vendors with sitting stalls so small that most of the food goes over my legs as I can't fit them under the table and cruising around the streets on the back of her little motorbike, weaving in and out of traffic, was an incredible experience and one I feel truly encapsulates Vietnamese life.
Before I left we were able to fit in a few touristy activities, a couple museums, Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, some rather disgusting chores and a visit to the tallest building in Hanoi with an observation deck.
Overall travelling through Vietnam was an interesting experience. There is an apparent juxtaposition between two sides of Vietnamese life. One that tries to hold on to the past and traditions and another that is developing and advancing every moment it gets, hence the blog title, A Land Divided.
One thing I can say for sure is that travelling around Asia certainly changed my perspective and feelings towards Laos, specifically Luang Prabang, but I will save that for the next blog post.

Luke T.

(Bonus picture of me concentrating hard to not to spin out of control in small basket boat)

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