here is what my memories of Vietnam will be filled with.
* the insanity of crossing the streets. you need to trust fate and go with it… steadily. hard on the nerves, but you get used to it. so much so that at the end, i realized that i wasn’t looking enough at traffic and was trusting the god of the road too much… just as the locals do.
* the best cities, Hanoi and Hoi an, for great food, beautiful architecture and non-stop shopping options. Hoi an had an incredible beach as an added bonus…
* the best landscape: Mui Né. for the dunes, the canyons, the colours, the ocean, the fishing boats, the blue sky.
* fashion: men there love green safari hats and women dress up guerrilla-style with hats and scarves that cover everything but the eyes.
* the wildlife: never have i seen so many rats, cockroaches and mosquitoes.
* the music: i haven’t heard so much “Vengaboys” since 1999, although as things are right now Cambodia might be a good rival.
* the smells: Vietnam’s fish sauce and fish food factories rival the worst Chinese public toilets for gut wrenching stench.
* the selling: in Sapa, mostly. a common sale pitch is any or all of the above: “you buy? you buy from me? you buy one, you buy two! you buy from her, you buy from me!” or the cyclo with their convinced statements of “one hour, OK?” as if they were confirming a sale.
* lovely hotel rooms with balconies.
* incredible food and all the hours spent eating, thinking about eating and just hanging out in great restaurants.
* playing pool: the most I’ve ever played in my life.
* the incredible smiles and warmth of the Vietnamese people, especially the children of the Mekong delta.
* and of course, all of the lovely people we’ve met along the way.