Vietnam, a country whose name is more often known as a controversial historical topic, rather than a vibrant and glorious culture. I’ve always wanted to visit. My favorite films, music, and poetry all come directly inspired from my country’s involvement with Vietnam. Yet, I always longed to attain a glimpse from the “other side”. I desired to visit this land and understand it better, and perhaps then understand my own.
Eating my breakfast atop a rooftop view of Saigon, I began my journey exploring the city; its coffee shops, delicious street food, and plethora of historic places. A trip to the Mekong Delta was well spent, riding along the river on a boat, surrounded by lush foliage; allowing every Vietnam movie quote to embody my subconscious. There I tasted some of the most incredible fruit, watched as lovely old women made fresh spring rolls, visited a bee farm, and constantly was hypnotized by the delicately designed shadows every branch and leaf cast upon the ground.
Just a two hour ride away, Vung Tau became my home for the next few days, a lovely coastal city with an incredible view. Walking through the quiet streets, observing the French inspired architecture, and dining by the ocean with only the company of a gorgeous sunset, was absolute bliss. The food there was some of the best I’ve ever had, combining fresh seafood with mint, cilantro and lemon; always paired with fresh fruits and French bread. Vung Tau has an array of incredible cliff side views, most of which are tucked away; begging to be joyously discovered.
Arriving back in Saigon, I met up with Rebecca, and we pampered ourselves with yoga, massages, and an abundance of food and coffee. Our last stop was made at the Vietnam War Museum. Seeing how the war, even that of agent orange gases, still effected the fourth generation of Vietnamese people today was hard to see. This was made all the more real as victims of agent orange sold their homemade crafts in the bottom floor of the museum. As an American, I knew being angry, disappointed, and ashamed of what my country had done to Vietnam, would only create stagnation in my heart. Rather I strove to find inspiration in how hard the locals persevered, how they have taken pride in their countries independence and recovery, embodying true strength. I began to see the elegance, resilience, and generosity of the vietnamese people. One that never allowed its past to determine its future. Proving that the greatest of changes does not come from great acts animosity, but from gentle executions of a healing spirit.