Thursday, February 11, 2016

Two weeks traveling in Vietnam. Two weeks in which I took a break from everything. Two weeks in which my eyes never really closed, and my mind never stopped learning or being inspired.

Here is my visual diary. 

Nothing can prepare you for the epic beauty of Vietnam. I feel lucky to have spent the Holiday Season in this beautiful country, mostly spending my time in two cities. The charming Hanoi in the North, and Hoi An in the Tropical South.

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Hanoi’s blend of coffee house culture, socialist art, Confucian values, Buddhist temples and French colonial architecture romances and enchants you; not to mention, the natural beauty of Halong Bay and the narrow streets of the Old Quarter.

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Vietnam, a society in transition, is presently bubbling with energy. The markets are blossoming. An abundance of colourful vegetables, fresh seafood and aromatic spices make walking through the pleasant market bustle an absolute delight.

I fell in love with the charming, quaint city of Hanoi and its residents. The numerous lakes evoke a feeling of calm. It’s an equilibrium you encounter in Eastern capital cities that are not so busy; almost giving you a melancholic feeling; a longing for earlier times. It overwhelms you and moves you.

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Street food is an ever-changing phenomenon. I was amazed at the way Vietnamese street food vendors carry supplies for an entire cooking and eating establishment, including stools for patrons in two baskets. Large cooking pots full of steaming broth and metal steaming baskets stand on the pavement. Hunched over, the friendly vendors quickly prepare delicious and memorable noodle dishes and sweet desserts.

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The Tropical South offers more variation in products, and produces a richer cuisine. Interestingly, the people from the North find the South-Vietnamese cuisine to be excessive. On the contrary, people from the South find the cuisine of the North to be bland.

Graceful, historic Hoi An owes its easygoing provincial demeanor and remarkably harmonious old-town character more to luck than planning. It’s atmospheric, delightful and well-preserved. Packed with historical homes, grand architecture and quaint cafés, it’s a culinary mecca. It is small and intimate, perfect for getting lost in the poetic, colourful streets or walking along the riverside.

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The 21st-century curses of traffic and pollution are almost entirely absent. It is easily my favorite place in Vietnam. There is a relaxing quality present, making the idea of staying for a while longer very attractive.

If you would like a true, authentic experience with a mosaic of rich and diverse influences, that will remain in your heart long after you return home, I would highly recommend travelling to Vietnam.  

Written by Laelie Berzon.