Vietnam is a beautiful country with diverse richness in every sense – people, history, natural produce and amazing sights. Recently, I had the opportunity to experience all these first hand in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), formerly known as Saigon and Hanoi (the capital of Vietnam).
The friendly, good natured nature and genuine warm Vietnamese people struck me when I stepped out of the airport, hotel and onto the streets. There are plenty of motorbikes taxis (xe om) and street hawkers but they are not rude nor overly pushy. Almost all the time, a “No, thank you” and a simple smile from me is returned with a bigger smile.
Vietnam’s history is chequered with many foreign powers influences. Chinese, French and American powers had left cultural, institutional, economics and psychological impressions on this rich and fertile land. The Chinese brought in the Chinese language, important institutions like University, monetary policy and Confucianism. The period of the French colonisation, interference and exploitation left a bitter aftertaste in the older Vietnamese’ psyche. The French contributed in the development of the Vietnamese romanised alphabet (Quoc Ngu), the introduction of Christianity (Catholicism) and many colonial cultural artifacts like the Opera Houses of Hanoi and Saigon. The America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, developed the Vietnamese sense of triumph over externals threats and a deep appreciation for their autonomy that came at such great human cost.
Vietnam’s rich and fertile land fed by the great Mekong and Red River Deltas and its coastline bordered by the South China Sea meant that the country has some amazing quality of fresh produces and cuisine. Every day while I was there, I had either bowls of Pho (rice noodles with rich clear beef broth), Bun Cha (grilled pork, herbs with rice vermicelli served in vinegar-ed fish sauce) or Com (rice). The food was GREAT! If you love tropical fruits, you would reckon Vietnam is the gateway to Eden. Dragon fruit, logan, lychee, mangosteen, bananas, jambu and even strawberries :D .
There are so many breath taking sights in Vietnam. Places like Ha Long Bay, the Cu Chi Tunnels, Cao Dai Temple, Ben Thanh Market and War Remnants Museum are my must-see places around Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Below are a summary of pictures taken during my journey. Each picture is linked to even more pictures from the location. You can find my entire selection Vietnam trip pictures (even places not mentioned in the above) from my flickr Vietnam collection.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
||Tay Ninh Temple – Cao Dai Holy See
Cao Dai is a Vietnam indigenous religion, officially established
in Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam. It combines elements of Taoism,
Buddhism, Christianity – Catholicism and even Hinduism
||Cu Chi Tunnels
The Cu Chi Tunnels are an immense network of connecting
underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh
City, Vietnam. These tunnels were the location of several military
campaigns during the Vietnam War against the Americans.
The Vietnamese guerrillas used these tunnels as hiding spots
during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes,
hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters.
||Ben Thanh Market
During the day, it is an exciting places to have an authentic
Vietnamese lunch with the locals, pick up some fresh bread, produces
and even tourist souvenirs. The market is similar to Melbourne’s Queen
Victoria Market during the day.
In the evening, the market closes and cooked to order seafood
operators operated around the parameters of the market plus some
night market retail hawkers too.
||Ho Chi Minh City Sights
The sights and colour of Vietnam’s economic engine which includes pictures of the Notre Dame Cathedral – Saigon.
||War Remanats Museum
See the pictures taken by military journalists and photographers. Read about the various accounts of the Vietnam War from the war correspondents and the Vietnamese side of the story. The chemical warfare section was very graphical as it narrated the unbelievable pain and suffering unleashed on the civilian and Vietcong during the Vietnam War. Pictures from this section had been omitted in my photo collections.
There is no JUST WAR in this world.
||Hanoi Water Puppets
Vietnamese water puppetry, literally means “puppets that dance on water.” The tradition dates back as far as the tenth century when it originated in the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. When the rice fields would flood the villages, villagers would entertain each other using this puppet form.
The puppets are built out of wood and the shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers to control them. The appearance is of the puppets moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood the villagers, would entertain each other using this puppet form.(wiki)
Video of the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater display (12 secs)
||Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Quảng Ninh province, Vietnam. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. (wiki)
||Harvesting Rice in Vietnam
Vietnam is the world’s second largest producers of rice.
||Hanoi City Sights
A selection of pictures taken in Hanoi which reflects the sights and colour of Vietnam’s capital – Hanoi