Opinion: Vietnam is South-East Asia’s gem

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
A food seller crosses a bridge in Hoi An, central Vietnam.
Camera IconA food seller crosses a bridge in Hoi An, central Vietnam. Credit: Peter Fiorenza

Hue is the ancient capital of Vietnam.

This city is situated in the heart of the country, and today is a very modern cosmopolitan city.

I am writing this column from my hotel room on a stopover during a visit to Vietnam.

This is my second trip to this part of the world and like my first visit two years ago, I have been captivated by the country.

I love travel and have had the good fortune to visit various corners of the globe.

Europe has always fascinated me, and continues to do so, but I never thought I would enjoy travelling in Asia.

Why? I don’t really know; it just has never been enticing for me.

So, a couple of years ago when I was asked to assist with a school trip I was a little sceptical, if not apprehensive, but decided to give it a crack.

Well, I’m glad I did.

Vietnam was certainly not what I expected, and the second time around I have only been reassured this place is a must.

From the Mekong Delta to beautiful Hoi An, and up to the amazing Ha Long Bay, this tiny part of former French Indo China is indeed the gem of South-East Asia.

Simple transport options along the river in Hoi An, Vietnam.
Camera IconSimple transport options along the river in Hoi An, Vietnam. Credit: Peter Fiorenza

The trip I’ve come on with 14 school students and a colleague introduces us to Vietnam through the senses of touch, taste and feel, along with that of sight, of course.

So far this trip we have experienced the busy, crazy, yet very steamy, Saigon.

From what I can see, the combination of social influence and architecture, singles Saigon out as the Paris of Asia.

A bustling metropolis of around 16 million people combined with eight million scooters makes crossing the road in downtown Saigon something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Onto the Mekong Delta, a place that sees a river become the lifeblood of communities that fish, farm and navigate a tourism industry that is unique, to say the least.

A sampan ride to local markets, bee farms and tropical-fruit tasting is not something you do every day, and neither is setting your own lantern afloat on a hot magical evening in Hoi An.

Peter Fiorenza enjoys a ride along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
Camera IconPeter Fiorenza enjoys a ride along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Credit: Supplied

Hoi An is a town that has been captured in time.

In fact, it is world heritage listed. Its old bridges, 300-year-old homes and street upon street littered with lanterns makes Hoi An something special.

It simply sings to your soul.

Night time in Saigon, Vietnam.
Camera IconNight time in Saigon, Vietnam. Credit: Peter Fiorenza

Just halfway through my trip, I’m excited for what’s around the corner.

And even though I’m looking forward to more experiences in sights, tastes and sounds, there is one thing that rises above all this.

And that is the wonderful people that truly make Vietnam the gem of South-East Asia.

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