Hue, Hoi An, and the DMZ
Well boys and girls, it looks like these Vietnam snaps are going to be comin’ at ya in three, maybe even four parts. It turns out there’s a lot to take pictures of when you’re in a cool new country for 3 weeks. We found that as we made our way south across those 3 weeks, each place we stopped was very distinct and special in its own way. All of us had partaken in the magical food that is Pho before we went to Vietnam, but we found when we were in its place of origin that pho is very different depending on what part of Vietnam you are eating it in. The flavors change, the ingredients change, the soup has many forms! In fact, we learned that “pho” just means “noodles”, so there’s a lot of variation that can happen when your food is simply limited to including noodles.
I should note before I go on that the extraordinary Mr. Ross Williamson is the gifted photographer of all of these photos.. I have become lazy in my old age and no longer take actual camera photos but sloth around on my phone and take part in the instant gratification of Instagrammable moments. So, many thanks to the real photographer in this merry band of two.
Now, on to the good stuff. We last left you in Hanoi after returning from our two day journey to Ha Long Bay. The next part of our trip took us to Hue. It was pouring when we arrived.
The next day, we made our way to Hoi An, stopping at a hillside temple along the way.
When we arrived in Hoi An, we were struck by two things. One, the beauty of this rustic Vietnamese town. And two, the lack of “typical” Vietnamese residents. In other words, the entire town was full of shops, restaurants, and tourist-attracting artisans…where were the real Vietnamese Hoi Anians? Apparently, when Vietnam was rebuilding after the war, Hoi An became a World Heritage site. When this happened, the property increased in value and many residents sold their land, their shops, their homes to move elsewhere while the tourist-attracting acts moved in. I suppose this is what gentrification in Vietnam looks like. Beautiful and yet haunting.
After our Hoi An visit, we made our way to Vietnam’s DMZ and had an excellent tour guide who led us through the Vietnam War with perspectives from both the north and south. What he emphasized most was how all Ho Chi Min really wanted was a unified Vietnam. “He was a nationalist before he was a communist.” With a guide who lived through it, and parents on both my own and Ross’s sides who remember it clearly, it felt so close, so recent, still so confusing for so many.
Visit soon to see bits of Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) and the beautiful island of Phu Quoc. Ross and I will be leaving on Friday to lead a group of students to Hong Kong on a service trip to volunteer for a wonderful organization called Crossroads Hong Kong. So hopefully more updates will follow soon with news from that as well! It is a busy season! Thanks for stopping by.