Uncovering the Beauty and Mysteries of Vietnam

August 1, 2019 | Darian, Conflict Studies and Human Rights, Uniterra, Vietnam, Bac Thang Long Economic Technical College (BTL) - Employability Skills Development Officer

I cannot believe it but I am already in the last week of my internship. Looking back at my time in Vietnam some of my most memorable experiences have been the weekend travels around the nation and some of the bordering countries. Since travelling within Vietnam is extremely affordable (never paying more than $175 Canadian dollars for a round trip flight) and easy to get around (with most flights being between one and two hours) I was able to go on eleven different weekend adventures during my twelve week internship. Some of the highlights included: Halong Bay (one of the seven natural wonders of the world), Sapa (the traditional mountainous rice fields), Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (home to the largest and arguably most stunning caves in the world), Cambodia’s iconic Angkor Wat temples, Hue’s forbidden imperial city, Hoi An (known as the lantern village and regarded as the most beautiful town in Vietnam) and Ban Gioc Falls (the largest waterfalls in Asia).

For being a somewhat small country geographically, Vietnam has a great diversity in landscapes and sceneries throughout the nation. From the turquoise sea in Halong Bay, to the rushing waterfalls at Ban Gioc, to the dense tropical jungle in Bạch Mã National Park, to the Limestone Mountains of Ninh Binh, to the S shaped white sandy beaches of Dang, to the giant karst caves of Phong Nha Ke Bang, and the swamp like river in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam has practically everything to make the perfect travel destination for nature lovers. During my three months in Vietnam there was always something to do and see during which left me constantly exploring both the city of Hanoi where I work and the country as a whole. The breathtaking landscapes left me with so many contrasting emotions feeling the calmness of the crystal clear turquoise water crashing into the beach whereas standing on the edge of a massive waterfall looking hundreds of meters down filled my body with tons of adrenaline. The countless mountains, forests and caves I had the opportunity to explore made me feel as though I was right in the middle of a film set for a Hollywood fantasy movie, often leaving me in awe of the natural beauty of the environment I was in.

Along with the amazing picturesque views from these places, I had the opportunity of to connect with many locals from the areas I was travelling in. Some of the most special memories for my travels was staying at rural homestays and learning about life experiences from local Vietnamese people, even if they did not speak English. The hospitality and friendliness of the Vietnamese people is nothing like I have ever experienced before. I learned so much about Vietnamese history, culture, tradition and their way of life in different ways from individuals such as Nguyenthanh, a 78 year-old who fought in the Vietnam War, who gave me a private tour of the demilitarized war zone outside of Hue or Quang, a Vietnamese Monk I befriended during my Mekong Delta exploration or Dinh, a local elder a part of a Vietnamese ethnic minority group, who guided me through the hikes of the mountainous rice fields in Sapa. These people embraced me not as a strange foreigner but as a new friend, often inviting me to eat dinner with them, sharing many stories and insisting me to meet their families. This was such a unique aspect of Vietnam as many locals opened up their homes to me treating me like family.

However, the local friendships created and diverse landscapes of Vietnam cannot be summarized in a few paragraphs or with a couple pictures. It is impossible to find the words to describe the indescribable experiences and feelings you get when uncovering the beautiful intricacies this country has to offer. I feel like there is still so much to explore and learn about Vietnam, making wish I did not have return back home to reality in Ottawa just yet.

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