The first country in a lengthy half-dozen region trip around an entire continent is bound to come with major expectations. Some sort of explosive launch into an immersive, alternatative culture; one that leaves the previous state of daily life feeling like a dimly lit candle in a receding past that seems like a lifetime prior. Vietnam accepted this challenge and blasted back with such a hard shot of culture that I have had to plant my feet on the tropical sidewalks and local noodle houses multiple times to ground myself and be reminded that there is a long way to go and a lot more culture to experience on this adjacent peninsula land. But wow, what a ride so far. 20 days, 8 cities, and handfuls of friends (both new and old) interspersed within the domain of our plentiful route. The amount of new food sampled has been palette-bending and the quality of the historical, hybridized architecture nothing less than eye-opening. I'll tell you one thing for sure: Vietnam is an underrated country full of underrated people. It gets a bad rap in a worldwide sense... Is it because it shares so closely a border with the beautiful tropics of Thailand, or the world-reknowned citizens of Cambodia? I'm not sure, but what I do know is that I found almost zero frowns and definitely zero scams abound in my 3 weeks in Vietnam. Motorbikes whirring past plastic street food tables with local denizens moving freely across roads; no traffic laws in sight or mind. Entire boulevards assigned to one specific item with nearby hotels so cheap you could live there for a few dollars a week. Those noodle dishes for breakfast so quantified that lunch becomes no longer a certainty. The unexpected quality of the buildings, homes, and businesses in what you previously imagined as a majority 3rd world country. No... Vietnam has it all in some regard, to some degree. It may not contain that absolute and overall high standard of daily structure that westerners are used to, but those who come in with low expectations of a nation are bound to be mentally blown away in an explosion of life and movement. The complexity of the food, the price of a good time for anyone of any status, and the kindness of the people in their chaotically beautiful existences within their varied cities around Vietnam's lengthy mass are all champion level aspects of a people that have their way of life set in stone, and are ready to move faster into the new century than adjacent neighbors. As we traverse over the border into the wonderful land of Cambodia, the sights and sounds of the Viet people and culture won't be forgotten, and the positive impact the west can make on this historically chaotic place (with no thanks to us in the past) can only move forward and up. Here are a few choice shots from the first leg of our journey.
- Snakin’ Thru The Southeast 2016
- Cambodia: Snakin’ Thru The Southeast (Part 2)