Sunday, September 7, 2014

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Do you appreciate the chance to travel?

Hạ Long bay
One of the UNESCO world heritage sites in
Vietnam. There are 1,969 islands in the bay.
Last week a Travel Blog member said to me “Your blog is a bright statement of Vietnam”. I replied to him “There are the good and the bad everywhere in the world. I always show my respect for the people and countries I visit. Life is too short, so I try to think about the positive side”. And he agreed with me.

My story will start with the meetings with two English men in Hanoi. The first English man visited Vietnam on 12 business trips during the past 3 years and he fell in love with Vietnam. I also attended the dinner farewell party with his local staff and saw how sad he was on the last day in Vietnam. The second English man came to Vietnam based on the votes of his friends and traveled for a couple of weeks from south to north. During his visit in Hanoi I took him to a camera shop where the shop owner inserted two screws into his camera without any fee. He was also invited to drink tea at a shop and at some places people approached him and asked him how old he was.

Cát Cát village, Sapa
Sapa in north west Vietnam is famous
 for beautiful mountain scenery, rice terraced
paddies and ethnic minority people.
They then laughed out loud together since none of them could guess. After leaving Vietnam, to thank me for my help, he sent me a trip report, in which he told his friends at home in detail how he was followed by the touts and hookers, and overcharged by the locals. It seems such a shame to dwell on these negative things when there are so many good things to remember. Perhaps this is the difference between real "travelers", whose main interest is to seek new experiences and cultures, compared with "tourists" who are more concerned about their personal pleasure?

Even though Vietnam is not a place for everyone, what I can say is the attitude of some visitors. Maybe they travel just to tick off another country on their list of travels and so they don’t appreciate the chance to learn and enrich their lives by experiencing different cultures. They also complain a lot because the place or people don’t meet their expectations. Maybe they should think about a boring day at home and at work, then travel is still far better.
Two Red Dzao women are selling
souvenirs on pavement in the evening.
I think I enjoy traveling more than many people. First, I know where I want to go, not because people tell me where I should go. Second, I search information before the trip, read both positive and negative views in the Thorn Tree travel forum of Lonely Planet website, so at least I know what I can expect in a new country. Third, I traveled solo on many trips and had to manage things on my own. I can be flexible to face with culture shocks. I respect people, so I am treated in the same way. I don’t say that I always had pleasant experiences, some people were not great, but most were very kind and friendly. Fourth, I think the worst is not rudeness or overcharging by the locals, but accidents or losing money, passports or cameras with all photos taken on the trip. And the last, I take the good instead of the bad to remember.
Suối Tiên, Mũi Né
Beautiful rocks at Suối Tiên (Fairy Stream)
in Mũi Né, southern Vietnam. I am standing
 in the stream that has red water because of the sand.
Some people who are reading my blog are my friends who have known me during the past 5 years, some have read my 10,100 posts in the Thorn Tree travel forum, while others just subscribed to read my entries recently and they have never been to Vietnam. My friends knew well that my life was not easy and at times I also struggled with many problems. But I always feel I am lucky as I can travel. In Old Bagan (Myanmar), I met a young Burmese painter who dreamed of visiting China and Cambodia. He said “Maybe I have to work for 15 years until I have enough money to go there”. It’s also difficult for him to get a passport as it’s very expensive. There are many people who try to survive, let alone they can travel like we do.

The photos in this entry are my favorite ones taken last year in Vietnam. Most of the places involve water as I traveled to beaches, bays, rivers, streams, lakes, waterfalls etc. My favorite places in Vietnam are Sapa, Vân Long and Mũi Né. I dream of visiting the northernmost point of Vietnam at Lũng Cú village in Hà Giang province, the Central Highlands (Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak) which are famous for coffee plantations, beautiful waterfalls and special culture, as well as Phú Quốc island and Côn Đảo island in southern Vietnam. I hope I will find companions to join me on the trips.

Take your chance to travel and enjoy it anywhere you can go!


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