Before I start, I have to say that in my mind, this trip has to be THE TRIP of the year, mainly for two reasons. First, I have 10 months of preparation as this was booked since January and second because this is our first trip together with my closest (barkada) girlfriends from college. (For some weird reason that will not be revealed, we call ourselves, ‘The Mafia’). And so, the months passed by with hurried overtures, with each month providing me a chance to correct wrongs, continue what I’ve been doing right, and appreciate how lucky I’ve been to have a chance to travel. Then, October came as if blown away by the many monsoon winds that befall my country this year. And so I was afraid that the weather in Vietnam won’t be nice and of course, it wasn’t. But these, add to them the many obligations at home, can’t keep me from enjoying the trip that I have been anticipating. And so here I am, chronicling what transpired in those 7 days of fun, laughter, friendship, and dreams. Yes, dreams.
Vietnam is very much like the Philippines with a lot of ugly similarities – the bad traffic, misplaced electrical wiring, dirty streets, misbehaved motorists, overpriced fake goods, and all others that will make any tourist uncomfortable. But I’d like to think of myself not as a tourist but a traveller who exchanges comfort for new experience, to be able to challenge myself, to lose and find myself, to see new things, and above all to be open and learn something new each day. And so to me, Vietnam is not only this ugly facade but a whole lot more, for it opened a chance for me to see things in a different light and also because I get to enjoy these new experiences with my closest friends.
Vietnam’s history is tragic and that is not saying much. My country has been colonized by three powerful countries in the past, so images of war and all its atrocities do not appall me thinking that we as a country experienced the same torture and social injustice. Going to the tourists places that reminds Vietnam of the many wars they’ve been through, I kept repeating to myself, “oh we experienced the same cruelty with the Spanish”, “the Japanese were worst”, “the Americans were not kinder”. War is war. But somehow, I know it was not the same. Looking at the images displayed at the War Remnants Museum made me realize how cruel humans can be. And it does little comfort that even now, the victims of war in Vietnam remain victims.
I’m sure, my friends were also shocked to see these images. I didn’t realized that up until now, there is still a widespread effect of Agent Orange. But Vietnam is not just about its awful war history, for there are places that you can actually relax, whether, you want the countryside experience, eating delicious street food, or city shopping, Vietnam has a lot of these also. I will write about these of my next post.