Leaving Vietnam

Trip Start Nov 15, 2005
Trip End Aug 15, 2008

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, March 5, 2007

Just a few thoughts on my time in Vietnam as I leave the country. It's unfortunate, but it's one of the few countries I've visited, perhaps the only one, where I've really liked the country in terms of scenery but disliked the people. It may be that I just had a bad experience there, especially with the bag incident, but the vast majority of others travelling here have had much the same to say.

Vietnam is a very well travelled country, very much a shock after coming through Russia and China. Not a bad thing in itself - the large amount of people speaking English and the services in place for the foreign visitor were quite welcome; getting around Vietnam is very, very easy. The problem comes when the people then see you as an unlimited source of wealth to be exploited. Fair enough, compared to them we are all incredibly rich, but they make no distinction between those of us that are travelling on a budget and those that aren't, and it becomes very difficult to meet genuinely friendly Vietnamese. They all seem to welcome you with a smile on their face and dollar signs in their eyes.

Maybe I should have spent longer here and gotten off the beaten path a little more. Perhaps then I would have met people less used to foreigners and less inclined to view me as a target, and ended up with a more favourable impression of the Vietnamese, but after a week in the country, I felt no real desire to do so.

I don't regret coming here. What I will take from the past month will be some memories of a very, very beautiful country that has suffered considerably from foreign occupation and invasion in the past century, not to mention the centuries under Chinese rule previous to that. As is always the case, I've met some great people, even if they were all other travellers instead of the more usual mix of foreigners and locals. The food was great (think Chinese, but replace the oil and grease with fresh greens and you're about there) and the beer was cheap. If I can get over the memory of the daily irritation of constant rip-off attempts, I might look back on my time here more fondly. As it is, I very much doubt I will ever come back to Vietnam.

Or maybe just the once, to find that giant concrete chicken.       
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