Vietnam By Maia Coen

Hanoi motorcycles The first thing I noticed when we arrived in Vietnam was how busy it was. Hanoi was alive with people and energy, the stores were colorful and inviting, the food looked amazing, the people were happy and welcoming, and the crazy traffic made me fear for my life. Hanoi trafficThere were more motorcycles than cars which made crossing the street challenging. When traffic lights turned green the swarming bikes surged forward like cattle engulfing any pedestrians unfortunate enough to still be in the crosswalk. We were instructed to cross streets walking at an even pace or we would ceartinly be run down. Steady movement allowed the bikes to weave, swerve, and avoid pedestrians. It was terrifying and I had to suppress my natural instinct to run. market fruitThroughout the trip the food was phenomenal. It never failed to surprise and excite me and I never got tired of it. Everything was unbelievably fresh and well prepared. The Banh mi sandwiches were a favorite of mine. The bread had the perfect crunch, the ingredients were flavorful and tasted like they had been picked that morning. Maia eating prawnsEach meal was wonderful and I never ceased to be amazed. I just loved how there was so much variety. I never got tired of the Vietnamese style like you might get tired of Thai food in Thailand. Every meal was different. Tam Coc rowerPossibly the most important part of the trip for me was the people. They were kind and welcoming to us. They smiled and talked to us when they could. They were always excited to sell us something but they were never rude. I don’t think I spoke to a single person who wasn’t accommodating and engaging.VN smile I had been a bit worried that the Vietnam War would have tainted the local's attitudes about Americans. However, there was absolutely no animosity between the Vietnamese and American people. I think that’s beautiful. They believe the war is in the past and they choose to be kind and compassionate towards us instead of bitter or resentful. If I learned anything from my time there its that Vietnam is a country, not a war.

Halong Bay