Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Seven weeks gone, six to go...

Despite having spent the last few days beach-bound and engulfed in the eloquence of a Charlotte Bronte novel, when pondering how to express my impressions of Vietnam I struggled to find the words, let alone fit them into comprehensible sentences. However, with only a few days left before entering country number four of this trip, I have tried to get something down before my before my brain becomes addled by more new sights, sounds and smells.

Occasionally disheartened by a hostile scam and at others blown away by seeing first-hand the scars of an incredible history, I was fascinated by the buzzing culture of the Vietnamese people. From a war-scarred Hue, where hills are pockmarked with countless unnamed cemeteries and American bullets still litter the surroundings of bomb-shattered ruins; to the Parisien charm of Hoi An, abound with talented tailors, handicrafts and fiercely shrew barterers; to the hoardes of motorbikes teaming along the cluttered streets of Hanoi; to the sleepy, unconcerned lethargy of the Mui Nee coastline, Vietnam is incredibly diverse.

In a country of such contrasts - fertile pine forests in the mountains, home to row upon row of carefully manicured vegetable patches, rolling hillocks of coffee plantations and death-defying ropewire bridges; watery fields of fresh-green rice paddies; sandy red plains near the coastline - the journey through 'Naam' was a rollercoaster ride in every sense of the word and I felt like I was in a different country at every turn!

On a different note, in my nervous anticipation of travelling for three months I expected that, however much I would enjoy exploring unknown cultures, cuisines, coastlines and countrysides, I would inevitably resent lugging around a backpack full of musty smelling, discoloured clothes. On the contrary I have found that, after seven weeks, I have come to love the scruffy simplicity enforced by living out of my pack: snatching any old pair of shorts and a mismatched top to wear for the day, having only two outfits to choose between each night and never feeling obliged to put on make up.

Sadly I expect that these remaining weeks will fly by, such that I'll be brought back to reality - a wardrobe full of choice and the commencement of the demoralising job hunt - with something of a bump!

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