Good Morning Vietnam.
Just finished The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, a collection of linked short stories about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War and was reminiscing about my recent family trip tagging along with the Milch’s this past Christmas holiday. Forty years after the carnage and destruction of an epoch-difining conflict the Vietnamese call the American War, Vietnam is resolutely a nation and not a war. Self confident and fast-developing, its allure is easy to appreciate as they are a happy people. In fact, the best part of the country is the people’s attitude and “just being happy enough”. It explains how they survived and it completely makes sense. Gitte, our yoga instructor for the week exemplified this perfectly and created many giggles and memories for our family as he began and ended each class with his mantra…Be Happy, Do Yoga. As a practicing yogi for over 30 years, I was thrilled with starting and ending my days with him.
Unforgettable experiences are everywhere in this country but we were only there for an extended week so most of our time was spent at the Nam Hai in Hoi An. An absolutely gorgeous slice of heaven situated smack in the middle of one of the top rated beaches in the world. As the rain rolled over the beach on a daily basis, the spirit of just going with it was our mantra as we discovered all there was to do.
We rode bikes in the fields of marshy grass, we went to UNESCO world heritage places nearby, and we had the best body treatments in the most magnificent setting complete with singing bowl therapy tuned to the harmonic intonation of nature. But the single best was the food… the big winner in this country. It’s a culinary super power according to Anthony Bourdain as the food is that good.
The subtle flavors are outstanding in its diversity as we learned one afternoon in our cooking class. I’ve even tried the Banh Mi back in Aspen at the old Johnny Mcquire’s space but it didn’t come close to one we had in Hoi An.
Our last 2 days were spent in Sensory overload in Saigon also known as Ho Chi Minh City in the South famous for the pivotal role it played in the War.
Of course, we engaged at the war museum but the most interesting day was boating over to the Chu Chi tunnels which is part of massive war museum that offers a sneak-peek at the underground life to the soldiers back in 1948. And after reading the things they carried, I can visualize and imagine what it was like for the soldiers to eat, sleep, work, and cook as the conflict raged above. Talking about conflict or maybe crazy, we totally ventured out of the box on our after dark Vespa tour weaving in and around Saigon. If you’ve ever seen pictures of the way the Vietnamese drive or even cross the street, you would concur we were crazy for hopping on the back of a vespa for 5 hours going place to place eating, drinking, bar hopping, music hunting and more. But it was the most fun we all had without Lesley who opted out! And finally, New Year’s Eve in Saigon was like being the middle of Times Square in NYC. Who does that? Tourists! And that’s just what we were enjoying the scenery and trying to stay up past midnight.
Welcome 2017! Here’s to an abundance of new adventures to come. Be Happy. Do Yoga. I miss my Gitte. Thanks for the memories.