So, at 10am this Thursday, I will be starting one of my biggest adventure so far… 22 days in Vietnam. Before now I haven’t had the chance to do much travelling. A few times to the USA to visit my father when I was younger (But not for 13 years), and to France and Holland, but nothing as extensive as this. I need to acknowledge, I’m lucky to have a partner who has, it seems, been everywhere… Or at least, more countries than I can remember at present (And she’s 10 years younger than me!). She’s very organised when it comes to travelling and her wealth of experience will not be lost on me.
I do feel some apprehension regarding the whole event though. I’ve spent most of my quiet 30 years in the small rural ‘town’ of Barnstaple, North Devon, England. It’s English farming country, remote and cut off from even the rest of the UK. It is almost dreamlike in it’s datedness. A far cry from the rice fields of Vietnam.
(Barnstaple, River Taw. Image © Keiron Stancombe)
Barnstaple is an odd place. According to a history lecturer of mine, the Vikings “couldn’t be bothered to raid here since it was too much work.” Apparently, we had a mint to make their coins and nothing else of interest, likewise, the Romans thought it was too far to travel, from their settlement in Exeter, for little reward. She claims this was because those living in North Devon were pretty much ‘push overs’ and no fun. Has it changed?
(1646 Reenactment. Image © Barry Luxton)
We saw action in the civil war, with a battle at the nearby village of Torrington. Of course, this happened over 350 years ago and they’re still raving about it! (see above image) In its heyday North Devon was an exhilarating holiday destination for those vacationing Victorians, hard to believe when you look at the place today. Scratch that! It’s not hard to believe at all, most of North Devon still believes Queen Vic is still going strong. The only excitement we have seen in recent years is the McDonald’s truck stuck in the high street.
(Image © North Devon Gazette)
But, on Thursday, I will be leaving all this enjoyment behind to travel 6500ish miles to the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. And I have to confess, I’m a little excited. 22 days split between Ho Chi Mihn, Hoi An, Hanoi and Halong Bay.
I’ve been told that Vietnam is a very Taoist country, and I’m hoping this is the case. I have always been interested in Taoism and I am hoping it will be a chance to further this. I plan to write about my travels, adventures, and experiences, hopefully not boring the underwear off you all in doing so. Either way, I know it will be an influencing experience for my poetry and writing. I look forward to seeing where this will take me.
What I mainly wanted with this entry though, was to ask if any of you have ever been to Vietnam? If so what did you love/hate about it? What would you recommend for a novice traveller to the Far East? Comment away and share your wisdom to the world.
Thank you for reading,