Vietnam is a wonderfully diverse country offering experiences that are found nowhere else. Its storied history has resulted in a unique blend of language, tradition, even religion. My friends and I began our adventure in Ho Chi Minh City, with its bustling markets, underground maze of tunnels, and ever-present traffic. Our Canadian eyes were opened to an entirely unfamiliar way of life, and of course that is the reason we travel in the first place. Delicious pho is found at too many restaurants to count, and for those so inclined there is a high end shopping district.
We explored the famous Mekong Delta, riding boats into the heart of the jungle. A one-day tour gave us only a small glimpse of this vast area that encompasses everything from beaches to rice paddies to wildlife parks. A delicious authentic Vietnamese lunch and entertainment highlighted our visit, and we were warmly welcomed by the locals.
For the final days of our trip we chose the quaint coastal city of Hoi An, whose Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area offers something for everyone: culinary tours and cooking classes for foodies; approximately 300 tailors for clotheshorses; several museums for history buffs; and beautiful beaches for those looking to relax. One can even revel in the adventure of a motorcycle ride, in my case with a former Vietnamese soldier who gave me a lift from Old Town to my hotel 15 minutes away. Having seen the traffic, my travel mates were incredulous that I would choose this mode of transport, but with the helmet provided I felt perfectly safe.
One evening after dinner we wandered into a little pub in Old Town. Walking through the rustic room, we emerged from the back to find a small courtyard. We settled in to enjoy a beverage in the dimly lit open air, when a short time later my friend was approached by a handsome young man. He bent close, and we were ready to jump up and defend her when he said, “Terri-Jo?” It turned out to be her neighbour’s son, on a motorcycle tour through Southeast Asia. Pretty much the last thing we four middle-aged women expected on our trip was to have drinks with a couple of attractive twenty-somethings, but what fun! And the memories made just show that, now more than ever, it truly is a small world.