Vietnam Vicareously

17 Jun

Vietnam is another place I’ve had many many daydreams about since I was a child.  There is something I find awe inspiring about the gracious grittiness of countries (their people and environment) that have rebuilt themselves, with relative grace, after enduring major deadly conflict.  And in some unknown way, retain purity.  There is also something special about a land that is a melting pot of religious philosophies – Buddhism, Confuscionism, Taoism, and (of course) Animism.

Streets of Vietnam with bikes and motos

Over the years I have painted a landscape of Vietnam in the figments of my imagination.  I envision a country with rich fertile land, where strong sharp mountains, meet rolling hills and then marry the land with the warm waters of the South China Sea.  I’ve dreamt about the people (lots of people) of this marvelous land, the oldest civilization of Southeastern Asia, and their passion for living from the land.  Hillsides dotted with little villages (or langs) dedicated to rice farming, and subsistence agriculture.  Warm people, with brilliant smiles underneath the cobwebs of war and dust of daily life on a farm.

Fresh fruits and vegetables in a Vietnamese market

And then there are the cities.  Oh how I love cities as much as I love rural farming villages.  Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City… I have yet to explore them.  I have fleeting images of them in mind…. streets filled with bycicles and motorcycles.  A thousand pungent aromas intermixed into one.  The thrashing of pots and pans and raspy grating sound from fresh coconut.  Bartering in the open air market as beads of sweat pour down a man’s face.  Young babies carefully wrapped in fabric and tied to their mothers as they walk to the market.  Young men walking around with stubbed legs from land mines and missing limbs from leprosy.  Dog barking and roosters crowing.  Endearing smiles and honest eyes.  Crisp and delicious bean sprouts, basil, mint, and happiness.  This is how I envision the people of Vietnam and its landscape.

Traditional cooking stoves in VietnamSo lets go back to why I titled this blog… Vietnam Vicareously…  At this very moment two of my good friends are en route to Southeast Asia where they will meet-up in Singapore with one of my lifelong best friends and travel to Vietnam.  I must admit, I am slightly envious and very excited for them.  It will be an incredible trip.  It has inspired me to share my Vietnamese daydreams that will someday be fulfilled.  Vietnam has a special place in my heart.  Most of these daydreams came from the stories my father told me growing-up from his years in Vietnam during the war.  Most of the stories he shared were not about bombshells, grenades, or land mines.  Rather they were about the people, the culture, the food, and his fond memories.  I appreciate that amidst the violence, he was able to garner a sense of place of the fine ancient land and all it encumbers.  There are stories he would share with me at bedtime as a young girl that I’ll cherish forever.  Its the little things.  The Vietnamese teaching him how to eat with chopsticks using hot oily peanuts.  The rice fields and terraces, lush and green.  Authentic Vietnamese dinners on floating rivers in the Saigon river.  Devine Vietnamese coffees.  Little anecdotes of daily life in Vietnam.  Its through these stories growing-up, the travels of my best friend Dani, and many years and many daydreams that I’ve “traveled” vicareously to Vietnam.  I am forever grateful to both of them and hope that someday I may know this gracious land and all its people.

Life on the Mekong river delta

A sage lets go of

extremism

lets go of luxury

lets go of

apathy.

– Lao Tzu

Photos courtesy of Dani Carrier, 2012.

One Response to “Vietnam Vicareously”

  1. Danielle June 17, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    Becca-well spoken. You will be able to experience for yourself!! :). Thanks for sharing and I like the photos; they looked so familiar!! You are a life-long soul sister.

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