Vietnam cannot be truly understood without learning its history. The Vietnamese people had a long over-30- year war with France, China, and the USA. This strong and resilient nation learnt how to rely only on themselves and fight to the end.
“The Napalm Girl”
We had the incredible opportunity to meet with Nick Ut, whose photo changed history and brought an end to the Vietnam war. On June 8th, in 1972, while working as a photographer for the Associate Press, Ut took a photo of a 9-year-old girl who had been drenched in Napalm. This horrific weapon is a flammable liquid that leaves your body covered in burns and can often lead to unconsciousness or even death. This photo, known as “The Napalm Girl”, was called the photo of the 20th century, and it won both the ‘Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography’ (1973), and the ‘World Press Photo of the Year’ for 1973. Fortunately, the young girl in this photo, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, survived this horrific ordeal and later settled in Canada where she lives today.
In order to fight the much-better-equipped-American soldiers, the Vietnamese troops – known as guerrillas – dug tunnels over thousands of miles. In these tunnels, they moved their entire lives underground. The tunnels were where they lived, studied, hosted their headquarters, hospitals, cinemas and even delivered and raised children.
We crawled through theses tunnels. They were so narrow, that you can only crawl through them; standing is not an option. And, after about 50 meters… I started feeling a bit scared and couldn’t wait to get out of there. I can’t imagine how these strong people used to live underground for all those long months!
Streets of Hanoi
Hanoi is a city of bicycles and scooters. I have never seen so many bicycles as what we saw there. Not only that, but they also have their own rules! Red & green lights aren’t really followed there. The safety rules we are taught in other countries are not applicable there. We saw scooters carrying 2 adults and 2 infants, or married couples, or goats and chickens. And, it never stops… it just keeps on moving!
The Mekong River
The Mekong River is one of the world’s 12th-longest river originating in Tibet and running through China, Myanma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Being such a large river, the Mekong has offered a huge contribution to the Vietnam’s economy and culture. As if the streets were not enough space, we observed a similarly busy life on the river too! Along the way, floating on the river we saw a lot of markets, houses, petroleum stations, churches and fish farms. What an incredible world on the river!
People still fish with the same technique as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Watching the fishermen fish almost felt as if time had stood still.
Last, but not least, we enjoyed a modern-theatre performance where artists use traditional bamboo sticks as music instruments. It was a feast for the eyes and a treat for the ears too!
The trip left me feeling that the modern world can save the history and look with optimism to the future.
Have you been to Vietnam? Leave us a comment about your experience!
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