When I traveled to Vietnam for the first time I really didn't know much about the country or it´s history. The little I knew (or thought I knew) came from American movies, and that was, well... a little bias 🙂 Travelling there and talking to the Vietnamese about, among other things the Vietnam war, I came to admire their way of thinking.
Introducing Vietnam 2019
The People of Vietnam are wonderful people, positive and very hard working. Hard working is kind of a default, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. No matter your age or your conditions are, there are no other options. The work ethic is easily seen in their faces. Vietnamese people are welcoming and kind, but do not confuse their kindness with weakness, as they will fight for anything they believe in no matter how high the cost, as proven in the past.
Vietnam has been invaded by: China, Japan and France and they were at war with the US for 17 years and they sent all those superpowers back home... that does describe the resilience of the Vietnamese people very well.
Their willingness to forgive is admirable and very descriptive of their character. The Vietnam people suffered greatly from the US pointless aggression… the reason for the invasion was to stop the spread of Communism in South East Asia, or in simple words: the US didn’t like their politics.
I asked many of the people I met there if there were no anger or hatred towards the US after dragging them through almost 20 years of hell. Killing them with Chemical weapons, cluster bombs, napalm, unnecessary killing of civilians… war crimes! All of them answered in a similar way: “Why? First of all we won the war and we are very proud of that. Hatred does not heal wounds… but forgiveness does. Hatred and revenge create a vicious cycle which is difficult to brake… and after so many years at war… we choose peace!”
Those words left me quiet.
Born and raised in Iceland I have been sheltered all my life. Growing up I did not realize that some people actually had to live from day to day in fear for their life, fear of someone coming and burning down their house, killing and raping them and their loved ones. Certainly we have our problems in the west, but it does not really compare. It is through this hardship they had to endure, their character has molded.
The women of Vietnam especially impressed me, small, fragile, but tough as nails!
Not only did the people fascinate me in Vietnam but also the beautiful landscapes, interesting towns, the culture and of course the food... for me it is another world, like a fairy tale and I can't get enough of it. I was there with the aim of creating a great Photo Tour for my clients. I truly believe my tours in other countries will only be as good as my local guy, and in Vietnam I truly struck gold. Nguyen Vu Phuoc is perhaps Vietnam’s premier all around photographer. His photography is amazing, he is well connected and has superb understanding of light. I found Nguyen to be a magician dealing with people, commonly when we were traveling he managed to spot something truly amazing and unique and with the right subtle approach he gained permission for us to photograph. This kind of interaction with people is priceless and has brought me amazing photos.
Because of Nguyen we have access to local life not possible to encounter in "regular" tours. We even visit people´s homes and the interactions are just on another level. The chance to not just meet, but truly get to know the locals, talk to them, learn from them, left me in a state of peaceful happiness.
As much as I am intrigued by all my destinations, as much as they have given me, Vietnam has by far outdone all of them. Little did I know when leaving home for my first visit Vietnam. The experience has changed me and my perspectives, it has made me a better man.