Flight Centre's Martin Watego lived in Vietnam for a year and has some incredible insights about the country. Martin visited the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum to learn about the Vietnam War. Although Martin started off in Ho Chi Minh City, he decided to live and work in Hanoi.
I lived in Vietnam for one year and what an amazing experience I had.
Flying into Ho Chi Minh City was a buzz. I'd been to most of Asia before but nothing prepares you for the traffic that Vietnam throws at you. With over twenty million motorbikes in the country, it can take a few days before you finally get the right technique to simply cross the road. As it turns out, the best technique is to just go!
After a few days of sightseeing, it didn't take long to get immersed in the people, culture and fascinating sights. If you have any interest in the Vietnam War, then Ho Chi Minh City is the best place to start any Vietnamese journey. It was only after visiting places like the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum that I finally realised there are two sides to a war, and it was Vietnam's side of the story that I had never heard before.
After spending a month travelling around the country I decided to live and work in Hanoi, the country's capital. I found a job at a great school, and decided it was time to live like the locals and get myself a motorbike. The only thing was that I had forgotten that I didn't know how to ride a motorbike! Once I found the bike I wanted, I went to collect it in the evening. I figured night time was as good as any other time to learn to ride a motorbike. After a few bumps and scrapes, I'm happy to report that I only crashed once in the twelve months I lived there. Unfortunately, that was straight into the side of a car.... ouch! Don't forget your travel insurance.
Some of my favourite times in the country were spent relaxing, talking to locals and complete strangers. The Vietnamese people are loving and very kind people who know how to have fun and always enjoy a laugh.
One day, after class my adult students decided to take me out for a night on the town, their shout. First, we visited Quan An Ngon. When translated this means Restaurant, Eat, Delicious. And boy did this restaurant live up to its name. If you want to dine in an authentic Vietnamese restaurant with real local food then this is the place to try. You can walk around the boundary of the restaurant and look at the food being made and make your selection from there. It doesn't matter what you pick because it all goes very well with a Hanoi Beer or a Saigon Green Beer.
If you do enjoy a quiet beer and want to kickback and soak up the county then make sure you visit one of the many Bia Hoi street corners. Here you can watch the Vietnamese world go by whilst drinking your sixteen cent beer. Yep that's right sixteen cents. If you go to the Bia Hoi with $10 you will be able to walk away from the afternoon with sixty two beers and possibly a big headache.
For me, Vietnam is all about the people, the food and amazing countryside. After travelling up and down the country several times I can say without a doubt that Vietnam is one of the most fascinating Asian countries I have ever been to.
Looking for more information about travelling to Vietnam? Contact Martin Watego, an International Travel Consultant with Flight Centre based in Currimundi, Queensland who can be reached at 1300 281 619.