Woman cooking on a wooden boat in Hoi An VietnamAt the Thu Bon River’s Edge – Hoi An, Vietnam

We spent several relaxing hours walking and dining along Hoi An’s riverside. At midday, some locals made meals on weathered, wooden boats. On the other side of the the Thu Bon River, colorful vessels sat tethered, patiently awaiting passengers.


An Arabesque Evening Sledding on Vietnamese Dunes

The landscape is out of the Arabian Nights, but with a distinctly Alpine twistsand dunes with a cinnamon glow, gusts of wind causing sand granules to dance in the air, adventure-seeking travelers gleefully sledding on plastic toboggans and periodically wiping out… It’s hard to believe that this is Vietnam! 


Basket Boats, Chinese Fishing Nets & Non La Hats: A Thu Bon Boat Ride From Hoi An 

An abundant number of boatmen offer their wooden vessels for rent along Hoi An’s riverside. Since its coastal position afforded the charming mustard-yellow city such a great trading fortune in centuries past, we were eager to explore the Mekong’s waters by boat.  With a Vietnamese dong rate negotiated, we hopped onto the watercraft. The last morsels of a bundle of incense sticks burned at the helm, honoring the spirits and expressing the driver’s and passengers’ wishes for a safe voyage.


Bird’s Eye View of a Vietnamese Streetscape

For Vietnamese standards, this Nha Trang street is a quiet one. Yet, for the uninitiated, it offers a great introduction to Vietnam’s infamous traffic — sans dodging a plethora of motorbikes at intersections or without going deaf thanks to a cacophony of honking horns. 


Light Wisdom Inspired by a Sea of Vietnamese Lanterns

By night, Hoi An, Vietnam is transformed into a dazzling paradise glimmering with brilliant silk lanterns, paper luminaries and warm candlelight. With the sky cloaked in darkness during our visit there earlier this year, we strolled by the Thu Bon River and watched as the colorful luminaries danced on the water. Vendors of all ages sold them along the water’s edge for visitors who passed by to admire the night’s splendor.


To Market, To Market: Scenes From Vietnam

The stalls and baskets of Vietnam’s traditional markets overflow with a colorful spectrum of tempting produce: spiky green durian fruit, porcupine-like pink rambutans, chubby carrots, and spring-green onions that could inflict tickling torture. Ladies clad in nón lá hats share the new day’s gossip while selling mountains of rice paper, slabs of tofu, live chickens, flowers and herbs. 


dog tags for sale in Vietnam AmericanA Mélange of Dog Tags & Medals For Sale in a Vietnamese Market

  All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers. - François Fénelon

On a bustling road leading to Hué’s once-grand Imperial City are sidewalk plots where vendors sell antique blue and white china, happy Buddha statues, and items reminding passersby of tragic chapters in Vietnam’s history. The items are harmoniously intermingled: North Vietnamese battle awards, French and American insignia, dog tags of South Vietnamese and American soldiers. 


woman selling bananas in Hoi An VietnamScenes from Hoi An, Vietnam

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Vietnamese New Year celebration with family in HanoiA Vietnamese New Year’s Reminiscence

When I unpacked the wide-eyed, red and gold Vietnamese ox ornament last week, it reminded me why I love travel: serendipitous events, cultural immersion, and the opportunity to mingle with unassuming citizen diplomats.

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