The Himalayan foothills extending into Vietnam as a great arch moulding magnificent plateaus and valleys, are home to dozens of ethnic groups, descendants of the great Tibetan families: – Thai, Muong, H’mong, Yao and many others. In the uncontaminated silences of the mountains these groups live by their ancestral tribal customs, unaffected by the centuries. Through the same foothills runs the solemn Red River, cradle of the old Kingdom of Au Lac and the Vietnamese culture. Today the capital, Hanoi, is a modern metropolis, but evidence of its rich cultural past with its splendid temples and pagodas around the district of the Lake of the Returned Sword recount the myths of the Vietnamese people. Myths that vividly describe the natural beauty of a landscape, such as the splendid cliffs of Halong that sweep into the seas are reputed to be the remnants of dragons’ scales. Read More
The East-Sea extends to the south, creating exquisite unspoilt white beaches, laced with palms and accentuated by a splash of colours together with the fishermen’s boats make a perfect setting for the ethereal tower-sanctuary of Cham. As the East Sea merges into the Gulf of Siam, together with the Mekong, the mother of all rivers, forging the delta of the Nine Dragons. This immense fertile green delta with its nine rivers is the playing field of Vietnamese sampans. At the border of the delta, in times gone by, Chinese emigrants founded a market, called Saigon, which later become Pearl of the French Empire and adorned the city with colonial flair. Today it is a stupendous and dynamic metropolis where futuristic skyscrapers ascend skyward casting shadows on mystical Taoist temples, Gustave Eiffel’s modernist architectural marvels, austere Buddhist pagodas, and imperial colonial buildings, all lining streets that exude a desire to revel in good times and enjoy life. The long war that has been relived on movie screens and on the pages of novels is but a long gone memory with remnants found only in the underground citadel of the Vietcong in Cu Chi. With a jaded past, the history of the future is already written: it is the one that runs past our eyes in each corner of this stupendous country.