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Moving on in Vietnam.

I've never liked Vietnam as a holiday destination. 
This puts me at odds with most people who go there and love it. 
They love the culture, the food, the cities, the shopping and the beaches...

For sure it is as interesting as the rest of Asia, but for me, I could never escape the weight of history. I found the constant setting the scene in terms of the Vietnam war as quite frankly so horrific, that it would impact on my holiday. 

I won't repeat what we already know about the Vietnam war, described as one of the US's most controversial military campaigns. Australia's involvement included nearly 60,000 Australian military personnel on the ground. Mental and physical scars run deep across the world.

I found that on previous holidays the average Vietnamese tour guide was so concerned to set everything we saw in terms of its context if any, to the Vietnam war that it always impacted on my mood. At one point it was so bad  we would say 'No, we're British, we weren't really involved!'

Our previous visits to Ho Chi Minh cities left us reeling. Who can really ever get those images of the pickled fetus from the World Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City from their minds? Or the dilemma of whether Daddy was going to pay some money to fire off a AK47 at the Chi Chi Tunnels. He didn't, in case you were wondering! 

I couldn't work out whether the country is so scared by this period in its history that it is incapable to move on, and that perhaps we need to wait for the next generation. Or maybe was that they felt the average tourist wanted/needed to know all about the Vietnam War? 

I am all for 'Lest We Forget' and the importance of learning from wars and not repeating mistakes in history. But I found the horrific history hard to disassociate from whilst on holiday. How could I relax in these circumstances, was it even right to try?

I didn't have the same feelings in Japan. I've been to Hiroshima, Japan where they handle the dropping of the atomic bomb quite differently. For a start the museum is set in Hiroshima Peace Memorial park. They are more balanced about how they portray the events. 

We didn't even need to bring up that I'm an Aussie, we had no idea that it was happening. I find where world events are concerned it is very useful having two different passports sometimes!

In Japan, unlike in Vietnam, the war wasn't constantly pushed as part of the tourist experience. In fact quite the opposite, and actually the impact of the atomic bomb and the war is hard to discuss with local people. They don't want to bring up that sad part of their history.

I was able to move on to enjoy the rest of my holiday. In a way that I never could in Vietnam.

But this time in Vietnam, things were changing. The outlook seemed brighter.

This time we are in Vietnam for nearly two weeks and I feel like both the country and perhaps myself have moved on. Certainly, development has hit, high rise buildings are on the up and designer coffee bars are becoming the norm in Ho Chi Minh. The growth in numbers of Russian and Chinese travelers may be diluting the tourism interest in the Vietnam war and we are in the South. 

We've been in Ho Chi Minh city and at the beaches of Nha Trahn. I am feeling like for the first time ever I have been able to get past the war and relax and enjoy my holiday.

Is that a good thing? I'm not sure. But now I get it. Now I see what people have been raving about for years! I can't wait to show you some of the amazing photos from this incredible country.



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