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Traveling pleasure comes in three pieces.

The pleasure before, the pleasure while there, and the pleasure thereafter.

A big part of the pleasure before traveling consists in trying to figure out what it's going to be like. And although when you're back you can always play expert, trying to have a vision of what you're going to see at your destination before you travel is where we all commit the human mistake of trying to know beforehand what is awaiting us.

Take me, for example. I somehow thought that Vietnam was going to be like, well, India. The only other Asian country I've traveled to, actually!

But it was all wrong, of course. I just wished I'd have one more amazing experience in theTime-Machine, like the one I had in India, like a kid in an old movie.

Now that I'm safely back, if I should have to answer what were the things I liked most in Vietnam, I'd say, the people and the nature. I'd safely add the food also, although even among the strangest people I have met while traveling, no one confessed to me their trip was stomach-driven. Yet if you think you may belong to the category that thinks,“we are what we eat” (as opposed to “we are who we meet”, where I like to think I belong), Vietnam should be your number one destination! Eating is absolutely a feast, almost everywhere, yet one that will leave you with the obvious question: how can a people that eats all times of day be so thin...

Vietnam is a country with a very young population, to the point one sometimes wonders, where have all the older people gone! Vietnamese people are zen. While in Vietnam, I did not see a single person get angry, aggressive or menacing. People go on with their hard but meaningful lives, spending an awful lot of their time and an enormous chunk of their revenue just to fill their stomach. And still, despite the revolutionary posters a bit everywhere, sports cars and SUVs are the new trend in the cities. It's not China, but it definitely is a Southeastern Asian Dragon! I will never forget the kindness of it's people, as well as this superb nature that I had the chance to visit to a maximum on two wheels, and on sampans. Water is everywhere, water is my element. I have never seen such a fertile soil; such a nourishing earth and flora, such a red earth. In the nature, one can easily never go hungry just by picking fruits on the way back home!

And yet, as in other parts of the planet, one can hardly imagine the hardships this country has gone through. Chinese invasion, then French invasion, then the American invasion, which we simply call “the Vietnam war”...

And yet, these tiny, humble, overwhelmed but tenacious people always prevailed in the end. Both French and Americans got so frustrated trying to conquer Vietnam that they both seriously considered using the nuclear weapon to subdue the Vietnamese. Thank God, some logic prevailed and they did not, although what they left behind was a flat, burnt land, full of toxic substances that persist until today.

My feeling is, if the whole planet does not go bankrupt in the next 20 years (I will someday come back on this), Vietnam will make it to a rather prosperous future. It has what it gets to do that.

We like to think, the heart of our planet beats where the money and, especially, the guns are.

I'd rather say, beware of the people that are not afraid of them.

If any of the people I met on this trip read this, I'd like to thank them with all my heart for their kindness, their dignity, for showing me how everything is possible in other, better ways. A very special thanks to Hoi and Kim, who sweat with me -literally,on bikes- and for me, to make my time so pleasant in Vietnam.