I was concerned about how the Vietnamese people felt about Americans. What I found was a friendly welcome. There are museums and monuments that refer to our war involvement and some of that is hard to look at. Yet, for the most part, Vietnam is a country that is putting aside the past for a vibrant future. It is a communist country but one that is enjoying peace, a change from an often war-torn history.
I had imagined a land of flat fields and much of it is that, a countryside where rice fields abound. Rice is a staple in Vietnam, with several crops a year harvested. There are other parts, though; a UNESCO World Heritage site at Halong Bay where islands shift in and out of view in the morning mists and hide treasures like incredible caves, and the winding road through dense green hills to the city of Dalat. There are also fishing villages and fish farms and islands in the Mekong Delta where coconut and banana trees are plentiful.
It was a privilege to expand my backyard to this Asian land, to experience the terrain and its citizens, to share in the local foods and customs, and to remember about the commonality of all people in our desire to live joyful, peaceful, successful lives. A broader backyard encourages a larger global understanding and a fuller connection to all expressions of this earth.