By Leslie Acta, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017
Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, how I loved you so. The second I felt the warm, humid air when stepping off the ship and on to the gangway I was pretty much gone for this country. As a Floridian living in Arizona, I was not a fan of freezing my butt off in China and Japan. Vietnam reminded me of the Caribbean, more specifically where my dad grew up in the Dominican Republic. And while the sensation of this completely foreign country feeling familiar to me stayed in the back of my mind the entire duration of my stay the actual experience differed near drastically.
A couple of my friends and I spent the day with a local guide where she brought us to a location on the Mekong Delta where we spent the day trying local fruits and drinks, listening to the local villagers sing, and being able to peruse a market of locally made good. Granted, we were aware that this is where they bring in all their tourists but it is interesting to see a sneak peek into their traditional way of life.
After that we spent some time in a small gondola like boat going down one of the delta’s canals. Then we were brought to a large Buddhist temple and were amongst the locals as they paid their respects to their Gods. An experience like this is something traditional that other places, like the Dominican Republic, tend to shy away from. And like I said, I know this was a very tourist orientated experience, but it is something I could not experience anywhere else in the world, really. So, as I recognize that the way the Vietnamese people and the people Dominican Republic live similar day to day lives, from their use of public space to their preference of using mopeds and motor bikes instead of cars, the countries historical cultures are of course drastically different than anything I have experienced before.
I will be back again and hopefully soon than later. I have so much more to discover! Has there ever been visited a location far from home that you have felt familiar in of just felt similar to somewhere else you have visited? Let me know in the comments below!