What’s next? As long as that question comes up, I think I’m still on track. And after a year of so many things changing – personally and professionally – that question popped up again three months ago in terms of travelling. Where do I go next?
Vietnam was on my list basically forever. Many people I trust in their opinion say it is a game changer. „It grabs you and doesn’t let you go. Once you love it, you love it forever.“ was how Anthony Bourdain put it, and when I’m not mistaken, you should start adding things you love forever as early as possible to your life. Right?
So Vietnam it was.
I am a firm believer in getting out of my comfort zone once in a while, and South East Asia never fails to push my boundaries. Hong Kong did, and Bangkok certainly did it a couple of times. I think that part of the world is perfect for Westeners to widen their horizon.
Why? Because everything is exotic – the food, the smells, the colours, the gestures, the sounds and letters – but nothing is scary, intimidating or dangerous. Well, some encounters in the red-light-areas of Bangkok can be ... weird, for sure. But over all, the kindness and respectfulness of people, the genuine friendliness and hospitality, combined with a culture that seems to be uncapable of aggression – at least on the surface – makes for a perfect place to experience new things.
I was especially excited to dig into the complex world of Vietnamese food and – spoiler alert! – it totally delivered. I still have no clue about it, don’t get me wrong. You’d need years to fully understand and experience the incredibly wide spectrum of flavours, dishes and variations of what the people boil, grill and fry between Hanoi and Saigon, but at least I know: Where my former comfort zone ended lies a magic land that I set foot in now once. Vietnam. It grabbed me.