The bronze likeness of Lý Thái Tổ, emperor of the Lý Dynasty, casts a stern eye over the city he founded over thousand years ago. Which is to say, Vietnam has some history.
We began our journey in Hội An, just south of Da Nang. The former is a 15th century port town and UNESCO World Heritage Site; the latter is a large metropolis and once the site of a major air force base during the Vietnam War, or as the Vietnamese call it, the American War. One of the first things we learned is that the Vietnamese hold no grudge against Americans. Before the U.S.A. dropped several million tons of TNT on their heads, the Vietnamese had been fighting for independence from France, and before that against the Chinese. Given so many former (and potentially future) enemies, choosing to forgive a few war crimes and become an American ally seems entirely sensible.
From Hội An we travelled north to the photogenic Hạ Long Bay before returning to the capital in Hanoi. Througout our stay we found that people were super friendly and the food was consistently superb. We discovered some quiet running routes amongst the rice paddies outside Hội An, and did half a dozen memorable laps around Hoàn Kiếm Lake in the heart of Hanoi along with about a thousand other morning joggers and cyclists. Vietnam is a country of smart, lovely, pragmatic people who all seem to have a higher heat tolerance than I do.