Stop Fucking Ruining Vietnam

| January 15, 2015
asien.net

Source: asien.net

Words by Matt Huxley

I HAVE been lucky enough to travel to Vietnam twice in my lifetime, once at the end of 09 and once at the beginning of last year. They may have been both tours, both travelling to the same locales, but they were totally different.

When I first announced my intention to travel to Vietnam at the end of 09 instead of making the obligatory schoolies trip to get smashed at the coast, It was met with judgement, horror and recurring statements such as “there was just a war there!” “You’ll get a disease!” or, and this is my favourite, “it’s not developed!” It was fear of the unknown.

In this storm of judgement I fled Brisbane and made my way to south east Asia, where I had the time of my life. At this time Vietnam had been largely off the tourist radar, so everything was a bit more traditional and less westernised (although thank fuck they had western toilets, I can’t aim and squat at the same time.)

Did it mean that the occasional visitor’s centre was more leaning shack then concreted masterpiece? Yes. Did it mean that some of the roads weren’t sealed? Absolutely. IT WAS AMAZING. The colour’s seemed more vivid, the foods were packed with flavour, and there were so many places to explore in this diverse country.

The one thing that loomed ominous and inevitable on the coast were several major hotels being constructed. Back then I thought. Oh fuck, please don’t become another Bali.

Fast forward 5 years and I’m preparing to go back to Vietnam for a second go around. This trip I was met by absolutely zero judgement. People said “oh I can’t wait to go there” or “It looks so amazing!” In absolute contrast to my previous trip. Vietnam was now somehow the “it” country to go to.

designhey.com

Source: designhey.com

I now know why it’s suddenly acceptable and commonplace to go to Vietnam. It’s becoming the new Bali. Western influences were everywhere, from the fact that the schoolchildren have changed their uniforms to western style clothes, to how the restaurant holders water down their pho to appeal to the American palate. In stark contrast to when I first met, the local Vietnamese were sullen and angry, gone were the cheery smiles and comforting Pho bowls I had previously seen.

What really hit it home for me was when I was in Halong Bay, and saw plastic water bottles floating past. There were Americans shrieking in Hue. English moaning in Hoi An and Russians baring far too much wobbling flesh in Nha Trang’s mud baths.

Vietnam is now swiftly becoming a whirlwind travel destination. A place to go to when you don’t want to go to Bali.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Vietnam and her inhabitants, and the Vietnamese culture is still shining through the westernisation, for how long is another story. I just question the ever growing commercialisation. Do we need another Bali? We’ve ruined one culture do we need to ruin another? And why wasn’t the traditional way of life acceptable to other foreigners?

All in all I’d still highly recommend a Vietnam trip, just maybe stay off the well trodden path. And let’s not turn Saigon into Kuta. Cheers.

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Category: FEATURED, LIFESTYLE, Uncategorized

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