Vietnam, Tranquil Paths, Picturesque Forests and Diverse Culture

My first recollection of Vietnam comes from a documentary about the proxy war between the US and the USSR. I learnt that Vietnam is not just a country involved in geopolitical rivalries between different great powers.

Instead, I found out about the scenic and historical landmarks. The Muong Hoa Valley is on the outskirts of the city of Sapa. The beauty of this region with its tranquil paths and picturesque forests are not usually what comes to mind when thinking about Vietnam. The Dong Van market attracts goods from all corners of Vietnam. The areas serve as a reflection of the Vietnamese ethnic diversity, with members of different sects all coming together to purchase goods from respective groups and classes. These, and many other locations being landmarks which I would one day like to visit. Another aspect of Vietnam that I hope to learn more about is its cuisine. I know one such dish is ‘Gỏi cuốn’, translating to ‘salad roll’. These rolls contain various vegetables and seafood.

Interestingly, every region in Vietnam has its own distinctive spring roll. This shows the vibrant diversity in Vietnam, even through something as simple as food. Another dish that I think reflects the rich Vietnamese cuisine is Bánh mì. It roughly translates to sandwich and includes fillings of pickled carrots and fish cakes. But a unique thing about this Vietnamese cuisine is the link to its French colonial past. It was the French colonialists who brought the ‘baguette’ (a vital part of Bánh mì) to Vietnam, but the Bánh mì is undoubtedly Vietnamese. In addition, I am also interested in finding out more about the handling of the coronavirus in Vietnam. Since the summer, there have been no deaths in Vietnam as a result of coronavirus.

I am keen to learn the reasons behind this. Is there a unique sense of togetherness in Vietnamese communities which makes restrictions easier to follow? Or can this domestic success be attributed to effective government decision making? When so many nations have failed in containing the virus, I think It’s important to understand what Vietnam is ‘doing right’ so other nations can learn from this case. Vietnam is a special country that I cannot compare with any of the ones I’ve visited. Through the virtual field trip, I hope to learn more about Vietnam, its unique cultural and political environment.

Pardis Jallali, Year 1, BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations.

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