All signs seem to be pointing me to Vietnam lately. Some time ago I read Paul Theroux’s book “The Great Railway Bazaar”, which took him through the recently de-militarized countryside, still reeling from American occupation and bearing the fresh wounds of war. Even still, he gushes about the beauty of the scenery, adding with characteristic cynicism, “…we should have known that the French would not have colonized it, nor would the Americans have fought so long, if such ripeness did not invite the eye to take it.”
More recently I caught a Top Gear special with the hosts motorcycling up the length of the country. For a show all about cars, the focus was dramatically stolen by the country itself, especially given they were traveling on decrepit second-hand scooters bought off the street, and seemed to spend more time on the roadside than on the road. Most spectacular was the final stretch, winding through the hundreds of towering limestone islands of Halong Bay, a landscape that looked too spectacular to be real.
There have been other hints dropped here and there, today’s being a photo series marking the 35th anniversary of the end of the US’s involvement in Vietnam. And most notably, a recent notice of ridiculously cheap flights from Sydney to Hanoi in October.
My travel itch needs scratching.