By Carole R.
They are individuals filled with resilience, who have learned, the hard way, not to give up.
After surviving the Indochina war and the American war, after having lived 7 years in long and narrow stone tunnels, how can they smile so much? Do they want to make up for having cried for so long?
When I arrived in Vietnam, I did not know why their smiles fascinated me so much.
But I know that it’s now the time to go for a stroll in the streets of Hanoi or the charming Hoi An.
Now, before the call of the too modern, the too industrialized, the too over-consumed come to haunt the Vietnamese and make them switch to the “too many tourists to appreciate”.
It’s because of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its 1969 karstic islands. It is to sleep in a junk, to marvel as much of at the sunset as of the sunrise. It is to wake up in the light of dawn to the noises of the fishermen’s boats that left to seek their pittance for the day. It is also to sip a delicious coffee (Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee producer) while watching life around you awaken.
We must now see the people who are reborn in life without being afraid of the noises and smell left behind by the wars. We must rediscover with them the temples buried in the forest, the pleasures of a walk-in sampan or by bicycle and listen to them tell us about their joie de vivre.
Traveling through Vietnam from north to south, I was overwhelmed by the whole story of the boat people and Kim Thuy, a writer that has since set roots in Montreal.
By watching the people live, letting ourselves be surprised by their agility in crossing the avenues, and their lives perhaps, without stopping, gazing head held up high, still straight ahead, admiring them while these women with curved backs are rooted in the green rice fields, I thought to myself that behind these smiles that are given so easily to the lenses of our cameras in their local markets, in their narrow and congested streets, I thought that behind these smiles … Nothing is hidden!
But nothing at all! Their smile simply expresses their joy of meeting us.
For this reason alone, you must go to Vietnam. Now.