If you are thinking about a trip to Vietnam, do so now. It is a brilliantly flawed place, with warm friendly people who are as mad as hatters. And the scenery is pretty spectacular as well.
My first visit to Vietnam was in late 2014. As a solo traveler learning the ropes, I can truthfully say the first week was a bit bewildering. Most of the time those first few days I had little clue what was going on.
However, once you get over the culture shock if you haven’t been to SE Asia before, it all kinda starts to make sense. That said, there’s a surprise around every corner. Guaranteed there will be a WTF moment every day.
Like many people I was inspired to travel to Vietnam after having watched Top Gear – Vietnam Special. This was basically an hour long advert for Vietnam tourism. I sat transfixed and soon as the credits rolled I said, “That’s where I am going.” My much delayed gap year finally had a starting point, with the rest of itinerary flowing on from Vietnam.
Today, almost five years later, it’s hard to imagine that a TV show had such an impact on my life. For, long story short, I ditched my plans to return to the UK and instead booked a ticket back to Hanoi with only the vaguest of plans. And I’m still here.
How different things might have turned out had I instead watched Michael Palin visiting India, for example. To be fair, India did blip on my radar very briefly before being quickly discarded. It’s huge, crowded, smelly and nobody has passed a solid stool in 200 years.
In other exciting news, I have heard that Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May were recently filming again in Vietnam. This time for their slimmed down Grand Tour series on Amazon. Their arrival only got one mention in the media here that I saw, so I will be waiting with bated breath to see the outcome of their latest sojourn. My money is on a stop-off at the Cu Chi tunnels and blasting away on AK47s at the firing range there. We will have to wait and see.