Overheard: Vietnam's Palpable Energy


Overheard is our series of snippets/conversations that we have with other travelers and/or locals along the way.

As soon as we crossed over the border from Cambodia to Vietnam, the change was palpable. It felt like air before a lighting storm, on the verge of sizzling and tickling your spine.

It was easy to lay our fingers on what was different. The Vietnamese, racing around on their motorbikes, were living their lives much like tourists were living theirs, or at least how we live ours in our home countries. They frequented street-side stalls for their meals, drank bia hoi with their friends, and spent their nights strolling under streetlamps.

The whole country felt like it was celebrating, and quite possibly, it is. After all, Vietnam is doing pretty well. Its economy is growing at about 7 percent year over year and its GDP is more than US$ 135B. Most of the locals have put the war of the 1970s far behind them, as evidenced by the fact that we received nothing but handshakes and grins when we told anyone we were from America.

And if you ever get out of bed early (or come back to your guesthouse really really late), you'll see just how much energy the Vietnamese have. By 6am, their morning exercises are in full swing, with arms, legs, and torsos going in all sorts of improbable directions. So maybe that's the secret. After all, isn't a choreographed set of tai chi good for the Sunday blues?

More Vietnam

Interested in reading more about backpacking Vietnam? Check out our Vietnam destination pages.

What Do You Think?

What countries do you think have the most energy? Let us know in the comments!