Sunday, 14 July, 2024

Vietnam has mostly been defined by its tumultuous history of border scuffles, invasions, and colonialism — which does this beautiful, graceful, colorful southeast Asian country a disservice.

Respect for tradition jostles up against a forward-facing attitude in Vietnam, which makes for a jumble of fascinating contrasts: the hyper-energetic urban centers of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City versus the idyllic countryside (which two-thirds of the population call home); state-mandated atheism versus a long tradition of spiritual practices; Communist government versus capitalist economy.

But spend any time getting curious about Vietnam, and one thing becomes abundantly clear: family and a reverence for tradition are nearly universal. As is a passion for flavorful food that woos all the senses and an appreciation for the country’s stunning natural beauty.

our podcast

In this episode, we delve into Vietnam’s dramatic history and discuss what makes it like no other place on the planet, then we recommend books that transported us there on the page, including moving family sagas, first-person memoirs, and an ode to a perfect bowl of pho. (show notes / transcript)

recommended books

Listen, Slowly

buy | read review

The Eaves of Heaven

buy | read review

The Mountains Sing

buy | read review

The Best We Could Do

buy | read review

The Beauty of Humanity Movement

buy | read review

Top image courtesy of Nguyen Quang Ngoc Tonkin/Shutterstock.

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featured posts

Warning: This show is going to inspire you to book tickets to Vietnam as soon as possible. Who could resist its stunning natural beauty, vibrant street food, fascinating history, and warm, friendly people? No one.
The VAC Library in Hanoi is a unique open-air structure that invites play along with learning. Solar-powered and self-sustaining, it's a modern (beautiful) example of how libraries can interact with the environment.
Pho is Vietnam's national dish, a comforting bowl of spice-infused broth, rice noodles, beef, and fresh herbs that tastes like love. We recommend you simmer a pot of broth and take a virtual trip to Hanoi, Vietnam.
Treat yourself to some travel inspiration and explore Vietnam. From oh-so-green rice paddies to energetic cityscapes, these vibrant images of scenery and people will fire up your imagination and your wanderlust.

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