A heavy heat descends on you as you step through the airport doors in Hanoi, accompanied with the sharp smell of motor oil and the incessant sound of motorbike horns.
A true garden city, from the patched sidewalks to the lantern lit street canopies - greenery is everywhere. Vines dangle from balconies, creep over shutters one gets the feeling that the jungle is reclaiming the city. Despite the noise and chaos, there is a harmony. There is a logic to the crushing flow of motorbikes, The call and reply of motor horns - overwhelming at first, but eventually your body acclimatizes and you adjust to the pace of Vietnamese life.
When one leaves the city, the pace slows. Domed capped farmers prepare the fields, the same way their ancestors did centuries ago. Domestic animals roam the country side, paying little heed to humans and grow contentedly fat. The oral history of Vietnam is rich, and as we gathered about the dinner table our hosts spun tales of monks, tigers and dragons, so fantastic that they awaken the imagination and transport us to another time.
Although Vietnamese art is beautiful, and renown for its intricacy and character, I am inclined to believe the greatest work of art is the rice fields in Sapa. Centuries of meticulous cultivation has resulted in a landscape that is staggeringly beautiful.
Whether it’s enjoying the white sand beaches in Danang, or weaving through the archipelagos in Ha Long Bay, sipping a Egg Coffee in Hanoi or trekking Sapa- This country is sure to fascinate any history or design lover.