Vietnam has everything! Warm weather, captivating scenery, enchanting people and exquisite food. It had been over a year since my last vacation, so when my girl-friend Esther
Dalseno McCaustlin told me of her wedding in Vietnam I was overjoyed to visit a country whose borders I’d kissed but never crossed.
Vietnamese food is notorious for its garlic, ginger and cilantro; it’s plethora of lemongrass and generous use of garnishes. Excited to see these herbs en masse, we rented a motorbike and headed 10 minutes from the centre of Hoi An to a local herb garden.
The gardens are owned and operated by local people in an unusually large and rectangular plot of land, surrounded by French inspired dwellings. Once we’d had our fill of the conventional and exotic herbs we evaded the blistering sun by slinking into a nearby hut. There we drank rich, chocolaty coffee(s) and enjoyed the local flora and fauna.
As was apparent from our first day in Vietnam, the people mainly ignore street animals, of which there are many. Although I often saw children playing with puppies and kittens, stray dogs wandered the streets wholly unabashed and at night the bats rule the sky and the rats the streets.
I had heard stories of how Vietnamese people treated dogs (both wild and domestic), but was fortunate enough not to witness any disturbing events myself. I did however, visit the local markets which are often filled with pleasure and pain.
In the farmer’s markets I relish puzzling my senses with new smells, sights and tastes. Mouth slightly ajar I point to everything new and edible, and taste as much as I am capable. But with the excitement of the new comes the heartbreak of the frequent; animals being sold for meat.
I regularly pause and connect with the live animals, staring long enough for my presence to express my displeasure. It can be difficult to restrain my emotions, but I return to every market in every country (and sometimes town) with enthusiasm and anticipation. Always aware that even though I may not wish to see suffering, it will continue to exist. This only cements my resolve to live by my ethics.
Thanks to Sean de Waal for the extra gruesome pictures.