The beginning of my trip was the first ten days in Vietnam as part of a fourteen day all-woman trip. A twelve-hour time difference and a 36 hour journey started me off exhausted but still excited.
The culture shock was just that - shocking. It is an entirely different world there, and none of our basics here are normal there. While doing my best to be open minded, I definitely struggled to be able to take care of myself both physically and emotionally.
I have never been faced with so much blatant negativity and even hatred and desperation. By most of their standards I am wealthy - I have access to an abundance of food and unnecessary items. I was unprepared for me, who has not earned a single dollar myself this year, to be merely a walking dollar sign and a target for desperate or even angry attempts to put a chicken in their supper pot.
I have never been more grateful to have the option to live anywhere but there. I admire the people for what they have made out of what options they have, but must admit that I cannot fathom how a people can, in general, contain so much hatred and hostility towards so many peoples - even their own.
I am not as evolved as I wish to be and therefore am very grateful that their challenges are not my own.
It was an awe inspiring with extreme contrasts in landscape from stepped rice paddies to extreme limestone "mountains" jutting out of the landscape. The stark beauty of the place makes me aware of how small we really are. One feels at the mercy of greater, more vengeful forces at all times.
While I am glad I went, I am glad it's over and that I never need return.