I have been away for a while on our 2018 Asia trip. Quite the adventure in sights, sounds, people and, of course, food. And a whole month away from radios and stuff.
I have often said that my grandchildren will live in a world dominated by Asia. Or, at least shared dominance with “the west”. So, I decided I should spend a bit of time exploring Asia first hand before my journey ends.
During March, Hilda and I took two back-to-back cruises on Celebrity Millennium. We were joined by some good friends from Regina, as well as several thousand strangers, a few of whom became new friends. Over 28 days, we visited Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Nagasaki, as well as multiple excursions into Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan. Before the cruises we spent time in Hong Kong, and after we ended, a few days in Shanghai, as well.
For me, the highlight was Seoul, Korea. Beautiful city with a combination of old and new. Very clean. Friendly people. I would go back. Least impressive was Beijing. Not the least of which was because of lousy air quality. Our visit to the Chinese capital unfortunately coincided with massive Mongolian dust storms, which made the normally bad pollution far worse.
We also ran into a great deal of fog, which closed ports in Korea and Shanghai for extended periods.
2018 Asia Trip – Vietnam perhaps most surprising
While Seoul, Korea was the highlight, Vietnam was a close second and perhaps most surprising part of our 2018 Asia trip. We visited Ha Long, Hanoi, Danang and Saigon. Vietnam appears to be developing rapidly. And, with surprising entrepreneurial spirit for a Communist country.
Much of the traditional socialist dogma appears to have faded. We found very much a mixed society during our admittedly short visit. A mixture of state propaganda and individual spirit. Saigon appears to still be Saigon, despite being renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
Mostly, a progressive focus on just finding things that actually work in practice rather than theory. These are industrious people. An interesting side-note seems to be how Vietnamese respect Senator John McCain, once a prisoner at Hanoi Hilton, who went on to play a major role in normalizing relationships between Vietnam and the west.