It is normal for your correspondent to write a story when travelling in far-away countries. This time Vietnam is the chosen destination because he really wanted a reprieve from the slush, ice, cold winds and darkness of Helsinki.
Just getting to Helsinki airport required 30 minutes of digging away ice and snow from around the car. When it snows, the city removes the snow and ice with snow ploughs that leave two feet of hard packed snow on both sides of the car…
In Vietnam, they do not have these worries, they are more concerned with working hard to earn enough money to pay for the school, medical bills and electricity. Life is meagre and full of challenges. But families hold and work together to find solutions.
Tourism is obviously at the top of their strategy, but the path is long and hard. Few people can speak English and the memories of the Vietnam War are always present. The red flags flutter in the wind and the roads are filled with scooters, lorries and cars that are trying to overtake whoever is in front.
Houses are small and motor repair shops fight for space. Litter, dust and diesel fumes fill the air. There is little time to understand and solve these problems when money has to be earned… and who has time to listen to those westerners who talk about climate change. There may be some plastic and empty bottles on the beach, and there are small streams of sewage draining in to the sea… but it is big enough to absorb that… isn’t it?
The small fishing boats are out all night and the catch is small – is there really such a thing about over-fishing?
Hotels and restaurants are nice and friendly… and cheap too, but should we, the westerners, just be filling up the rooms if they find managing their environment to be so challenging?
Tourism is hatching many problems and they may be outweighing the benefits like we have seen in Spain and in many other raped sea-side resorts.
… and flying there is just making climate change happen faster.
Perhaps I should have stayed at home and cleared more snow…