Vietnam, a name too long associated with the horrors of war, has finally
Elsewhere, the scenes are timeless. Early morning on the Mekong Delta brings the daily floating markets where fruit and vegetables are peddled. Everywhere the green patchwork of rice paddies stretches into the distance, broken only by the silhouette of water buffalo and conical-hatted farm workers bending down to tend the young plants.
The soaring mountains in the north of the country tower over tiny villages where life continues much as it has done for centuries, with traditional costumes still proudly worn. Old French hill stations survive throughout the country offering welcome respite from the heat of the plains below.
The ancient former imperial capital, Hué, takes visitors back to a time of concubines and eunuchs. In every town, young women wearing the simple but feminine national dress, the ao dai, weave their way through the traffic at the controls of a motorbike.
Only in Vietnam could the past and the present be encapsulated so perfectly.