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Didem Gurdur

We have traveled to Vietnam for 10 days to celebrate me getting my Ph.D. degree and Johanna getting her driving license. We also had/have birthdays in January and February so in total 4 celebrations! If these are not good excuses I am not sure what excuse I can find further.

We visited Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc island during these 10 days. We tried to see as much as possible but also gave ourselves break to relax and rest a little bit.

This interesting country is full of hard-working people. Apparently, it is still a thing to be from north or south and the effects of war are still visible. There is poverty everywhere, corruption is not even hidden, plastic use is an unbelievable level, warm weather and not enough cleaning efforts create weird smells. I hated to see the ocean and beaches dirty. However, people are smiling, they are genuinely thankful to have tourists there. They try to communicate even though mostly they were not good with the language still they are not pushy to sell you anything.

Nature is incredible, the beaches in Phu Quoc has sand like powder. I never saw anything like this in my life. And I if nothing else I can say that I know things about beaches. We did two dives and saw living and dead corals. Not so many big fishes (anymore). They apparently used dynamites to kill fishes until a few years ago. At night the fisherman boats lighten the ocean like the buildings do in the city. I felt so sorry about the animals that I cannot explain. We couldn’t really check any markets day or night time. So many dead animals. Not that we do not have this many meat/fish demand in other countries, but it is hidden behind sterile packages. You know the story to make us think that they never lived, loved, played, cared. In Vietnam, similar to Thailand or Indonesia, they do not even try to hide it. I have a big concern that this much fishing will leave the ocean very vulnerable for the coming years. Still, there were vegan restaurants everywhere and their menu and quality was epic. I hope there will be more environmentalist visiting these places and show people that the tourists do not only eat seafood. They fish to feed tourist but with this speed there will be no sealife, no fisherman, no meat/fish eating tourist. I am very biased on this, cannot accept that people must do this to nature just to feed themselves. We tried different type of vegetables, fruits, tofu in Vietnam, I know that another way of surviving is possible. I surely will not post the plastic, dead animal remainings, or trash photos. One cannot stop to think, is this really what we ask locels to do? I love travelling, I want to see the world. I do not want to believe that my visit to any country is the reason behind the torture of the environment. But cannot stop to think about what can we do different.

I brought my drone, surely. It was so nice to fly freely and took photos of the rivers, the ocean, beaches, and people nearly everyday. I add the gallery below and continue to post more on my instagram account. I hope you enjoy the photos 😉

I will never forget the scene from the war museum in Ho Chi Minh city. The babies… I cannot even describe. I grow up with war stories but Vietnam suffered the war nearly at the same time as Cyprus and the extremes of it are soul hurting, really. We left the museum in a very short time and did not visit all the exhibitions. I had to run out and for a second lost the feelings of my legs, couldn’t breathe. You know we had minor versions of this kind of a war museum in Cyprus. I never visited them. When I was a kid, mom did not allow me and my brother to attend any school excursions to these museums. When I was grown up I was already knowing that there is no winner in any war. In Europe, we design history museums with a more sensitive perspective. Especially in Sweden the Historiska Museet start with a small exhibition, which asks questions about history writing and criticize our beliefs such as who writes the history? Why they write history? And for whom? The war museum in Vietnam caught me very unprepared. This travel showed me how I do not like reality and the uncomfortable feelings that come with it. What was I even thinking? Certainly, babies died during the war, surely people had chemicals in their bloods, they got sick, they lost loved ones, they suffered. Some are still suffering!

Sometimes we know all, still, it breaks our heart to pieces when we face the reality.

I like asking questions and having chat with locals. I asked easy and difficult questions about their life, future expectations, and history. I did not like what some of the locals told us about communism. Obviously, what they experience is not communism that Marx and Engels wrote and dreamed about. So it is not fair to call it communism and blame the ideology. Even though I agree with their concerns and daily life struggles, a few times I felt the urge to say that is just a bad practice with the name of communism and has nothing to do with it. That made me read The Communist Manifesto again. One of the four books of this travel.

This year, I promised myself that I will read 48 books in 2019. If I can complete a book every week than I am safe, basically. When we come here-2nd of February- I already completed the first 4 books for January. Now, I completed 4 more! This means maybe I can read more than 48 🙂 but yeah it is just the beginning of the year so I should focus to reach my goal first. But why reading this many books? Doesn’t it take long time? Don’t I read enough anyways?

I have always loved to read, Don’t we all? I guess for Ph.D. I read and archived at least 1500 research papers-these are the ones I find relevant and saved to my library- at least double of that number I read and did not fond relevant or forgot to save. Surely, it is no small amount of literature but when compared with what is out there it is not much. It is never enough to read mate, never. But for some time I thought that I am reading enough and I did not read books that often. Last year, I said at least a book per month. I cannot really read fictions so generally, I read books about philosophy, science, technology, innovation and so on. I realized how much different areas are related to my research work. They have a different structure, content, language than the research papers. Sometimes they made me wonder, sometimes I criticize the content a lot. You know sometimes I got angry with the author and got disappointed by them. But at the end of the day, I like reading. I read books about artificial intelligence, data science, organizations, brain, meditation, innovation, whales, daring, shame, leadership and many more. I am happy to give the time I am giving because I get more than that back as knowledge. Not that I remember everything, but books have a secret power of changing us regardles we remeber the content by heart or not.

So the other three books that I read this week is:

”The Man on the Mountaintop”, ”True Life” and ”Transformative Scenario Planning”. I recommend all four of them. I will not write a summary of them. You can easily find them and read about anyways.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Dr. Seuss

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