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7 Reasons Why You Should Spend Your Holiday In Vietnam

7 Reasons Why You Should Spend Your Holiday In Vietnam

Our brains are magnificent organs, complex and effective at what they do, but they do a lot of work day in and day out, and require a break every now and then. A holiday spent abroad allows your mind to relax, and as you stop worrying about your job and social life, you can focus on recharging your batteries, having fun, learning new things and broadening your horizons. It is good to travel as far away from home as possible, and really immerse yourself in a different culture.

As far as history, culture, nature, architecture, and fun activities go, Vietnam has a lot to offer. It can accommodate all types of travelers, from those looking for a relaxing beach holiday to hikers and adventurers, and provide you with an unforgettable experience. Let’s look at the seven main reasons for visiting Vietnam.

1. The majestic islands of Halong Bay are perfect for both adventurers and casual tourists

Halong Bay

    Halong Bay is probably the most popular tourist destination within Vietnam, and it is not that difficult to see why. There are a large number of small islands clustered around the bay, with sheer cliffs ideal for adventure-seeking climbers and beautiful sandy beaches, as well as tons of interesting activities such as kayaking and helicopter rides. The less adventurous folk can simply relax on lovely cruise boats with large sails (traditional sampan rig style). Adventure, natural beauty, and classy accommodations are what draw the crowd to Halong Bay.

    2. Hiking through the hills of Sapa and experiencing the rich culture of local tribes

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    Sapa Hills

      Sapa is a Vietnamese market town located in the Northwest. The area around it features beautiful hills and valleys, great hiking and trekking trails, and breathtaking terraced rice fields. Several ethnic minorities live in the area and tend to the fields, each with their own distinct culture and way of life.

      Meeting the locals is an incredibly pleasant experience—they are quite hospitable and used to tourists visiting the area frequently. There is a lot to be seen, and a lot to be learned about the unique culture of the tribes residing in the hills of Sapa, making it a great place to spend a few days and explore in more detail.

      3. Take in classic architecture and culture at the Temple of Literature

      Temple of Literature

        Vietnam has a large number of well-preserved temples that stand as witnesses to the highly developed culture spanning hundreds and hundreds of years. The Temple of Literature in Hanoi is devoted to Confucius and scholars in general. Built in 1070, it hosts Vietnam’s first national university.

        A large number of stelae were raised to commemorate the achievements of great scholars throughout the years, and it is truly a sight to behold. It is a unique piece of history and a great example of the kind of culturally significant sites available for modern scholars and history enthusiasts to explore.

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        4. Explore the unique rainforest flora and fauna at the Cuc Phuong National Park

        Cuc Phuong

          Vietnam’s oldest national park, Cuc Phuong, boasts some jaw-dropping scenery and diverse wildlife that you can explore for days on end. The Limestone Mountains and thick vegetation are home to over 2,000 plant species, more than 250 reptile and mammal species, and over 300 bird species, making it a prime location for naturalists and nature lovers. You can have a fairly long trek through the forest and get to see a myriad of different animals, and explore the caves where you’ll find the remains of people who lived in these parts over 7,000 years ago.

          There are plenty of other curiosities like a reptile fossil that is over 200 million years old.  The indigenous Muong tribe still resides there in stilt houses, living off the land and producing interesting garments using simple looms.

          5. The unique marriage of Western and Eastern architecture (Vua Meo)

          Vua meo

            As Western countries strove to grow their colonial power, Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands conquered countries on different continents. Vietnam was under French rule from the late 19th century up until the First Indochina War in the mid-20th century.

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            At certain periods tensions were high, but during this time a unique blend of Western and Eastern architecture emerged, and one of the most beautiful examples of this is the Vua Meo villa built by the French for the leader of the Hmong people. Interestingly enough it was once dubbed “The Opium Palace”, as one of its cellars stored large amounts of opium, and the walls were decorated with poppy-seed and flower designs.

            6. Plenty of opportunity to help a good cause by volunteering

            Volunteering

              For those who want a more active break from everyday life, and wish to help out others and make a difference in the world, there are several great volunteering opportunities in Vietnam. The great thing about helping a cause is that the trip and accommodations are fairly affordable, and you have an opportunity to meet lots of new people, delve deeper into the local culture, learn useful skills, and experience the pleasure of helping those in need.

              Whether it is teaching the local youth, helping orphaned children, improving healthcare standards in rural areas, or working at a wildlife rescue center, you have a chance to make a big positive change.

              7. A large number of beautiful sandy beaches

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              Sandy beach Vietnam

                In the end, after all the excitement and exploration, some may just want get some sun on their skin, swim and have fun on a beach of fine sand. Well, as we’ve already mentioned, Halong Bay is an excellent place for both adventure and the traditional beach vacation, but there are a whole lot of other incredible beaches in Vietnam, like the quiet Long Beach in Phu Quoc, or the lovely City Beach in Nha Trang.

                You can find the right place for yourself, depending on whether you want something more secluded, where you can be alone with a significant other, or want to be in an urban environment, but have the ability to get down to the beach for a quick swim in a matter of minutes.

                If you are looking for an exotic location, with lots of fun and worthwhile things to do, Vietnam is definitely the place to visit. Even if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want out of your vacation, there’s something for everyone in this proud country.

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                Ivan Dimitrijevic

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                8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

                8 Things to Watch for If You’re Considering Being Vegetarian

                Vegetarianism has been around for a long time, finding favor with many people, including Pythagoras clear back around 580 B.C. It’s been presented as one of the most healthy diets around, including being touted by the Egyptians to the point of abstaining from meat and animal clothing due to karmic beliefs. The vegetarian society (vegsoc.org) defines vegetarianism as:

                “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

                While it’s pretty obvious that there are multiple benefits to following a vegetarian diet, it’s always good to be informed about the cons of this dietary choice as well.

                Outlined below are several things you might want to be aware of before you say good-bye to meat forever. Whether you are a current vegetarian, or contemplating making a shift, keep in mind these 8 things to keep yourself healthy.

                1. You could suffer from B12 vitamin deficiency

                The B vitamins are especially important for stress management, adrenal health, and brain function. Vegetarians in particularly are at risk for B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is attached to the protein in animal products and without enough B12 you can suffer from depression, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate.

                Due to its attachment to animal proteins, B12 is the hardest for vegetarians to obtain when they don’t eat dairy or eggs in their diet. This essential little vitamin can be found in some algae and has been added to some yeast, but research doesn’t currently provide enough information to say whether or not these forms of B12 are of good quality and can provide adequate supplementation.

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                The body is unable to make this vitamin, meaning it has to be taken in through food or supplementation. Essential for making red blood cells, DNA, nerves and various other function in the body, a Harvard Health Medical report in January of 2013 found symptoms of a B12 deficiency can present in sneaky ways including depression, paranoia, delusion, and loss of taste and smell.

                2.  You could suffer from higher states of anxiety/depression, lower sense of well-being

                According to a CBS Atlanta report, vegetarians suffered from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. Read the full report here. Depression and/or anxiety can be a result of many possible deficiencies including essential vitamins and amino acids you can find only in meat products, including Omega-3s from wild caught salmon.

                Without the correct supplementation and proper understanding of diet, including the importance of micro and macro nutrients, depression and anxiety can become a serious problem, bringing down the overall health and well-being of vegetarians.

                Even though reports on health and lifestyle show vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower consumption of alcohol and drugs, it also shows they suffer from more chronic illnesses and more visits to the doctor than their meat eating counterparts.

                3. You could suffer from excess weight

                When you go vegetarian it opens up a lot of food, but just because there isn’t any meat in front of you, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary healthy. Though pizza and beer technically fall under the vegetarian diet, it’s not a healthy choice for your waist line.

                Just because being a vegetarian is associated with a healthier lifestyle in many cases, doesn’t mean it’s always true. Making bread and pasta your staples and not understanding where your protein sources should be coming from, can pack on body fat, which increases your chances of health issues such as diabetes and chronic inflammation.

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                If the choice to go vegetarian happens on a whim without the proper understanding of food control, portion, and nutritionally dense alternatives you can find yourself reaching for vegetarian foods, which could cause serious problems down the road. Nuts are a good example, but just because something is touted as healthy, it doesn’t mean, your should eat it in excess.

                Eating too many calories in fat will still cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in carbs will cause you to gain weight. Eating too many calories in protein will cause you to gain weight. See a pattern here? Not to mention you’ll miss out on important nutrients the body needs by over-eating in one area and under-eating in another. Re-read number 2.

                4. You could have a higher risk of heart disease

                Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables should be a goal we all strive for, but when you cut out meat, you also cut out what is known as complete protein, which you find in animal by-products. Complete means more than just the essential amino acids, it means those amino acids contain dietary sulfur. Without enough dietary sulfur, which is found almost exclusively in fish and pasture feed grass beef, the body will struggle with the biological activities of both protein and enzymes.

                The effects cascade downward, effecting bones, joints, tissues, and even metabolic issues. In short, a low intake of sulfur associated with a vegetarian diet can result in high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries, blood clots raise your risk of stroke and heart attack. To read the full report click here.

                5. You could suffer from low cholesterol

                I know, at first you’re thinking, wait, low cholesterol is a good thing. Yes, it is, when it’s LDL cholesterol, which you get from eating an unhealthy diet, but low HDL (good cholesterol) can cause serious health issues. HDL, according to the mayo clinic, is in every cell in our body and can help fend off heart disease, not enough of it though, and too much LDL can go the other way, will be building up plaque in the arteries and leading to heart disease.

                Cholesterol, the good kind, is actually vitally important to the making of every steroid hormone in the body! There are six, and without cholesterol the body is unable to convert hormones, and it can cause damage in the endocrine system.

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                A vegetarian without a balanced diet, meaning enough protein, enough veggies, and enough good fats, could disrupt his or her adrenals, which are directly connected to the endocrine system and the body’s ability to make and synthesize the hormones your body needs. The six major hormones in the body help do everything from metabolizing carbohydrates, to the electrolyte balance, to making sure if you’re a woman you can carry a healthy baby through pregnancy.

                6. You could suffer from lower bone density and osteoporosis.

                Osteoporosis, the disease where the bones get thinner, weaker, and fractures become a high risk with day to day movements. It’s often associated with the older generation, but your risk for osteoporosis increases with a lower bone density. Bone density can be directly related to diet and lifestyle, along with many other factors.

                When it comes to eating a vegetarian diet it’s possible to miss getting enough of the right nutrients, causing the bones to begin to break down. If your vegetarian diet isn’t balanced and providing you with the correct nutrients and the means to absorb the correct nutrients, your body could begin to break down.

                Recently, Professor Tuan Nguyen of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research led a review of both Australian and Vietnamese research around the bone density of vegetarian versus their meat eating counterparts. Helping Professor Nguyen was Dr. Ho-Pham Thuc Lan from Pham Ngoc Thac University of Medicine in Vietnam. The review was designed to sort though years of research surrounded by discrepancies and inadequate clinical data.

                At the end of the review, with vegetarianism rising to around 5% of the populace in the western continents, and with wide spread osteoporosis reports – 2 million in Australia and closer to 54 million in America – the decrease in bone density of vegetarians is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, if you’ve cut meat and animal by-products out of your life.

                7. You could be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer

                Cancer seems to be running rampant through America, and it’s within everyone’s best interest to do all they can to keep their body healthy and happy to prevent cancer from finding a place to grow. In most studies it’s been found vegetarians are at lower risk for cancer, but a European Oxford study with over 63 thousand men and women in the United Kingdom found the risk for colorectal cancer higher in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

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                Extra care needs to be taken when establishing a diet to ensure the body is receiving and able to up take all the important nutritional benefits and requirements from food.

                8. You could end up eating more processed food

                Depending on how deep you choose to go as a vegetarian, it could create the need to substitute a lot of food and recipe ingredients in your diet, but what happens when you cut out meat, eggs, and dairy and your recipe calls for meat, eggs, and/or dairy? You have to end up using a “healthy” vegetarian alternative which include stabilizers, thickeners, and various other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

                Lauren from Empowered Substance puts it into a great perspective with her comparison of Earth Balance, a vegetarian approved butter replacement compared to butter. She points out the ingredients in Earth Balance consist of: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color. Meanwhile, the ingredient list in butter, is much shorter. It’s butter.

                That’s only one example. To appeal to the vegetarian lifestyle food manufacturers have found alternatives which fall under vegetarian, but aren’t necessarily healthy for you. Consider baked goods, which though vegetarian can be filled with more sugars and binders than regular baked goods with diary products. It’s the same with vegetarian items like mac and cheese, without using real cheese you may just be getting oil and thickeners, without even the smallest amount of nutritional value.

                The reality is, most vegetarian substitutes contain the same junky alternatives which even meat eaters should be avoiding to remain happy and healthy.

                On one final note, whichever lifestyle you choose to work with, remember anything in excess – including protein and animal by products – isn’t healthy for the body. It takes a wide spectrum of food and nutrients to keep the beautiful body you travel around in all day running in prime condition.

                 

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