Phan Quoc Vinh

Arriving in Texas I’m welcomed by a familiar friendly drawl – “Hi! How are y’all!” The name “Texas” originally came from the word “teyshas”, meaning “friends” or “allies” in the language of the native Hasinais people.

Dallas cityscape

Located in the southern United States, Texas is the second-largest state of the US, surpassed only by Alaska, and ranks second in population after California. Texas is often called the “Lone Star State” thanks to the single star on its state flag. This star represents Texans’ solidarity upon declaring independence from Mexico. To this day, Texans are known for being independent and self-reliant.

Galleria Dallas

In the heart of Texas lies the peaceful state capital of Austin, the fourth largest city in Texas and the 16th largest in the The State Capitol Building was built between 1882 and 1888 under the supervision of civil engineer Reuben Lindsay Walker. Inside the building are big murals that depict state governors and the directory of meeting halls of the Senate and House of Representatives. Every door hinge is carved with sophisticated reliefs and the inscription “Texas Capitol”. Being fond of history, architecture, sculpture and photography I enjoy touring this building, which is located in the heart of the city and charges no entrance fees. Austin is also coined the “Live Music Capital of the World” because it is home to many outdoor live music shows and concert halls. Austin regularly hosts the “South by Southwest” (SXSW) film and music festival. I recommend a stop at No. 6 Street, where countless small bars host nightly live music acts.

Texas State Capitol Building in Austin

Over 300km from Austin, Dallas is the third largest city of Texas and the ninth largest in the US. From the Magnolia Hotel it’s just a throne’s stow to the Commercial District, which is not far from the Memorial Hall of President John F. Kennedy. The John F. Kennedy Memorial Square was dedicated to the late president on November 24, 1970. The square is very popular with tourists. Shopaholics will adore the Galleria Dallas, a shopping centre just 10 miles from the city centre. The mall holds an ice rink. Visitors should not miss the Dallas World Aquarium, located downtown.

Tour boats explore San Antonio

For something entirely different, I headed to San Antonio, about 130km from Austin. My first destination was the American-Vietnam War Memorial, which features statues of American soldiers tending their comrades, poems sent home by young American soldiers on the front and memorial steles for fallen soldiers. Crossing Travis Park, named after a hero who helped liberate Texas from the Mexicans, I reached the Alamo, where Texans fought against a doomed battle against Mexican invaders in a siege that lasted from February 23 to March 6, 1836. Visitors will also find various art museums and the Guinness World Record Museum. I caught a double decker bus to tour the city and stopped at Hemisfair Park to admire the Tower of the Americas, which was the tallest tower in the US from 1968 to 1996, before the completion of the Las Vegas Tower. It measures 215m high and contains 952 stairs. The fastest climber set a record of five minutes 18 seconds in 1981.

An urban Dallas park

At dinner time, I headed for the cafes and restaurants lining the riverside street of San Antonio. Lying next to a calm river, this pedestrian street is lined with inviting restaurants surrounded by a peaceful neighbourhood. As darkness falls, people come out to eat and stroll. Tex-mex and latin tunes play and the golden lights of tour boats shine on the river, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. Texas made such a strong impression on me. Whenever I hear the 1941 song “Deep in the Heart of Texas” by Perry Como, Ted Weems and his band, I feel nostalgic for Texas.