As you have probably guessed from our previous posts we enjoyed Vietnam enormously. It is a fantastic country – it exceeded all our expectations. Both of us had travelled a lot before, still we learned and faced so many new things there.
We have collected 10 of the most important, interesting and/or fun things that one will encounter in this country:
1st ~ you will have to leave your comfort zone
Things just don’t happen as you originally plan them, but don’t worry, in the end everything will work out fine. Our surprises had started already before we entered the country (you can read more on this in a previous post: Vietnam adventures), and continued throughout the whole stay. And we mastered all difficulties – always with the friendly help of the locals.
2nd ~ you will get an adrenaline rush when crossing the road
When we wrote the post on our first adventures in Vietnam we were still thinking, that Hanoi tops the traffic challenge in Southeast Asia. But then we visited Saigon!!!! The constant wall of motorbikes which we had already known, was aggravated by a similar number of cars, and instead of the 2 lane streets, Saigon is filled with 6-lane avenues. So crossing these streets is even more of a bungee jumping experience… But the “close your eyes and pass through without stopping” method has also worked out here.
3rd ~ you will become a millionaire
If you are lucky enough that the ATM accepts your card and gives you more than 2 million Vietnamese Dong, which isn’t always the case, then you have to learn to think in new orders of magnitude. Since one Euro equals approximately 25.000 Dong. It was always a fun discussion, when we were checking if we still had enough cash, and one of us counted: “we still have 3 million, this should bring us through the next couple of days…” Sounds really decadent, doesn’t it?! :)
4th ~ you will learn to like sitting on kindergarten stools on the pavement again
The best food you can eat in Vietnam is definitely street-food. Small mobile kitchens fill the streets with a maximum of 2-3 types of meals each, and tiny little plastic stools are placed around them, where people are sitting basically on the floor, and eating delicious things which we did not even always identify…
5th ~ you will learn how to say Pho correctly
This soup is probably the best known Vietnamese food in Europe and we have heard it pronounced so many different ways by foreigner – from “fö” (like in furniture) through “fu” (like in funny) to “fo”(like in form), but NO: it is “Fau” (like in fault). Anyway, this one we have learned, but so many times we have induced incomprehension or smiles, even laughter by trying to order one of the million types of BBQ-ed food, sandwiches, noodles, etc. in Vietnamese…
6th ~ you will drink the “Ca Phe” the Vietnamese way
Vietnamese have a strong coffee culture. They drink their coffee differently from us, but they do have good coffee that we have enjoyed. Their typical way of drinking it is with condensed milk and ice. It is called “Ca Phé Suá Da”.
7th ~ you will learn how to differentiate between the good, the not so good and the fake
We would dare to say you can buy everything in the streets of Vietnam. There are specialized shops on almost everything: some of our favorites were the Chinese lucky cat shop, the piggy bank shop, the Styrofoam box shop or the sticker shop. And of course all major and elite brands (like Gucci, Adidas, Louis Vuitton etc.) are also represented at the vendors at rather fair quality and extremely low prices, although we seriously doubt that the brand owners are so happy about this strong presence here…
8th ~ you will learn what can be transported on a single bike or moped
There is no amount of goods or number of family members that a real Vietnamese would not be able to load on his 50 ccm motorbike to transport it all over the place. The highest number of people we have seen on a single bike was 3 adults + 4 children (unfortunately we were so stunned about the latter, that we were unable to capture it on a photo).
9th ~ you will become a “Street” English teacher
It happened to us several times, that young students approached us, asked whether we speak English, and told us very politely, that they will now practice their English with us. They had well-prepared questions, about our origins, family situation, hobbies and dreams, and were very grateful for the 10 minutes we spent with them.
10th ~ you will be talked to all day long
People are very friendly in general. Some of them of course want to sell their goods or services (in 99% of the time in a very nice and laid-back way), but some are just greeting or encourage their little children to do so. The usual greeting approach is: “Hello, you” or “You, Boat?”, or kids often say the “rhyme”: “Hello, what’s your name, I am Jack”
And these are just some of the marvelous things that characterize this country. We hope that we could show you a little bit how wonderful it is. If you have been here and have other highlights, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below! :)