The heat is intense (even for this lil Fijian chick), the street food stalls are ridiculous,and crossing the street is perhaps one of the biggest tests of trust I’ve ever undergone.
The traffic is mental – at first, I was pretty sure that, like NZ, Vietnamese drive on the left hand side. Then I realised that every car is American made, and I was often on the right hand side… but every now and then you have vehicles coming towards you in your lane.
Beeping your car horn is never aggressive, but it appears to be its very own language that EVERYONE is fluent in.
Riding a scooter seems to be the preferred method of transport – with swarms of people driving all over the roads tooting loudly. Motorbike helmets have been replaced with bicycle helmets with cloth masks to cover everyone’s mouths – if they’re feeling fancy. Women ride around on scooters wearing skirt suits and stilletos, and some people don’t even wear helmets. I even saw one Vietnamese dude covered in tattoos ride past smoking a cigarette with a cellphone to his ear.
I wish I was making that up.
EVERYTHING’S SO CHEAP!! Okay, confession time; the main reason I came to Vietnam was because I needed to get some teeth work done; a root canal among other things, and the price I was quoted in Auckland was over $4,500. Today, I got MOST of what I needed to get done for only $7,375,000VND (VND stands for Vietnamese Dong – true story). Anyway, $7,375,000VND equates to $460NZD. It’s ridiculous.
I just bought some street food too – no idea what it was called, but it was basically noodles, meat and chilli. Cost me $20,000 or $1.25. Cheapest fucking meal. Ever.
The people are lovely! My auntie and uncle tell me that bartering is kind of the thing to do here, because the locals know that travelers can afford more than they’re used to getting, so I’m trying my best to get used to bartering. Except every time I even think about bartering, I can’t help but think of a skit by Russell Peters ; outlining different cultural perspectives on spending money. It makes me giggle.
This place is beautiful – and I’ve barely even seen it. The main bridge that I can see is kind of like the Fairfield Bridge in Hamilton ; except that the humps are actually a dragon. That’s pretty bad ass.
Vietnam is a predominantly Buddhist country, which is pretty bad ass. If I can find many fluent English speakers (unlikely, but hey), I’m keen to learn more about that side of their culture. I figure with two weeks here, it could happen. Completely different to Kuala Lumpur, however, where I had a brief stop over on the way here. I totally forgot that Malaysia is an Islamic / Muslim country, so when I got there for breakfast, I had to have chicken bacon instead of real bacon. Ha. First world problems.
Anyway, my body clock is out of whack, and while it’s 6.25pm here in Vietnam, my body is still telling me it’s 11.25pm NZ time… or at the very least 9.25pm Aussie time… and given how shit I slept lastnight (thank you Air China!!), I need some zzz, so I can dream about how epic my time in Melbourne was (shout out to my hosts Craig and Kim! And to everyone I managed to catch up with – Luke, Byron, Dave, Laura and Dayna!!), and acclimatize to the crazy that is Vietnam.
Oh, and I need to shower. Badly. Haha. Xx