Vietnam is a country that has surprised me a lot, from the people, their way of thinking, food and their culture. It has been one of the most interesting places I have been to and I have discovered things I never expected to find here. If you do not believe me check this out:
1- Traffic jam and its rules: It is amazing the way people in Vietnam drive, thousands of motorbikes, buses and cars plus people trying to be always the first wherever they go. If you do not believe me check out this video:
But somehow this “order” works out. People understand the unwritten rules and drive as fast as they can, of course always constantly making use of the horn.
So if you are about to travel to Vietnam or you are already there and you do not know what to do, here one tip is going to be very helpful for you: always cross the streets slow, never stop and go with the flow.
2- Coffee & playing time: in Vietnam you drink coffee with tea at the same time. Yes, it is very common that people (specially groups of men) gather together every morning to drink and enjoy their coffee.
In our trip to Dalat, our tour guide told us “the day begins with a cup of coffee and a cigarette” and it is true, everywhere you go you see a group of men gathering together drinking their coffee + tea aside with their cigarettes.
Coffee brings Vietnamese people together, to socialize, to make business but also to play some cards or domino in the afternoons – we have seen this from the north to the south.
3- Wiesel coffee: have you ever heard about this kind of coffee? No, well let me explain you: this coffee has its origins from the poo of a weasel, yes! This animal eats coffee beans along with some bananas and other fruits, then the farmers collect the poo from the weasel, cleans it and makes coffee out of it. And trust me, it is not that bad!
4- The bus drivers: I have included them as a part of our “curiosity list” because they are really something curious or “peculiar” to talk about.
First of all, no matter where you go in Vietnam, the mood of the driver will make your trip, and it is like that. They decide where to take you, when to take you, when to stop and if you are lucky maybe you will find toilettes available in the bus (this never happened to us, except on our trip to Sapa.)
Second, drivers always come together with their “gang”, the ones who charge you for the ride and usually the ones who want to screw you (hahahaha). So my advice is, if you are traveling to Vietnam make sure you will not be in trouble with the driver and his “gang” and perhaps try to be friends, or just smile at them, it may help.
5- Stick to the sitting rules: YES! There are rules which you will experience during your trip, rules like:
They tell you where to sit in the buses and restaurants, no matter if you travel 1st or 2nd class, any kind of buses or restaurants, most of the times they will order and instruct you where to sit. Do not even think to change – “you there”, that’s what you will hear.
6- Morning exercise: the Vietnamese people, specially older generations, wake up quite early in the morning and do exercise in the park. We had the luck to experience it at 4:00 am, check it out.
It is fantastic, every day many ladies come with their speakers and their music to start exercising, and after 2 mins the music is on, many other women follow the instructions with the music. Around the park more people exercise and walk – is part of their daily lives.
7- Chairs, tables and its charm: everywhere you go you find fantastic, cute little chairs (not really meant for long and tall foreigners). If you see restaurants or coffee places like this, go there you will probably find good food and coffee.
8- Internet is everywhere: before our trip I did a research about the country and many blogs mentioned that you may not even be able to login to Facebook. FALSE, everywhere we went, even in tiny towns we managed to have internet access – in coffee places, restaurants, hotels and even buses. Google is available and Facebook as well.
9- Mouth masks: we have noticed that – more than being a healthy reason to use these masks – they use it as a part of their everyday accessory, like a watch or a bracelet. You can find all kinds of designs – from Channel, Gucci, teddy bears, really all you want.
10- The selling music: as in Mexico, in Vietnam they also have a recorded sounds to sell bread and all kind of stuff, so sellers go around the city with their bicycles with their recorded music selling bread or other kinds of food.
11- Where do you come from?: Is a question you will hear more than 3 to 4 times a day. It is a way for the Vietnamese people to sort of know their customer, break the ice with some English, German or French words and start selling. Funny enough with me it was a bit different because they do not really now where Mexico is and don’t know what to say.
12- The perfect baguette, Bánh mì: Vietnam used to be a french colony, therefore you can see this influence in the food, like the bánh mì, a baguette fill up with all kinds of meat, cilantro and spices. The mix of the ingredients is fantastic and you can enjoy it anytime of the day.
Vietnam, is definitely a country full of charm and chaos at the same time. Sometimes a bit difficult to travel and to adapt to the people´s mentality – either you love it or you hate it. I believe we kind of found our way to love it 🙂