After spending over a year in Thailand, we were really excited to try out another country in Southeast Asia. We decided on Vietnam. On Monday, the 20th of May 2019 we landed in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. It’s so different from Thailand that we decided to share our first impressions of Vietnam.
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Driving from Noi Bai Airport to our hotel, we had our noses pressed up against the window of the car. Amazed by everything that we were seeing. We soon arrived at our Hotel, which is located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Greeted by the hotel staff and manager, we were welcomed with some Vietnamese treats and some mango juice. They then proceeded to show us a map of where the hotel is, where the top attractions are and where to get the best food.
After we got settled into our hotel room, we went for a walk through the streets. We quickly learned that crossing a road is like putting your life on the line. The amount of times we were almost hit by a vehicle is ridiculous and most of the time it’s by someone driving on the wrong side of the road. The roads are always busy with no breaks in the traffic making crossing the road a scary but exciting experience. Next to the roads are shops, bars, restaurants, and scooters. It’s easy to find a nice place to eat and drink at a very cheap price.
They drive on the right-hand side of the road. The large number of scooters blew us away, there are scooters everywhere, on the pavements, on the road, everywhere. Road rules, what road rules? We also noticed the love Vietnamese peoples have for their hooters. They hoot all the time, we are wondering if they sometimes know why or what they are hooting at. From what we understand, they hoot to let you know that they are there and that you must watch out. And then we got to an intersection, there’s no traffic lights and vehicles are coming from all directions. It’s a madhouse, but it seems to work for them.
To distract us from the roads, we turned our attention to the buildings and architecture. There are so many old building that’s absolutely beautiful. What stood out to us was that there will be one building block, but it’s made up of different slices of buildings which are totally different to the slices next to them. It’s hard to explain, but here’s a picture so you can see what we mean.
Next up, the food. Noodles are very popular in Vietnam, and noodle soup is one of their most popular dishes. We don’t like noodles very much but we enjoyed the rich flavours of their fried instant noodles. This meal offers a lot of choices to pair it with such as; vegetables, chicken, beef, and seafood. The noodle soup didn’t have as much flavour, but it’s still a must-have when in Vietnam. Sandwiches are also available on many streets, with fresh rolls and delicious fillings. These sandwiches are cheap, and it quickly became our favourite snack for a delicious lunch. So far, we love the food and can’t wait to try more dishes.
The locals weren’t what we expected. The locals generally aren’t that friendly and the people walking around selling things are the most annoying. They won’t leave you alone even after a few ‘No Thank yous’. They will take whatever they are selling and try to put it in your hand or on your table. Some of them then expect you to pay for it even if you don’t want it.
Be careful when you ask some locals a question or for directions. They will expect you to pay them for helping you. Also don’t openly take a picture of someone or of something they own because they will ask you money for taking the picture. If you say no then they will follow you around until you pay them. They aren’t all that bad though but you rarely see anyone smile or look happy which is weird to us. However, we have travelled enough to know that people in big touristy cities don’t always accurately depict what the locals are like. For that reason, we’re not going to make our minds up about the locals until we see what they are like in other areas.
Overall, we like Vietnam so far. It’s different from what we know and we need to explore more. It’s a beautiful place full of character, scooters and delicious food.
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