As my Vietnam vacation is over it is time to account for what I liked most and least in the country. Above all that is listed below, I came out of Vietnam with a great appreciation for motorbikes, jazz, and Vietnamese food.
- Vietnamese food is delicious, healthy, and cheap.
- Traffic is always moving.
- The beaches!
- Almost three-quarters of the country is covered by beautiful jagged mountains.
- The country is very lush and green due to being somewhat tropical.
- The vehicles of choice are motorbikes, which are nimble, fuel efficient, surprisingly versatile, and reliable.
- Almost no graffiti anywhere.
- Travel is cheap in Vietnam for a Westerner.
- There are no morbidly obese people (except for some of the Western tourists).
- Supposedly, there is little violent crime.
- The weather is hot and humid in the major regions not in the mountains. Downpours in afternoon.
- Roads are chaotic and at first it can feel terrifying to cross the street.
- Vietnamese is a painful (i.e., discordant, cacophonous, guttural) language to listen to. English spoken by native Vietnamese is also unpleasant and hard to understand.
- Air pollution.
- Towns and cities are especially noisy, because everyone honks their horns.
- Wages in the country are poor. Entry-level work for a college graduate is on the order of $100/month, and $200/month for a more experienced worker.
- Skimpy clothing (which may be more practical in the hot and humid weather) is frowned upon in the country for “modesty” reasons.
- Foreigners are singled out and often stalked by people trying to sell merchandise or cyclo/motorbike rides.
- The notion of courtesy here is different from the West, as epitomized by orderly queues never forming and people pushing and shoving in lines.
- One has to be very careful about petty theft. E.g., while my friend’s husband was driving his motorbike, someone tried to steal the watch off of his wrist, causing him to crash.
- While items such as clothes, processed foods, meals in restaurants, etc. are very inexpensive compared to the rest of the world, other items such as computers, electronics and cars are just as expensive, making them unattainable for most natives of the country.
Photos by Felix Wong are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.