Now I know that we were in Vietnam a while ago, but it still deserves a blog post. Immediately after we got off the plane, it was cold. We had just spent the last five months in hot weather with the occasional cold day or week, but this was a whole new cold we haven’t felt since Colorado.
The crazy events started right after we got out of security, we were on our way to leave the airport and we’d just gotten the checked bags when we realized we forgot something on the plane. Now, we would’ve gone without it, but it turns out the bag we left had almost all of our chargers, lots of US money, and my dad’s driver’s license. Whoops! My mom ran up to the counter, (and of course we’d already had gone through customs), and told them about the bag. Long story short, about an hour later, we got the bag back and haven’t left anything of importance anywhere else. Lesson learned!
So, France had occupied Vietnam for a long time; as a result, the houses are super tall, narrow, and long. In Vietnam, you used to have to pay your taxes based on the width of your home. Our AIRBNB was five floors. The first floor was the kitchen and some furniture, (no dining room table and the furniture was wood with no cushions). The next three stories were everybody’s rooms. The last level was an outside thing, (not a balcony), with a washer and clotheslines. Also, keep in mind, there were bathrooms on every story with a bedroom. Furthermore, there was NO HEAT in the apartment. Usually, this is okay, but we hadn’t been in cold weather in a long time; also it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit, (cold) so it was not good.
Crossing the road in Hanoi is crazy. The streets are packed continuously with motorbikes of all sorts. We read an article about how to drive in Hanoi, and it pretty much said, don’t worry about anything that’s happening around you, focus on not running into what’s in front of you. Crazy right? In like fashion, a lot of people don’t follow traffic rules. For example, there’s either no stoplights at intersections or people don’t follow the rules, no one, and I mean no one stays in their lanes, and the worst one is when people go the wrong way.
In addition to the cray roads, the sidewalks might be even more of a disaster. The walkways pretty much serve as parking spaces for motorcycles, and it’s amazing how many of these bikes can fit. So, on top of the crazy streets, you can’t even walk on the sidewalks!
Adding on to the crazy streets and sidewalks, what people can carry on Motorcycles is endless. My personal favorite is a fruit tree. One day we were walking to breakfast and I looked over to see a guy with a full size fruit tree on the back of a motorcycle. One of the more common things I’ve seen carried is large boxes or long metal poles. Really the possibilities are endless.
Vietnamese food is 100% my favorite thing about this country! One night, we went on a food tour, and it was probably one of the best tours I’ve attended. We started with some Pho. Now, this was the second time we’d gone to this particular place, but no one was even the slightest bit mad that we were back. We then proceeded to a few different places, but my personal favorite was a yogurt type thing. It was a mixture of ice, yogurt, and some chocolate powder; for multiple nights after we found ourselves back to the exact place.
Most of the food we’d had ended up being street food, and for some reason, Vietnam is not into regular sized chairs. The chairs ended up being these tiny little stools, (about the same size as the chairs you get in preschool). Also, people in Vietnam aren’t known for being tall, so this was great for them; but were not necessarily considered short people, so we all had our knees up at our chests. Except for Brie, totally not fair.
If you scroll back up to the cover photo, you’ll see me and an enormous train coming. This destination just so happens to be a massive tourist sight we just got lucky; a couple of times a day, a large passenger train that goes through a neighborhood. The people here have to move everything from motorbikes to hanging laundry inside their home before every train comes by because it’s so big. When the train passes through, you have to stand as close to the wall as you possibly can. It’s a super cool experience.
Towards the end of our stay, we found a great little breakfast place not even a block away from where we were staying. We always ordered four Bahn Mi, (pretty much an egg sandwich), and one hotdog on bread for Brie. For drinks, the ladies working there had memorized the exact coffee my parents wanted, Brie got a strawberry tea, Amanda water, and my pineapple juice. (There was also sometimes slight variations on that order). After our last breakfast there, we asked to take a picture with the owner, and it was interesting. The owner’s partner had probably never taken a picture before with a phone because either her entire finger was covering the lens or she couldn’t find the button. We did manage a couple of good pictures though.
Although Vietnam was a fantastic experience, it was not our families favorite. Pollution was awful in Hanoi, so we just felt sick all the time, or we just felt like doing absolutely nothing. Since most of the houses are narrow and tall, each of us had our floor; which sounds great for a bit, but you have to walk down multiple flights of stairs to see each other. Furthermore, when we got to the apartment, there was no heat, so the lady had to buy us heaters. There are probably places in Vietnam that we might like more Hanoi just wasn’t our favorite city.