Everybody’s favorite country seems to be Vietnam,
And I can see why.
From the moment I entered, it’s been everything I love about Asia: the no-making sense, the cultural intensity, the continuous stares, the variety of foods, the chaos that somehow just makes complete sense. There’s very little English spoken here, crazy jam-packed roads, and just so dang much to see! I absolutely love it.
I arrived late in the evening after my 28-hour bus ride and immediately met up with my friend Arthur from Laos! I was happy to have someone familiar to welcome me into Hanoi! And I was sooo happy to have someone to help occupy my last couple of days leading up to Dan’s arrival! Our first morning together we had a bit of a spa day! You know, since I’ve been backpacking for the past 4.5 months I’ve acquired quite the layer of grime. So I figured that having my boyfriend come was reason enough to get that professionally scrubbed off. It was delightful! I convinced Arthur he needed to experience a pedicure, and although he made some interesting noises throughout the experience, I think he enjoyed it! After that we went to the Women’s Museum. We were both suuuuper excited about this and were hoping to learn lots! But instead, it kind of was just a weird museum about the role of women in society. Aka, getting married, having children and working in rice fields. The museum did touch on women in war and revolution, but it didn’t seem as significant as we thought a museum dedicated to women would be! Oh well, at least it’s something! We walked around the streets for a bit after that and found our way to the Water Puppet Theater. Arthur was super excited about that as he had come across some good reviews and I trusted him on this and so I was excited too! We bought our tickets and sat down and… weird things happened. We watched the show, it seemed to end abruptly, and we just looked at each other like “what did we just watch?” I think perhaps it would be really cool if you knew a lot of Vietnamese folk tales, understood Vietnamese, or were super into puppetry. We fit into none of those, so it was just plain weird. And we were hungry. SOOOO we went to get some street food. We sat down at these teeny tiny tables with a bunch of other people on the side of a dirty Hanoi street and little tiny stoves were placed in front of us, along with platefuls of veggies, meat (for Arthur of course!) and bread. We cooked them up on our little grills, coated them in the sesame-peanut-lime sauce that we were given and ate them with our fresh French bread! I was stoked one this little BBQ because normally veggie versions of this kind of this contains just the worst vegetables, but this one had eggplant, okra, tomatoes and onion. YUM !!
The next day we hung around our hostel until about 2 in the afternoon (we all deserve lazy days, right?) and then since he was desiring to do some shopping we headed to one of the big malls. Turns out, it was full of stores that were seriously out of our budgets so we quickly left and decided to just wander through the streets. What came from that decision was SO COOL. First, we ended up in a clothing market that had SUCH INEXPENSIVE CLOTHING, and was fun to wander through even though we didn’t buy much. Next, we ended up coming up to this road where we both looked at each other and basically shouted “LETS GO” and then headed down it. We were in awe. Part of us were thinking that we shouldn’t have gone down there, but then a significantly larger part of us was loving the chaotic authenticity of this market. There were tons of kinds of meat on display (some quite unidentifiable), flowers, other miscellaneous goods, traffic going each and everyway, kids running by, people going everywhere, chickens being plucked and boiled. We were yelled at, smiled at, and ignored. It was sensory overload for the few minuets it took to walk down this narrow road. It was nuts, and we loved it. After that, we were just on a mission to get back to our hostel – much easier said than done. It was now rush hour traffic, and not only were the roads literally PACKED with cars and scooters (mostly the later), the sidewalks were also being used as road. Definitely a few close calls came from that journey, but that’s all part of the fun, right? We met up with a couple of other travellers for a little Valentines Day dinner. I’m surprised we made it that far in the evening because, despite our late start, we were super tired! But, it was worth the extra effort… the food was delicious!
Now that I’ve been here for a few days I’ve realized that that is pretty much the norm. The chaos, I mean. Hello, Vietnam! I hear you! I see you! I love you!