Vietnam! Nam baby! Well, I finally made it here. Vietnam is somewhere I have been intrigued with for a while. When I was in Vientiane, there were a couple of travelers were in the hostel where I was staying. They came into the room jazzed about Vietnam. They had just spent two months in Vietnam and said that they weren’t ready to leave. Yes, that is what I am talking about!!! They were excited and that contagious excitement quickly spread to my bones as well. Most people I talk to seem to love Vietnam! From the moment, I came into this country, I could see why. There is an energy, exoticness, and a deeply Asia feel to it. It is very different from the western world! I mean they serve things like snake, rat, chicken feet, fried coachroaches, and any other household pet you can think of. They eat everything here and every part of the animal. They don’t waste anything. Also the people seem to be very friendly and welcoming so far which is really nice!
One really nice thing about Vietnam is that letters are recognizable english style letters which a westerner can read. Genius idea Vietnam!
One thing I have learned about Vietnamese language is that tones and afflictions are very important. The letters “BO” can mean father, lover, trash, avacado, and half a dozen of other things. Sometimes it is the context and sometimes it is the tone or stresses in the accents. No wonder when I go to a place that serves sandwiches and ask for a “bahn my” which is sandwich, they look at me confused as I’m probably saying something like “shoe face.” I keep repeating until I decide to point at something and do the universal “one” sign.
For my non-facebook readers:
Starving, I walked past this place and pointed to the bread and said one. What I got was a most excellent meat sandwich. When I tried to find out the exact name of what I was eating was, it resulted in them bringing me a menu. Then it resulted in them thinking I wanted one of everything on the menu. I had to physically stop them pulling out everything to cook for me. I quickly paid and gave them a thank you before I had one of everything from the menu.
Cheap beer! Vietnam is littered with places selling 5000 dong beers. How much is that in USD, you ask? Well that is about 25 cents. So beer is cheaper than water which costs 9000-10,000 dong.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee
My new ride! A Honda Win 110 made in Indonesia. After searching and searching, I found a motorbike. I think having a little motorbike experience really helped me in picking this baby out. Brakes in good condition – check, no oil leak – check, good tires – check, lights – check, no funny sounds – check, straight frame – check, no rattles or vibrations- check, smooth transition into gears – check…. There were seriously a lot of really crappy bikes, I tried out. I think I can safely say that a majority of Honda Win bikes for sale here are pretty bad. The most fun part of my quest for a non-lemon bike was the test drive. Actually test driving motorbikes all day in a Hanoi was a hair raising experience. There are mostly no traffic signs or lights at intersections and if there are, only a few abide them. So at the intersection, the idea is to keep moving while looking at the crossing traffic and trying to dodge them….I’m still alive..so I guess I’m pretty lucky or I am a really good driver ;). After completing the intersection experiences, I needed to make sure to run through all the gears to test the transmission and high speed vibrations. You don’t buy a bike without fully testing it so that meant driving fast! I had to weave through traffic on roads where nobody seems to care which direction or lane they are supposed to go or be in. It is common to see someone going full speed into oncoming traffic here. So in my adrenaline fueled game of “don’t wreck or die,” my future bike purred like a kitten and smoothly transitioned from gear to gear. It was that moment that me and the bike bonded. I test drove the bike 5 times and even made it to the highway before purchasing. After my test rides, I had them change a few things, do a few minor tweaks, and then we finally agreed on the purchase price of $290.
Another bucket list item checked off! Own of a motorbike in Vietnam and tour the country!!!
Next stop Cat Ba Island!