Don't be Shy to Explore Around

Monday, December 19, 2016

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Vietnam travel guide: A first timer point of View

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Because Bahn Mi makes me happy!  Oh yes indeed!  All I know is that I just wanted to eat as much Vietnamese food as I can.  Forget MeKong, forget Danang.  That'was the end goal for me.  But since I was traveling with a friend, I had to compromise on things, like going to Ha long.  Yes I went to Hanoi just to visit Halong.   Anyways, we all travel with a purpose in mind, it's just that mine was shallow, yet indulging.

With a goal that's shallow as that, I missed out on a bunch of information about Vietnam.  So I was surprised to know a number of things about the country and its people.

1.  They're strong and aggressive people.  
Now it may be just in my experience only but on the second day of my stay in the homestay, there was a ruckus that happened outside.  A number of adults were shouting to and fro.  There were also a couple more of confrontations happened. Know that this may be not applicable to the majority but this is what I and my friend just observed.  Generally the locals were nice and were willing to help me the best way they could.  

2.  Only a few knows how to speak English.
I actually thought they would know the language since there were Americans that went to their country.  But it just makes sense since the Americans failed to conquer the place, English was never a thing there.  Going to Chinatown, I got lost and found it hard to communicate with the locals.  Good thing some hotel staff and a few shop owners could speak the language.

3.  Crossing the street isn't really that scary.
Opinion alert here.  Of course it differs. Crossing with traffic lights isn't really difficult, you just cross when the pedestrian sign turns green.  But in narrower roads, you just have to raise your arm in 45 degrees and confidently walk forward.  What you don't want to do is to panic and move backward and forward making your moves unpredictable for the motorists.

4.  Go for Mailinh and Vinasun taxi that are smaller.  
There 2 versions of the vehicles depending on the size.  If you hop in the smaller taxi, the flag down rate is around 6000 dong, the larger one charges 11000-12000 dong.  These figures would appear minus the zeros to prevent confusion.

5.  The tastiest Pho I found are the ones in the whole in the walls, not in airports or in hotels.

6.  If you've been to ko phi phi islands in bangkok, or El nido philippines, I would not recommend Halong Bay.
It takes 4hours going to the bay from Hanoi, and you would just spend 2-3 hours within the place. So transportation time is longer than actually enjoying the place itself.

7.  Not all streetfood is fantastic.  
Remember these are for local tastebuds so don't expect to be blown away immediately.  It's an acquired taste.  You might get blown away on a first taste, or you might not.  It's a hit and miss fiasco really.

8.  Avail of free walking tours.  
They're free and you would be going to places that you could not achieve on your own.  Also know that these are non profit so don't feel guilty to not give money.  My friend felt the guilt and was able to shell out 300k dong.  

9.  Take the bus, it's cheap.  
We never thought we would get so excited after hopping out off the #152 bus from Bien Than Market to the airport.  Had we not taken the bus, we would have spent $16 for a van transfer or around 40,000-50000 dong.  Bus price is only 5000 dong, if you're carrying a huge luggage, it'll cost you another 5000 dong. 


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