Published: June 5th 2012June 5th 2012
Amongst all the traveler gossip, there are always mixed reviews coming in about Vietnam. Whether love, hate and everything in between, Vietnam never ceases to be one big emotional roller coaster... LOVE...
The food. Yummy Banh My
, the French-style baguettes that are a traveler's best friend, steaming bowls of Pho
noodle soup, fresh spring rolls, juiced sugar cane, coconut milk! The amazing coffee caphe
, served with a good dose of sweetened condensed milk for good measure and a pot of weak tea to accompany you for as long as you want to take up space at the cafe.
Hanoi is a whirlwind of a place, jam-packed with as many different street foods as there are people, and everywhere women in cone hats walk up and down the streets to make a living by selling pineapple, banana and rambutan
Easy to say, easy to drink, easy on the wallet...bia hoi
sellers throw out some kid-size plastic chairs and tables on a corner and there you have some of the cheapest beer known to humankind...although I have met some fellow travelers who feel differently about the "easy to drink" part, at fifty cents a pop, it's easy to ignore
some of these annoying little details. HATE...
...is a strong word. Let's say "dislike" instead. What I came to dislike at the end of my time in Vietnam was a veritable build-up of every local who had lied or scammed me along the way. I know that Vietnam has had a difficult history, and not just concerning the United States...they were fighting the French, then the Americans, then the Chinese and then the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. I'm trying my best to put things in perspective and understand that if the Vietnamese can act harshly, it's a reaction the harsh history they have endured. But after a few weeks of people taking time to convince you they are trying to help you when in fact they are telling you boldface lies just to get a few dollars out of you, it becomes hard to trust in the rest of the locals who are probably not necessarily out to get you. I thought Bali was bad, but at least there is still some of that "Bali nice, Bali smile" blah blah blah to go with it. There is no Vietnam nice, Vietnam smile! You get the impression they don't
want tourists there at all but since you're there anyway, they might as well scam you for a few bucks (again, you can really see the "north/south" divide in this respect). AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN...
For me, my time in Vietnam was like one big flash - motorbikes, colorful temples with theme-park quality decorations, green mountains, scorching beaches, busses of varying comfort and quality, honking horns (whales sing to eachother, the Vietnamese communicate in much the same fashion via horns) laughing with other travelers and, at the end of every day, trying and failing miserably to wrap my mind around what makes this country tick. I think next time, Vietnam deserves to be seen off the tourist trail, on the backroads, away from the open ticket tourist busses...perhaps then I can see a different side. But until next time, Vietnam, it's definitely been real.
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