Vietnam was a dreaming destination for me for many years. Meanwhile, I made my homework researching and pick-in up all the historycal and cultural information thats i could. I have no rush so i’d try to keep quite intuitive and informed about my next destination. As a chilean citizen i had 3 months Visa permission so that help. I discover that the german citizens, for example, can stay 15 days for free, but then they have to apply to extend their travel in Vietnam, and pay for it.
In my background i had movies like Good Morning Vietnam (i can laugh repeating this Goooooood morning when I want to wake up with energy!); the (un) famous” American War; and I also ask appreciations to others big travelers. All have positives opinions: friendly people, amazing food and “cheap” destination for European (for anyone who came from Latinamerica, is different, but cheaper than Europe, Australia or Japant!).
So the day has came and in November 2019 I put my footsteps in Hanoi. People don’t smile and don’t speak any other language than vietnamite but i stay optimistic. At the bus, the assistant was very friendly and if you show your hostel address, he alert you where is your best stop. Not bad, isn’t? In fact, many buses companies book you at your hostel as part of the service.
The bad noisy thing
The first (bad) surprise was the claxones and motorbikes everywhere, anytime. And The noise of karaoke which is like a national sport for Vietnameses! Every day, every time…even when they are not even singing! I have to admit that i had a romantic idea about what “Asia” really is. And this miss understanding is my own fault. First lesson: is hard to find silence in Vietnam.
The kingdom of garbage
The second surprise was the garbage everywhere. I already forgot that plastics bags and anything plastic was prohibited in big part of the world. Climate change? Global warming? Nothing of this issues exist in Vietnam. I don’t travel to change the world (i know, I know), so after some weeks, plastic come back to my life. I try to live in Vietnam the way it is. I just need to say it that you gonna see a lot of garbage everywhere in Asia, not only Vietnam. So be prepare.
Hostels or Homestay?
I already have more than 1 month in Vietnam moving from the north to the south. Trying some touristic destinations as Halong Bay with others where i was the only tourist for days as Tuy Hoa. I was spending nights in sleeping buses, Homestay and hostels. No luxuries. The quality is so diverse so the only advice that I can give to travelers is to take time to book (I do so and find somes jewels), read opinions and pay attention in the cleanness issue. And never trust in pictures.
As a single traveller, I prefer dorm in a hostel but i found very good Home stay, specially in cities like Hoian (Herbaltea Homestay); Dalat (Redhouse Hostel); Châu Doc (Hometravel Mekong); and Tuy Hoa (Chichi Homestay). Homestay privilege the relation with a family as a guesthouse o Chez l’habitant french concept BUT sometimes the vietnamites don’t know the limit between service for guests and their own necessities. This is part of the process that vietnamite tourism have to improve for the next years. The good thing in many places is that the hostels, Homestay or hotels have some kind of arrangement with buses companies so they offer to pickup you for free at your own location. Good, isn’t?
And so what?
And so what? I have no conclusions about Vietnam: most of the people that I found are so lovely that they really make my day. So even when you don’t speak too much vietnamite, i learn something and is always better than nothing. In terms of landscapes i didn’t find any that took my breathe. No amazings beaches or mountains, but I enjoy the sunsets at 17:00 and the sunrise at 05:50 AM. Days are long, nights are differents.
Is not easy to confess – and I take the courage to admit that when i had already one month travelling around this country – that my relation with Vietnam was not love at the first time. Is a country in his own movement to find his part in the world. And when we travel, we are ourselves in our own inner movement, so this is MY first Vietnam.
This story will be continue…