After spending two weeks in Vietnam I really began to feel adjusted to the norms of my surroundings here. It dawned on me during a sudden moment when I was in the great central market of Ho Chi Minh that despite being amongst an atmosphere and a way of life completely differed to Britain, that I had lost the buzz of excitement I began my travels with. I didn’t even give the street stalls and very peculiar smelling street food a second though which was so unlike little old curiose me. But it wasn’t that I didn’t find all the going ons in Vietnam interesting. It was more that after two months of travelling Asia and going through several Asian cities, I had finally adjusted and unconsciously accepted my life here abroad as familiar and my new daily norm.
Ho Chi Minh
Busy is definitely the most prominent way to describe Ho Chi Minh, the streets are hectic and the crowds of people are endless. Prices for food and drinks here are pretty great but that’s a given in almost all places in Vietnam. It’ll still always be impressive to me that I can go out for a fully fledged authentic dinner on generous portion size with a drink for just £3 whereas back home I’d easily be looking at £15-£20. There is a city tour that is very good in Ho Chi Minh and helps to prevent you from getting lost amongst the cities craziness whilst maximising what you see in the limited time of a day. However my favourite part of Ho Chi Minh wasn’t in Ho Chi Minh at all but on a tour offered from the city that takes you to the Mekong Delta river. On this day tour you get to see four different islands, how coconut candy is made, try snake and coconut wine, hold an actual snake, listen to live traditional music, eat lots of lovely, exotic fruits and go on a idyllic canoe ride down a little stream. It was by far the best £7 I have ever spent.
What can I say about Vietnam’s grand capital? well it did have some big and sturdy structures around the centre that hold a lot of significance to the country’s heavy political history. But these buildings aren’t very photogenic with their intensely grey focus and blanned square layout, plus the barriers and men with the guns alongside the outside can be a little unnerving. Again there is a Hanoi city tour and if politics and history are big areas of interest for you then it is well worth touring the capital to gain as much understanding as possible in this area. The shops vary from the more global and mainstream brands to little, handcraft stores so this is an ideal location for finding a good variety of things to purchase. They also seem to have a very big love for Italian food in the city centre so be sure to mix up your cuisine whilst here. Some restaurants even offer authentic vietnamese cooking classes which are a little pricey but hey its a skill you can keep for lifetime, so maybe indulge yourself. As far as nightlife goes we weren’t too impressed with Hanoi, we struggled to find lively bars let alone clubs. And those clubs that we were unable to find are apparently only open till 1 am anyway. On the plus side Hanoi has some lovely lakes and greenery within the city centre, however what was most impressive for me was the beautiful temples that are just waiting to be discovered amongst the mundanest of streets. It’s always such a pleasant surprise.