My first days in Hanoi, Vietnam
here I am writing my first letter to you from the city of Hanoi, Vietnam. I’m sitting on the bed of my dorm room more than 8875 kilometres from home. Let me be real honest with you, the first days have not been easy. I’ve fallen into a culture shock and together with being incredibly sleep deprived, it was hard. Let me explain a little more.
After about 24 hours of traveling I finally arrived at Hanoi airport. I was picked up by my buddy Camila and 4 others, who are super kind. They brought me to my hostel and told me things about the city. The first thing I noticed is that this city is incredibly busy and chaotic. Nothing that I’ve ever seen before could measure up to this chaos. There are beeping mopeds everywhere, all day, every day and in 6 days, I still haven’t found a place with some peace and quiet. Vietnam has some very beautiful nature, however, I haven’t had a chance to see it yet.
After being awake for about 42 hours at once and kind of in shock about the place I am going to be in for about 6 weeks, I still wasn’t able to sleep. Luckily there were a lot of backpackers in the same room as me and they tried to help me the best that they could. I hung out with this English guy for a bit, he showed me around and took me some place to get some nice food.
But back to being awake for 42 hours: I was in bed, awake, surrounded by noise, crying and desperate to sleep. This Australian guy gave me some, what he said to be, Valium pills, which I took and I was finally gone for 14 hours. You know how they say to never take those things from strangers? Well I broke that rule on the first night and honestly it helped me so much.
So yeah, I think you kind of get the sense that the first days weren’t easy. The difference between our western culture and the culture here is immense. You can barely find anything that is alike. There’s no peace and quiet in this city, the hygiene is very different and basically everything is not what I’m used to. I knew this before going, but when you’re in it for the first time, all by yourself it’s still intense. I decided not to judge myself for it, but give myself some time to adjust. Of course you’re gonna feel overwhelmed when you’re all by yourself and away from everything you’ve ever known.
As the days have gone by, I’ve been feeling better and better. I met the other people from the project and we’re sharing a room now. Mostly I’ve been hanging out with Pomny and Jiaxin from Australia/China and that’s been good. The people here are incredibly kind, especially the girls from the project I’m going to volunteer in. They really warmed my heart.
In the next week I’ll be busy preparing the project which is surrounded around the social development goal: Good health & Wellbeing. We’ll be focussing on mental health and there will be around 50 teens attending the program. It’s very exciting and I hope to be able to make a difference for those kids. From what I’ve heard, there even are some kids who’re too afraid to tell their own name..
So even though it’s been rough, I know I am in a developing country and I must not forget that. In the next weeks I’m going to try to the best of my abilities to help those kids and I hope to see some nature as well. I’m looking forward to visiting Halong Bay, Ninh Bingh and Sapa. Now I’m going to get dressed and I’ll see what the day will bring me.
Are you ready for New Zealand?