Livin’ in Vietnam – part 2
a lot has changed since the last time I wrote you. I feel much more at ease now and I’ve gotten a little more used to the culture. I’m here for about 5 more weeks and I plan to make it a great experience. I should take my time to enjoy it, cause when I’m back, everything will feel like it usually does within no time.
So yeah, I’m now able to manage myself through the traffic without freaking out. A lot of backpackers told me that the traffic here is even worse than in Bangkok. When Jiaxin and I cross the road, she spreads her arms out like she’s on top of the Titanic to make the cars and motorbikes slow down, it’s really funny and cute. At first it seems like the traffic is just a huge chaotic mess, but once you learn how to manage yourself through it, it’s more like an organized chaos. People know how to move through the chaos, which makes it kind of work? I hope you get what I’m trying to say.
We’ve enjoyed quite a lot of Vietnamese food already. Of course, we’ve had spring rolls (they are different than the ones sold in The Netherlands) and I’ve also had a lot of rice and noodles. We sipped out of a coconut and tried coconut coffee, which apparently is a famous thing here in Hanoi and it was really good. Finding streetfood here is not hard at all, in literally every street you find women sitting on little chairs preparing some food. I’ve had dinner several times for like 85 cents. I do eat some of the streetfood but I won’t eat all of it. If it’s vegetarian or just fruit and it’s prepared nicely I’ll eat it. But we’ve also walked trough a little alleyway where women and men were cutting meat just on the road with nothing to protect it from any bacteria or anything. I think if I want to get food poisoned or ill, buying that meat is my ticket to the hospital. I’m not trying to say that that food is not good, I’m just not used to it so I think my body couldn’t handle that.
This past Monday (27th of November) we got the chance to get out of the city and visit some of Vietnams beautiful nature. I was extremely excited because I was craving nature (I must have driven some people crazy with how many times I told them I was craving nature). In the morning we got picked up by a tour guide and we went to visit two temples in Hao Lu. After that we got you enjoy a delicious buffet (I’m actually getting pretty good a eating with chopsticks!). We ate a lot of fruit and at one point Jiaxin, who’s from China, was eating with two forks at the same time and I tried to eat with chopsticks. We laughed so much that day. I literally couldn’t stop even if I wanted to. It was a really really good day.
After enjoying the buffet we went to Tam Coc in Ninh Binh. Let me tell you, it was absolutely beautiful. We went into these little boats while locals rowed us around on the river. The river is located in-between all these mountains that seem to come out of nowhere. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed it very much. I bought this typical Vietnamese hat to protect my face from the sun. And I took a lot of little videos, I’m making a video of that wonderful day.
At the end of the day we cycled through the rice fields and for the first time in about 10 days I was surrounded by silence.
Now, 2 days later, we’re working hard on the volunteer project. We’re organising camp days surrounding the topic of mental health. Last Sunday I already got to meet some of the attendees and I found that that was really inspiring. They really want to change some things in their life and they’re very dedicated to do so. It really made me want to do the best that I can for this project. The first camp day will be the next Sunday (December 3rd) and I’m curious what that day will bring me. Mental health is not really a topic that is very respected here. At least not like it is in our country. A girl told me that she actually wanted to study psychology, but that it’s not really seen as an important thing here yet..
The girls and guys from Vietnam who’re also organising the project are incredibly supportive and some of them said that they think that I look like Taylor Swift haha. I don’t really get that, but it’s nice of them to say so.
Oh and I also went to a crazy crazy crazy Asian market. It’s incredibly different from the markets we have at home and once again I was overwhelmed in the beginning. I really can’t hide the fact that I’m not from Vietnam, certainly because of how I look, but also my outlook on things is just a little different. It must be very funny for some of the Vietnamese people when they see me encounter new things. I saw this huge weird little bug on the street and I apparently looked at it in a strange way. In response, this Vietnamese man picked it up an threw it at me to scare me. I screamed.
I’m the only one of the project who comes from a western country (the girls from China have been living in Australia for 2 years tho..). And it makes me really aware of my outlook on things and that what is normal for me might not be so normal for others. For example, Dutch people are known to be direct, and in The Netherlands itself I wouldn’t say I’m one of the most direct people. But here I am. Dutch people aren’t really offended very easily, because we’re all pretty straightforward. But here it’s different and sometimes it’s hard to know what you can and cannot say.
On the other hand, there are also a lot of things that are normal for people here, but not for me and I need to try to deal with that as well. For example in The Netherlands it’s kind of rude or not nice if you inform people really late on things, such as a meeting time. People need time plan ahead or adjust their schedule. Here it seems to be much more normal to do things in the last minute. So I guess it flows both ways. All I know is that I’m trying my best. And I cannot do more than that.
Let me know about your first experiences New Zealand!
Lots of love,