You travel to somewhere in the world, and you must be very surprised at something strange or something that does not exist in your countries. Strange things here can be LIKE things or DISLIKE things. Let’s see if you go to Vietnam what they are. This is a review of a traveller Mr Thomas Griffin.
This is just me being a picky westerner, but I’ve been here a couple months now and have found myself irked by many, mostly small things. To preface, I really like a lot of things about Vietnam as well. I’m going to miss it when I leave.
Let’s get to it!
- The casual racism. I get that this is probably just not as big a deal over here, but I’ve heard some pretty shocking things in casual conversation about black people here. From kids, too.
- The weather. Just personal preference here. I’m in Ho Chi Minh City, and it’s just way too hot and humid way too often. I feel the same way about summer where I come from, too, to be fair. I just don’t like heat and humidity together.
- The traffic. While you do get used to it, I don’t really appreciate risking my life on a daily basis crossing the street or getting on a motorbike (it’s pretty thrilling though!)
- The western stereotyping. It’s a shame how so many people here see white/western face and automatically assume “money”. This makes us prime targets for scammers and just over-solicitation in general, even of the honest kind. Yeah, I know that compared to most Vietnamese, we do pretty well, but in a different context, that being us in our own countries, which we will go back to eventually, we’re in need of cash just as much as them.
- The cockroaches. Never seen so many anywhere else, though I’m sure it’s bad elsewhere too.
- Young western tourists. Again, not exclusive to Vietnam, but really not a fan of the sleazy culture around western (male) tourists and what they get up to here. I feel like a lot of guys come here with the image of the perfect, submissive Asian woman they can’t get back home, and they do their best to sniff her out. There is blame on both sides, but I just end up feeling bad for the Vietnamese women, who, from what I hear, already aren’t treated super respectfully by Vietnamese men, so they turn to the exotic white man, who also uses them as a commodity. This is how we’ve been conditioned, so we can’t blame any one person, but let’s just say mentalities on both ends need to change.
Now for things I like!
- The food. Especially Mi Xao Bo. That’s beef noodles, for anyone who hasn’t been. It’s relatively balanced, and fills me up. Cheap, too!
- The 2 hour lunch break. The west needs to steal this, particularly the U.S. From 11:30–1:30, everyone stops work and goes to lunch, or goes home to have a nap. I am all for it. You’re better rested in the afternoon, and people who have night jobs bust ass at them because they caught up on sleep in the afternoon.
- The lack of stranger danger, and the hospitality in general. I love how kids come up to you with no fear and say “hello”. And not “Xin Chao”, actual “hello” in English. Kids are starting to learn English at a young age here now, and they are not shy about practicing with foreigners. And the parents are fine with it. Not only that, they encourage it. I love this, it really relaxes the mood. I guess it kind of goes along with how here in this big city, people live right on top of or next to each other. So they’ve learned how to get along.
- The overall attitude of the people. Sometimes I think the Vietnamese have every reason to dislike Americans. I mean, we did occupy their country for no immediately discernible reason for about 20 years, and we fought and killed thousands of them with many different weapons. There’s even a war museum here that shows what happened, and it does not hold back. So they probably hate us, right? On the contrary. Unlike lots of western nations, which seem to hold grudges against each other over long lost disputes, the Vietnamese are more than happy to put the past behind them and move forward with open hearts. I admire this more than they can know. They even wonder why more Americans don’t come over here. I would bet it’s because we’re under the impression we’re not welcome; even I was a little worried. And even so, you should see the faces of the Americans who see the war museum exhibits- pretty heavy. I want to stress that the Vietnamese don’t hold it against us. They’re very optimistic, light-hearted people, and it’s really inspiring.
You do you, Vietnam.