I knew that arriving in South East Asia would be a new world onto its own, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so drastic. From the moment of crossing the border into Vietnam, everything seemed to change. Landscape, driving style, building appearances, all the way to the off and on rain that is highly prevalent in the tropics. Time, for what its worth, also appeared to slow down with the time change, and makes me eagerly looking forward to the laid back South East Asian lifestyle for the next few months.
Coming off of China, it is a bit difficult for me to perceive the concept of cheaper travel, but from what I’ve seen, Vietnam will not disappoint. It could be that my first dorm room was more resort quality for a mere $8 per night, or that a quasi-street food/sit down restaurant meal cost a grand total of $2.50 US including beverage and a one hour marionette show famous to the city of Hanoi was a whopping $2. Aside from cost, something is just a bit different.
So far in Vietnam I feel like less of a target and more of a guest. Even just the simple task of navigating a busy intersection takes on a whole new meaning. In China, pedestrians either get out of the way or get run over, and are the lowest on the totem poll. So far in Hanoi, cars and motorbikes (but not buses) appear to move out the way as long as you give ample indication of a slow crossing. The streets are like a life sized game of frogger, but set on super easy mode. Motorbike touts will ask if you want a ride, but leave you alone when you say no and I don’t feel like being rude in response anymore. Is this paradise? Not quite yet, but I think I’m heading in the right direction.
If only one other first impression has jumped out at me from Vietnam yet, it would be this: the food. Vietnamese food has so far been beyond incredible with great flavor combination that are more refined to my taste buds than both Japanese and Chinese cuisine. The liberal addition of lemongrass and ginger to any meal gives it a pop that I absolutely crave, and my first bite into Banh Bo at a nearby street vendor sent me into the heavens.
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Vietnam? No, more like Vietnom-nom-nom. That weight loss I had in the last two months is about to vanish for sure. Bring it on South East Asia.