Tuesday, December 29, 2009

good morning, Vietnam


I took some time off from blogging during Christmas while I went on vacation with my family to Vietnam. We covered three cities - Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An (which really is a town), and Hanoi. Being the only one in the family who hasn't been to any part of Vietnam prior to this trip, I didn't know what to expect of this country - not that I'm completely ignorant of its culture, after all my brother-in-law is Vietnamese-American and I've probably had more pho (noodle soup) and spring rolls than say, hot dogs in my life, but to experience the country first hand is a whole different story.


The three places we visited represent three distinct regions of Vietnam. People from the south (H.C.M.C.) and central (Hoi An) are evidently friendlier than people from the north (Hanoi), and the language accents. cuisines and local souvenirs are slightly different in each place, but apart from that, my impression of Vietnam after this trip mainly consists of motorbikes, insane traffic system, air pollution, yummy street food (the most delicious meals we've had were all at dingy restaurants with no decor whatsoever), skinny Vietnamese girls, lacquerware and embroidery handicraft goods, lemongrass and fish sauce and rice paper rolls, strong coffee with condensed milk, and, here's the most important part: lots and lots of bargaining. One might be tempted to forgo the bargaining part since most things are already pretty cheap relative to Western standards, but in Vietnam (likewise in China), one must learn how to bargain because you can almost always end up paying half the marked price if you master the skill.


I wish I could document everything here, but I've always find it difficult to blog about travels, since the experience itself is so personal and there's way too much to cover with only a few pictures and paragraphs. That said, I'd still like to share some travel tips and adventures from this vacation, and maybe even an outfit post here and there (though be prepared for some not-so-exciting resort + flip flop looks) throughout the next few days. Oh, and word of advice for visiting busier cities like H.C.M.C. or Hanoi: if you have even the slightest form of nasal allergy, get a mask!


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