I’m not even sure where to begin with Vietnam, as it’s definitely one of the most different countries I’ve ever visited. It left me wondering whether I actually enjoyed my stay or if I was just very in awe of my surroundings at all times.
Upon our arrival in Hanoi, we were greeted with what we could only have imagined was some kind of revolution. On route to our hostel people were zooming past us on motorbikes along the pavement, with lit flares in hand, and people rushing out of their homes banging pots and pans together. It was apparently the football that caused all that. We laughed with locals who would hand us Vietnamese flags and dance in the streets and well, what an introduction to a country.
After settling down that night and enjoying SOME OF THE BEST FOOD I’VE EVER EATEN IN MY WHOLE LIFE, our next day was dominated by museums and tourist attractions. This in my opinion is something Vietnam doesn’t do very well. There are a lot of “things to do” that you have to pay entry for and soon after you’re inside you realise you’ve paid to go into a park… nothing too special. However, I can also understand that if your country is always buzzing with young, foreign backpackers, you’d put a price on just
about anything. One of the moments that still sticks with me so many months after, is the War Museum which tells the stories of prisoners of war and Vietnamese soldiers following the American invasion. It was when we went here that I questioned how far people must let patriotism go, as there were certain captions in the museum which stated that American soldiers enjoyed being held in torture chambers as it helped them achieve a “different outlook on life”. I wasn’t sure how to receive or even challenge this information, but its remained with me until this day.
My opinion of my experience in Vietnam however, is unfortunately very related to my experience in the ‘backpacker’s hostel’. All I can say is dear God. It had been a very long time since I’d been surrounded by so many British people, and I forgot how irritatingly loud we could be. Every single day there would be a knock on our room door followed by a voice from outside shouting “Hey guys! There’s beer on the roof!”, despite us previously mentioning none of us were interested in their pub crawls and sorority themed parties. I guess we just picked the wrong hostel in the process of planning. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed the bánh mì stand opposite the entrance. I’m starting to find it funny how I can’t seem to end these blogs without discussing food at least twice.