Welcome to Fuckin’ Vietnam – Or Why I Loved it So Much

We got up at 2 AM and went down to the street, where a bright pink taxi was waiting for us to take us to the MDK, a small and busy airport with domestic flights only. We stood in a long and curved line together with people from countries I’ve never heard of before, and after two hours of lines and security checks we still had an hour left until the flight so we decided to find something to eat. We had coffee at a Thai restaurant and I ate rice with fried eggs and shrimps and lots of tiny chili peppers, which appeared to be much spicier than they seemed. Meanwhile the sun rose outside and shone at all the people with their strange clothing and foods, and it was time to get on the plane.

We flew with Air Asia in a red plane with black sits and next to us sat a small woman who slept throughout the whole flight and after less than two hours we lended in Vietnam, that was covered in a grey cloud of humidity. Hanoi’s airport was sterile and squeaky clean, and is managed in perfect silence inside huge marble rooms. We gave a few files and waited for about 20 minutes to get the visa, and after a short interview about the purpose of the visit etc we got the permission and went to collect our bags and withdrawal some cash. We walked into the lobby as a man with white clothes offered us a taxi for 400,000 Dong, which we agreed since we had no idea how much do you usually pay for traveling there and how long the ride to the hotel is. As he tried to have an awkward small talk with us he led us to a beige taxi, with a driver who couldn’t speak English that drove us through big fields, breweries and factories, a huge decorated bridge into the big city that seemed to me like science fiction – tall and narrow concrete houses with colorful ornate fronts, porches that are built on each other and each one looks different, walls stuffed with murals and graffiti. Through the ride the driver tried to speak with us, or bargain, said something about 20,000 Dong for some mysterious bus ticket, and eventually shouted solemnly “2 kilometers!” and stopped in the middle of the road. He helped us with our bags and didn’t returned the change from the 500,000 dong we gave him, played dumb and said “Thank you thank you” as he drove of with Roni’s small bag still inside the taxi that disappeared into the sea of the heavy traffic on the highway. Welcome to fuckin’ Vietnam.

While in Thailnd everything seemed to be friendly, even soapy, Vietnam is the other way around. It got all the elements of a bad boy, a heart breaker. The feeling I got there was that they can do with me, and they can do without me. There is zero flattery, or tact. At the beginning of the trip we were still a bit confused and found ourselves in some tourists attractions from time to time, but as we got deeper, the more we loved this place. We’ve met many people who were very generous and open with us, and kindly showed us places that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. We’ve also met many people who just pointed at us and laughed, since they find western people funny. Vietnam is a country with a strong character, and a big part of my heart is still left there.

We walked for a few minutes by foot until we reached the hotel we booked, where we were greeted by the beautiful Belle with here tip-top hair and make-up. The doorman gave us some fresh juice and wet towels as Belle upgraded our room and showed us the city map. When we finished with the booking she led us upstairs to the room while she let the doorman carry my bag (but not Roni’s, since she said men should work a little). The room was just huge and luxurious, with an extra bed we didn’t used and our own living room. Since we traveled off-season the lodging was very cheap, and many places upgraded us to a bigger room when they could. Here and there during the trip we found ourselves in fancy hotels, even though my favorite places where the more cosy ones. There were cities where we stayed longer than we initially intended, only thanks to the hotel’s staff

Hanoi is crazy and looks like a quilt blanket. Most hotels are in the Hoan Kieam, the old quarter, which is lined with small streets that in each one there are shops for one thing only – a street for spices, a street for sunglasses, a street for housewares. Our hotel was in Hàng Chiếu street, which means “Silk Shop”. The junctions are busy and filled with motorcycles, bicycles, wagons. People are cooking in the streets while crouched upon big pots or barbecuing meat on open fire, and their costumers are sitting on low plastic or wooden chairs. As the night comes down there are colorful lights and music everywhere, and lots of people. Once in a while it’s raining heavily and everybody’s wearing rain coats – there are even shared rain coats for families riding motorcycles together, some sort of a big blanket with holes for the heads. It is so hot and humid that you need to eat a boiling and spicy soup to sweat it out – it’s the only way to cool down.

From the hotel’s porch we could view the tops of the houses, together with messy electric wires and the hustle and bustle from the street. Hanoi is a city to drown into; inside the humidity and the rains, inside the food and the people. You can never get enough of it, and always want to go back. And every time I think of it, I remember why I love traveling.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s