I keep saying I will return to blogging more often yet the last three weeks have been a whirlwind of energy and exhaustion. I’m so sorry. It’s been more difficult than I thought to commit to getting back into this. Okay, X. (pumping fists) (Wait, what’s my bloggerly name again?) Let’s do some blog writing!
In a few days after starting to write this, I’ll be flying out to Vietnam. (I’ll also finish this post off there so please forgive any haphazardness in the writing.) Vietnam is a beautiful place to visit and we usually just visit family. However, this time, instead of travelling to a new country entirely, my siblings and I wanted to travel to more new locations within Vietnam. Actually, the conversation kind of went like this:
Parents: So since we’ve both been travelling a lot without you kids we feel a bit guilty so pick any location and we’ll consider it!
Us: Japan! Korea! (Mostly Japan because we’re all anime/manga nerds).
Parents: ER, that’s too far, we may as well go to Vietnam.
Us: Let’s go to Vietnam then!
Parents: But Vietnam is BORING.
Us: But we haven’t been to Ha Long Bay! Have we even been to HANOI?
This will be my fourth trip to the country in my lifetime and finally, I get to see Ha Long Bay! Well, there’s lots more places on our list, too. Vietnam has a heck of a lot of history and I think my brother and I are finally old enough to understand and take interest in what there is to be offered there.
To answer the inevitable question I do understand enough Vietnamese to follow the gist of a conversation, and my speech is okay but definitely not fluent. In fact, last time we were in VN my mom, talking to her mom, cried, “Aren’t my kids cute? They speak Vietnamese like 5 year olds.”
I was 16, and so ashamed I barely spoke Vietnamese for the rest of the trip. Anyhow, despite mom saying it hasn’t improved that much, I will at least make an effort to speak this time around. I can carry simple conversations, especially home-related ones, but not broader school topics (what’s Psychology in Vietnamese?).
Vietnam is actually really affordable as long as you’re not the most delicate person on earth. That’s not counting the flights and the hotels, though. Most meals and necessities come in at under £1. In fact, my brother once got his hair trimmed for 17p. So there’s that, and food stalls are practically everywhere. You shouldn’t have an issue with vegetarian food as there are many vegetarian only places (look for the words “đồ ăn chay”) By delicate, I mean you may have to stick to tiny meals and bottled water only for the first few days to adjust. My brother and I were fine, but my mom fell ill on our second day in without being sure of what caused it.
There are more… commercial places to buy things like large malls and supermarkets. We always bring fresh fruits for our families – ones like cherries and blueberries that aren’t easily bought in VN. The big marts sell them but they’re not as fresh and nice. It’s like trying to buy dragon fruits and fresh coconuts in Birmingham – totally possible but pricier. Here, you can just watch people climb trees to pick young coconuts and help yourself to bowls of mangosteen and small bananas. It’s great.
On top of fruits, my mother would drag half the world’s supply of body creams/perfumes/giftable things to VN if she could. She’s an utter pain when it comes to packing. I’m not going to try and say more and I will try not to be so petty and possessive when it comes to my suitcase, but damn if she is going to stuff bowls in there last minute. Grrrr.
I have a couple of random tips from my last visit to VN, so I will share some here. Hopefully, I’ll pick up even more new stuff this time, too.
- Always have bottled water on hand.
- Don’t visit a zoo, unless you want to be depressed by animal treatment standards.
- Don’t see a circus show, for the same reasons as mentioned above.
- Cross a road by walking slowly – the motorcyclists will just swerve slowly around you. That said I am still terrified of doing this by myself.
- Seafood is great if cooked fresh at local markets. At the same time, be a little cautious so you don’t waste a week of the holiday in bed, appallingly sick. Not that I am typing from experience or anything.
- Bring your DEET insect sprays and spray often. A can of this spray has lasted me and Derp a week, sprayed on our exposed limbs and patted on face and neck. Even though we have been staying in low risk areas for malaria it doesn’t hurt to be careful.
- The iced coffee is a must-drink, and cafes are everywhere.
So as I type this last paragraph I’ve been here a week, just getting used to being here again. I post little updates on my personal /art account @swanzig_x on instagram so check it out if you’d like to see more!
Until next time,