I want to write about my love-hate relationship with Vietnam and how it’s come to grow on me and eventually formed my deep love for the country.
I started off disliking it because of a mixture of shock and difficulty in Hanoi (it was much difficult to adapt to than it’s Asian counterparts such as Thailand), but as I’ve delved deeper into this country… it’s become one of my top destinations (if not the TOP destination) for me in South East Asia.
Actually… you know what? I can safely say that Vietnam is my favourite country in South East Asia …and I will definitely be back to explore more of this beautiful country.
I made the stupid mistake of only getting a one-month e-visa…and now I want to stay for longer but it seems like it’s not really worth the money to stay for an extra two weeks. After all, I want to be in Brazil by Christmas time to go on a road trip with my friend from Melbourne. It’s an opportunity which I can’t miss…but it is definitely annoying that I am restricted by time because of this though, otherwise, I probably would stay in Vietnam for 3 months or more (seriously, it’s THAT good!)
What is it about Vietnam which I love?
Before I delve into what I love about Vietnam, I want to explain why I came here in the first place.
Out of all of the places in South East Asia, Vietnam was at the very top of my list because after going to India and loving it ~ I realised that I love a crazy culture and a country which holds onto its roots so deeply. That’s what India offered me…and for some reason, I had a feeling Vietnam would be similar in a lot of ways. That’s what drew me to this country.
But then….something caught my eye even more ~ my friend’s pictures on Facebook (thanks Stan Shcherbakov for your stunning photos!). While I was busy working my butt of in Australia to save for my then-trip to Europe, my friend Stan kept on posting up the most beautiful pictures of Vietnam.
After that, I was really sold and kept on telling myself ~ I MUST go to Vietnam.
So I knew I was going to Vietnam at some stage…but honestly until the point when I saw the pictures – going to Vietnam was just a distant goal of mine since Europe was the priority for me.
But somewhere along the line, I started thinking about visiting South East Asia and added South East Asia became part of my itinerary before going to Europe; probably because it’s on the way to Europe (more or less) and it’s very cheap (and then I also added on South America when my besties planted the seed in my head to visit there before Europe ~ lol that escalated fast).
Back in Australia, I delayed my trip for longer because I was scared to travel alone for some really strange reason considering I already did solo travel in India (I was SO close to completely cancelling my trip altogether and focusing on my legal profession)
Then…one night, I just told myself – “just book a ticket Mei, otherwise you will never do it.” I chose a random date (5th September) and booked a one-way ticket to Malaysia and the rest was history.
LOTS has happened since the start of my travels (think crazy bus rides and a slow boat on the Mekong River ~ blog coming soon I promise!!) ~ I’ve been to Malaysia, Thailand and Laos but today, I’m in Vietnam.
When I arrived here, I suffered through culture shock, mild food poisoning and being scammed…but I’ve survived.
Even though I’ve had some not so nice experiences, this place has absolutely stolen my heart. I feel like the longer you are in this country, the more you fall in love and the less you want to leave.
So now, back to my point – Why do I love Vietnam??? Let me summarise for you…
1. The people – everyone here is so friendly. I mean they are genuinely friendly and giving. They will welcome you with open arms and help you whenever they can, even though there is a strong language barrier. I strongly feel connected with everyone here and love the warmth this country gives to everyone. When you are in trouble and ask for help, no doubt they will come and help you.
2. The scenery – Vietnam is so vast; it has absolutely everything you can want on a holiday. If you love nature, Vietnam has so much to offer. There are so many mountains, waterfalls, lakes, national parks, temples and stunning beaches/islands. Lan Ha Bay (a relative of Ha Long Bay) is absolutely beautiful and one of my most fondest memories. And on Cat Ba Island, it is so easy to find secluded beaches with no other tourist in sight.
3. The culture – ok I won’t lie. There are parts of the culture which I am not the fondest of (such as the cruelty to animals which I’ve seen, the littering and the miscommunication that can happen with the strong language barrier) but when you look past that and find a way around it, the culture here is incredible. I love that in any city you’re in, you still see people wearing Vietnam’s signature hat. They also have some crazy cool markets, their own home-brewed wine (happy water), family dinners and not to mention – their motorbike culture (I’ve never seen a place which has so many motorbikes…it’s definitely inspired me to learn to ride one). I absolutely love it. You can tell this place has strongly kept a hold onto its rich and unique culture.
4. The food and coffee – as a food lover, Vietnamese cuisine has always been absolutely one of my favourite for its fresh ingredients and tasty food. I can’t go past a bun cha or their delicious fried or fresh spring rolls, oh and did I mention Banh Mi (baguette with fillings of your choice). I just think it’s awesome that you get a mixture of Asian and Western cuisine due to the French influence. I also can’t write this blog without also tipping my hat off to their coffee. They have some seriously delicious coffee ~ whether it’s the traditional Vietnamese coffee (black of with condensed milk), coconut coffee, egg coffee or proper espresso coffee – they are all delicious. This place has definitely mastered the art of making good coffee (believe me, I am a coffee snob from Melbourne ~ a city which is renowned with the best coffee in the world).
5. The cost – the last thing I absolutely love about this country is that it is so cheap for great stuff. I fixed my phone screen for just over AUD$40, I can get a beer for under AUD$3, a meal for around AUD$3-$5 and a grab ride for 30 minutes for under AUD$5. Accommodation is also cheap ~ I normally pay not more than AUD$5 per night and every single place has free breakfast. You can also got a sim card with 60GB per month for under AUD$6.00
So there you have it – there’s my top five reasons why I love this country (and an explanation for how I ended up where I am and where I am going next). I hope you enjoyed and can relate.
I’d love to know your thoughts about this country good or bad 😊
Stay tuned for more of my adventures (my boat ride along the Mekong River to Laos, bus ride from Laos to Vietnam, the best Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand, my Workaway in Kalasin and much more!)