Friday, October 22, 2010

Viet Blues


Ok I’ve rewritten the first line so may times, I’ve decided to just do what I do best have a conversation with this blog. The thing is I was trying to come up with a great opening for my post on my much awaited trip to Vietnam. However I’m not sure where to start.

There was just so much that happened there, things I enjoyed, things I’m still confused off, things I hated, things I loved, things that irritated me, things that took me by surprise I don’t know to laugh or hit my head on a wall (I opted to escape and laugh by the way) and not to mention all the things that happened around me during the trip.

I must say I’ve fallen in love with Vietnam and wouldn’t mind going back to the same places albeit with some changes. I still truly hate tours and tour groups.

Oh most important information and my proudest moment. Driving a bike in Hanoi! Dear god the traffic there is crazy, I think I spent one morning just staring at traffic before I decided I must take the bike! I had earlier driven in Sapa (the highland town) but that was a different ballgame to Hanoi. I knew the risks. So when I got my bike from the hotel, they asked me are you sure you can drive. I said yes I can I drove in Sapa. But this is Hanoi! It’s different. I assured them that if I couldn’t I’ll bring the bike back. Anyhow it turned out well and will write on that later.

Vietnam reminded me of India, the good and the bad. Vietnamese people are generally nice and even though most of the time we couldn’t communicate since nearly everyone doesn’t speak English, we somehow managed to have short conversations. Perhaps it did help being the second biggest attraction in Vietnam. For the love of god I am still confused with the reaction I got there.

errr why r u shooting me

People gawked, tried to talk to me, took my photos, tried to take photos with me, touched my skin (yes seriously so weird), rub my skin against theirs, followed me around to take photos of me, stopped to pose for me so they could get a better look, sang to me, held my hand and refused to let go and so on, got invited into homes (which I politely declined and ran as fast as I could), got boyfriend offers (eww) and so on. 
The few people who could speak English told me they loved the colour of my skin, they loved the texture of my skin, they liked my nose ring (mukkuthi), they liked my smile and they thought I was very pretty.

Everyone wanted to know where I was from and refused to believe I was a Malaysian. You must know I am very proud of saying I’m a Malaysian, it used to irritate me when Indians in India didn’t know my country but knew Singapore! Bah!

Anyway I’d explain my Indian heritage and I would get an oohhhhhhhhh. Lol

I walked into a bank to get money changed and this beautiful lady at the counter goes “you’re so pretty”. Super flattering I tell ya, makes me want to move there! What gal wouldn’t want to be showered with adoration!

The thing I didn’t get was, I was sans make up (not that I wear too much), my skin had gone three shades darker and was peeling here and there (my skin peels on holiday, I was dressed for comfort more than style, so I would love to bottle whatever these people saw and spray them around me so I can continue to be adored! ;p

Good thing I love Malaysia and for now cannot imagine living anywhere else. Plus food there is pretty bland though we did find some nice places which we decided to stick to nearly everyday!

On the same note, most of them thought I was 25. They would ask my age and I’d tell them to guess and they’d say 25 and I’ll just nod. Lol its always awesome to seem younger.

One thing i didn’t like about all the attention sometimes it got a bit too much like all the winking i was getting from men and some dubious invites for drinks and such. I met another gal who had similar winking encounters also and when i googled it turns out its universal winking is suggestive! Thank god i had the sense to walk the other way everytime someone winked!

Halong bay

Besides that they’re probably the most best dressed people I’ve seen in Asia as they’re usually wearing something nice and rarely in crappy looking shirts and shorts. On weekends you would see them wearing their traditional dress and heading out to take photos. Oh yes posing for photos is probably the national pastime for them. Everywhere I went someone was holding a bouquet of flowers and posing for handphones, pns cameras and dslrs! The whole city has been caught in a photo frenzy!

Oh service at most places come with a smile but be prepared to wait even if the restaurant is empty!
I was saying Vietnam reminded me of India right. The small lanes, the chaotic traffic, the droves of people everywhere, the closely placed houses built as they wish, the rubbishless streets and the not so nice peeing all over the country out in the open all reminded me of India.

Now the streets were pretty rubbish free not coz its cleaned up but more coz there are scavengers waiting to get them to be sold like in India. Now the peeing was way worse than in India. People would do their business in front of their houses at the main porch facing the world!

There was one time I was driving in Hanoi and as usual I stopped to check my location on the map since I have a habit of wandering as I please. Only after I stopped I realised I had made a mistake as there right in front of me there was a guy facing the main highway in Hanoi which is always super busy and manhandling his wiener!!! What the heck!! I quickly drove away while the man continued having a go at it – I don’t think he was just peeing! Ewwwwww

Over the valley

The homes in most of Vietnam are narrow and tall, must have something to do with tax I think like in Melaka. Homes were built taller in the olden days as you were taxed by the width of your property.

Also throughout the weeks I was there I never saw blue skies or a sunset or sunrise as the skies were always grey and dull.

The thing that had us gobsmacked is the phone obsession! The first they do when they get behind the wheel whether it’s on a four or two tyre vehicle was to flip out their phones and yak away even if they’re on their bikes!

Our airport bus driver was on the phone from the time we left the airport to the time we reached the city centre near our hotel which was 40 minutes away! Freaky I tell ya.
The one other thing I totally hated about Vietnam – the nose diggers! People dig their noses in public 24 hours a day, at the restaurant, in the park and every other god damn place. You could be talking to them and they would just casually have a go at their noses right in front of you! It is just plain disgusting! And I’m sure they don’t wash their hands!

I walked into a government tourist centre (total waste of time) to get some info and the lady acknowledged me and immediately started digging her nose. Perhaps it’s a sign of respect?? I think not! Don’t dig noses in public. Just don’t.

Overall I loved Vietnam with all its setbacks. Travelling through 3 different weather was also pretty interesting. I quite liked the cold chill of Sapa and the windyness of Halong Bay. I could do without the heat in Hanoi though! Sigh I’m missing Halong Bay in the bucket loads!

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Anu said...

Sounds like you had an exciting time. Love the photos. More more more!

Visithra said...

yeah it was n such a welcoming break ;) thanks phew - need to find time for itla ;p