Ten unaltering facts of life in Vietnam

Ten things that won’t change any time soon in Vietnam, according to Hà Nội Scribbles anyway. Sometimes it’s reassuring to know that whatever else happens around you, some things are unlikely to change.

Here, after living in Hanoi for two and a bit years, are my top ten unaltering constants of life.

1) Someone ever being able to lip read my Vietnamese. Currently, few hearing Vietnamese understand it either, though I have been told my daily torturing of the language is gradually becoming less painful. And I can string a simple sentence together. One of them even contains 13 words. That one I am only ever going to utter to one person.

2) Sir Paul McCartney covering an Oasis song. See No.8.

3) Anyone else ever typing this sentence*: “Don’t take medical advice from a man who carries his sandwiches around in a child’s lunch box.” Like I just did recently in a WhatsApp conversation. You had to be there for it to make perfect sense…

* I checked on Google this sentence does indeed seem to be a first when you search with quote marks.

4) Vietnam failing to surprise me on a daily basis. Doubt that will ever happen. Same same with my ability to withstand the heat.

5) Hanoi traffic observing lane discipline, the direction of traffic, stop lines, and the existence of pedestrian crossings. Ditto driving motorbikes on the pavement to dodge a traffic jam. A bus tried this recently and the driver got fired when video of his off-road antics got posted on social media.

6) People completely ignoring a fat 1.86 metre foreigner with his tiny (allegedly 1.5m tall) Vietnamese wife.

7) Beer, Westlife and Man U suddenly falling out of favour.

8) Equally unlikely are the disappearance of karaoke bars (there’s literally one in every village), motorbikes, or the ending of the apparent love affair with sugary K-pop boy bands and Viet Electro House music, doof, doof music as I prefer to call it.

9) My own love affair with Vietnam. It’s mental, noisy and often dirty, but it grows on you.

10) Yours truly suddenly taking to two wheels in Hanoi. Buses are best. You can get around pretty much everywhere in Hanoi on the bus. And you get to meet lots of interesting people on the bus, and at the bus stops, that you probably wouldn’t otherwise encounter. This is almost always a good thing.

 

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