Travel & Living in Hanoi, Vietnam. Sometimes not.
After living in Vietnam for some time it becomes clear that while there are surprises on a daily basis, there are an equal number of things you can count on as certainties. Here are some that I have noticed.
1) Everyone over the age of 25 will have a burn scar on their calf from a hot motorbike exhaust.
2) Vietnamese women aged 30 look like European women of 20.
3) If you are a foreigner your picture will undoubtedly have appeared on the Facebook page of thousands of complete strangers.
4) Having to explain a joke completely kills the moment. That said, if a Vietnamese person asks, “How are you?” immediately reply, “I am fine, thank you. And you?” This guarantees a laugh as it is the stock reply in the curriculum.
5) Bus timetables are largely elastic. In one instance I know of from personal experience, the parked up bus leaves anywhere between 6.40 am and 6.53 am. Sometimes 7 am.
6) You are going to end up with a nickname sooner or later.
7) Working for Grab etc. does not require any geographic knowledge or navigational skills.
8) You will put on weight. You may be sweating buckets, but you are drinking like a fish and eating like a horse most of the time. I have only heard of one person ever complaining about losing weight after moving to Vietnam. No idea what the secret was.
9) Beer is best in hot weather, and also the best painkiller for sinus pain. Maybe that last one is just me. See above.
10) Every day is a giant Vietnamese lesson. Not in a class room, but just going about your daily business you cannot avoid but absorb some tieng Viet along the line. The chances of becoming fluent purely through osmosis are remote. Equally improbable is meeting anyone who has completed the DuoLingo Vietnamese course for English speakers.