Vietnam: Vietnamese, housing, food, negativity and divorce
After three weeks in Vietnam, I can confidently say that in no other SEA country have people evoked such polar emotions in me: from boundless sympathy to absolute hatred. Unfortunately, the latter is not very conducive to the enjoyment of traveling in Vietnam.
I still come across wonderful people who are pleasant to talk to, who are honest and who don’t want anything from me. But as soon as I relax, there is bound to be a creep who will brazenly lie to me, looking me in the eye, or try to shamelessly cheat me out of my money. I get angry and start to hate Vietnam and the Vietnamese. And at this point I’m back in a place where people are nice and everything is fair. And so it goes round and round every day. It’s Vietnam!
I must have been very lucky the first few days I was here, because no one was trying to trick me and I met a lot of nice people. But after a couple of weeks the memories of the countless unpleasant moments started to fizzle out, and because I was constantly in over-saturated touristy and rotten Vietnamese bargain places, the good people almost ran out altogether. And Vietnam began to get tiresome.
That’s when I remembered with kind words the relaxed Laos.
In my first days in Vietnam I loved the constant motion around: rushing motorcycles, bikes, overloaded with people and things, cities with markets, funny Vietnamese architecture, when all the houses are no more than 7 – 10 meters wide, but 4-5 stories high and 30 meters long. Everything around was bubbling and boiling. And then it became clear that this is the case everywhere in Vietnam. And there is no hiding from this movement, from the constant noise of engines and horns, from the music.
There are tiny pieces of nature only in the mountains in the north and in the mountains in the central part – the only places where there are no big, dusty and ugly cities and no millions of motorcycles, there are only small, but still dusty towns and villages of mountain peoples. The rest of the country is a network of roads, along which there are houses everywhere, and it is not always clear when one city ends and another begins. But there are “only” 84 million people in Vietnam. What then is there in China, a billion and a half?
All this is in such contrast to the completely empty Laos, with small Vientiane, Luang Prabang and a few other towns and hundreds of poor and traditional villages with bamboo or wooden huts on stilts. Not to mention the almost total absence of motor vehicles on Lao roads. And all this against a background of mountains, rivers and waterfalls. Everything is truly seen by comparison.
And people. If I came to Laos after Vietnam, I would be happy to find myself among people who are indifferent and do not want me in their country. After Vietnam, where everyone wants you for completely different reasons, where some people will be genuinely happy to see you and want to talk to you for nothing, and where another part will brutally cheat you every day, because they only want you because of your money. And where the comrades involved in the field of tourism are pathologically deceitful. In Vietnam, if it comes to your money, it is better just in case do not believe anyone. In order not to be offended later. Trust those who don’t care about your money – there are wonderful people among them, and in general the population disinterested in you as a source of income is extremely friendly and affable.
In Laos they also trick you for money, but times less often, and it never compares to the way they do it in Vietnam. Compared to Vietnam, there is no cheating anywhere in Southeast Asia. Just nowhere.
In general, if I wanted to repeat my trip, I would have planned the route very differently on the principle – “from the toughest to the most sincere people”: through Mongolia and China to Vietnam (here after Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia is categorically impossible – every day is filled with nostalgic memories of the soulful people, who in 99. 9% of cases do not even think about divorce), then Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (it can be put at the end of sincerity, there are very nice people, but what can you do if the principle of territorial it rubbed in the middle), Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and then at will.
Notes about the people. In the northern part of Vietnam, a huge number of men wear green hats-they wore exactly the same ones when they fought the French in the middle of the last century, and during the war with the Americans in the ’60s and ’70s. Habit… Not a single Vietnamese in the southern part of Vietnam is seen wearing such a helmet.
An unreal number of people walk around (men mostly when riding motorcycles) wearing muzzleloader armbands – models and colors in assortment. Of course, Vietnam is not a clean environment, but to my sense it is not so neglected.
Vietnamese women are a living example of “how to dress” for Muslim women around the world. There’s nowhere else in Southeast Asia that’s so messed up. There’s a cult of white skin in Vietnam. And everyone wants to be white: from the top to the bottom in the form of beggar women selling garlic on street intersections. Almost everyone wears long pants, long-sleeved shirts, many wear gloves, and if instead of a long-sleeved shirt, they wear aristocratic gloves up to their armpits. Those who are better off wear fashionable wide-brimmed panamas or caps, while the poor have traditional wicker cone hats on their heads. And all those wishing to become white have huge muzzles on their faces, from their eyes to the middle of their necks. Or a small muzzle on the nose and mouth and a scarf tied on the back of a panama or cap, covering everything below the eyes to the shoulders. Some also had socks on their feet. In the end, only the eyes are visible from the whole body if they’re not hidden behind sunglasses. I have been told that I am not allowed to wear these sorts of jeans, because I do not want to get dusty or to catch ultraviolet light from the sun on the roof. What is a mystery to me – even in the evening, when the sun is no longer. Probably also out of habit.
Many people in Southeast Asia want to be white, that’s why in all countries almost all face creams in the stores are obligatory bleaching creams, and in some places girls walk around during the day under an umbrella. But not like this! Herd fashion. A Vietnamese man even came up to me once, pulled up the sleeve of his shirt and showed me how white his skin was by pointing his finger at my swarthy one on my arm.
All the pictures in the photo studio for family albums and hanging on the wall are bleached, they all look like Snow White. It’s funny to watch Vietnamese music videos – all the girls there are completely white, as a result of special effects, and young men with normal swarthy skin.
Food . I really like Vietnamese food. Hot vermicelli soup Pho with beef or chicken is sold everywhere. It’s very tasty and cheap – it costs 60 cents for a large plate. There are Vietnamese rolls, where shredded vegetables and meat are wrapped in rice paper (edible, of course). They use a lot of all sorts of delicious herbs and spices to make the dishes that we are used to, it turns out very fragrant, healthy and tasty. In the streets everywhere are stalls where French baguettes make sandwiches with vegetables and meat. In general, everything I ate here, I liked. I’ve already written about the draught beer.
And what’s nice, there are a lot of cafes everywhere, including on the road, and the tourist and local buses are always stopping to eat, which after a hungry Laos can not but rejoice.
In the markets I have not seen anything more exotic than a carved dog and snake, although the Vietnamese seem to eat everything, like the Chinese. But no squirrels, birds, bats and rats were not seen in the markets.
Lodging . Hotels and hostels in Vietnam are more expensive than in Laos, but this is only because the Vietnamese do not know how to build hotels with small rooms and do not know that some guests do not need TVs with satellite channels, air conditioning, refrigerators with minibars, towels and hot water.
All the touristy places give out a huge lined room for $6-7, often with a good view of the city, with white linens, with a TV with a bunch of satellite channels in English, with a fridge full of reasonably priced drinks, with air conditioning, a fan, a bathroom with towels, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, disposable toothbrushes, pastes and even a comb. It’s certainly not the usual $3-4, but I’m not offended.
That said, in places with a lot of competition, this room will be cleaned daily, the bed made, towels changed, and items used up in the bathroom added. All in all, you feel like a white man in the fullest sense of the word. Up north, by the way, the same amenities were $5 for two. However, in remote places where there is no competition, a similar will be $ 8-10 dollars, which is generally not critical.
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