By Sharon Younes
The following thoughts were inspired by a request to give tips when travelling to Vietnam. Thank you to my husband, Tim, for the pictures and memories.
Both my children are from Vietnam. So In 2013 we took them back to their country of origin. In addition, my husband made a couple trips there to do humanitarian work.
I guess it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: always drink bottled water or soda. And be careful of the ice in the glasses. You may want to opt out. There were times when I felt I had to have ice, so I did. I didn’t get sick, but you could be taking a chance. Try different foods. Some of it is delicious. In the hotels, their breakfasts are very big. They serve hot and cold foods, like a smorgasbord. And soup is served every time of the day, all the time.! At first you will not understand why, because the humidity is something else!! Very different from what we’re used to. It feels like 150% humidity. And it slaps you in the face and there’s no escape. What I mean is, at night, it doesn’t cool down very much. I remember showering in the late afternoon, so I could eat dinner feeling refreshed. But it didn’t happen. By the time we got to the restaurant and sat down, I was all hot and sweaty again. To get the most out of the day, rise early, when the sun is a cooler. And plan your sightseeing and adventures in the morning. Be careful of the vendors on the streets. Some vendor food can be very good. Most is inexpensive.
The traffic in Saigon and big cities is crazy and you’ll wonder why you don’t see many accidents. There seems to be no organization to it. When you cross the streets, walk slowly across. The traffic, bikes and cycles will dodge around you. Don’t try to dodge them. In a day or so, you’ll get used to it. The beds in the hotels are very hard, the toilets can be crappy. When you leave the hotel room, your power will be turned off. Power outages are not uncommon.
The Vietnamese are very friendly towards Americans. And you need not worry about violent crime. Be sure to bargain for everything, especially in the open air markets. When you need to rest you’re weary feet, get a pedicure. They are very inexpensive. On the whole, many things are very reasonably priced or cost next to nothing compared to what Americans are used to.
The Vietnamese people are small statured. And everywhere you look, you see little plastic tables and chairs; the kind used by children in America. But in Vietnam, they are a common site at outdoor eateries for adults! You will come to know what it is like to be different, to be the minority.
If you ever visit this exotic country, I hope you have a wonderful time. Your comfort zone will certainly be challenged. And you can grow in graciousness and appreciation for what really counts in life. I miss the people: their joy, simplicity of life, and their resourcefulness.