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Vietnam Cultural Quirk

In Vietnam - based on my experience; I haven’t done any research into this - they don’t seem to say bye when they finish a phone call. People just abruptly hang up…

Vietnam Travel Diary - part 3

I was going to write about what’s did, but instead, have some cultural observations!

The TV ads here are interesting. Almost half of them use the same weird deep, weird male voice that sounds like someone trying to sound mentally impaired as a joke (I clearly have no idea how to describe this voice).

But also, they’re all extremely quick! Not just ‘I don’t understand the language’ quick, but they actually speak really quickly and the ads are really short. Weird cultural difference I guess.

Another interesting observation (to me at least) is that almost no one wears shorts. Shorts are pretty much the domain of oblivious old men, and tourists.

See, when I came here I ONLY brought shorts and t-shirts (and a pair of jeans incase I went someone ‘classy’. Well, turns out that the heat of the sun directly on you can be worse than wearing warm clothing (that and a lot of people ride bikes so they rug up); and the girls here go all put for coverage, especially when riding: long sleeves, long pants, and a face mask. The cultural phenomenon at play here is that being as pale as possible is what’s seen as attractive (cf. getting a tan in western countries) and so the girls try to avoid sun exposure so that they don’t tan!

Hell, half of the products advertised on TV tout their whitening abilities, and a lot of toiletries/cosmetics suddenly brag of the same thing! Even sunscreen! It’s funny because in Australia I think people prefer that sunscreen that doesn’t whiten your skin.

Vietnam Travel Diary - Part 2

The first I spent in Vietnam was fairly busy, and we definitely got acquainted with some of the culture. I went to a vietnamese supermarket (which are actually all hypermarkets) which was fun. The supermarkets (‘siêu thị’) are quite a lot more expensive than the regular markets, but they’re airconditioned, have a much better selection, and you won’t get ripped off for being a foreigner; besides, the prices are still a lot cheaper than in Australia.

I just took the chance to buy some extra clothes (I only brought the clothes on me, plus two extra sets with me) and toiletries… and a Vietnamese Romeo and Juliet for $1.50AUD. Winner?

KFC in Vietnam is interesting… some of the western items are missing, but there are a lot more asianified alternatives (meals w/ rice for example), and the items all have spicy variants (y’know, like the ones we have in Australia every 6 months for about 2 weeks).

KFC is much more expensive than the asian restaurants, but still compares favourably to Australian dining. An interesting observation I’ve made over the last two weeks (I’m writing these diaries a little retrospectively…) is that the KFC options which aren’t really listed in English are significantly cheaper - marketed at locals with their much lower buying power I imagine.

And one last thing about KFC, they don’t use chicken salt! It’s still not your plain table salt, but it’s not the amazingly delicious chicken salt they use in Oz. :(

Anyways, that’s it! I’ve been slack with writing down notes, so all my future travel diaries will continue to be stream-of-consciousness attempts at remembering what happened.

Vietnam Travel Diary - Part 1

Hey everyone, I decided to do a travel diary of my time in Vietnam. I’m starting a few days into it, but I’ve been taking down notes of each day just incase I felt like doing one… which I do! I’m no writer, so what follows will mainly just be lightly edited stream-of-consciousness drivel.

So, day 0 - that is, getting there and the very few hours of the night once I arrived. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning - I only had some last minute preparation and such to do, and then we headed for the airport (we got there a little early, just incase the traffic was nuts - and to some extent it was). We did the check-in dance and customs ritual and just sat in the international ‘terminal’ for two hours while we waitttttteddddd. Got there way too early!

Finally, at 10am we’re off! Well… actually the flight left 15 minutes early. The flight started alright, and I smashed through one and a half books but around half way in I get really, really nauseous. It’s the worst feeling, made worse by the fact I know that I can’t stop the cause… but after an hour and a half it just fades (that never happens!).
I think I’m good, but then as we’re descending my right ear starts hurting. Bad. It’s excruciatingly painful, but I have to just bear until we finally get to our layover destination - Malaysia. For about 30 minutes after I can barely hear a thing.
By the by, all the calls on the flight were made both in Malay and English - although the English was pretty bad.

We’re stuck in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for about two hours before our flight to Ho Chi Minh city, so I wonder around. It’s a HUGE airport, but there’s not many people there; not to mention the temperature control was a bit… haphazard in some areas. I ate a Burger King (first I went to a currency counter to get some Malaysian Ringgit [though the BK would’ve taken my AUD and just gave me Ringgit change!]) because that’s what I found first. Goddamn. It was the worst fast-food experience I’ve ever had. The service was slow, crappy and the food was second rate. It took me so long from when I lined up to when I was eating. Sheesh. Not to mention I got the wrong change, and because it’s Malaysia they didn’t have bacon. :(((( /insensitive
Eventually we caught the shuttle (‘Aerotrain’) from the satellite terminal to the main terminal and checked-in for our flight… it left late. :(

The flight to Vietnam was rather short, and we went on the kind of plane you’d use for a domestic flight. No nausea this time, but the landing was a lot more painful. Both my ears were hurting like crazy, to the point where I was hitting myself and pulling my hair to distract myself (not my finest moment), BUT EVENTUALLY WE GOT THERE.
 On the plus side, looking out of the window during the descent was awesome. Ho Chi Minh City is gorgeous at night.

Customs was easy to clear, and by the time we left the airport it was dark. AND OH MY GOD IT WAS SO HOT AND HUMID IT WAS NUTS (you get used to it though). We caught a taxi to our hotel, stopping off briefly on the trip to get SIM cards for the entire family (Vinaphone) and then bam! We’re spending the first part of our trip in the Binh Duong (Bình Dương) province, in the city of Thu Dau Mot, at the Khach San Binh Duong (literally Hotel Binh Duong). We settled in, and I tried using the internet on my new SIM - it worked fine, and with reasonable speeds.

 I’m going to backtrack a bit - the taxi ride… was intense. I haven’t been to Vietnam since I was 7, and I remember nothing. So, it was a HUGE culture shock to see how driving works here. They drive on the right… sorta. Essentially, everyone is on the right, except when it’s inconvenient. Driving is essentially a free for all, and the right of way rules is this: biggest vehicle wins, because if you don’t get out of the way you’re going to die. Farrrkkkk. Other random things: there’s only seatbelts in the front seats, and not even the driver wears them. People hand our pamphlets at some traffic lights. 

We then left to visit the local markets to grab a bite, and had some Banh Mi. It cost 10,000D (that’s less than 50 AUD cents) but it was AWFUL. Ah well. Gotta take risks to find the awesome local cuisine. While we were wondering around the many, many clothes stalls eventually I get a text which tells me I’ve used all my credit. In just a few minutes of web browsing… damn, guess that buying a SIM haphazardly isn’t the best idea (but to be honest, unless you can read Vietnamese properly, you’re pretty much guessing when it comes to SIM cards). After that, I bought a 7-up all my by myself for just 8,000D (zomg so cheap) and we head back to the hotel and sleep the night away.

Everyone should look up ‘crossing road vietnam’ on YouTube.

Holy balls.