35 Things I’ve Learnt in Vietnam So Far

I’ve only been here a month so it’s still early days, but lessons are coming thick and fast. Here’s a few things I’ve learnt so far:

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1. Coffee is really bloody strong here.
Like, ‘I think there were drugs in that coffee’ strong.
2. If there’s a gap, someone will drive through it.
3. People really like to ask how old you are…

4. … And if you’re married…
5. … And how much your rent is…
6. … And pretty much anything that is inappropriate to ask in England!
7. Crossing your fingers here means vagina.
It definitely doesn’t mean good luck.

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8. Mechanics can fix anything.
My bike is driving evidence.
9. People like to give you the wrong directions.
I actually think it’s a national ‘in joke’ that’s played on foreigners.
10. Using your horn here is just like saying ‘excuse me’.
11. Accidents are much less dramatic than at home.
You’re allowed to say sorry without getting sued, you help the other person up and then you just get right back on the bike!
12. Learning a second language is really hard.
13. Speaking Vietnamese is a bit like singing.
And I’m tone deaf…
14. I think I’ve probably eaten dog.
After learning ‘thit cho’ means dog meat, I’m fairly certain I’ve already eaten it.

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15. Being vegetarian in Vietnam is near impossible.
Post dog meat realisation, I tried to be vegetarian. I’ve accepted that I’m going to have to be a part-time vegetarian.
16. In Vietnamese, the word for ‘long’ is the same as the word for ‘testicles’.
With a different tone, of course, otherwise that would be stupid.
17. The words for ‘coconut’, ‘pineapple’ and ‘watermelon’ are also the same.
18. Teaching kids is knackering.
19. Teaching English is confusing.

It literally makes no sense. Where are the rules and order!?
20. All those games I played in school, weren’t games at all!
I realised while planning my own lessons that I was tricked into learning! Sneaky teachers.
21. Interior design is truly subjective.
There’s a bean bag, a white board and a deck chair in my flat. It’s fair to say I’m not the biggest fan of these. Then again, that meant I could buy this mask which my housemates hate.

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22. I love the cinema!
Since, I got here I’ve rediscovered a few things I enjoy. Cinema is number 1.
23. I love ice skating!
This is number 2. And I’m a big show off.
24. Noodles are deceptively difficult to cook.
25. I’m really out of the loop with music.

I have no idea what’s in the charts or what’s popular. I just listen to Taylor Swift on repeat…
26. Moving abroad is weirdly easy and difficult…
All the stuff that I thought would be easy really isn’t and all the stuff that I thought would be hard is easy… Mind blown!
27. I still can’t share.
I would have thought that travelling and staying in hostels and stuff would make me a more generous, kind person. It has not.
28. There’s some great cafes in Vietnam.
Sadly enough, this was one of the things I was worried about being deprived of when I moved here. Turns out Vietnam has some amazing cafes! This morning I had a ‘yoghurt and sticky rice coffee’ in a café overlooking a lake. Oh yeaaah!

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29. Rain can be good.
I used to groan every time it rained. Now there’s a always a brilliant electrical storm to watch! Followed by the Internet going down, then I groan.
30. There is such a thing as air con flu.
31. Adapting isn’t as hard as it seems.

I thought I’d find it difficult adjusting to a new culture but I’m actually really enjoying it. Especially because I’m allowed to ask inappropriate questions here B-)
32. There is an expat bubble.
And it’s easy to get stuck in. You’ve got to make an effort to make local friends!
33. There is also a breed that I call the ‘snobby expat’.
You’ll know them when you meet them.
34. I’m a millionaire.
£30 is 1,000,000 đong. I still haven’t got over the novelty of that.

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35. I’ve got a whole lot more to learn.
Basically, I know nothing yet and I imagine there will be a lot of realisations and retractions over the next few months, but I’m looking forward to them!

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21 thoughts on “35 Things I’ve Learnt in Vietnam So Far

  1. Hi,
    I just want to correct something :)
    9. People like to give you the wrong directions.
    – No we do not. Maybe they do not understand you? Or maybe you ask wrong person? Next time, you should ask some old men/ women with nice faces. Or someone with “trusted faces”.

    10. Using your horn here is just like saying ‘excuse me’.
    – No it is not. It is impolite to “horn” all the time. If you think that person can hear you, just say:” Anh ơi (man)/ Chị ơi (woman), cho tôi đi nhờ với”. Please do not abuse your horn.

    14. I think I’ve probably eaten dog.
    – If you are talking about the attached photo, then mostly, you have not eaten dog. Your photo say:
    “Phở
    Thịt chó
    …”
    Which could mean: here we serve Pho, AND thit cho. We do not have “Phở thịt chó”, we only have “Phở” and “Thịt chó” (difference dishes)

    15. Being vegetarian in Vietnam is near impossible.
    – Not really. You can cook for yourself, or here is list of vegetarian restaurant in Hanoi:
    http://www.foody.vn/ha-noi/dia-diem?q=c%C6%A1m%20chay

    Hope you doing well :)

  2. Hi there, thanks for the info!
    I’m afraid I’ve definitely been sent in the wrong direction on purpose, though. It could be just the area I live, I think it’s a way of getting rid of me haha.
    The explanation of using the horn is in comparison to my own home town. We usually use the horn to tell someone they have done wrong in England. The best way I could explain the use of it here would be saying ‘excuse me’. Maybe it’s more like; ‘Be careful, I am here’?
    Yes, I meant ‘Thịt chó’. I like to try new things and this is one of the things I ordered without knowing what it was. Not to worry though!
    Thank you for the veggie restaurants, I will look into them! :)

    1. Thank you so much! :) I definitely feel like I have little epiphanies about here every day! Time really does fly here though, I can’t believe I’ve been here six months myself…

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