I’ve been in Hanoi for almost two weeks now and I can confirm culture shock is very much a thing. This is a list of things you have to just accept as the new norm when living in Vietnam…
- Men will generally have outrageously long, perfectly manicured nails, often in far better condition than your own.
- The Vietnamese are pretty damn resourceful, they will use almost anything and everything to flavour their cuisine…snake wine, anyone?
- You will be faced with chicken/pig/dog carcasses on a daily basis, displayed graphically in their original form so there is no way of mistaking them.
- (If you are fair skinned/blue eyed) looks of disbelief/intrigue from children and obvious staring/kissy faces from creepy old Asian men.
- Day to day life goes against all your natural instincts as you proceed to doing everything you were told not to do growing up… This includes: intentionally walking head on into busy oncoming traffic, accepting food from strangers, pointing at everything…
- If you order something at a restaurant you may not realise at first but you have effectively just ordered for your whole table. One for all, and all for one!
- No matter how official or serious the situation, you are probably going to be asked for a selfie…
- You have to attempt some Vietnamese, no matter how badly. English is spoken by some but in most circumstances the basic local lingo is vital. Either that or you need to step your ‘miming’ game up.
- Fussiness = starvation (I learnt this quite quickly). Food is stored, prepared, displayed and served mostly outside, in the street, regardless of scorching temperatures or the presence of flies. The concept of a BBQ is one thing, but Vietnamese street food really does take the biscuit when it comes to cooking and eating outside.