The Hanoi experience wouldn’t have been complete without my random observations. Bear with me. Or not. These were just taken from my 2012 moleskine.
Filipinos are billionaires in Vietnam. As with Indonesia (rupiah), dong bills have a lot of zero’s in them. VND 1,000 was equal to only PHP 1.80 at the time of our visit in 2012. And because of this, there are (almost) no coins. Well, there are, but can they purchase even a candy?
Most things to read there are in Vietnamese, with a few exceptions. One such exception is the hotel newspaper. What I appreciated (which I think we should also do here in the Philippines) is that the English newspapers are filled with good news. Good news. People winning stuff, donating stuff. It’s tourist-friendly. If there were 500 people hit by motorcycles everyday, I wouldn’t even know about it.
That is a good thing… Right?
Hotels and Buildings
Going around, I noticed that all the buildings are small (in terms of square meters) but high. The hotels are also pretty cheap, but in the case of An Hung Hotel where we stayed, very clean.
Locals speak Vietnamese. That’s it. Most cannot speak in English, so if you need tips or a tour or whatever, ask the hotel folks all your questions before you leave or get a tour guide. Don’t forget to save the contact number of your hotel too. It could help when you’re really lost and need someone to communicate to the locals for you.
Very, very, very good. And cheap. But as I said, there’s a language barrier. Example:
Vida looking at the menu: What’s your recommendation? What’s good here?
HOT. Wear shorts and be comfortable. Take a fan, a hat, an umbrella, a bottle of water.
I bought a book, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, at I think PHP 150 in one of the souvenir shops. The thing is it looks like it’s been photocopied. I wonder now if it’s fake, or if it’s printed for third world countries. But then again, I live in the Philippines and I’ve never seen anything like it.
It’s hot in Hanoi, even in the ber months. So at one point, I really had to buy bottled water from the streets:
Vida: How much?
Woman: 50,000 VND
Vida: (That’s equivalent to almost 100 PHP! No way) No, thanks.
Woman runs after me and taps me: 10,000 VND!
I walked away and gritted my teeth. I hate it when people try to fool me. It was probably their “foreign” rate (i.e. I look like a tourist so I am willing to pay more for my thirst)
With the Philippines as a point of comparison, the places we visited in Hanoi weren’t to drool for, but overall the experience was awesome. If you’re going to take a city tour as we did and you want to know what’s going on, you might want to get a guide. Even the signs in the museums are sometimes not translated into English.
The Hanoi Story
I was only there for four days, but yeah, that was a bit of a long story wasn’t it?
Vida is a restless, universe-loving, forever-child with a very short attention span. She is mostly enthusiastic about travel, adventure, technology, fitness, and lately, life hacks. Most of her days are spent on tech partnerships in a telco, and most nights practicing capoeira (or yoga, or boxing, or trying some other unheard of art of movement). She likes experiments, little projects, and writes too, sometimes, at vidasioson.com. And if you're interested, sh... Hey, look, a flower!