More Observations from 18 Days in Vietnam

Hmong Sapa Tribeswoman in Vietnam
This girl, a member of the Hmong tribe, followed me throughout our trek in Sapa to get me to buy something.

Everyone on the bus back from Sapa had one of the bracelets the local women give you to mark their territory.

On the Halong Bay tour Carrie and I got inked by a squid about to be cooked.

The women on the Sapa trek complained that we spent too much time buying from the other tribe adnd not theirs.

There was literally a fleet of boats heading back on our second day of the Halong Bay tour. As Carrie said, it was like we were heading to war.

Everyone wears gloves and face masks all the time to shield them from the sun.

On every restaurant table there is a tray with soy sauce, fish sauce and meat sauce.

113 is the Vietnamese number for 911.

Monsoon rains flow down the streets of Sapa in Vietnam
Monsoon rains flow down the streets of Sapa in Vietnam

The street numbering system in Da Lat is very confusing in terms of even vs odd placement. For example, building 100 might be across the street from building 307. Sly business owners capitalize on this by placing copycat business names next to the place that a confused tourist might arrive expecting to find their Lonely Planet recommended guesthouse or restaurant. At one time we were looking for Dream Hotel but found, within a block of each other, Dream Guesthouse, The Dream Hotel and Dreamland. None of them were correct.

Some of the jellyfish in Halong Bay, when we were jumping off of the top of the boat, had tentacles at least five feet long.

Every region has its own beer brand named after the main city in the region.

Dried nuts, fruits and candy for sale in the Da Lat market, VietNam
Dried nuts, fruits and candy for sale in the Da Lat market, VietNam

In the last week of travel in Vietnam we slept on buses three nights, on a boat once and got less than five hours of sleep in a hotel room the other three nights.

At the local dried food market in Da Lat, we were offered the occasional sample of one piece. Meanwhile, at every stall they stopped at, the locals were offered plates of samples, drinks and smiles.

Everyone wears the traditional pointy bamboo hats that seem like an Asian trademark.

an American bunker from the Vietnam War in the Khe Sanh combat base
Is this wrong? Probably, but I did it anyway! (Me in an American bunker from the Vietnam War in the Khe Sanh combat base

On our DMZ tour, the guide made extra sure to always refer to the enemy of the South and the USA as the North Vietnamese Army, and not the Vietcong, as we call them.

Vietnam is filled with Easy Riders, who offer multi-day tours on the back of their motorcycles. While some are the originals, there are countless knockoff Easy Riders. One night in Nah Trang, we were invited to join a group of them for some beers outside our hotel. They played it off like they were just being friendly, but spent the whole time showing us books of photos and recommendations. One guy even claimed to be the very first Easy Rider. Something makes me doubt that.

In Nah Trang, we stayed at a beautiful hotel with AC, fridge, TV, wifi, all modern furniture and bathroom, free computer use and a super friendly staff for $10 because they had just reopened after renovation.

Thatched umbrellas on the beach of Nah Trang, VietNam
Thatched umbrellas on the beach of Nah Trang, VietNam

The beach of Nah Trang is most bustling after sunset, where scores of groups of locals take their dinner and sit out on the sand drinking and eating all night.

The Vietnamese people love to shove me out of the way.

My parting gift from Vietnam came in the form of tons of bedbug bites from the free hotel the sketchy couchsurfer bought us. Carrie was saved because she never went to bed.

Why do bus drivers think that people on sleeper buses want to hear loud music blasting out of the speakers at 11pm.

I met a guy from the same fraternity as me (Pi Kappa Alpha) on our DMZ tour.

Most of us Americans on the DMZ tour agreed that we didn’t really want to be on that tour, but we felt like it was an obligation that we had to do.

At a restaurant in Na Trang, I had a deck of playing cards on the table that the waiter asked to borrow for a second. He then proceeded to lend them to the table of girls next to us to use without asking me for permission or telling them that the cards were ours. This made it nice and awkward when we got the bill a few minutes later and I had to go over and get the cards back so we could leave.


A traditional Vietnamese performer in Hoi Ann
A traditional Vietnamese performer in Hoi Ann