Living in Vietnam: 16 New Things I’ve Done this Year

Living abroad provides all kinds of opportunities that living at home just doesn’t provide. Of course, some of the opportunities are awful, but you take the good with the bad. Even if that means losing every game of “Never Have I Ever…”

#1 Danced in an Ao Dai

It was a year-end party. I felt like a fool, but my cohorts and I killed our routine. It’s something I’ll never forget.


#2 Eaten street food by myself

Trying street food with a buddy is tough, but sitting down on your own in a place where you can’t speak the language and don’t know the rules is tougher. Luckily I’ve pretty well destroyed my fear of eating alone this year. Check out the last delicious meal I had by myself. Hmm… yummy papaya salad near Hoan Kiem.


#3 Puked on a plane

Food poisoning has been my curse this year, and after a particularly horrific bout in Hoi An, Vietnam, I found myself upchucking on the plane ride back to Hanoi. Well, at least I’ve learned it’s not the end of the world to puke, repeatedly, in front of a plane full of people for over an hour. *cringe

Thanks to my boyfriend for this delightful shot.


#4 Driven a motorbike

And I’ve got the scars to prove it. Yowza. Check out that Saigon kiss. Let’s just say that smarted when I got it. I hated motorbiking when I first moved here, but it’s grown on me to the point where I actually look forward to my morning commute in the foggy early Hanoi morning now. If you’re thinking of motorbiking in Hanoi, check out my tips.


#5 Seen a cock fight

Like every day. Seriously… Why? This crowd is outside our apartment every day.


#6 Been locked inside a bar while coppers banged on the doors

Bars in Hanoi are supposed to close at midnight and to reinforce this cops travel up and down the alleys looking for lights and loud music. Of course, most places just pull their metal doors down and the party continues on the inside. Some bars have security cameras and you can watch the poor policemen bang on the door while the owner whispers for everyone to quiet down and hopes the cops just go away. It’s weird.


#7 Trekked through the jungle

I went to Sapa, and it was incredible. My legs were killing me by the end of our trip, but it was completely worth it for views like these. If you ever get even the slightest chance of coming here to see this beautiful place, seize it. You won’t regret it.


#8 Spoke Vietnamese

Ugh. Maybe I should say, tried speaking Vietnamese. I took classes twice a week for several months before throwing my hat in. Maybe I’ll try again when I’ve cooled down about the whole complete-and-utter-failure thing. I’ve got a real sore spot about this one.


#9 Turned down a taxi driver

So, in my misguided attempts at practicing Vietnamese I must have come on to a taxi driver. I didn’t understand much that he was saying, but “di choi” was pretty clear. Oops, sorry man. I’ll just go back to pretending I understand nothing, which is probably safer and truer anyway.


#10 Given a Tet gift

Our landlords are incredibly sweet and it was fun to give them a basket of things we’d cobbled together. Seriously, I love our landlords. I will miss them so much when we leave Hanoi.


#11 Haggled in a produce market

I’ve become a pro at haggling. And what I mean by pro is I don’t mind so much when I get ripped off. Ah well, at least I get my produce and the market ladies love me.


#12 Cooked tofu

I’d never tried tofu before, let alone cooked it, but after eating a delicious tomato and tofu meal several times in Vietnam, I decided to hunt down the recipe. It’s easy enough for cooking noobs like me and my boyfriend. Also it’s got amazing flavor. I can’t get enough of these tomato soaked fried squares. This is a little bit of Vietnam that I’ll be bringing back to my family for weekday dinners.


#13 Experienced a 4D movie

I watched Deadpool in 4D and laughed hysterically the whole way through, even while my chair was throwing me around like a ragdoll.


#14 Got a massage

I had my first massage in Thailand this year and my second in Vietnam. I still can’t quite cozy up to the idea of a stranger rubbing my naked body, but it’s certainly an experience.


#15 Watched the Inbetweeners

Oh my God, how did I miss this show while it was on TV. Bus wankers!


#16 Skated inside a mall

I’ve ice-skated before, but I’ve never ice-skated inside a giant shopping center with people zooming around the ice clad head to toe in pads and helmets as passerby took photos of us. It’s humiliating and exhilarating all at once. I can’t wait to go back.

Check me out. Killing it at the Royal City mall in Hanoi




2 Comments Add yours

  1. jasonmullin says:

    Hanoi is one of my favorite cities. You are lucky to have been there so long! The papaya salad is amazing too!!

    1. shybackpack says:

      Hanoi’s papaya salad is the best!

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