10 Things I’ll Miss About Hanoi

My teaching contract in Vietnam officially finished two weeks ago and I’m back in America. It’s time for me to move on. But there are so many things about Vietnam and Hanoi I don’t want to leave. Here are the things that I will miss the most about Hanoi.


  1. The “Fixing” Culture

In Indiana if you’re sandals break, you pitch them. If you’re dress rips, it goes in the trash. In Vietnam you head to a tailor or a cobbler and for a few thousand đồng your favorite clothes will be as good as new. I’m going to bring this mentality back to the U.S. with me, but with the lack of tailors, cobblers, and repairmen, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to maintain this idea of fixing instead of pitching.


  1. Chè

I love c. I think I’ll be able to make a lot of Vietnamese foods when I get back to the states, and most of the delicious noms can be found at Vietnamese restaurants at home, but I have no idea where I’m going to get c. I’ll try gummy worms in yogurt with ice, but somehow I don’t think it’ll be the same.


  1. Vietnamese coffee

Thick, sweet, and black as tar, Vietnamese coffee gives a kick like no other coffee I’ve tried before. Heading back to Folgers and Starbucks is going to be a huge come-down.


  1. The fashion

I have a love-hate relationship with Vietnamese fashion. Sometimes I hate how reserved the fashion here is: the muted colors, the modest designs, the sameness of it all, but I’m going to miss it too. Vietnamese women are classy. No one can deny it and I’m going to miss the slim-fitting but straight-lined dresses, high-collared tops, tight black business skirts, and of course the ao dais.


  1. My friends

I don’t want to get too mushy here, so I’ll let an emoticon and these sad statues illustrate how I feel about this. 😥 Wahhh!


  1. Motorbiking

I hated my motorbike when I first moved here. Even getting on the bike seemed like an impossibly deadly task, let alone driving it in the lawless streets, but against all my efforts, the beast has grown on me. I’ll miss the heat on my back as I speed through the streets, foot always prepared to touch the brakes, moving like a little fish in a giant, beeping ocean. :p


  1. Fresh food

At home everything is frozen, microwaved, preserved, and imported. I hate to knock my hometown cooking, but it’s hard to get “real” food in small town Indiana unless you drive to the next town over and only shop at the Wednesday farmer’s market. I don’t know how I’m going to go back to frozen pizzas after eating just-killed-this-morning meat and ripe-off-the-vine fruit all year. If only I could take just one little Vietnamese market home with me. …maybe I’ll have to make friends with a farmer.


  1. The price tags

Vietnam is cheap, especially the food, and I know I’m going to go through Western-prices sticker shock when I move back home.


  1. My apartment

My apartment in Vietnam is cozy with big comfy sofas, hard wood floors, and nice windows. At $480 a month it can’t be beat and I’m going to miss my sweet little home with my familiar neighbors on my lively, happening street.


  1. My kids

I won’t miss all of them (sorry, Tuan Minh), but I’ll miss a lot of them. My last teaching day in Hanoi ended with one of my favorite classes, and I was sniffling trying not to get teary-eyed as I said good-bye to the pre-teens whose faces lit up when they saw me in the hallway and who waited after class to tell me about what was going on in their lives. A lot of my kids were eager, funny, awesome students and I’ll be sad to say goodbye.


Sometimes moving sucks, but it’s fun too. I’m going to miss a lot about Vietnam, and it’ll always have a special place in my life, but I’m excited for the next chapter too. I’ll see you again Hanoi; I’m sure of it.



8 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s so awesome ! Will u teach away again or stay in the state s?

    1. shybackpack says:

      I’m making plans to teach in Taiwan next year 🙂

      1. That’s great!!!! I can’t wait to read about it. My friend teaches in Dubai and has been there 3 years. Maybe one day I will

      2. shybackpack says:

        Yep, its quite the leap to teach overseas, but it can be really good fun. And if you don’t want to give up your current teaching job, you could always do some kind of summer camp. Get the experience of teaching abroad without having to give everything up 😀

  2. Besides teaching and fashion (I am a man 😉 ) I can absolutely agree with all your points. I am always happy when coming back to Hanoi, and I am jealous of the people who were and are able to live there.
    Two things I would add to the list is the traffic (I love watching it) and the bia hoi places (again, maybe as a tourist it is different to a “local”).
    I hope you can return to this lovely city soon again.
    And thanks for sharing this with all of us

    1. shybackpack says:

      I love watching the traffic too. My favorite place for that is Muse Bar in Old Town. It can be a bit touristy, but there is a view of the intersection between Luong Van Can and Hang Gai. It’s so weirdly beautiful to watch, especially at night.

  3. Great adventure that I’d like to try, except I’d love the motorcycling!

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