a culture shock in Hanoi, vietnam
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
As a first-timer to Vietnam and Asia in general, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Vietnam's capital city. Busy? Sure. A bit smelly? Absolutely. What I didn't expect was the variety of chaos and crazy that would meet me at the airport and stay with my through the couple of days I was here.
Being a bit of a newbie to Asia I was hit in the face full force by the sweltering humidity in the capital. I've been to Turkey in 50+ degree heat but my lord I'd never experienced anything like the humidity of Hanoi.
After being picked up on the airport, I embarked on what was, to date, the most eye-opening taxi ride of my life. People talk about how crazy Vietnam is; about how you see whole families crammed onto a tiny little moped and how people quite literally have a supermarket on the back of their bike, but until you're sat looking out a window at the Vietnamese interpretation of the Pixar film 'Up', you don't quite realise just how true that is.
With absolute borderline ecstasy at the fact that I was finally here, I was eager to take in absolutely EVERYTHING I could. My head was on a constant swivel until we reached our hostel in the older part of town.
With everything unpacked and settled in, I ventured off to meet the rest of our group and get some water from a nearby shop before we all headed out for an group dinner. Lantern Restaurant anyone?
The next day started bright and early with a walking tour of Hanoi. Stocked up with water and temple clothes at the ready, we headed into the chaos that is Hanoi. Until I arrived in Hanoi, I didn't know that crossing a road could be such a gamble with luck, but one thing I soon learned is that if you want to cross a road in Vietnam, especially in a big city, you need to walk out and keep walking at the same pace and let them go around you. As terrifying (!!!) as it is, it works!
On our tour we saw some of the best sights in Hanoi. Starting off our tour winding through the chaotic streets and maddeningly characteristic alleyways we were treated to a taste of authentic Vietnam.
From families and friends gathering to eat Pho together to workers in straw hats carrying baskets of fruit balanced by a plank of wood on a shoulder, Hanoi is nothing if not a hub of diversity and authenticity.
Stopping for the obligatory group photo by a set of beautifully rustic train-tracks, we headed off in the direction of the Temple of Literature- a place a bookworm such as myself would definitely appreciate!
As with the majority of temples across Asia, the Temple of Literature is a large, winding complex full of history and stunning architecture that you'll simply want to snap photos of constantly. With the heat sweltering us, I really dreaded having to put my yoga pants and t-shirt on over the top of my shorts and vest, but needs must!
Sweating buckets and looking roughly the size of the michellin man, we set off walking through the gardens leading up to the temple. Not only are the gardens beautiful, but they're incredibly peaceful even with the abundance of tourists.
With so much to take in we were here for a while, but the stunning architecture and culture was more than worth the slow death by humidity.