Before arriving to Vietnam I was expecting a country similar to South West China with less pollution and more scooters. And I was right!
No, wait, I’m just joking. There are a lot of differences between China and Vietnam.
In this post I would like to underline ten habits of Vietnamese that surprised me (keep in mind this is the first time I visited South East Asia).
But let’s the images talk!
Who says you need a car to grow a family?
In Vietnam few people have a car and public transportation is quite poor. Hence people learned how to optimize the space on their scooter (see the above image).
Do you really need to rent a room to start a business?
Walking around the old neighborhoods of Hanoi it’s not difficult to stumble upon any sort of street businesses. This man, for instance, opened a barbershop on the sidewalk. Despite this fact he seems to care about his customers’ privacy. Contradictory.
Vietnamese are able to perform any sort of action by keeping the equilibrium on their scooter. Read a newspaper, eat noodles, sleep or just watching the tourists (as the guy on the photo above) are just some of the most common on-the-scooter-activities. Amazing
How to transport anything in a scooter
Not only they can fit their whole family in a scooter, Vietnamese also have the ability to transport virtually anything on it. The only problem of this funambolic performance is that to keep the goods in equilibrium they cannot stop. In fact they cannot even slow down…
The ultimate squatting
If you have traveled around Asia, you will already know how much Asian people love the squat position (not only at the toilet!). However I found Vietnamese taking the “squat affair” much more seriously than Chinese people. In the above photo for instance, customers and vendors carried out the entire bargaining-buying process of fruit in the squat position!
Scooters are dangerous
Especially in Hanoi and Saigon, it’s quite common to assist to a motorbike accident. This is normal if you consider that Vietnamese drivers never stop. Sometimes they cannot even consider the possibility of stopping because by losing inertia the heavy goods they are transporting will collapse and drag the scooter on the tarmac with them.
Instead of slowing down, Vietnamese prefer to avoid obstacles by keeping the same speed or, when they estimate it can helps, accelerating. The only problem is that this strategy often fails provoking an accident as in the photo.
C’est la France!
French people didn’t leave much wealth when they were kicked out from Vietnam. However they left the tradition of coffee and baguettes! Hilarious.
What to do if you don’t have a scooter?
In Vietnam the most common way of transportation (after a scooter) is a balance kept in equilibrium in a shoulder. I did see Chinese people using a similar tool (especially in Guangxi province). However I had never seen a girl walking around with pipelines or other building materials on it.
Wanna buy my socks?
In Vietnam virtually everybody will try to sell you something. I know this happens (as for the unconventional ways to transport building materials and so on) because it’s a very poor country.
So I try my best to avoid getting annoyed even if every guy on the street is trying to sell me fruit/photocopied-novels(?!)/fake-D&G-sunglasses/a-ride-on-his-scooter/whatever.
I must say Vietnamese vendors are full of inventive (especially in the most touristic spots as Halong Bay, Hoi An or Nha Trang). For instance the girl on the photo above was trying to sell me socks at fish market. Her selling strategy was to point her dirty socks. Masochist.
I don’t get this one
In Vietnam it’s common to see an adult in a scooter with his kid. The problem is that often the adult is wearing an helmet while the kid is not. Weird.