We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Memories of Vietnam

Australia
Level Contributor
530 posts
62 reviews
Save Topic
Memories of Vietnam

It would be easy to come away from a trip to Vietnam with all the wrong memories.

Yes the constant beeping of motorcycles, the mass of humanity, the sombre faces mirroring the ravages of war and poverty, the sadness in their eyes, the poor shopkeeper trying to put a morsel of food on her table by imploring you to buy - it would be easy to be overawed by it all.

But what memories of Vietnam do I have?

- The serenity of Hoan Kiem Lake. Smack bang in the middle of bustling Hanoi is this oasis of peacefulness and tranquility.

- The look on the old woman's face as we bartered over the price of a hat. Starting at 100,000vnd, haggling with smiles on our faces we settled on a price of 60,000vnd. The look of incredulity when I told her to keep the 40,000 vnd change was quickly replaced by a look of understanding and a genuine smile. That smile, I'm sure, was a mixture of thanks for a little extra profit but I'm also sure there was an equal measure of sharing the moment.

- The absolute beauty of Halong Bay. In amongst this natural beauty we sailed in a junk of manmade beauty.

- The efforts of the crew trying to cope with the unfamiliar idea of providing starchy 5 star silver service. It isn't natural to them and nor should it. Their natural charm and beauty came to the fore when they offered to baby sit a 6 month baby that was on the cruise. The 'goos' and the 'gaas' of the male staff as they played with the baby was more worthwhile than any formal waiter service.

- The streetkids of Hoian. Your heart goes out to them and it's hard to do the 'right thing' as they beg you to buy a 50c ceramic whistle. Their wide bright eyes and cheeky smiles break down the barriers.

- The shopkeepers of Hoian. "You buy from my shop", "$1.00 T-shirt". You want to buy from them all.

- The motorcycle drivers - "motorbike sir".

- All said with a smile on their face and all knowing its a game. A little grasp of English but enough to barter with you and share a joke with you.

- Dinner on the riverside in Hoian. Dinner and cocktails for 2 for under $20. All served with a smile and a promise to "share the moment" when meaning "just a moment".

- The 15 year old kids of Hoian playing an impromptu game of soccer on the banks of the river. I joined in the celebrations of a goal which prompted the spontaneous response from one of the kids to come over and 'high five' me and shake my hand. I wondered if a 15yo Australian would do similar with a Vietnamese man.

Overall my lasting impression of Vietnam is the smile. It comes free of charge and it comes from the heart.

Dave

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
6,763 posts
158 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Memories of Vietnam

beautifully said!

Hanoi
Level Contributor
48 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Memories of Vietnam

Find my self moved at ur powerful commentaries on ur trip to VN. ur funny to say "starchy 5 star silver service". in VN, ppl make a boast of their services' quality as high as 5-GOLDEN-star, but that's just sort of culture gap btw Western concept of standard and Eastern one.

Ur post leaves a smile on my face too. But can not make for sure if it is as sunny and memorable as that of the other VNese ppl u met up with or not.^^

Many thanks!

Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
3,962 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Memories of Vietnam

Thanks Dave, great description and personal thoughts. I know for certain, when my stepson was 15 a few years ago, it would not have happend.

Lee

Australia
Level Contributor
530 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Memories of Vietnam

Hi borntogivehelp

Give me your 5 star golden service anytime. It is more natural and much more friendlier than Western "service".

We read so many bad things about scams and rip-offs that we thought we should give another point of view.

I don't think I met any person I didn't get a smile from and that was even when I wasn't buying something.

Dave

melbourne
Level Contributor
608 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Memories of Vietnam

Hi Dave

Sounds like you and I must have bumped into the same people in Vietnam as that was my experience also.

Glad you enjoyed Vietnam

Marian

Perth
Level Contributor
680 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Memories of Vietnam

Hi Dave

We are in Vietnam for anothêr week & will be sorry to leave, we love the humble, happy people of this amazing country, so gracious to foreigners âfter all the turmoil their land has suffered.....hard to put into words really...

Cheers - wayvan

Leicester
Level Contributor
445 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Memories of Vietnam

Its a shame that there are such a lot of posts that highlight the negatives, negatives that in the context of things are really quite so petty as to be almost meaningless, such as being overcharged the equivalent of a few pennies or cents. Its really refreshing to read a post that puts in words what an awful lot of us think but struggle to write.

UK
Level Contributor
49 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Memories of Vietnam

Beautiful post.. It's nice to hear from someone that can make light and turn what would have been a holiday breaker to some people, into another pleasent and memorable experience.

My parents left Vietnam 28 years ago when I was just 2. I have been back a few times since and everytime, I see those looks that you describe and seeing those kids with so little, when i know what my own waste, it's impossible to just "walk on by" even though you know all "hell" is gonna break loose the minute you give 1 of them something as 20 others appear from nowhere, desperate to get a piece of whatevers going, be it 10,000 dong or a piece of chocolate.

Keep posting dave and keep travelling. It's people like you that will eventually break down the barriers and hopefully, bring out the better side of the vietnamese people.

nsw
Level Contributor
784 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Memories of Vietnam

Hey Dave

Yes I think I met the same people too. They were so nice & friendly but the kids playing soccer in Hoian made me smile the most.

We met some on the street one night in Hoian too & gave them some aussie coins & they were so happy. One little boy had missd out & we had no more coin so another boy, who got 2, came back gave my aunty one back so she could give it to that boy. There was another little one who missed out so i gave him a 2,000VND note & he cheered & jumped so high in the air it was a beautiful thing to watch. I also gave them 10,000VND & told them they had to share & they were nearly hysterical with happiness.

As we walked away they were calling out to us in Vietnamese & waving but we didnt know what they were saying so 3 teenage girls came & asked did we understand & we said not a clue. They told us the boys were calling out "thankyou, thankyou so much"

things like this happened to us all over the country so its no wonder i'm dying to get back.

Thanks so much for your post, its great to read things that others like us have enjoyed.

Perth WA
Level Contributor
218 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Memories of Vietnam

Great post Dave.

We are off to Vietnam for 2 and a half weeks in October. We were looking forward to it, now we are just plain excited. At the end of the day Dave a great holiday is made by the people you encounter along the way and how you act and react to them.

Its your attitude Dave that made your holiday and added [even if just a little] to the lives of the beautiful people you met along the way.

May all your holidays be as good and thanks for reminding us about what it takes to get the most out of a holday.

Norm and Lily