I adore this country, from it’s rolling rice paddies in the mountainous North to the paradise beaches of the South Western Phu Quoc Islands. But like any country in the world, oh my god, it can be so annoying! For example:
1. ‘You buy something’
If you walk into any market or past any stall or shop in Vietnam, you will hear this rude and irritating phrase. Repeatedly. It’s as if they are trying to hypnotise you with this horrific chant. YOU BUY SOMETHING, you buy something now, from me, not her! They will tell you ‘cheap cheap, just for you!’ But so will the next lady, and the lady after that, and the lady after that…
This is the worst offender. A Vietnamese man on a motorbike will be driving down an empty road, but he will still honk a couple of times. Honking does not part the traffic, the drivers do not even appear angry as they honk. They just do it for the hell of it. Or perhaps just to piss me off.
3. Nearly dying on pedestrian crossings
This sounds like it should be more than just a pet peeve (like perhaps a life threatening danger) but trust me, when you’ve been here for a week or so, it just becomes part of your daytoday. Don’t believe me? Just watch this video of me attempting to cross the road…
4. The distance between places
You think you can just pop to the beach or the nearest town from where you are? Wrong, that’s a fifteen hour night bus away or a $30 flight, kids. Never underestimate how long a country Vietnam truly is (or how little sleep you will achieve on a sleeper bus).
5. Random weather changes
You’re having a lovely warm weekend in Hoi An after the cold winter in the North. You can’t wait to top up your tan and soak up the sun. Then bam a monsoon blows over from Singapore. Fantastic…
6. Bikes and scooters
Motorbikes are everywhere and they’re a pain in the ass. And not just because they nearly run you over everyday, oh no. They also clog up the pavements, which are apparently also car parks. You’ll spend your trip weaving in and out and diving out of the way whenever someone decides to cut traffic by driving straight through the pedestrians.
7. Old women dangling their wares while you eat
You’re chilling, chatting, enjoying some good Pho or a tasty Bahn Mi at a table along the street and suddenly, a bag of peanuts are dangling in your face, or some god awful souvenirs in the shape of owls or Vietnamese old ladies. Don’t come between me and my food. You won’t like me when I’m hangry…
8. Old men with boards of sunglasses
These guys are relentless and they’re everywhere. Ignoring the fact that you’re already wearing sunglasses, they will approach you with their huge selection of ‘Ray Bans’, blocking the whole street with their huge sandwich boards. Sometimes your only choice is to turn around and run away…
Sometimes haggling can be good fun. I’ve got quite competitive now, and sometimes I get carried away… So when I’m done haggling and the seller isn’t pissed off, I know I should’ve pushed for much lower. Dammit! (But then you realise it’s just a dollar, and you somehow manage to enjoy the rest of your holiday.)
10. When you order the extra large and it still feels like a starter
The Vietnamese are a petite, skinny race, so when you order the large scoop of ice cream, it’s no wonder you think that spoon-sized dollop is the sample and lose your shit when they bring the bill instead of more ice cream. It’s okay. You can eat when you get home, guys.
I say these are pet peeves, but what I really mean is Vietnam, I am so fond of you it drives me insane.