Vietnam upfront – you never would have Nguyễn it

It’s been 7 months living and breathing Vietnam, with a touch of Laos and Thailand. I still have a ‘what the hell Vietnam’ moment most days which only increases my curiosity and understanding of the culture’s intricacies. Whether it’s a swan lake performance at a Vietnamese wedding or being gifted the chicken head and feet for my birthday, there is always something to laugh about.

Here’s my latest insights:
1. The street seller is the rawest form of business to be admired
Street sellers are trade in its most pure and honest form. The farmers who bring their produce straight to the market cut out all middle-men in the value chain. Street-side food stores buy their goods direct from the markets, reducing the value-chain to 2 parties. No land ownership is required and all their assets can be contained within the one mobile cart, or packed onto a motorbike. Minimising parties involved in bringing goods from the producer to the consumer maximises profits and reduces complexities. This labori…

A phở-real 5 months

Schools out! I have now finished my university semester in Hanoi. Over 5 months I’ve saddled more people on the back of motorbikes than I feel is appropriate to number, accidentally used skin whitening shower gel, changed my iPhone language to Vietnamese and narrowly escaped death multiple times on Vietnam’s hectic roads.
Hanoi has certainly been unforgettable.
I can now add a couple more items to the ‘Never have I ever…except in Vietnam’ list: - Changed footwear 3 times to get to the bathroom (living room, kitchen and bathroom sandals) - Been obsessed with condensed milk (fresh milk is hard to come by) - Sang ‘Thank you I love you’ after every yoga class - Been told to put banana on my skin to get rid of my freckles - Drank snake’s blood (see proof below)

Top Lessons Learnt (Part 2)1. Time is a constructExpect everything to start early, but also expect delays. For example, one of my lectures started at 6:45am every Monday morning. However, the 2pm bus may come anytime from 1:50 - 3pm.

2. Ma…

So Far Phở-bulous! 3 Months In - Rate My Top 8

First up, what I’ve been doing in Hanoi for 3 months, apart from eating copious amounts of rice and noodles?- Studying at Hanoi University of Science and Technology (as part of my Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering)
- Learning Vietnamese
- Working part-time at The Asia Foundation
- Teaching English
- Playing in the university volleyball and ping-pong 'super' teams
- Exploring the insane organised chaos of Hanoi city and its rural outskirts 

Top 8 Lessons Learnt So Far
1. Eat together and ‘cheers’ often Meals are better shared, even if the food is cold. Traditionally, meals consist of a variety of dishes meticulously prepared by the woman of the house which everyone eats portions of in their own bowls. You wait until everyone is seated and the eldest male starts eating. Drinking is a bicep workout as every sip of beer is celebrated, shouting ‘2,3, uống!’ each time you pick up your glass.

2. Language is powerful but spoken Vietnamese is often unforgiving My beginner knowledge…