Well I seem to be on somewhat of a role at the moment. I resisted writing a blog for so long that now that I've started one I spend all my free time thinking about what to write about next! I'm certainly not lacking for inspiration right now, so I'll continue to plough on until all of my creative juices have run dry - I hope for all your sakes that it comes soon!
As my housemates will tell you, I've been a little negative about Vietnam recently. I'm not sure why, but I have an inkling it's mostly to do with the heat, lack of decent tea and being out of the UK for Ashes mania! So, to readdress all of my whinging and whining I figured I should write about something positive. So here it comes:
1) Cheap beer and food - let's start with the most important thing first! I kid you not, you can be well fed and watered, with crap beer but good food for about £3/4. We usually go for the local lager with some Chinese style rice, some random beef in a fantastic sauce with bread and some green vegetable that's mixed with way too much garlic, but it's sooooo good! We've found a great local 'Beer Hoi' and we probably eat there about 3 times a week and we're so well known that our glasses are already filled before they hit the table. The lovely waitress also brings our soy sauce without chillies for our housemate ,Will, who has violent reactions to them! Rating 8/10
2) Traffic flow - you'll often hear people complaining about the volume of traffic here, but despite the numbers, the bikes move remarkably well. I haven't been in a substantial traffic jam since I've been here (except for trying to get out of Saigon during a National Holiday - error!). The (apparent) lack of traffic rules are alarming when you first arrive but the traffic does follow vague patterns that are pretty easy to get the hang of after a while. Since motorbikes (or glorified mopeds) are much more mobile and nimble than cars, there aren't the daily gridlocks that we experience at home! Rating 7/10
3) Ability to fix anything, anywhere - you could be mistaken for thinking that at a coffin shop you can buy coffins and accessories for when we have to make our exit to this life, but there you'd be mistaken. Down the road, the guy not only specialises in wooden boxes, but he can also fix motorbikes and who knows what else! This is usual for Vietnam. It seems that it's always worth asking someone to try to help you fix things. As Vietnamese life tends to revolve around bikes, everyone seems to know how to fix them. However, if you have electrical problems I don't think it would be a bad call to see if they can repair it. Rating 8/10
4) First up friendliness - in contrast to Korea, the Vietnamese are immediately friendly to strangers. Here, people smile and are full of warmth for foreigners...well...mostly. Of course you have to be wary that they're not trying to sell you something, or entice you into their shop or restaurant. However, it's pretty easy to strike up conversation in a bar or coffee shop. That being said, it's harder to build lasting and meaningful friendships in Nam whereas the friends I've made in Korea will be close friends for life. Rating 6/10
Life in Vietnam does offer a lot of positives. I could go on about the cheap cost of living, the hardworking nature of the people and the pride and love that the Vietnamese feel for their country. It's a wonderful place for foreigners to live in which is easily bourne out by the number of people who come initially to stay a short time, but end up settling here. That being said, I'll still rather be sat at Lords tomorrow with a beer in my hand, waiting for Jimmy to trap Hughes LBW with the first ball of the game!