Holy Moly. I woke up today and realized my dreams are finally my reality. Here I am waking up in South East Asia. Vietnam, to be more exact. What a wild ride it was getting here. Another 24 hours spent traveling on flights and in airports.
Before landing we were terrified about all the scams and horror stories we have heard from people getting in ‘taxis’ at the airports that either rob you or take you to random locations. It’s no wonder we were completely stressed out as we left the airport to find a random man holding a sign with just my name on it. No sign of what hotel he was taking us to, who he worked for and to top it off he did not speak one word of English!
After much deliberation we decided to get in the car, I mean he did have my full name on a paper which the hostel said he would. We also used the google translate app to find out what address he was taking us too. After a 40 min drive full of anxiety, we pulled up to a block of people sitting around everywhere and our driver pointed down an alley way and said “down there ya”.. Ummm NO! There was no way were were getting out of the car to walk down an alley together at midnight with all of our backpacks.
Seconds later a young gentlemen came running up to our car with a big smile on his face, wearing a t-shirt from the hostel which we had booked at saying “follow me”. As we walked down the alley way still feeling uneasy, we turned the corner to see a street full of backpackers who welcomed us with smiles and waves.
Once we checked into our hostel we were all completely wiped. Arriving in our room we were pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. Super clean and private. It was finally time for some rest and relaxation.
Since jet lag is still kicking my butt I only had about 3 hours of sleep. Which seems to be the usual since starting this adventure. At 4 am I was bright eyed and ready to start our day in Vietnam but I had to wait for the others to wake up.
After my morning Skype with Joe I felt a rush of homesickness. I miss cuddling my little Tito and enjoying my morning coffee with Joey. Although he reminded me this is only temporary and I am already on week two!
Our hostel offered a free walking tour so we spent the morning walking down the streets of Hanoi. What a different world! The sound of honking from cars and mopeds which were moving in all directions made my head spin! As our tour guide took us down to the markets I felt my stomach turn upside down at the sight of raw meat and fish all over the streets. You see, I have been vegetarian/vegan for the past 6 months and seeing this caught me off guard.
Apparently this wasn’t enough of a culture shock at once, so our tour guide decided to ask us if we wanted to try some dog. When my eyes welled up and I said “my dog is my best friend, I can’t eat him”, our tour guide laughed and said “I have a dog too, you don’t eat your own dog, you eat your neighbours dog!” I thought I was going to be sick.
He then went on to ask if we wanted to try some snake heart. Apparently they like to cut out the heart while the snake is still alive and so after you swallow the heart you can feel it beating inside. Some gentlemen in our group decided to give this a go – Can’t say I did!
I am all for learning about other cultures and more importantly being respectful but let me tell you, this stole my appetite for the entire day!
It was evident we were officially in a different world. Culture shock has hit me hard.