Continuing the theme of my previous two posts, here are 14 more impressions of Vietnam’s capital city.
- Lots of free delivery
Things such as jugs of water, groceries, and laundry are examples of what’s available for free delivery. This is nice for larger items and repeat purchases.
- Vietnamese and foreigners mix well
In my neighborhood there is a good mix of foreigners and Vietnamese people. Despite the occasional language barrier, it seems to be a harmonious mix. I suspect this is due to Hanoians’ easy going nature, which rubs off on the cities’ non-natives.
- People are short
This is probably stating the obvious, but you won’t find many NBA prospects here.
- Internet can be unreliable
When I got here at the beginning of the year, the Internet was adequately fast. However, after an undersea cable broke, the Internet became incredibly slow for over two weeks. Speeds have since bounced back, but there can be periods of sluggishness.
- It can be hard to find basic things
Certain “common” necessities like contact solution are often difficult to find.
- Lots of extra staff
There seems to be an over-supply of employees at many stores. There often appears to be double or even triple the number of staff needed.
- It’s not that touristy
I’ve been to the Old Quarter district several times. This is the heart of the “tourist” area and home to many hotels and backpacker hostels. Yet in the six weeks I’ve lived in Hanoi I have not seen a single postcard for sale. Which is strange because I have actually been on the lookout for postcards. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any “Hanoi” t-shirts for sale, either. Or keychains, mugs, or any other souvenir trinkets. For me this is a plus because it means I get to experience a more “authentic” city.
- You pay afterwards at cafes
Cafes are like restaurants in that you order first, sit down, and have your drink brought to you. You don’t pay until you leave.
- It’s a big city but doesn’t feel like it
The city is quite spread out and doesn’t seem overly crowded. Although there are around 2.5 million people in the city (6.5 million in the greater metro area), the population density does not seem that high. The city feels large but not crowded.
- The traffic is crazy, but drivers are not
Traffic in Hanoi is notoriously hectic, but the drivers are surprisingly relaxed. I have not seen any cases of “road rage” or much overly aggressive driving. People honk out of courtesy and not out of anger.
- The women are attractive
I have heard that Vietnamese women are considered some of the most beautiful in Asia. I would have to concur.
- People are friendly
For the most part, people seem friendly in a genuine way.
- There aren’t any alcoholics/junkies
Although beer drinking is popular here, I haven’t noticed any crazy public drunkenness. I also haven’t noticed any drug abuse or homelessness. I’m guessing this is due to cultural taboos against anti-social behavior such as excessive drinking and drug use.
- The city closes early
Hanoi is alive and bustling during the day and evening, but around 11 PM everybody goes home and the city shuts down.