This has to be the most unplanned trip ever.
1. I speak zero Vietnamese. (or as how I would say it on the streets: no Vietnam). For destinations like Japan or Korea, I could cheat language-wise due to my fluency in Mandarin – both languages had roots in Mandarin.
But in Vietnam, I am frustrated. It SOUNDS like Cantonese – which I can understand (especially when the lady selling tank tops on the street tells me to slim down) – but it is NOT Cantonese or Mandarin.
My (very miserable) cheat sheet:
(I need help, obviously.)
2. I booked the air tickets last week – on my tablet while on a public bus to Little India
3. This is my first trip EVER to Vietnam
I landed in Ha Noi in the late afternoon at the shiny new airport Noi Ba (from 28 Dec 2014, international flights on the national carrier now fly to Noi Ba). It is so new that there isn’t a taxi booking counter – which I was expecting to see. There was no information counter. There were guys still painting things in the arrival area. I got the taxi guy to go to my hostel and agreed on the price with a lot of pointing and scratching of heads.
I didn’t do much today; just walked around the night market.
This market stretches over 3 streets – from Hang Dao to Hang Durong. The stalls sell the (almost) same stuff, so if you don’t like the prices at one stall, you may go to another stall 50m away to bargain again.
The Vietnamese are quite helpful – except when they are trying to fleece someone.
I got my Vietnamese SIM card from a shop which had closed for the night. One of the staff at the hostel I was staying at summoned the shopkeeper at 9pm by banging on the metal shutters.
They painstakingly explained the process of activating my SIM card in broken English, then wrote the instructions down for me. I was very appreciative of that.
My feet are cold – it is 12 degrees Celsius outside.
I will go huddle in my blankets now.