November 1, 2007

Reasons to Hate Vietnam
Hanoi, Vietnam

Oh Vietnam, how I hate you… Let me count the ways…

I Hate Vietnam's Lies

I'm tired of being lied to. It's as if the population has a compulsive lying habit.

I was lied to when I instructed a shuttle bus driver from the airport to transport us to a specific hotel (where a man jumps out of a building claiming this is the address I asked for, insisting that he's full, but will take us to another one around the corner). I was lied to when picking up a spare backpack left at a Hanoi hotel, with the staff trying to extort US$30 from me for a few days of keeping it chained to a desk in the corner of their lobby—we walked off without paying.

Pop-out Christmas card

I'm constantly being lied to for stupid, simple, insignificant stuff as well. Like when I was purchasing some rather interesting cutout/popup greeting cards from a tiny store outside the tourist bubble. Tatiana asked how they were made, and the woman motioned that she made them herself with a scalpel. This was a total fabrication—I could see the bloody burn marks left from a laser that created the obviously mass-produced cards. I suppose she put that barcode sticker on the back of the card as well, huh?

Liars. So many damn liars.

I Hate Vietnam's Dual Pricing

Although common in many countries, alternate pricing for foreigners is visible and in your face in Vietnam. The same boat ride that a tourist pays 100,000 dong for, finds your Vietnamese citizen neighbor paying 80,000d. I might haggle for a piece of fruit, but my ending price is still twice that of the local buying it next to me, because the vendor inflated the initial price 400%.

Most foreigners are seen as targets of opportunity. According to Nguyen Huu Viet, an official from the Tourism Department of Hanoi, overcharging foreign tourists is not necessarily a kind of fraud, but part of the "culture".

An excerpt from an article entitled 'The price isn’t quite right':

"American and Russian tourists are very generous but the most generous customers are from Japan, they hardly bargain at all," says Thu Huong, who works in a small souvenir shop in the Old Quarter. "Even with a price 10-times the going rate, a Japanese customer might consider it cheap. But Italian or German tourists would just take a look and smile."

The more naive of these tourists are called "ga beo" (fatty chicken), a slang term for those that jump at the price of $100 for a fake $10-Rolex watch from China or $40 for a $5-dollar-string of artificial pearls.

"To be honest I don’t really care about the souvenir shops or fruit sellers trying to get a bit more cash out of a foreigner, haggling for goods is part of the game," says Daniel Lewenstein, an American lawyer living in Vietnam on and off for 10 years. "But it’s really annoying when there's a set price and people try to chance their arm anyway, like the last time I arrived at Noi Bai airport the taxi driver tried to charge me VND280,000 for a trip to town even though it said VND150,000 on the sign!"

I Hate Vietnam's Noise

It seems like this country has developed or enhanced every known way to pollute the environment with noise. The decibel level reaches a point on the street where I need to put ear plugs in because my ears are "eeeeeeeeeeeeing" by the time I get back inside the hotel.

Hundreds of thousands of muffler-less vehicles belch sound as they zoom through the streets. Horns are repeatedly honked by every motorist, on average, every five to seven seconds. They honk when passing someone; they honk when turning; they honk when pissed; they honk when happy; they honk when people aren't moving fast enough; they honk whey they're driving the wrong direction, against traffic on a one-way street; they honk to show off their custom horn; and they honk because everyone else is honking next to them. I watch and listen as some just keep the horn depressed as they drive along the avenues. In Hanoi, not a moment passes in the day when you don't hear the sound of a horn—inside your hotel room, or not.

Socialist megaphones are installed in Hanoi that, several times daily, force tourists and residents alike to plug their ears to keep them from bleeding. The volume that emits from these hour-long news, weather, music, and advertisement announcements is actually so loud that it drowns out the honking. It's that loud.

Having a street-facing hotel room in Vietnam is one of the last things you really want in the country, especially when you have one of these microphone attached to the building, jarring you awake at 7:00 in the morning with the amplified sound of their ugly language.

Between the vehicles, the constant construction, the language, and the karaoke bars, I find myself envying the deaf.

I Hate Vietnam's Language

I can best describe the Vietnamese language as the undulating growl emitted by a cat that's been disturbed while it chews on a mouth full of dry cat food. meruughh-meowruugh-rruughh

I could also describe most men sounding like a recording of mentally handicapped person with a mouth full of Novocain, making an impression of a goose, played in reverse.

A linguistic sample, recorded off the radio.

I Hate Vietnam's Traffic and Pedestrian Woes

There are over 1.5 million motorcycles in Hanoi owned by city dwellers, plus over 400,000 motorcycles from outside the city—increasing at a rate of 14% each year. That's a f**king lot of motorcycles, as evident by the hazardous conditions for pedestrians.

Every sidewalk is packed to the brim with vendors and households doubling their street-level floor as a business. This means that pedestrians are forced to walk in the street. The feeling of wind that rushes past you as you're nearly clipped by a speeding motorbike or auto is at all times constant.

There are few crosswalks in a city that actually really needs them. Even when present, it only mitigates the risk of getting struck on the street by a vehicle slightly, as you'll never get a green walk signal without vehicles turning right onto an adjoining street, or left from a green left-turn light.

The process of crossing a street saturated with traffic and no traffic control is simply to take the "Indiana Jones jump from the Lion's Head Leap of Faith" approach. Think of the traffic like a raging river, and you as a slowly moving stone—the traffic will part, so long as you don't stop or run.

This process scares the living daylights of Tatiana, who fears for the safety of the child in her belly every time she ventures outside the hotel. Going anywhere is a major ordeal, as the thought of being struck by an errant motorbike and the subsequent consequences on our unborn son would be devastating. I always hold her hand and stand between her and the direction of the oncoming traffic—the padded human shield technique. I can't blame her, but she still has the habit of wanting to stop when it looks like she's about to get hit, which is the wrong thing to do. That's going to get us all killed. Do not stop. Do not run. Those are the rules. You must let go of your fear like you're about to jump out of an airplane, and trust that all will be well.

I filmed a quick video of what the streets look like all day long, and what you've just got to cautiously walk into, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BDekHnNxZ4

I Hate Vietnam's Visa Price

I hate how much it costs to enter this country, and how much of a pain in the ass it is to do it economically.

I Hate Vietnam's Skinny Buildings

Climbing countless flights of stairs because the Vietnamese like to build their hotels at the width of a single room pisses me off. I've had to pass on quality rooms because they're on the eighth floor and a near seven-month pregnant Tatiana can't walk past the third floor without getting winded.

I Hate the way the Vietnamese Obstruct Storefronts

The cultural habit of parking motorbikes in such a way that every square centimeter of space in front of a store or restaurant I want to enter drives me nuts. The lack of thinking and courtesy towards others that is embodied on the roads manifests itself in parking protocol: Push and shove your way into any available open space and claim success.

I realize there's no space for anyone or anything in this unholy place of traffic misery, but not everyone is a 43-kilo twig-shaped-ninja that can maneuver through these things—just look to Tatiana's massive belly to understand how it prohibits her movement here.

I Hate Vietnam's Mutant Lobsters

I knew better than to believe I'd actually get something resembling lobster for US$3, but we were in the middle of the Gulf of Tokin, and seafood was the most prevalent item on the menu. Just maybe I'll come out Aces, I thought.

What was tossed on my plate was one of the most visually revolting animals I've ever seen. These sweet and sour covered mutants of the sea looked like the evil offspring of a prawn and lobster. I didn't dare look as Tatiana extracted what little meat was actually contained within their hideous exoskeletons.

A quick video of my disappointment can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx55ZgUEKRc

I Hate Vietnam's Chairs, Cockroaches, and Cholera

I know the people are small, but why am I so often forced to eat while sitting on a stool designed for a four-year-old?

Cockroaches on the street. Cockroaches in my transport. Cockroaches found cooked in my food. Just plain foul. It's no wonder this country still has cholera issues:

HANOI (Reuters) - A cholera outbreak in northern Vietnam has affected more than 200 people.

The ruling Communist Party's daily Nhan Dan (People) quoted Health Minister Nguyen Quoc Trieu as saying over 1,600 people have suffered vomiting acute diarrhea, 202 of whom tested positive for cholera bacteria since Oct. 23. The reports did not say whether anyone had died in an epidemic of acute diarrhea in 13 provinces and cities out of 64 in Vietnam, where the last widespread cholera outbreak was in 2004.

I Hate How the Pith Helmet is so Popular

Pith helmets are as prevalent in Vietnam as baseball caps in the United States. Men and boys of all ages wear them regularly, and the sight of it creeps the hell out of me. It feels like I'm behind enemy lines, surrounded by NVA (North Vietnamese Army)—and given my attitude these days, I probably wouldn't mind pickin' a few of the aggressive ones off with a rifle, just to watch the communist relic of a bygone war drop to the ground.

I Hate Vietnam's Taxi Drivers

I'm not an idiot with taxis. My doors are always locked, my guard is always up, and I'm constantly monitoring where we're going—making a little map in my head or ensuring that the driver is generally following a path that I've memorized by looking at the layout of the city ahead of time. When people don't pay attention, they get cheated, robbed, or worse. Taxi drivers are, the world round, the scum of the Earth. Way below that of lawyers.

In Vietnam, it's really to the point where we consistently expect the worst out of every taxi ride. This is a country known for rigged meters (that count faster than they should) and shady drivers. Hell, the people try everything they can to screw you over on the streets, so there's no reason to think they won't do it in a cab.

I recall how one taxi driver took us for an excessive 8 minute/two kilometer ride around a popular lake in the Old Quarter instead of driving directly to our destination. I called him out on it halfway around, and watched him try to claim that the flow of traffic didn't allow for it (when I knew there were several opportunities for him to do so). Others would drive around and pretend to not know where they were going (or they were really just that stupid); while two others absolutely refused to stop the cab when we no longer wanted to deal with idiotic behavior.

When we knew the fair should be about 18,000 dong and the meter, and at our destination it said 25,000d, 48,000d, or 55,000d, we'd refuse to pay the full fair. One three or more occasions Tatiana and I threw a 20,000d note at a driver and walked away. One wouldn't accept it and came chasing after us on foot, only to walk away with it after losing face.

We tried calling both expensive inexpensive cab companies to pick us up versus flagging them down on the street, but it yielded the same mixed results. There's absolutely no consistently to the companies or their drivers. The best policy is to just not put up with their shit and pay what you think is fair, regardless of what that little (rigged) box says on the dashboard.

I Hate Vietnam's Food Hype

The best Vietnamese food I ever had wasn't in Vietnam. That goes doubly true with Tatiana, as well.

I find the spectrum of options and flavors within those options to be much narrower most places in SE Asia. To put it bluntly, the food is quite bland and uninspiring.

I know the South is "very different" to the North, where the motto is "if in doubt, boil it to within an inch of its life," but I have a hard time believing it gets much better elsewhere in the country.

It's very easy for me to eat three Thai meals every day for a month, but it's something I would cringe at the thought of doing in Vietnam—there's way too much repetition.

I Hate the Cultural Insensitivity of the Vietnamese People

There is a real culture clash happening with travelers and locals in this country. Tatiana expresses to me how much she loathes it when people touch her—a sentiment that I share. She understands that it's a part of their culture to grab arms or elbows on the street to try to get someone do buy something or do an action, but it's a line that she doesn't like to be crossed.

"I understand why they do it, it's a part of their culture, but why can't they understand that it's offensive in mine to do it?"

I personally won't tolerate it from beggars and pith helmet wearing men on the street, regardless. I aggressively clapped my hands a few centimeters away one man's face to illustrate such a point—instead of slapping him, like Tatiana did one night on a separate incident.

Tatiana also hates how shop staff will follow you around so close "that you can feel their breath on your neck."

I Hate the Vietnamese Inability to Communicate, and Intelligently Anticipate or Extrapolate a Need

I already mentioned this in a previous post, but not since Brazil have I encountered such difficultly communicating with people. I'm chiefly blaming it on their inability to comprehend hand gestures—as the Vietnamese don't often speak with their hands—and a general lack of intelligence. Yeah, that's right, Tatiana and I think most of the people are genuinely below average in the mental faculty department. "Many are nice, but they're dumb as rocks", Tatiana would say.

Two examples to illustrate our frustration:

The first is my unsuccessful attempt to find one of the most ancient of devices in a region of the world they should be plentiful in: A mortar and pestle—a tool used to crush, grind, and mix substances. I want to begin grinding Tatiana's prenatal vitamins that she can't stand swallow, instead of watching her cut it up with scissors and letting it dissolve in juice or yogurt. They're so common, even IKEA makes 'em.

Wikipedia says that this device has existed for over three millennia, and in terms of medical use, that "mortars and pestles [have] traditionally used in pharmacies to crush various ingredients prior to preparing a makeshift prescription. The mortar and pestle is the most common icon associated with pharmacies. For pharmaceutical use, the mortar and the head of the pestle are usually made of porcelain, while the handle of the pestle is made of wood."

Honest to God, I lost count with the number of pharmacies and supermarkets explored for this item. I even asked the tourist information center on a visit to the Old Quarter, where I was directed to the location of a nonexistent supermarket she marked on the map handed me.

At all these pharmacies I was making an effective demonstration of what I wanted. I used words like "pill," "tablet," "medicine," and "powder." I made a cup with one hand, fist with the other, and made a grinding motion. I looked up the word "grind" in an English/Vietnamese dictionary and showed it to staff members, who still didn't quite understand.

On the final attempt, one pharmacist listened to my demonstration, thought about it, and then proceeded to point to her armpit with raised eyebrows… (sigh)

The second example is of an attempt to alleviate Tatiana's itchy, pregnant belly. We went from pharmacy to pharmacy, trying to find her a cream/ointment. At one particularly memorable location, she was working hard to communicate her need. She'd written down the name of the topical cream—Caladryl. It's spelled the same everywhere, but just in case, she also used a more generic name, hydrocortisone.

The staff is baffled, so Tatiana makes itching/scratching motions across her large, third-trimester belly. The girl says, "You have baby?", and Tatiana responds affirmatively, thinking she's got it. And in a move of sheer brilliance that can only have come out of Vietnam, the girl hands her a box of… birth control pills.

Final Thoughts on the Country I Love to Hate

I came into Vietnam much like I do with all countries—with an open mind and curious attitude. The opinions I've expressed above are a direct result of the experiences that I've had from the people and living conditions of the country. It's amazing to see such great displeasure aggregated in this fashion, but readers should also know that there were some instances where Vietnam pleased greatly—though few a far between.

I was absolutely dumbstruck when a street vendor I was regularly purchasing food from in Hanoi gave me a fist full of cash after I approached one day. They husband and wife combo said they'd accidentally charged me too much when I was there two days prior, and were returning the excess. Amazed, I promptly used it to purchase more foodstuffs from them.

I was pleased to find better room deals in Hanoi than Bangkok. You've really got to work hard to find them, but when you do, you're liable to be getting WiFi, a mini-fridge, bathroom, hot water, large bed(s), satellite television, and air conditioning for US$7-13/night.

Forgotten pillbox [video]

I still think it's absolutely fascinating to be able to freely walk around the capital city of a country with whom such a fierce war was waged against not that long ago. I'm an American in Hanoi—amazing.

I really dig the little meat barbecue/frying outfits you can sometimes find setup on sidewalks. During the day a corner of sidewalk might be empty, but at night it's bustling with the sounds of cooking food. Tasty stuff.

In good company

And easily one of the best experiences in Vietnam came with meeting up with my friend Aaron's former girlfriend. She's a sweet, intelligent, well-spoken woman (not to mention an established international writer/journalist) that can sometimes be found in her hometown of Hanoi when she's not in the United States or Thailand. Tatiana and I had the pleasure of her company for an evening, where she hosted us for an excessively filling meal. She understands all too well the issues articulated above, and has a way about her that almost makes you forgive and forget—almost.

I can't say as I'd ever recommend a visit to this country to anyone, but for the curious, there's nothing like experiencing it for yourself. I couldn't hope to write down all the stories and countless occasions where we felt like knocking some sense into people. So go ahead; go to Vietnam for two or three weeks, and return home with enough horror stories to choke a small horse.

Comments:

Bobby

December 7th, 2007

Amen to all that man. I spent time in Vietnam and I went from Hanoi to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) over land and it was pretty much the same everywhere. The south is more expensive than the north and there is a KFC in Saigon. Thats about all you missed. I got food poisoning from spaghetti (as I too hated the Vietnamese food).

Nha Trang was an ok town. I did like the My Son ruins. Good for a day of wandering. I too will not go back. The visa, the people, and the daily life are all huge pains in the ass.

To those reading this it is a very true and realistic report. Thumbs up!

Bobby
traveladdict.org

Jen/YVR

December 7th, 2007

I have never been to Vietnam myself, and so can neither confirm nor deny anything you have written about this country.

I certainly know you have nothing to gain by being overly harsh about things.

But being in the travel industry, I have heard client after client come back raving about Vietnam. I wonder - the packages that you are so against (which I understand - being a career traveller, you could not possibly travel the entire time in the form of packages) - though they cost far more than things do when you find them out yourself - do you think that they could have maybe led to your enjoying the country more?

They would have smoothed out the connections (which caused much aggravation), got you into hotels (without having to spend half your day trying to find something suitable) and perhaps put you in accommodation that, because they are researched and frequented by travellers who won't put up with that s***, provide a more acceptable level of service.

I just wonder - a good chunk of those people that I talk to every year that loved Vietnam, saw it on a package/packages. While they may not have seen what you consider the 'real Vietnam,' they did enjoy themselves. They see the best of Vietnam. And the people I dealt with are not, in general, all-inclusive-package-in-Cancun types. They are travellers interested in other cultures and staying true to whatever they are visiting.

So if they are enjoying Vietnam with half the hassels you encountered, is it not possible that maybe, just this once, packages may have been the way to go?

I'm not saying I'm right…I'm just curious…..

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

December 7th, 2007

Hi Jen,

It's true that at some level I feel like I failed as a traveler in Vietnam.

Vietnam is not going to change — it's me that needs to adapt.

Figuring out what went wrong in the country is something that I've invested some energy in, but not much. Sometimes I see it like doing a postmortem when the body clearly died of a bullet to the head.

Would things have been different if I was alone? Would things been different if I just paid people to make my life easier? Would things have been different if I worked in an office for 11.5 months out of the year and used my two weeks of vacation time to travel in Vietnam?

…Sure.

But none of those things ever want to make me return to the country, or recommend it to others (when there are so many other more flavorful, interesting, affordable, and hospitable places to visit in SE Asia).

Anonymous

December 10th, 2007

I liked Vietnam…sure there were some bad times…like risking my life trying to cross the street, but the old lady who basically held our hand and walked us across was pretty funny.
The food is so cheap! The cities are fun, the shopping is great, the beaches are great, the weather is warm, the war obsessed tourists are hilarious, the anti-war video at the tunnels is the funniest thing I've seen…I think the bad stuff (harrassment, overcharging, dodgy food) was the same same but different as all the other S.E Asian countries (apart from Laos which kicks every other country's ass)…but thats just my opinion…

Anonymous

February 15th, 2008

So, dont ever get back!

Anonymous

February 21st, 2008

You should try going to Sai Gon instead. I personally find the food to be much better in Sai Gon and the people are much friendlier too (slightly less ripoff!). Actually, I really hate the food in the North.
But all the other stuff like traffic, noise, dust… should be the same.

Anonymous

March 5th, 2008

Before traveling to any country, particularly a developing 3rd world country like Vietnam, it would make a lot of sense to do some research on things like the culture, history, economy, and geography. Another thing one should do is realize that the country they're going to is NOT America. So expect differences in the food, language, and everyday personal interactions. Going to Hanoi or Saigon is obviously not like going to Los Angeles or Houston, so be open. Remember, where you're going… IT'S NOT AMERICA, EXPECT DIFFERENCES!!!

Criticizing the way the locals treat the tourist is one thing, but to mock the way people speak is another. An intelligent person should expect differences when travelling to another country. If one can't tolerate the differences, then don't travel. Stay in American and remain ignorant.

Also, who the hell takes a pregnant women to a 3rd world country with limited knowledge to the language and access to health care?

Anonymous

March 23rd, 2008

You were indeed in Vietnam. The Vietnamese are some of the rudest and greediest people on the face of the earth. I too came to Vietnam with an open mind and really enjoyed it until I experienced the way the people treat foreigners and each other. Some foreigners love to say, "well they fought off the French and the Americans and you'd hate foreigners too if you were them". Why then do Laotians treat foreigners well and Cambodians treat foreigners well. They were both colonized by the French and bombed by the Americans.

It's because the Vietnamese are as a generalization some of the evilest people on the face of the earth. No doubt there are some nice people here and there though. Do yourself a favour and don't go to Vietnam.

Anonymous

March 23rd, 2008

To the person asking about travel packages in Vietnam. I work in the travel industry in Vietnam. I do think that booking a trip with a company does help a lot with peoples impressions of Vietnam. To be honest most are just on a two week holiday in Vietnam and if you just pay ten times more the going rate Vietnam won't bother you so much and it'll still be cheaper than home. It is a beautiful country with a lot to offer, it's just full of evil cunt people.

Anonymous

March 28th, 2008

I personally find this post aghast and littered with Eurocentric sentiment. Xenophobic statements such as "most men sounding like a recording of mentally handicapped person with a mouth full of Novocain, making an impression of a goose, played in reverse" are not really adequate statements as to why a country should not be visited. Is this supposed to a sufficient reason to avoid a country? Your attempt at wit has failed, and rather, you sound pretty racist.

Developing countries are difficult to stomach. Travelling to one can be a harrowing experience. Of course you're going to be shocked by the grime, lack of traffic laws, etc. But it also seems wildly arrogant to go to a country, then get frustrated because you didn't bother to learn any of the customs/language and no one understands you. This makes you sound like a spoiled, petulant child, stamping your foot and screaming, "But I want it THIS WAY!"

"…as the Vietnamese don't often speak with their hands—and a general lack of intelligence. Yeah, that's right, Tatiana and I think most of the people are genuinely below average in the mental faculty department. "Many are nice, but they're dumb as rocks", Tatiana would say."

Body language is not universal. Every region in the world has a different way of expressing their thoughts through their movements. This is universal throughout the world. Who are you to label an entire race as "dumb as rocks". Are you a member of Mensa? Or are you on a racial cleansing mission, and have decided to make heuristical judgments when you've clearly admitted that you couldn't even communicate with the Vietnamese due to a language barrier?

Overall, your post is full of racially insensitive, untrue statements. It's perfectly fine to not recommend a country to afellow traveler based on your own findings, and dislike it for the experiences you've had. I've travelled to countries which I've disliked. But it's another matter to base your opinions on statements where you're putting down a race, and smugly asserting your "superiority". Not to mention, some of these posts of acknowledgement are worrisome…. this really concerns me for the future of this world.

Dazzla

April 25th, 2008

The people above who accuse you of racism have, I suspect, never been to Vietnam.

Although there were a significant number of bright spots during our month in Vietnam, I found myself agreeing with a great deal of what you said. When I arrived in Cambodia, I spoke little Khmer, but I found the Khmer people to be nothing but welcoming, honest and friendly. Crossing over to Vietnam, I loved Saigon, Dalat, Mui Ne and Hoi An, and the people who lived there but as we travelled further north, things became more manic.

It *is* a fact that Vietnamese people (in general) are more aggressive and prone to overcharging when selling to a Westerner than most people in SouthEast Asia (although they try the same tricks against each other - you're at a disadvantage if you don't know these tricks).

It is not 'you that needs to adapt'. Understand that if you are not Vietnamese,you will never truly get off the beaten track, and you will always be just a tourist.
The comment above about booking package tours for the best experience was spot on IMHO. If you want to have a relaxing experience, pay triple and shut up.

Having said that, I wouldn't discourage anyone from visiting Vietnam. It's a beautiful country, full of contradictions and even if you are overcharged, it's still not expensive.

NCY

May 12th, 2008

Dear All friends,

The first thing that I would like to said to every people " Thank you so much for all your feelings and comments that came from your real mind about my country". I am a Vietnamese and I am happy because this simple reason.

I was born in Hanoi which is a beautiful city in my mind. I left Vietnam to go to Japan to take master course two years ago. I also have one change to visit US one year ago when I had a conference in New York during 1 week.

Two year for Japan and one week for US, that is not too long time period to understand well Japanese, American and also their countries. However, Japanese and American are very friendly in my mind.

In fact, Any thing that you said that are the truth in somewhere in Viet Nam. One country has been developing after many years in war by US and France.

I really like your way that you express your feeling as " I hate Viet Nam'….". Have you ever think when you go to Vietnam and meet one old woman who is a mother of 9 children who died in war by American army? What will she do with you? I believe that she will smile and would like to give you a cup of clean water if you thirsty. The simple reason that make she do that is she want to live in peace, she would like to see the other Vietnamese who can live in a peace society forever. How about American?

Viet Nam is a developing country. We have many big problems that have to face with environments, society and economy. However, we are happy to live in this society and we will do as our best to improve our society. Why we said that we are happy even though we are not rich as many developed country. Because one simple reason, we can live in peace country that a dream of our grandfathers and many Vietnamese who were died in war for this peace. How about US?

Nowadays, every Vietnamese always do as their best to improving our country. I will have to stay in Japan more than 3 years to take the doctor course. However, the an autumn moment of Hanoi city always in my mind during the period time in Japan or any country in the world. Viet Nam, I love you.

Finally, please don't go to visit our country if you are an egoistic people. To understand the real Vietnamese and Viet Nam, Please open your mind.

Best regards to all friends.

Anonymous

May 21st, 2008

Vietnamese sounds ugly to me but then again maybe we sound ugly to them.Vice-versa

Like I know people who love the Japanese and Korean language but some just hate one or the other.

so same applys with Vietnamese or any other language.If there were no ugly languages (depends on opinion) then we wouldnt know a nice sounding one to begin with.

Mimi

June 8th, 2008

You guys are retarded. If you dont like it then you don't have to write an article about that. How about if I say USA sucks? SOrry but what you've said can really offense people. Writing this will not make your country any better.

Anonymous

June 8th, 2008

I read through this blog as a Vietnamese American just expecting the typical ravings of a dissapointed tourist, but by the end with your comment on Vietnamese people's (lack of) intelligence, I figured I shouldn't even bother trying to explain where you went wrong in terms of having an enjoyable occasion. I realize Vietnam is a developing country and has a lot of problems, but we are people like anywhere else. Anyway, it's pointless.

Anonymous

June 8th, 2008

and to the commenter named "Dazzla", most of your post is very rational and fair and balanced, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the comment about the original poster not being racist because if we had been to Vietnam we would apparently agree with him?

His post isn't racist because he had a shitty time and hated the country - hey, if I spent money on a trip and had been endlessly lied to, ripped off, and had an overall bad time - yeah I'd be freaking pissed off. Taking cheap shots at the language, or even claiming that most people are "nice, but dumb as rocks" is just..wow. I realize we all have our prejudices and I hate people who are overbearingly PC or overly sensitive, but the Vietnam he is describing is simply too different from the Vietnam I know and love (which I admit, as a Vietnamese American I had relatives there who rolled out the red carpet the entire time and pampered us and made sure we had the best experience).

But that's besides the point. Regardless of how horrible of an experience you had - it seems you even have a Vietnamese friend and met his intelligent and great girlfriend. Would you honestly dare say to her face what you've written here, just because you specifically had a horrid time on your Vietnam trip?

The idea that any country's citizens based on their race/ethnicity is more "evil" or more prone to "lying" or more "stupid" is not much different from Hitler's line of thinking. Seriously. Obviously culture and poverty plays into it and I'm sure since you had better times in Cambodia or Laos or whatever that it's difficult for you not to make generalizations or harsh judgments, but I basically wish people would stop using their own personal experiences to make such overwhelmingly offensive comments about my home country. Reading your post, I shouldn't even have a shred of dignity or pride left, since I speak a supposedly horrible language, am a compulsive liar who is mentally retarded, has a horrible cuisine, etc.

Anonymous

July 18th, 2008

I've got to say, I love your thorough article. My parents have been to Vietnam last year for the first time since their fleeing of the country. Their impressions about the food and people were similar to your own!

But I think they were most disappointed with the food, not so much the people. They told me the food in vietnam is not what it used to be in the old days when they were growing up there.

What I can really relate to is your hate for the language. To me, it sounds awful… and I can't help but laugh whole heartedly by your description of the cat and the meowing. Hahaha. I tell you, I have to listen to this stuff (songs…pop music in vietnam is plain awful btw) in the car every single day since my dad is such a fan of the country (while he hated the trip)…And I don't know how to tell him I hate the language.
I've had friends tell me it is the dirtiest sounding language ever.

MinhNguyen

July 19th, 2008

Why do you hate Vietnamese people who are wearing Pith Helmet? It's so silly. You live in a richer coutry so how can you know the poverty here just after a short trip? The people in the remote province are very poor, so many men join the army so the government will educate them, teach them some skills to find jobs later. After they leave the army, they still use the helmet in their daily live. What's wrong? You yourself close your mind and feel annoyed about that simple thing. Think about who caused the wars in Vietnam, "swallow" over 30 years of Vietnam (very precios and long time to develop)? Sure, stupid French government and tyrant Eisenhower. Disappointed !

Anonymous

July 31st, 2008

You say that you went to Vietnam with an open mind and a curious attitude, but I don't think you entirely did. You don't travel to a country on the other side of the world just to eat something that you can eat anyday in the States. There is no point in saying that you hate the Pith Helmet. It's just something that they like to wear. If you didn't like a skinny hotel, you could have just went somewhere else and found one that meets your "expectations". Also, you say that we're liars, and noisy, and dumb as rocks. I think you're being stereotypical. Everything else I could care less for, but saying that our language sounds ugly is just offensive. We Vietnamese speak our language, and we speak it proudly. And you have no right to say that it sounds ugly. I went to Vietnam for a month and returned home with great stories to make a small horse smile.

Anonymous

August 9th, 2008

I agree with every word of this - I'm in Vietnam at present and have hated every minute of my godawful trip.

Can I add that the Lonely Planet guidebook overhypes the sights - most of the tourist attractions are very mediocre (e.g. the Imperial Palace at Hue and the tombs - 19th century monstrocities, you wouldn't look twice at them in China.) The My Son ruins are OK - but if you've been to Angkor, why would you bother with this pale imitation?

Do note that the author of the site is a career traveller who has presumably gone to developing countries in the past before you criticise him! I've travelled fairly extensively in SE Asia - other countries in the region (such as Cambodia) are EVEN POORER than Vietnam but still manage to be lovely places to visit! He's NOT saying that Vietnam is bad because it's not like a developed Western country, and neither am I.

One last thing. The constant sound of men hawking and spitting makes me feel utterly nauseous.

Can't wait to get back to London! Only 2 days now - assuming I'm not killed on one of those godawful Vietnamese roads.

Well that got it off my chest. All I can say is - DON'T GO. Try Cambodia.

Anonymous

August 19th, 2008

I have to admit that this is really spot-on about the liars, dual pricing, and taxis.

Have to add though, that Asian tourists get it worse. I can't begin to count how many times i've walked into a shop to face a completely unfriendly shopkeeper who smiled at the next white person who walked in. And Asian tourists are not exempt from the double-pricing too. They don't hate foreigners for sure, their friendliness is proportionate to the fairness of skin and hair perhaps.

I just came back from a 17 day trip to Vietnam, and we were already ready to go home by the 5th day when cockroaches crawled out of our train carriage.

We were lied to, our reservations weren't honoured (ranted about this at length on tripadvisor), we were ripped off by Hanoi taxis time and time again etc, by the end of it we felt that every local was out to get us.

I thought that the sights weren't that great (except Halong Bay which was the only sight worth the trip). Of all the recommended pagodas, castles, tombs , rivers etc. to see in Vietnam, i can name you a place you can find that and better: Kyoto (Japan), Beijing & Suzhou (China), Angkor Wat (Cambodia). Hue was singularly unimpressive, Hoi An is a mini Chinatown. If the people were nicer perhaps i'd not mind so much, but as it was, we thought our trip was a waste of time.

Never again will i step into that country.

Anonymous

August 19th, 2008

I TOTALLY agree. I too came to this country with an open mind, as an experienced traveller I never expect things to be easy. I know that I'm not in my country and that things will be different. I don't expect to eat Western food here, I don't expect people to speak english, and I definetely don't expect them to be my submissive servants. But I find it REALLY hard to like a country where you are constantly lied to, where people are rude and dishonest and you are asked to pay twice the price you would pay in your own country for fruit in the market.

I didn't like what you wrote about the peoples intelligence, or about the language, but I must admit that I too have found myself being annoyed about for example the music here, or the language. It's just that I'm SO tired of everything here right now, and I would happily leave this country today, but unfortunately I've signed up for a six month study here. That should show how much I thought I would like this country. But teh vietnamese people has just made it impossible.

The food has not been good, the sights have been just plain boring (I mean, Halong Bay - the water was dirtyt, the bay overcrowded with boats and we where all treated like sheep. The best about the trip was our fellow travelers).

We've also had some terrible experiences with the Hoi An tailors. When we complained about the material, that was polyester instad of cotton, as agreed, we we're physically attacked! THAT'S how horrible this country is.

And dear Ncy, and all vietnamese people who have called the writer of this blog a racist etc etc - The replies on this blog, all the people who agree with the writer just shows how right he is. All tourists we have met on this trip have had similar experiences and feeling.

I suggest: Boycott Vietnam! Until they learn how to treat people…

Anonymous

August 22nd, 2008

Believe me I don't want to be negativ about a whole country's population, but when I feel tears coming to my eyes when I meet a friendly face or receive good service here in V, something must be totally fucked up betweeen me and these people.

Sad to say, but I was so relieved when I found this blog, because I felt that I'm not alone to feel this way. After having red this blog some week ago I started asking tourists about their visit here, implying that I had had some bad experiences, and people seem so relieved and eager to speak out, but they have been holding back like myself. And it is awful to be able to talk shit for hours about ones trips here in V.

One thing is all the noice around the clock, a different culture, but even a single vehicle in the midst of night is hunking its horn constantly through the empty streets, clear to hear straight into my hotel rooms.

I want to find some humor in these experiences to take the sting out of all the bad encounters I've had, and see the life here in somewhat positive way, to learn something of being spat at, chased and threatened on my life when I try to disagree when I have been overcharged or scammed. Because I feel like a really bad person feeling and having so bad thoughts about V people… see I can't even write the whole name…Vi… I just can't. My brain won't do it. And I am a calm person, haven't been in a fight since primary school, but here I've been 3 times as close as I could get, but I came out of the situations shaking and afraid and almost throwing up. Several times I've been so glad for managing to go away and face the wall somewhere and let the tears come up, and trying not to see their happy mean and sleecy grins before my eyes.

I heard V described from two people I know before I went, and ofcourse I wouldn't believe it, I'm not that kind of a person. I've been travelling from Thailand through Laos before coming here, and nothing's like this. I am so not looking forward to coming home and telling lies about V to people, so I hope to find some way to tell the cruel truth. Hopefully writing this will ease me up, because I want to learn something good from being here.

Though two different V guys I've met here in V, and got good connections with, (they were just simply human friendly), said that V people are not to trust, that they don't think about future deals, and they cannot treat tourists respectfully or have good service. So the truly trustfully businesses and tourguides here in V, they both said, are owned by foreigners. One laughed when I asked about a divingcompany if they were V people…
"No, no," he said, "V people cannot do things like that."

I have gotten the most shocking experience of my life her, and I feel alien to my own thoughts and writings…

Anonymous

August 26th, 2008

Just found this article and thought it was really well written. I've lived in Vietnam for 5 years, most of that time in Ho Chi Minh and now I'm in Hanoi. Before I moved to Hanoi I would have agreed with your article completely, I really hated this country. But now I've a much better view of the place.

However some of the observations you made were spot-on. The food is desperate, pho bo is a good snack, but when Vietnamese tell me that their food is the best in the world, I have to bite my tongue. As you said it's “quite bland and uninspiring”. Thai food is food that was designed for kings, while Viet food is food that was designed for peasants, by peasants. One redeeming factor is that they cook western food far better than they do in Thailand and there's a huge selection of good value international restaurants both in HCM and Hanoi (which explains the extra insulation I have around my waist!)

What you said about the language, I also found refreshingly honest. It IS a horrible language. When you hear Viets talking to each other, it sounds like they are about to kill each other, while in fact one's probably inquiring about the other person's sick mother. After 5 years I can only speak enough to get by and most of the time they can't understand my pronunciation. To get that right I would have to learn to speak with a speech impediment and I don’t want to do long-term damage to myself.

As for some of your other observations, I think you're basing them on your stay in the Old Quarter in Hanoi. I'll let you in on a secret, the Old Quarter in Hanoi or Pham Ngu Lao in HCM is not Vietnam, just like Khao San Road is not Thailand and the Red Light District is not Holland. It's a place when most self-respecting locals don't go. Because it attracts cheap gullible backpackers, it also attracts dishonest locals who have made a living from ripping tourists off. It's not unusual, it's happened everywhere in the world were tourism exists. Ever been to Egypt? These dodgy people are easy to spot, anyone you meet on the street in a tourist area who is over helpful or too pushy, just tell them to get lost and they will.

I've met some of the most amazing, gentle, optimistic, tough, hard-working people I've even met while being here, unfortunately I've also met some of the most ignorant, rude, pig-headed, xenophobic, immature, stupid, annoying people ever(most of whom have been men; and don't get me started on some of the ex-pats!!!). Alas in a country of 85 million, the latter are in the majority which is why something like 95% of tourists who come to Vietnam never return compared to 40% in Thailand.

I know many good Viet people who feel frustrated here, but this is a country which is changing at an amazing rate. It’s not that long ago that this country was closed to the outside world. Coming from a developed country like America, it’s hard for you to comprehend a place where the education system teaches people to follow and not think for themselves. There are many stupid, narrow-minded people here, but there are in every country, only difference is that in your country they should know better, because they’ve been given the opportunities. They haven’t here. It takes time and education for people to change, I must try and remember that the next time someone jumps me in a queue or nearly knocks me of my bike and then drives away without looking back to see if I’m alive or not.

Vietnam’s not an easy place to live, but there are many times I realize I have a far better quality of life here than I would have back in some cold, rain-sodden, expensive, keeping-up-with-the-Jones, rat race country like where I come from.
Coming here as a tourist you only get to see things and meet people who are not a good representation of the country, it’s difficult to learn anything of a place by being there for a week or two. As a tourist destination it’s a long way behind Thailand or Laos, not just in facilities but in welcoming feeling, but as a place to live it’s probably the safely place I’ve ever been to in the world.

Thanks for listening to my confessions; I’m off to say 3 ‘Hail Mary’s’ and 5 ‘Our Father’s’ now.

PAGODAPADDY
HANOI

Anonymous

August 26th, 2008

Vietnam is the worst country i have ever been to. I just go back from there two days ago so the wounds are still fresh, everything this guy wrote is absolutely true. Vietnam is a disgusting country with unfriendly people who gouge you for every penny. I would rather go to Iraq than have to go back to Vietnam, what a shithole…

Anonymous

September 4th, 2008

I used to live in a boarding school and we had student from pretty much every asian countries. And from my experience, I have found out that Vietnamese is the most annoying language. I have heard other asian language too, cos I had friends from almost every asian countries including Vietnam and man..all other language would be fine but not Vietnamese. It is so annoying that I cant even stand it. I think its not their fault though cos it seems to me, they have to make those wierd noise and shout and yell to pitch the right tone, who knows. But bottom line is I just hate it so much ohh and da food, is so disgusting, my Gawwwwd it stinks so bad, smells like rotten meat…ughhhhh…dunno much about the country…so cant comment on it..hopefully the country wudnt as annoying as the language…."Peace out"

Anonymous

September 28th, 2008

I'm vietnamese. Born and raised in the US but still vietnamese by blood. Quite honestly, I can't say I'd like to visit the homeland. I'm oh too American to try and last a few days there.

Mark

September 29th, 2008

People who know me would be shocked to hear me say this - but what choice do I have.

Thank you for the article you wrote. I myself lived in South Korea for 6 years before coming to spend a month in Vietnam. In Korea, I was sick to death about listening to people complain about the country I loved so much. I thought if you just opened your mind, you could be prepared for anything.

There are many annoyances in this country which I can deal with. I am so used to not being in my home country that many of things that drove you up the wall I soon got over. In fact, for every bad thing I encountered here, there was something positive to balance it.

What bothered me more was the treatment of my wife, a Korean woman. I found the way the people treated her as an Asian tourist to be shocking. Waiters, clerks, and hotel staff (from one star to four) openly disregarded her in ways that they didn't to white tourists. That alone convinced me that we should never return to Vietnam.

It's not that there isn't racism, sexism or double standards in other countries. But if you are a white man married to an Asian woman from Korea, I think you will have a difficult time here. As a husband, I can't expose the woman I love to this kind of treatment.

My opinions are not unique to me. Many Korean woman have found it difficult to travel in this country. I wish it were not so. I suggest to people traveling here that they pay a lot of money to stay at nice resorts where they might be sheltered from some of the ruder aspects of traveling in this particular country. It's not that there aren't nice aspects to Vietnam - it's just that the bad points might be particularly grating to some people.

Anonymous

October 1st, 2008

A little bias..acutally ALOT..

You're encouraging people to hate vietnam, note the title : reasons to hate vietnam. Just because you were a mindless tourist wondering in all the low alleys of Vietnam dsnt mean u should judge the whole nation upon you inferior stay.
If you were to title your blog :Why "I" hate vietnam it wouldnt be so bad.

People like you..Should really get a life rather than spending countless hours trying to degrade a nation upon you own insignificant experience.

Maybe next time you should hire a tour guide =] you know, incase you happen to be in all the worst places of vietnam and go off blabbing to the world about it.

Anonymous

October 7th, 2008

vietnamese teenagers are so in love w japan n the way the ppl dress thr. god i hate viets

Ana

October 19th, 2008

Sounds like you had a bad time… most of the things above are true, I am half Vietnamese and have experienced some of those stuff but I guess you just haven't been to the right places…it's not like I've been anywhere I really liked but I have 2 American teachers, 1 of them is an old guy who used to be an American soldier in the war and he has moved to live here, he tries hard to learn the "ugly language" you were talking about and seem to be totally obsess with Vietnam so if an American can be so in love with Vietnam then it's probably not all bad. I wasn't born or grew up in Vietnam so maybe thats y I don't really like it there - so it just depends on your opinion. But don't forget the country is still poor and damaged thanks to those bombs the US dropped … I would advice you to return in 5 years with an ACTUAL open mind and maybe you would see a big difference.

Anonymous

October 28th, 2008

I've been living in vietnam and I agree 100%: I hate this country.I can not say I hate the vietnamese culture..because vietnam does not have any culture, but I hate all the bullshit that this low standard people show every single day.I don't think they will never change, and I don't think that vietnam will ever develop.100% mediocrity!

Anonymous

November 5th, 2008

Whilst I agree with some of the OP's comments, I think he overdoes it a bit.

I've have been and indeed stayed and lived for a considerable amount of time in some of Asia's most infamous cities,(Calcutta,Phnom Penh, Delhi, Jakarta etc) But I have never met a more unwelcoming, agressive and feral bunch as the inhabitants of Hanoi, where I have lived for some months.

The people you know are alright but unfortunately few and far between, do yourself a favour and go straight to Sapa or Hoi Anh.

Daigoro

November 13th, 2008

Vietmanese people are nothing but a bunch of basic cheap and cut-throat (as in we dont care we will do ANYTHING to survive eat your cat, your dad, kill cheat), they will say ANYTHING andalso choose any believe system that will get them "what they need" to continue being a bunchof meagre cheap degenerate's a low-lives. Even asian people Korean, Japanese and Chinesepeople have told me Numerous times that they cannot stand Vietmanese people. Of course some American men might like thier woman i have to admit some of them are Ok looking butwhen you look at the heart of the matter what you will find is a bunch of COLD leeches. A lotof Vietmanese are also into CHEAP bullshit Black Magic. Even though they come from thegutter ,,, you will be SUPRISED at how much they pride themselves over nothing. I tell youwhat and this is from me to you from my own PERSONAL experience. They will say Anythingand do WHATEVER even live in CRAP and still try to get on like they are normal. I cant standvietmanese people. They are leeches who try to take over the atmoshphere of where they go,it took me a while a LONG time to find out what they were doing but ONCE I found out man i broke it all down and systematically decided to rip them apart. While i was doing this trying toget my life back i found through meditation that they had actually evoked some sort of fear andcontrol over me that i was not aware of. They have been suffering ever since. They had no ideathat from the time i was young i was gifted but i cant get into that here. They will do anything inctry to worship god to save their assess, man they dont believe in ANYTHING. Their childrean from my experience are wild and rude animals. You dont have any idea i caught my Neighboorson trying to take a piss NAKED off the side of the porch, i also caught the dad (who looks JUSTlike a monkey!!!!) trying to do the same thing. I mean it's different if you want to do that crap andnot get caught but oh well i got them all with their pants down. Stay away from vietnames peoplekick them out of your lives, run the other way. I know it seems like i hate them but the truth is i cant stand what they will say and do to other people. My next door neighbhoor is also vietnameseand i like her a lot. Her mom is a real tight-ass (as in a grouch) but her daughter had cancer andthat really made me feel really really bad because at least their family were not DIRTY. I prayedfor the girl who had cancer who is Vietnamese for the longest time. Ive even fasted on 3-4 differentoccasions for her. She's pretty nice i guess but overall i dont know i guess i am starting to hatethem all and that isnt good because i dont want to get sick over these dirty race. One last thingi dont know if youve ever been into the house of someone vietnamese. They also have this smell.Those Vietnamese who read this may or may not know what im talkinh about but the Americanvisitor will notice that putrid stench right away. Nasty!

Anonymous

November 15th, 2008

Diagro,

Whilst I don't like Vietnam and can't wait to get out of the place due to the rip offs, the food, the people (I could go on and on) Your comments are way over the top and you sound like a Nazi - Do us all a favour and stay offline.

Anonymous

November 21st, 2008

You still do not know anything about Vietnamese culture. You went there with a closed mind and all you did was COMPLAIN COMPLAIN COMPLAIN COMPLAIN. I'm an American and had a blast. The language is beautiful. The food was great and obviously there are rude people in every country. Even in America! Close-minded fools like you never have a good time and it doesn't matter when and where. Quit travelling because it's not for you.

Anonymous

November 24th, 2008

Hi
I found many things in your blog are true and some of them are some what closed minded. I was there and I didn't have a good time. I love Vietnamese food.
Your blog encourages people to hate Vietnam and Vietnamese. It attracts the kind of people who is bothered even what kind of helmet other people wear.

Coult 45

November 24th, 2008

I laughed hysterically throughout this article. But without a doubt, "43-kilo twig-shaped-ninja" was by far the funniest line. Those that shout nazi, racist or even those who claim to agree by citing that all Vietnamese are despicable people HAVE to remember that agree or disagree these are opinions based on the experiences of a man who has traveled to more countries than most people can name. If anyone has the reason and the right to vent or bitch it is Craig. And is it me or are half these comments posted by dyslexics? I especially like the guy that claimed that through meditation he had realized that the Vietnamese had used black magic to evoke fear and control over him. Is any body else seeing this? Bahahaha!!

Anonymous

November 29th, 2008

Yeah, totally agree. The Viets are the most unfriendly people on earth.

Christine Phan

December 20th, 2008

Reading this as a teen Vietnamese American, I do agree somewhat, and also disagree. I grew up in America for the whole 15 years of my life, but I have often visited my homeland at least three or four times. My family runs a jewelry store and a hotel, and being with them, I have noticed that my aunts and grandmothers have a tendacy to lure the Americans to buy something of their store for more than its worth.
However, please keep in mind that anywhere you travel that's out of America, not everything will be the same, and not everything will be to your expectations. I personally think that how and where you grew up will differenciate your opinion on wherever you go. I grew up speaking fluent English and as well as fluent Vietnamese, also eating Vietnamese foods which I adapted to, and find some dishes delicious, and others downright disgusting. Going to Vietnam was a new experience, I was somewhat surprised at how poor Vietnam was compared to America. They were never as rich and civilized as America, they don't have tall buildings and their jobs are difficult to maintain and keep going, which is similiar to the econnomic problems in America. They're also not as technology advanced as we are. Computers aren't that common in everyday households, and handwashing your laundry is much more of an everyday thing rather than going on the internet.
Also, language and space issues, as well as bug issues. I repeat, once again, Vietnam is not the same as America. Vietnam has many bugs, accept it. Most residents grew up living in bug contaminated spaces, and they're used to it. So suck it up and deal with it, you're not a royal king there. Even as a tourist, you will not get any special treatment. I absolutely detest the way you described Vietnamese language. What the hell is wrong with you. Did you lack common sense and miss out the fact that being in a foreign country will mean that you'll have to put up with a foreign language every day, as well as language difficulties? Hand language isn't something easily comprehended by all countries across the world. Remember that. Also, did you even consider, oh I don't know, maybe learning some part of the everyday language and its culture before coming over? Or is the language too "ugly" for you to learn. Learning one or two words will not help. Don't go around expecting them to understand everything you do.
As you can tell, lack of intelligence isn't a joke in Vietnam. Alot of adults and pedestrians grew up without being able to afford an education and depended on their language and household chores. Vietnam, for a long time, has been living in a state of minor poverty. This links to all the motorcycles and one room width hotels. Why do you think they do that? They need to conserve space. Cars, as you can tell, aren't as common as motorcycles. Vietnam needs as much space as it can get, and driving such a large obstructing vehicle will be difficult to maintain. Cabs are considered a luxury if anything, no matter how ripped off the price may be. What would you prefer? Strapping your pregnant wife behind a motorcycle riding in the polluted street air or staying a bit safer and relaxed in a cab. Same for hotels. Elevators aren't common either. It isn't the hotel's fault that your pregnant wife couldn't climb up eight staircases, and you know I'm right.
Also don't compare Vietnam to Combodia. That's the equivalent to a mother or father or guardian comparing you to some other kid. "Why can't you be more like him/her?" So overall, I'm sorry that you hated Vietnam. I sincerely hope that next time, before traveling, you'll have some common sense and put foward the time to study about wherever you're visiting.

Anonymous

December 22nd, 2008

Hi Everyone.
This is what I think of Vietnamese:
They claim welfare from honest taxpayers paychecks when they drive used Mercedes, and own two businesses that they put under their children's names. The females have digustingly long toenails which they paint super bright pink or purple, and I swear one tried to use it as a weapon on me once. The males hit on every female that is decent-looking at any time of the day- one time two of them followed me while driving for 20 minutes (I finally had to pull over and give them a fake # so they wouldn't follow me to my house). One pulled my phone number off of his cousins book and lied to me about everything including his name - I found this out through his cousin and mutual friends - he's in jail now for God knows what. They also have atrocious hygiene habits, if any - of all the houses I've been to, none EVER had soap by their sinks once - I had to look for it in their shower. They whine about how poor they are and how difficult it is with such large families and how they are stuck in a loop - well, my words for that are… stop gambling, running up credit card debt, and buying used BMWs, and instead try buying some birth control - than everything will be alright.

Anonymous

December 29th, 2008

hi..,

I just came back to Australia from a trip to tokyo, singapore, KL and vietnam…

I must admit.. tokyo, singapore and KL are more developed… vietnam was disappointing.. the food was terrible. The people in hanoi are rude and poor.. arrogant beggars…

Vietnamese in Australia and I believe the US have got problems.. alot of them are drug dealers or addicts… associated with organised crime… and gangsterism…

Not all.. but alot of them.. alot more than say Sinaporeans.. you don't see many singaporean drug dealers do you?

Viets have major problems with themselves. Its hard to respect a nation that haven't accomplished anything to society except war for the sake of power and unity…

You should visit a non communist se-asian country where the developed mindset is prevalent.

jacques

January 6th, 2009

all i got to say is that i respect your opinions as an educated individual but you have a ton of racist comments that should have been more eloquently worded, since you are visiting a different country, you should deal with it, you are just used to your american ways, growing up in america causes your mind to become narrow because you get everything for granted i am french and i visited vietnam three years ago and the people there, some were friendly others were not so friendly, sure they overcharge you but you should understand that many are impoverished and need to care for their children it is people like you who need to become more open-minded this is why we french do not like americans because you go to a country and expect it to be like america when it is not i myself do not target americans as a whole but i target and dislike much the people who come to france or other countries like vietnam bad talking about their unique customs and traditions

Anonymous

January 6th, 2009

Ha ha - I had to laugh because when I first went to Vietnam I hated. Many of the reason you give. Over time, almost 10 years, I fell in love with the place.

Now back in the good ol' USA, I am stuck in a quiet, peaceful, clean suburb - where I am dying from boredom.

Vietnam is definitely a difficult adjustment, but the emphasis on friends, family and having a good time make it well worth it. I long for the hustle and bustle of Hanoi where at least you knew people were alive and interacting. Much better than the cold and unfriendly US where people drive their cars straight into their garages and walk straight to their TVs. Hell, I have neighbors I have never seen.

If you didn't like the food, you weren't eating in the right places. Whereas Americans like food covered with cheese, wrapped in bacon, and smothered with a sauce, the Vietnamese enjoy the subtle taste of fresh vegetables and meat. Neither is right nor wrong, just different.Moreover, the development of many cultural aspects, food, art, fashion, music, were severely dampened by years of war; however, they are coming back fast now and are super vibrant.

Finally, around here, white families are reluctant to let their kids go to schools heavily populated with Viets and other Asians. The reason? It is too difficult for the white kids to standout academically because the standards are so high.

Vietnam is a country that, more than any other, rises to meet your expectations. If you think it is a shit hole and you will be ripped off, then it will likely happen. If you think it is a friendly place with many great attribute, you will likely have a brilliant time.

dcruz

January 22nd, 2009

I'm really curious to find out what type of person you were before you started all this travelling. I don't want to comment negatively having only read a few posts but why not write something like a before and after about yourself. From what I've read though I'd be scared if you visited my country. Anyway, be safe in your travels and I will try to comment more as I read your posts.

dcruz (philippines)

January 22nd, 2009

Whoops, you have visited my country. You're very honest about what you saw and people generally appreciate that. Travelling to another country really tests a persons comfort zone. However as was my concern, it was… let's just say your approach to it was disappointing.

While you're in Turkey try to visit one of the ship docks where you can buy tiny fried fish with vegetables from the street vendors. You'll have to eat it with your fingers but it tastes better that way! Also keep an open mind with regards to the food, it might taste bland at first but give it a chance.

Anonymous

January 25th, 2009

Having lived in Vietnam I find myself in total agreement with the above poster.

There is something WRONG with the people. This is the only conclusion I can come to. I have travelled, lived and worked in much poorer nations and have never experienced such a dishonest, vacuous, uncultured, grasping, inconsiderate and uneducated group as the Viets.

I recommend that anyone interested in South East Asia should visit Cambodia or Laos, but please, avoid VN.

Anonymous

February 2nd, 2009

regarding being overcharged: an item could cost 1 cent to manufacture but if you are willing to pay 1 million dollars for it then that is exactly what it is worth. if you don't think something is worth that much then don't pay for it and most of all don't get mad.

Anonymous

February 6th, 2009

Well,

The first thing I want to say that I am Vietnamese.

The second I would say most of what you said about Vietnam are true.

The third, my opinion

- Why did you spend too much time after your visiting trip. Let think out of box. Vietnam has just opened its self and joined to the world since 1990. Still have a lot of thing to do and to chance. Why do you give Vietnam a chance ?

- Please and please do not hate Vietnamese and their culture. You are the guess and they are owner. Vietnam and Vietnamese people will very difference with anywhere else in the world.

- According to me, your article, anyways is useful for us. Vietnamese leader should take a look this ( I am not sure that they can read in English or they can spend their time for reading your article)

Finally, that is my word to my Vietnam and Vietnamese people. Please read it and see what are they talking about us. Please think out of box, think for our next generation.

Please do not be selfish

My Vietnamese fellows, "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country".

("..") Source: President F.Kenedy's Speech

Pham Phu

February 6th, 2009

I love all of you… why you say hate to someone?

Thanks for all comments about Vietnam and Vietnamese. However, the culture of each nation is different and if you want to know them (the culture of each country) well you have to learn, from Tatiana's story, we can see that there are still have so many un-educated like them to talk something crazy about other nation, other culture. I love all nations and the peoples in the different areas in the world, so that there are no ugly languages, but there are some one like terrible Tatiana, because they don't want to learn about what Vietnamese peoples have faced during the wars with Chinese, French and American, then you see they just back from the mud of the war, and try to be better. The terrible posted you have written down about Vietnam will make you more blame and close your mind to learn the sharp and lovely things from what you said ugly and hate. if you hate someone, you will become enemy yourselves, and of course you will die soon with the black mind. Thanks to all comments and hope that you will learn and have somethings to love, because the life need the love to live, and for sure the hate with you will bring you to the Hell soon. God bless you. Franks.NPP. From Vietnam.

iamable

February 6th, 2009

You guys!
Thank for your thought about Vietnam. To be honest, we are Vietnamese people and sometimes also feel ashamed for those who behave unacceptably to both foreigners as well as Vietnamese. However, they are not representative for all Viet people. You guys who travels to other countries should be an open-minded ones, please! Pls pls do not judge the people and culture etc of a country by just based on your personal experience and based on a group of people of that country! The good, the bad, the pretty, and the ugly exits everywhere in this small world! just want to remind you guys. I also have a chance to travel to some countries from Thailand to Australia, from Japan to USA etc, and currently stay in USA. I also encountered with a lot trouble with local people's activities that I have never seen in my country. I still consider that is real life everywhere! So, If you do not want to discover the real world around you, just stay on your couch in your quite and boring neighborhood, watching American football, enjoy your Big Mac meal and drink a large Coke! That is your life and your culture!

Nguyen Khanh Hung

February 7th, 2009

Hi all,
I'm Vietnamese. I glad to say I love this article and all the comments. It's by far the most truthful words I've heard about my country and people. I like your judgement about our intelligence the best: we are really 'dumb as rocks'. That is why we are what we are now.
I must say I hate tourism in Vietnam. It makes people liars, girls become prostitutes and it ruins the environment (primarily due to people doing the service themselves). More than that: it makes Vietnameses mistreat Vietnameses.

I wish the New York Times could publish articles like this and thus open the eyes of many potential tourists.

Mai

February 9th, 2009

oh, really love your article, mate. Very intelligent and open-minded. I would send this link to every travel sites to stop dumb-asses to come to my country. Brilliant job, mate.

I remember being shocked after having witnessed a car crash in America and people just ignored it completely. I remember seeing my friend being robbed in London. I remember all the chavs i encountered in Manchester with their CHAVVY up-north accent. I remember all the gangster i saw in South Africa. I remember getting mad at my husband when he wants our kids to grow up in South Africa … oh hell no, i do not want any of my kids growing up thinking you can treat people badly or disrespect them just because they're different from you. Having had all the discomfort while living and traveling in different countries, i just feel … so what?

At least i know how it is like to be there. And afterall, "the world is awesome, boom de ya da, boom de ya da….."

So, to some of you, its time to grow up

Anonymous

February 9th, 2009

Hey guys, It's interesting but remember Vietnam is a communist country….Don't ask too much from them :)

Anonymous

February 9th, 2009

Reasons to hate Vietnam

1. I Hate Vietnam's Lies

I hate the World's lies

2. I Hate Vietnam's Dual Pricing .

You think it's "single" pricing in somewhere in the world? - Better learn something before you actually go to that country.

3. I Hate Vietnam's Noise

Me too

4.I Hate Vietnam's Language

**** you, why don't you stay at home and hear your mom language?

5.I Hate Vietnam's Traffic and Pedestrian Woes

It's true. the most terrible traffic in the world that i know.

6. I Hate Vietnam's Visa Price

How about American Visa price?

7.I Hate Vietnam's Skinny Buildings?

me too

8. I Hate the way the Vietnamese Obstruct Storefronts

you're right.

9. I Hate Vietnam's Mutant Lobsters

Seeing your video, I can recommend that you better stay at home. Frankly. Or you have to accept the difference in the world. There some food you like and don't, but you want to pay only 3$ for a lobster then that what you got.

To my knowledge, it not resembling lobster. It's some kind of seafood name "Tom tich"

10.I Hate Vietnam's Chairs, Cockroaches, and Cholera

Go to 5 star hotel and you don't get that. If not, you can find cockroaches, cholera in downtown of KL, Singapore, Thai..or even Paris.

11. I Hate How the Pith Helmet is so Popular

Just how stupid you are. I don't actually like that "Mu Coi" but I know how to respect people. VN pp., especially in the north like that kind of helmet. So pls respect their habit.

How the hell if pp. says they hate stupid guy like you?

12.I Hate Vietnam's Taxi Drivers

There's good as well as bad people, taxi driver etc. you will learn more.

13.I Hate Vietnam's Food Hype

So what? The best food in the world is the food you like. If you don't then go to KFC and pizza hut's. But those food's terrible to me.

14. I Hate the Cultural Insensitivity of the Vietnamese People

you're right again, on this matter. But don't say it as Vietnamese pp.

15. I Hate the Vietnamese Inability to Communicate, and Intelligently Anticipate or Extrapolate a Need.

How the hell do you expect pp. to speak your language not their? I think it's not Vietnamese lack of intelligence or dump as rock, it's you who lack of education. And, on the oposit, can you speak Vietnamese? how if pp. says that you are unable to communcate?

16. Final Thoughts on the Country I Love to Hate

Last but not least, though what you report here may be true to some extend, I must say that most of your "hates" are bullshit.

If you want to find pp. who speaks english, eats KFC or Mc. Donal, then why did you come to VN? You said you are open minded, but i see you are not. Learn to see the difference in the world, respect pp. and you will see a better VN.

I love Vietnam

February 9th, 2009

To Tatiana and her husband:

Thank you for choosing Vietnam for travelling when you are pregnant. Vietnam is really far behind the USA in terms of economic development and health care service, etc, therefore we need help from guys like you guys to show us our weakness and help us develop. Most of things you say are true, I myself also found the trafic, the noise, the loudspeakers, the beggars, … are annoying. I enjoy very much the Tet time when the streets are not as crowded as usual.
It will take time, but for sure, it will change as poverty is an unavoidable part of development. Even in the USA you can not assure that this doesnot happen, right? Even in the USA you are hoping for change, "Change, yes, we can!", your first black president was chosen for the hope of changing, is it right?
But I love my language especially when my little cutie son mumbles, I love the beloved words my husband whispers to my ears. You have no right to criticise a language, if you hate it just keep it to yourself or make a joke of it with your friends, but not publicly, otherwise you are insane lol.
I fully understand why you hate Vietnam, you have been here for too short to find good things to balance bad experiences. Of course not so splendid castle and nature spots as we were dominated for thousand years and constantly in wars, nothing can be lasted or built afterall. Look at the map to see who is our giant neighbour? We are proud of not losing our coutry, and our meowing languge lol, that is a victory. Of course the food is plain and not spicy, but it is not Thai food, but I dont like KFC too, I love to cook at home and my American colleagues love our foods too. Of course the skinny houses are ugly, but can you afford a big house here in Vietnam? I am sure if you know the land price here in VN, you will be surprised. In the USA, with that money you can buy a big house but lead a normal life, with that in Vietnam you can rent a caslte and have a emperor life, but you can never buy that big house lol. I can assure you that the culture of skinny house next to each other in the Old Quarter is a tradition that comes from long long time ago and hard to be changed as people love to stay close to each other as a habit of gettogether. Some of my colleagues having big luxury apartments share that their countryside cousins feel pity for them as they have to live so high in the sky and have no neighbours!!! You may find it funny but it is true, this is a habit of living. For so many old Vietnameses, skycrappers are nothing to them.
If you want lobster, pay 100USD/kg and enjoy it right in Hanoi, dont have to go further.
If you are fired in the USA due to economic depression, try to find a development job here in Vietnam, I will bet that you will not want to come back home. Thanks to our development, you can rent 10 house maids to serve your baby. Can you have it in the USA? You know, I hate to see you foreigners coming here and living that kind of life, but I respect your support to my country. I hope in the near future, let's say 10 years, we can be strong enough and you guys can not enjoy the cheap services here to have things to complain about. You know what I mean? No more mediocre for your backpackers to enjoy, just luxury things that will empty your small pockets lol.
I do not love Vietnam for its ugly things and rude guys, but I love Vietnam for its beautiful things and kind guys. I know it is a fact existing everywhere and I wish time will change it.
And finally, more importantly, if you hate Vietnam for such things, let's imagine how the Arabian world hate the USA for bigger bigger things. You can not be safer in Iraq as when you are here in Vietnam, freely walking down on dirty pavements that were full of dead bodies dying of US bombs some decades ago… What a pity!

Tommy

February 9th, 2009

Hi Everyone,
I am a Vietnamese and I can verify what Tatiana and her husband witnessed was TRUE however it was described in an unacceptable tone to Vietnamese or any other people who love their country.

It has been 2 years since these people visited Vietnam (and started this article) and I would say it has changed - day by day. Please come back and see the change. Please open your mind and be a RESPONSIBLE TRAVELLER (read responsibly, prepare responsibly, travel responsibly and commend responsibly). Today is 9FEB09, we should not continue to comment on what was seen in 2007.

Thanks guys

Germany

Craig | travelvice.com

February 9th, 2009

I usually don't comment on this page for a variety of reasons — mostly because it would be wasted energy. I also didn't want to turn off the comments because some folks actually have decent thoughts to share.

But the URL to this page has once again started circulating by e-mail and web forum, and as the author just wanted to put in my two cents…

Listen people: this travelogue entry was written in the heat of the moment, and is being read by folks long after those feelings were expressed on this page.

Want to know my travel experience? Look no further than this page:
http://www.ballofdirt.com/journeys/7927.html

I don't go around hating countries, but I do speak my mind, regardless of stigma.

Perhaps only 30% of the comments I've received on this page are published. I'm always amazed at the time and energy that people waste on writing hateful comments. I wrote this hateful post because I needed an outlet for such things, and because others who are having the same experiences and frustrations need not feel alone. I've been told as much — a thank you — by other travelers struggling with their time in Vietnam.

But please, don't think too much into this entry. Save your time and energy and just close the browser (instead of trying to leave a comment that I probably won't publish any way).

Love,

//craig in turkey

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