Vietnam part II.

Hello from Hanoi!
Hello from Hanoi!

I can’t believe it has been two years already since I’ve last visited my home country. This time I stayed for almost a month and no, it was not enough.

The amount of love I receive in Vietnam is overwhelming. Even though everybody loves to pinpoint how fat I am. At first it would piss me off but then I realised that to Vietnamese standards I really was. Everyone there is almost anorexic-skinny and actually being fat is almost a privilege. Still, my ego got hurt. And it didn’t help very much that I was there exactly during Chinese New Year which means one thing: food. Lots, lots of food.

Chinese/Lunar New Year decoration shop
Chinese/Lunar New Year decoration shop
Traditional New Years snack: thinly sliced roasted coconut covered in sugar/coffee powder, sooo good!
Traditional New Years snack: thinly sliced roasted coconut covered in sugar/coffee powder, sooo good!
Visiting a Japanese restaurant was a bit of a cliché...
Visiting a Japanese restaurant was a bit of a cliché…
... and so was the Chinese restaurant...
… and so was the Chinese restaurant…
So of course we had to get the real deal! Vietnamese tofu with spring rolls and rice noodles, omnomnom...
So of course we had to get the real deal! Vietnamese tofu with spring rolls and rice noodles, omnomnom… Yes, real Vietnamese restaurants with the best foods are not too good at food decoration.. or hygiene.. 
I present you the best pho of Hanoi.. which means.. the best pho in the world?! :O
I present you the best pho of Hanoi.. which means.. the best pho in the world?! :O

As you can see, I had plenty of opportunities to eat and I did not hesitate, haha! I gained almost two kilos and as expected my cousins kindly informed me about my chubby cheeks.

This time I also stayed for a week in Hanoi which was the best part of my trip. I love big cities… who doesn’t? Probably only my grandpa and my mom. The difference between villages and cities is unbelievable. The city is always full of people, noises, honking cars, dust and pollution,   whereas the village consists of trees, farm animals and dirty toilets – that’s it. Every time someone forced me to stay at the country side, I died a little. Luckily my grandpa has lots of animals to play with and sometimes a 3G connection … although I barely survived.

oink!
oink!
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Villige life means lots of manual (dirty) work but somehow I was enjoying the bond I was having with my family.

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If I can recommend something, it would be visiting Keangnam Landmark in Hanoi.

The view from Keangnam.
The view from Keangnam.

However, it wasn’t the view that impressed me. It was the amount of fun that was placed in there! The whole floor was full of xboxes and playstations and 3D  Tv’s. And what not: there was a 3D museum! I must say my silly mind was having a blast.

HAHAHA! If you don't think this is funny, you really have an issue.
HAHAHA! If you don’t think this is funny, you really have an issue.
Do try the egg coffee if you have a chance! It is seriously amazing. I still prefer the original Vietnamese milk coffee but this was heavenly too.
Do try the egg coffee if you have a chance! It is seriously amazing. I still prefer the original Vietnamese milk coffee but this was heavenly too.

Last but not least, I also did a bit of shopping  because.. that’s what you do when you are a girl in a cheap country, right?

Got some Japanese beverages to remind myself of how great Japan was. I was really forward to drinking the matcha latte but my little fat cousin drank it before I could open my mouth. Sigh. So that's what it is like to have a large family.
Got some Japanese beverages to remind myself of how great Japan was. I was really looking forward to drinking the matcha latte but my little fat cousin drank it before I could open my mouth. Sigh. So that’s what it is like to have a large family.
My obsession with hats got even more serious in Vietnam. Bought this one for 290k dongs (approx. $15) at Hang Bong street.
My obsession with hats got even more serious in Vietnam. Bought this one for 290k dongs (approx. $15) at Hang Bong street.
Of course, I had to find myself a beret as well. Those are impossible to find in Prague! This one is from a Hanoian chain called Non Son, haha!
Of course, I had to find myself a beret as well. Those are impossible to find in Prague! This one is from a Hanoian chain called Non Son, haha! A bit pricy, around 970K (approx. $50).
Bought this to please my grandpa who kept saying "Don't forget your roots! You have to know your culture, ancestors and history of your country." And he was right. I better start with something funny though, like this little book!
Bought this to please my grandpa who kept saying “Don’t forget your roots! You have to know your culture, ancestors and history of your country.” And he was right. I better start with something funny though, like this little book!
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Pocky all the waaaay!

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Yup, I had a good time.  I love this country so much. And it might get repetitive but I have to say it. The people of Vietnam are AWESOME! Of course, they have their flaws that I do not appreciate very much. Such as disobeying the law on regular basis, drinking and driving, bribery and often even hypocrisy. Actually, I got so mad one evening, I sat down and wrote an article I call “where is the line between etiquette and hypocrisy”. Though I haven’t published it.

In Vietnam, like in China, customs and social behaviour are very important in order to maintain your “social status/face”. And I had to do it as well. There is this person I do not particularly like yet I had to smile cheerfully whenever I met her, I had to be absolutely polite and my parents would never allow me to express my annoyance. Which was very difficult for me as I am quite honest when it comes to expressing my feelings. In Vietnam, it was perfectly normal to talk to people in the sweetest voice possible and to offer them tea with biscuits. Then, after they would leave, you could gossip about them, their mother and the friend of their cousin’s wife.

But I just sucked it up. Who am I to judge. I conformed. I was the host in this country and if this is the cost I have to pay in order to stay, I’m willing to do so. I want to become a part of this world too.

What I’ve learnt in Vietnam

I’ve recently been to Vietnam, one of the Asian dragons in past few years, the place to be. Not only it is my home country, it is full of undiscovered goods we in Europe never dreamt of.

Being raised in the Czech republic, my view on my origin was kind of twisted. Czechs don’t like Vietnamese (also gypsies, Russians and Ukrainians…), they despise them, make fun of them. To them, we are invaders from a poor country, stealing their ‘job opportunities’ and pretty czech women. Czech way of thinking became mine. Don’t blame me, I’ve lived here since I was two years old. Slowly I started avoiding places with a lot of Vietnamese folks. I never talked to them. I felt ashamed when I heard a Vietnamese person talking loudly in public transport. No one could change my mind; Vietnamese are hoi polloi. 

So when my mom one day said ‘We are going to Vietnam in November!’ I was nothing but ignorant. To me it was just an obligatory visit of my relatives I’ve never really got to know. I wasn’t excited at all. Actually, I was a bit mad because it meant I would have to miss two weeks of school right before the exam week. However, I knew how important it was for my mom so I didn’t protest that much. Can you imagine not seeing your family and dearest friends for 14 years? I certainly can’t.

On 10th Nov, we flew to Hanoi. The flight itself lasted 16 hours + transit I think. We were so tired, I thought I’d vomit my brain out. I wasn’t able to realise what was going on. I saw my grandpa, my cousins, people were hugging me and suddenly I was standing there holding three bunches of flowers. Pretty flowers that grow only in tropical zone. I saw a palm tree. The sky was so blue, exactly like the sky you usually see when you dream.

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Last time I went to Vietnam I was a 5-year-old  little bastard. One of the few things I clearly recall is that whenever I was sitting in a car, I threw up. I can proudly say, even on our 4 hours trip to Ha Long Bay, I didn’t get sick or anything. Vietnam has improved so much since my last visit! Yes, you still get to see people cooking in poor conditions and you can’t drink tap water or trust every vendor (especially if you are white). But even Rome wasn’t build in a day!

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It isn’t for the fact I’ve bought shitload of pretty clothes for cheap that I fell in love with Vietnam. It’s the culture. Finally I could fully understand. I’ve heard those people laughing out so loudly, I bet no czech person laughs as loud. I’ve seen night market and us fighting over few dongs when buying gifts for my friends. The air was so warm and humid, just like our temper. So warm and friendly. We went to Elizabeth Arden’s shop in Hanoi and the sales assistant braided my hair because I said she has a nice braid. That would NEVER happen here in Prague. Old grandmas were holding my hair, admiring my height.  In the Czech republic, I’m an ugly chinky eyed midget. There I was a pretty and tall expat. What a difference.

When I was walking down the streets today, in Prague, some disgusting streetworker said as I was passing by: “..so I’ve heard Chinese are so tight, they scream a lot during IT…” – I couldn’t give a shit. When I was in Vietnam, people addressed me lady. And that I want to remain. A lady.

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Visiting my hometown helped me realize who I am. Where are my roots. I will never get rid of czech impacts that are carved deeply in my soul but neither will I get rid of my indigenous culture. I feel so proud to be Vietnamese. I don’t care what others say. I know the truth. I know that we are a friendly, hard-working nation. We’ve been through harsh times, Americans couldn’t beat us, neither will you.

I only want you to realize this: Don’t listen blindly to what others say about you. Maybe that you are a worthless fat cunt or a disgusting yellow trash. Do your own research. Maybe you actually are fat and disgusting and worthless. But you know… what if not?

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