So, what is our first impression of Vietnam??
We love it. Cheap and flavorful food. Warm and kind people. Amazing value accommodations. Relaxed vibe and tons of travelers and an ease of getting around. One of the only places we’ve ever been where locals and travelers seem to be enjoying themselves equally, in the streets and bars and restaurants intermingling with one another.
Funny thing is, we’ve heard very mixed reviews about this place. Everyone we know personally who has been here also seems to love it. It’s one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite countries in the world and hey, if it’s good enough for Anthony, it’s good enough for me. But a quick online search reveals pages and pages of folks who hate it. Who find the people rude and dishonest, the food disappointing, the sights overrated and the transportation miserable. Are they seeing something that we’re not? Are we in denial? Have we just been lucky? We’ve found ourselves peering cautiously around every corner, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I will say though, I'm curious about the travel experience of these naysayers. Southeast Asia tends to be the first place many young people travel to (a group affectionately known as “baby backpackers”) and I wonder if that contributes to the overall score of this country. Are the majority of these reviewers just experiencing third world shock? “OMG the bus was dirty!” “There are rats in the restaurant!” “The driver was rude to me!” (Possible translation: “He didn’t respond to my English, no matter how much I raised my voice!”)
There is really no way of knowing how much weight to give these opinions. And I’m sure we will encounter awful bus rides and the occasional rip-off and various disappointments (just like anywhere). But I’m doing my best to approach each day with an open mind and not let the negativity affect my impression. Either way, we’re excited to be here, anxious to learn more, and prepared for the range of adventures in store.