Craziest things you’ll experience in Vietnam

ABROADER 19/01/2022 7 min read

The coolest thing about travelling abroad is to see what you would not necessarily expect to see at home.  When you choose to do an internship in Vietnam, besides the professional aspect of gaining as much hands on experience as possible in your field, you will also find yourself among the strange exciting things that happen around. Below, after lots of contemplation and hard choices, we pick out a (uncompleted) list of what our interns think are the craziest social aspects of living while doing an internship in Vietnam. 

1.The Traffic:

internship in Vietnam traffic

Busy traffic in Vietnam. Photo source: Vietnam News

Vietnam is known for its densely packed traffic mostly consisted of motorbikes or scooters. Almost every family owns at least one scooter, which results in traffic jams when rush hours arrive in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. When it’s not rush hour, however, there is another problem for tourists: crossing the street. Crossing the street has been a long time fear (or sometimes, a thrill) to many tourists visiting Vietnam. Fresh tourist bystanders often watch hopelessly as motorbikes swerve around each other in all directions to get where they want. To make matter worse, in Vietnam, there is no such thing as Zebra crossings as motorbikes won’t stop for you when you cross in this area. If it is your first time crossing, whether it is in a light or heavy traffic, the trick is to find an intersection that has street lights and go with a local or group of fellow tourists. The locals and sometimes a police officer nearby will notice if you are having trouble crossing the street. If they see you lingering standing on the curb for too long, they will try to help. However, once you get used to crossing the street you will see that the Vietnamese traffic has a rhythm to itself and the motorbike drivers around you are very skillful in navigating and negotiating with the pedestrians and other drivers to allow for smooth and efficient traffic. At the end, once you can successfully cross the street by yourself, trust me; you will have this inexplicable sense of pride and accomplishment like you have just unlocked a whole new level of your living abroad championship like this tourist below:

If you are still worried about Vietnam’s traffic, remember this testimony David Duplantier, one of our American IT intern (he spent 6 months living in District 1 and working in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City) “Your health depends mostly on understanding your adversaries. When you spend enough time on Vietnam’s street, you will realize that motorbikes are actually the easiest to deal with. They can bob and weave and avoid just about anything, including a tourist. It is not unusual to see a motorbike stuffed with a grocery store worth of vegetables or a hug pot of soup expertly negotiates the traffic and swift through flows of motorbikes and tourists with ease.

So, don’t be scared. Get out there and cross the street!”

Check out Tiffany’s video, in which she amazingly managed to cross the busy street in one smooth move. What a pro!

2. The (Street) Food

Vietnam is famous for its delicious and sophisticated cuisines. Pho and banh mi are two of Vietnam’s most famous food exports that foreign students may have been well familiar with back in their home country.  But that’s certainly not all what Vietnamese food is about; if you want to eat like a local, take a look at these dishes.

  • Ballut (Duck embryo)

internship in Vietnam balut 2

Photo source: Zing.vn

A balut is a developing bird embryo (usually a duck or chicken) that is boiled and eaten from the shell. A healthy and common snack food for locals, it is believed to be very rich in nutrition and addictive in taste. Baluts are sold in informal street stalls or you will often hear, in the evening, vendors carrying lidded baskets and belting out, ‘baluuuuut. If you can’t bear to try this dish on its own, t is sometimes served in different styles, fried into omelets, sauté with tamarind sauce or hidden as pastry filling. Eating balut the right way is an art and eating with a fork in a bowl is a mistake you will regret forever. The real alchemy occurs when you eat the egg in its shell, with a spoon or with your bare hands. Here’s our own instruction on how to eat baluts like a pro: as the baluts often come on top of a small cup and some salt, you can start by tapping lightly to break the top of the egg shelf and remove the shell to reveal the magnificent sight of the egg white, yolk and the embryo, then sprinkle a pinch of salt to the inside, you can lift the egg to taste the water inside the egg or you can go ahead and slowly scoop the egg parts and enjoy.

internship in Vietnam balut

Balut are also cooked in many different ways. Photo source: Quora

For most of our interns coming to Vietnam, trying out balut in Vietnam is also considered an achievement unlocked. The manliest gulps it down to achieve supernatural confidence, and the bravest swallows it (eyes closed) so they can brag back home.

3. Pajama Fashion

Think pajamas are only to be worn inside your comfy house? There is no such rule here in Vietnam. Women in most Vietnamese cities and towns especially in rural areas has been rocking pajamas fashion day to day for centuries. The sight of middle-aged women wearing going about their daily business might be a bit strange to foreigners, but here, it is basically the norm. The styles of these are diverse, ranging from full length ‘button ups’ with floral patterns to matching shorts and T-shirt with animated characters (for younger children). These sets of clothing are so practical, relaxing and comfortable for the Vietnam’s weather that you may even want to get yourself a pair while you are here.

internship in Vietnam highlux

Vietnamese women love to wear a comfy pajama in informal occasions . Photo source: highlux

internship in Vietnam transition abroad

Getting used to the pajama culture. Photo source: Transitions Abroad 

4. Buddha Themed Amusement Park

Who ever said thrill seeking and religion couldn’t go hand-in-hand? At Suoi Tien Theme Park just outside Ho Chi Minh City, visitors can pray to a giant Buddha statue before hopping on a colorful Ferris wheel that looks like the halo on the Buddha’s head. They also turn giant statues of Lac Long Quan and Au Co, the legendary Father and Mother of Vietnam into humongous waterslides and waterfalls. Statues of creatures sacred to Vietnamese Buddhism – dragons, tortoises and phoenixes – are represented throughout the grounds. And if you get really adventurous, there is even a thrill seekers’ destination that depicts the 18 levels of hell based on Buddhist Cosmology with the presence of scary puppets, robots and sometimes even real humans.

 internship in Vietnam dulichvietnam

Here you can enjoy a water ride out of the heads of the mythical “father” (Lac Long Quan) and “mother” (Au Co) of Vietnam. Photo source: dulichvietnam

internship in Vietnam wikipedia

Or you can pray to a happy Buddha situation at the entrance. Photo source: wikipedia

 

Follow us on Facebook or click here to learn more about internship opportunities in Vietnam.

Visit our Reviews page for more wonderful stories of other students sharing about their experiences in Vietnam!

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