The story behind this photo is what makes Vietnam one of my new favourite countries (along with Canada and Singapore). Apart from the incredible food and interesting history, it really comes down to what you see here: the friendly faces of the people of Vietnam.
It was my first to Vietnam in January earlier this year, and I was beyond excited. Not only was it a chance to tick another Asian country off my list, but I knew I was going to loooove the food and walk away head over heels for Vietnam like so many other people before me.
This night, in particular, is one that will stick with me when telling stories of my travels over the years, particularly when preaching to others about why Vietnam is one of the most incredible South East Asian countries!
It was a warm, muggy night in the central city of Da Nang. My brother and I had spent the day climbing the nearby Marble Mountains and spent mid-afternoon sipping on ice cold Bia hơi – homemade draught beer made fresh each day. It’s cheap and lethal. Enter the Doyles!
As we walked off our beer bellies, now topped up with freshly cooked Vietnamese home cooking, we heard a raucous crowd. As we turned the corner, we were greeted with smiling faces and glass upon glass of red wine, beer and rum and coke. Turns out it was the Da Nang cycling team having their end of year party. Spirits were high and the karaoke loud.
Now, one thing I should explain here is that the Vietnamese froth karaoke. I had no idea that was the case before visiting, but I quickly realised it was their favourite pastime. It’s not uncommon to see people walk down the street with portable karaoke machines, blasting out tunes and just generally having a grand ol’ time.
That’s the thing I noticed about the people of Vietnam in general, though. They always seem to be having the best time. They always have a smile on their faces, and on the odd chance that they don’t, it doesn’t take much to get one from them.
We spent a good hour or two trying to communicate (only one guy could speak English and our Vietnamese is…limited af!) They spent the whole time saying “Cheers” and shoving drinks and food down our throats. Then I was dragged up to sing karaoke. I was game until I realised they had no English songs, even though they assured me they did. Let’s just say my bro got a bloody good laugh out of it and the Da Nang cycling team were not impressed I didn’t know their favourite.
So, it was the people of Vietnam that made my trip so memorable. Everywhere I went, from Hanoi to Hoi An to Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh, I can remember a face or interaction. Now that really says something.
Have you been to Vietnam? Did you experience the same thing?