15 curiosities about Vietnam
Interesting facts to know travelling the country
All pictures are mine.
IG account: @theworldthroughawanderer.
Vietnam is the easternmost country in SE Asia and is a place where strong contrasts arise. Some people love it, some people hate it, but the certain thing is that it is a unique country with a tough past and a rich history. With a variety of landscape from beautiful mountains till long beaches, a trip in this part of the world is not complete without visiting the country. Here you will find few interesting, weird and funny things that I found out during my travel and that might be useful during yours.
1. The Vietnamese flag has an important meaning for the population. Consisting of a golden star with five points, the different points represents farmers, workers, intellectuals, youth and soldiers, while the red background pay tribute to the bloodshed during the wars.
2. Vietnam is a motorbike kingdom. There are supposedly 45 million registered motorbike in the country, way many more than cars. Vietnamese people in fact, use motorbike as a family vehicles even if it is suitable only for two people is not a surprise to sight 4 people on a vehicle.
3. The most important holiday is called TET. The New Year celebration in Vietnam is celebrated at the same time as the Chinese New Year, always in January or February but doesn’t have a fixed date changing every year.
4. Everyone is called Nguyen. Nguyen, pronounced "win', is the most common name you see everywhere in Vietnam . Used by 40% of the population is also the birth name of the famous Ho Chi Minh.
5. Water puppetry is considered an art. Puppets dancing and moving along the water controlled by the invisible hands of the puppets master are a great source of entertainment in Vietnam. The art flourished mainly over the northern region but it spread all over the country throughs the years becoming also a big attraction for tourists.
6. Vietnam is home to some of the most impressive natural places in the world. The Son Doong Caves, the largest in the world, and the Fansipan mountains, the highest peak in Indochina, are in fact located in Vietnam that is also home to Halong Bay, an UNESCO World heritage site.
7. Vietnam is officially an atheist country. Even if most of the people are Buddhist and there are minority of Cadoaism believers, catholics and muslim, the country it’s been declared officially without main religion.
8. Ong Tao, the god of the kitchen. Vietnamese cuisine is not only delicious, is also on of the healthiest in the world and probably also the only one having its own deity! Vietnamese believe that One Tao, makes his appearances jus before the Vietnamese New Year (TET) festival. During this time he rushes up to heaven to give his annual report to the God of Heaven on activities of the families regarding food.
9. Vietnamese coffee is one of the best in world. Vietnam is the second largest coffee-producing nation after Brazil, producing 16% of the worlds total coffee. Needless to ask why here the coffee is incredibly tasty, cheap and with different variety such as egg coffee, coconut coffee and the common iced coffee.
10. Snake wine. Sounds weird, but here people drink a wine makes out of snake. They put the whole snake into the bottle and then pour the rice wine into it. The best liquor is from the venomous snake, the venom is denatured by the ethanol so it is harmless making it good for health and vitality.
11. Vietnamese people eat anything. Is not difficult to find any kind of animal in a traditional market, in fact people eat literally everything, from bugs till dogs. Yes, sadly eating cats and dogs is still a common practise here. Most of the families raise their own dog and once it turn two years old they eat it as they think that the youngest the dog is, the taster will be the meat. Not all the families eat dogs though, many of them treat them as a pets and must take very good care of them since kidnapping and killing animals is still very common in Vietnam.
12. They count their age in a different way. Counting age of a person while still the mother is pregnant is a common habits, basically when a kid is born will be already 9 months old.
13. Toilet paper is used in a different way, or not used at all. The first time I used a bathroom in Vietnam I noticed there was not toilet paper, but a small pump next to the toilet. Basically they use it to wash themselves after using the toilet and if there is toilet paper, is there to get dry after the “bidet”.
14. Super thin mattress. Forget about soft and thick mattress when travelling in Vietnam as they use a super thin handmade sleeping mat made out of dried reeds and laid it either on the floor or on a flat surface such, many times, the floor.
15. White skin is a perfection symbol. While in the West tanned skin is much more appreciate than the white one, in Vietnam, but in all SE Asia, white skin is considered the ideal skin colour and having tanned skin it’s a sign of being a labourer working in the sun. As a results products to whitening skin are a big business around the country.