Houses in Vietnam

houses in Vietnam have a quite peculiar shape.

the front, which faces the street, is only some few metres long while the length of the house is long usually 4 or 5 times the entrance.. floors are many.. why?

in Vietnam is easy to get any license to sell anything or to provide services, therefore almost every house has a little business at their first floor. because of this, the price for the part of the house which faces the street is high.. so there is almost never an entrance which is more than 4 metres wide (i’d say 3m is the average).. the rest of the house is cheap, and building floors in not so expensive too.. so as a result of all this: width is tight, length is long, floors are many. Here’s a picture

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Điện Biên Phủ Park

no matter how much the air is polluted in this city, this park is like a little island in the sea..

fresh air, city center

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‘Acoustic’ is the name of live music venue in the city.

a nice place, different from hard rock cafè live style.

there was this rock band (the Coconuts) playing for different singers, among whom there were 2 peculiar ones. A man in his 60s and a woman, she was even older i guess.. the woman delighted me with a “quando quando quando” break while the man was the show itself. not only did he sing a vietnamese version of “it’s my life”, he even rearranged a famous vietnamese song about war “Lá đỏ” in a rock key.. the result of the latter experiment was a very moving scene as you could hear the crowd (mostly young people) singing along the whole song (an old song) and the singer (the old guy here) almost in tears. a bridge between 2 generations was there, 2 generations that hardly share anything..

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The Feeling of Being a Foreigner in a Foreign Country

When asked by people why I keep travelling , or better, why I keep living abroad, my answer is usually this one

I love the feeling of being a foreigner in a foreigner country

and that is one of the few things in my life I’m sure about, at the moment. Being a foreigner gives a new colour to everything you see and everything you do.. everything you eat has a special taste, everyone you meet has a special importance.. I love to try to adapt as much as I can to the local life, yet trying to preserve my foreign ‘uniqueness’.. I do believe the ability to adapt is the best skill a person can have.. I wanna be a foreigner who integrates not by talking to people but by trying to adapt to their behaviour.. and of course i’d love to discover deep culture and not only surface culture.

In London (not talking about England in general), I was part of it because that city is nothing but a huge melting pot, so there is no element of deep culture to be discovered if not by living there. Yourself in London are an element of that “deep culture”, as long as that can go for a city which is a huge melting pot.

Here the trick is different. This city has a number of foreigners, yet it cannot be considered a melting pot. Deep culture influences your daily life even if you cannot see it. Of course I learnt everything there is to learn about surface culture in Vietnam. However, some elements of deep culture may take ages for me to fully understand. I’m only a careful observer at the moment.

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Wires of Vietnam United

In Vietnam, or at least in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, it seems that old and broken wires are never replaced and taken down. New ones are added, but old and broken ones stay there too. The result is a weird-wired landscape slightly above your heads sometimes.

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Police! Police!

yesterday I got stopped by the police for the very first time in Vietnam.. why?

well, I was a bit in a hurry so I turned left on a crossroads in even thou there was a huge sign with a cross on a left turn, meaning: do not turn left.

I could not care less about that sign, usually nothing happens if you do it slowly and carefully, moreover I am a foreigner, so unless the policeman speaks English he would never stop me for minor issues, but this they spoke English and they stopped me. this conversation followed:

“You cannot turn left from there, you see the sign?? show me your ID please”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any with me, my wallet’s home”

“Ok, do you have the motorbike’s documents with you?”

“No, I’m sorry, they are home too”

“Ok, you are fined for 150.000 dong”

“I’m sorry, my wallet’s home. I don’t have that amount of money here with me”

“So, we will take your bike with us, for 10 days”

“I can go home and take money and documents, I’ll be back in 15 mins, I live at walking distance”

“no, no..”


eventually I found 50.000 dong in my pocket (1 third of the fine). It was ok, 50.000 was ok at the end of the bargaining process he said. U got it rite?

anyway, police officers here are kind, so I was not really upset, I’m afraid in Italy a foreigner in the same situation would feel much more upset than I was.

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The Runner and The Corridor

every day around 5 pm i hear footsteps coming from the corridor.

I know who makes that sounds: a man on his 50’s who runs barefoot in the corridor of the building, the corridor where the main door of every apartment of this building leads to.

He runs only on the 8th floor. back and forth, back and forth until some 30 minutes have passed. He must run the corridor at least 15 times a day (back and forth, of course). This corridor, his track, is roughly 150 metres. it should be boring to always go back over and over the same 150 metres.

But maybe it is better than running outside, you know, pollution is not that friendly in big busy cities.

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