Asia Travels Vietnam

Culture Shock

Cul·ture shock – Dictionary


the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.

We arrived in Hanoi on a Sunday afternoon. Driving through the streets was quite an experience. There were thousands of motorbikes on the road and some of them have a family of five on one bike. It’s like a sea of bikes coming towards you. I could hear lots of horns beeping and see the bikes all going in different directions, overtaking, taking short cuts and crossing in front of us. It gave me a bit of a shock because I’ve never been anywhere like it.

We were staying close to a lake in the Old Quarter, which is quite a touristy area and on Sunday afternoons the roads are closed the around the lake. This meant that the other roads nearby were completely and utterly crazy. When we arrived at our hotel we met Maggie on reception. Maggie was really interested in us. She was smiley, friendly and plaited Willow’s hair because she loved it so much. This was quite different because no other hotel receptionists have done this to us in the last 7 months.   We had talked about this before and Mummy had said we might get a lot of attention because of our skin and hair colour.

After a while, we went for a walk around the lake and through the Old Quarter. We went to a Water Puppet show, which was great. There were really amazing singers and musicians and the puppets were very funny. When we were at the lake there were small children, who looked about 3, flying around on toy cars and Segways. There were also big groups of teenagers doing dances on the street and some of them were doing ‘dance offs’ with each other.

It was when we started to move onto the streets with cars and bikes that suddenly the culture shock hit me.  There were hundreds of motorbikes pouring out onto teeny tiny roads. We had to wait for half a meter gap to cross.  Mummy and Daddy told us to keep walking in a straight line at the same speed and they will go around you – not stop and start. I felt like every one of them was going to run me over (but actually they just went round us.)  I saw lots of people selling stuff – mostly food. The pavements were often blocked so we had to walk on the road. The smells were different and not what I am used to. I started to feel nervous, scared and even quite upset.

When we got back to the hotel I had a bit of a melt down and I was crying and telling Mummy that I wanted to leave and didn’t want to stay in Hanoi. Mummy told me that I’d feel better later and that we needed to go and get some food. At that moment Mummy’s friend Jenny texted and she had been in Hanoi last year and she said she’d felt the same shock and so had her kids and she recommended a restaurant for us to go to. Mummy suggested I phone down to Maggie and ask her to make us a reservation. I did this and started to feel quite a lot better as I enjoyed phoning reception – it was quite fun.

We went to Cau Go and had a lovely Vietnamese meal with spring rolls, rice, grilled meats and chicken. It was delicious and I felt much better. After that we went to the night market (earlier I said to Mummy that I didn’t want to go but then I did because I was feeling better). When we arrived I immediately spotted some really nice trousers. I asked Mum if we could go back and buy them. We came across another stall that sold them and we bought two pairs for £1.50.

We spent another three days in Hanoi and I enjoyed it more because I had my very first massage and I loved the food.  We also did some school work including learning about where all the countries are in Asia. We went on a tuk tuk one afternoon but the roads were a bit quieter than on Sunday so it wasn’t so bad.  You can see what it was like in the video here.

I would say that Hanoi was not my favourite place and I definitely experienced culture shock. We’ve now been to other places (Tam Coc and Hoi An in Vietnam and Luang Prabang in Laos) and they are not like Hanoi because they are not as busy and more fun. In fact I absolutely loved Laos so much and want to go back.



Teenage girls doing dance offs

Feeling better at Cau Go


Riding in a tuk tuk

Our last night in Hanoi



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