10 Strange Things About Vietnam | An Insight Into Local Life & Culture   Maze Vietnam
Crosswalks are not signal to stop the vehicles (Photo: Thanh nien)

Vietnam is where you can find the collision of Asia’s past, present, and future. This clash drives you crazy and makes you overwhelmed with bizarre things but thrilled to discover later. Vietnam is truly a must-see travel destination.

1. Crosswalks – nothing than a decor on road

Crosswalks marked with white stripes are designed to keep pedestrians together where they can cross roads safely. In lots of countries, it is a must stated in law that all vehicles have to slow down once they see the crosswalks and stop if they see any pedestrians around. However, it is a different story in Vietnam. Crosswalks here are likely seen as a type of decoration, not a signal to alert the motors? Nobody cares or stops if they see you cross the road.

You just have to be exposed to the horrible flow of traffic and challenge yourself combating against all the insane scooters, speedy bus and car giants coming from every direction, otherwise you will just freeze, standing still and watching these vehicles pass by all day. This is the reason why most expats often call Vietnam crazy right on the first day they set foot in the two chaotic cities – Hanoi and Saigon. Don’t be scared, be bold and you will be the master of crossing roads in Vietnam!

2. Watermelon and sunflower seeds onto almost every sidewalk

10 Strange Things About Vietnam | An Insight Into Local Life & Culture   Maze Vietnam
Photo: Maze Vietnam

The vast majority of the young and the not so young in Vietnam have a strong penchant for sipping some cafe or green tea while scattering sunflower seeds onto sidewalks. It can be considered a part of cafe culture. Just a small plate of sunflower seeds and a cup of cafe with a little filter pot on top are all perfect enough to lighten up their days.

The strange thing is that people crack the shell, separate the inner seed from the shell, eat the seed, then spit out the shell pieces onto the ground. The sidewalks are then filled with scattered sunflower seeds. Only before the day ends do the salesmen wipe them away and clear out. Just wander through the sidewalks and your brain will get kicked off into action amid the air of weasel coffee beans mixed with the aroma of sunflower seeds, according to Maze Vietnam.

3. The most popular drinks: Beers and iced tea

10 Strange Things About Vietnam | An Insight Into Local Life & Culture   Maze Vietnam
Photo: Serious Facts

Iced tea and beers are ubiquitous in Vietnam. They are the frappé drinks for us to beat the heat during the summer. Vietnamese people can drink them anytime and anywhere. Iced tea is always offered with meals in almost every food vendor and restaurant, and what is funny is that all Vietnamese people leave a bit after drinking iced tea. We never drink up all but always leave a little bit (about 1/3 or 1/4 of the whole).

4. The power of Loudspeakers

10 Strange Things About Vietnam | An Insight Into Local Life & Culture   Maze Vietnam
Loudspeaker has been long-standing tradition in Vietnam (Photo: Vietnam News)

Vietnam has about 10 000 loudspeakers. Yes, ten thousand. Loudspeakers are a throwback to the 1960s 1970s war years between N. Vietnam and S. Vietnam when they delivered news and warned people to get into a bomb shelter for protection against attack from the air.

Nowadays, these loudspeakers still exist, blaring neighborhood announcements covering a range of topics like residential clusters meetings, avian flu prevention, healthcare information and sanitation reminders all over Vietnam through the daily 6:30 AM and 5:30 PM broadcasts in a male or female voice. They begin and end with some beautiful music sort of patriotic rhythms. If you stay in Vietnam, I am 100-percent sure the loudspeakers will wake you up in time. A handful of residents has raised their voice about being annoyed by these loudspeakers sometimes because they can hardly have a good sleep and their ears have been bombarded terribly with the noise coming out.

5. Eating snakes and draining them of their blood

Locals still love eating snakes so don’t be surprised if you catch a few guys slaughtering a viper and draining its blood. The method they use is quite brutal. First, they tie the snake’s head in a noose and then kill it with a slash to the neck. The tail is then cut open and the snake’s blood drips into a bottle containing rice wine. But it doesn’t stop there – the beating heart is then cut out and then consumed. It’s brutal and nothing that’s recommended to try.

6. Take a nap after lunch

10 Strange Things About Vietnam | An Insight Into Local Life & Culture   Maze Vietnam
The man is taking nap on his motorbike (Photo: Work with Vietnamese - Cutural Literacy)

The Spanish cannot beat the Vietnamese when it comes to Siesta! Siesta in Vietnam must be regarded an art and the people here are professional siestars (the nappers). Vietnamese people can take a siesta almost everywhere from right on the concrete floors, pavements, motorbikes, little hammocks made of rope mesh and suspended by cords at the ends to under the trees and in the bus next to strangers.

Taking a nap is even compulsory at elementary schools where little students have to listen to their teachers, quickly transforming desks made with two wood panels into beds to sleep after lunch time. Nap-time is when you can observe the very slow pace of life by strolling through the streets in light volume traffic, feeling the chilling breezes going through your hair, and seeing an idyllic Vietnam in the midday, as shown by Vietnamtravel.

7. Communal smoking

10 Strange Things About Vietnam | An Insight Into Local Life & Culture   Maze Vietnam
Photo: sixthseal

It’s quite common to see locals smoking from a large bamboo pipe, especially in northern Vietnam. The pipe is passed around after a meal with the friends you’re with. It’s not exactly like just smoking a cigarette though. Even the heaviest cigarette smoker will feel their head spinning, hands shaking and heart beating faster. There’s an insane amount of nicotine so if you want to try it, just be prepared that you might feel a bit nauseous. You can also just opt for the free green tea on the table.

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