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Insights from 2 of our teachers on teaching, eating, cycling and life in general in Hanoi
After spending several months in Hanoi, Vietnam, we feel like we have seen it all. Well, maybe not everything; especially since we feel like we are surprised by something new every day. We wanted to take a moment to share a list of some of things we have noticed or been surprised by in Hanoi.

  • When jet lag woke us up at 4:30 am, we expected to wait patiently for 5 hours for the city to wake up. Little did we know that at 5 am there would be badminton games on pop-up sidewalk courts, large groups of women doing yoga/chants/massage trains, solo shirtless men out on the lake stretching their hips, arms, and back, and lakeside middle aged ballroom dance parties.
  • The most popular pizza is seafood pizza.
  • You can buy whole fish, whole squid, chicken legs, silk worms, unpackaged meat, and a variety of other things that we don’t think we will be trying.
  • Seattle rain has NOTHING on Hanoi! During our first drive on our bikes, the sudden rain would have had us soaked within seconds, but luckily every motorbike rider has a poncho to put on.
  • LA traffic also has NOTHING on Hanoi! There. Are. No. Rules… We’re talking people driving on the sidewalk, driving in the oncoming lane of traffic, completely ignoring red lights, driving holding babies, making U-turns whenever they want, parking wherever they want, and driving with their dog running alongside… You name it.
  • The street food is delicious and everywhere. Street food places are best identifiable by their small plastic chairs and tables like you find at kids’ birthday parties in the U.S. Sometimes, you have literally no clue what you are eating. For example, we once ended up with a mystery meat that still had hair.
  • All of the government buildings and embassies have those olive-green-uniformed officers standing outside casually holding assault rifles. And on that note, there are military and security men everywhere.
  • The entire trash-collection (rubbish-collection) process here is a mess (budun..ch!). Trashcans are practically not be found in public, and instead, the receptacle of choice is the gutter, where trash waits until night when ladies with brooms walk by to clean up all of the streets in the city.
  • Two words: bum. gun.
  • Chickens are to Hanoi as squirrels are to Seattle. They are everywhere. Roaming.
  • Another common roaming animal= dogs… Leashes are essentially unfound… if only we could say the same about rabies.
  • The coffee is a gift from God. Black coffee, iced coffee, condensed milk coffee, coconut smoothie coffee, coffee with egg.
  • Cleaning the bathroom is easy! Step 1: Take bum gun. Step 2: Spray water everywhere. Step 3: Wait to dry.
  • The people are some of the happiest, most positive people we have met. Despite working long hours, fighting through insane traffic, having the occasional American girl new to a motorbike crash into your store window while trying to park, and functioning in heat and humidity unlike anything we have ever known, we have been treated with nothing but kindness and generosity.
  • And yes! We are working! Our coworkers are great, and all in their mid to late twenties. We work in the evenings and weekends, with Monday and Tuesday off, so no more 5 am alarm!! We teach 4-8-year-olds, and the kids are ADORABLE. We are amazed every class with the language ability, the fine motor skills, and the enthusiasm of these kids, and look forward to going to work everyday.

By Deanna Clark and Tyler Simons

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