What a beautiful country! After a 16-hour flight from New Zealand to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, stepping foot out of the airport felt surreal. Feeling the warm wave of heat on my cheeks, observing the colorful scooters racing by, and the overwhelmingly rich smell of street food, I stare in awe. The first 48 hours in Vietnam felt like a dream; it was the little things that I did not expect that surprised me the most, as it is so beautifully different from New Zealand. Things like crossing the streets, going to the markets, and trying all the different Vietnamese cuisine we could get our hands on filled up our first days in our new home. My initial favorite aspect in Ho Chi Minh was the universal representation of the Vietnamese culture that is deeply engrained within the day-to-day life here. From listening to the locals speaking in their native tongue and trying to pick up phases as I listen. To try the mouth-watering food, must I add is so affordable considering how delicious and fresh all the dishes we have tried have been. Currently, my favorite is beef pho, which is a warm noodle soup with beef, spring onions, chillies, and different greens.
Additionally, we are also close to celebrating the Vietnamese New Year- the Lunar New Year, which I feel an abundance of gratitude to be a part of and experience. In the Vietnamese culture, New Year’s lasts a total of two weeks and is symbolic of happiness, prosperity, spending time with loved ones, and acknowledging and respecting your ancestors. Walking down streets, we walk past yellow and red lanterns and walk through streets filled with artistic and clothing markets, street shows, and festive music. It is the culture within this country that creates its beauty, I have never seen anything like this in my whole life, and that’s what makes it so special. Vietnam has been such an amazing experience so far, from the people I have met to the places I have visited and the delicious food I have eaten; I feel privileged to call this my home for the next two months.