I’ve been living in Ho Chi Minh City for a while now and like everywhere you live there are going to be things about you don’t like. This article goes over the cons of Ho Chi Minh.
Before we get started, this isn’t a hate post, these are my personal opinions and some people won’t agree with them which is totally fine, you do you. Within saying that there are things I absolutely love about the city with its rich and vibrant culture – a post for another day.
Whenever you read one of these cons of Ho Chi Minh City list, the heat and pollution are 99% of the time going to pop up (and with a city of nearly nine million people, its kind of expected) but not today my friends. I already knew about those things before I packed my bags and boarded the plane. This is a list of things you normally wouldn’t hear about. Some of these items might apply to other parts of Vietnam but I have yet to visit anywhere else so I can’t comment.
These are in no particular order:
1. Use of plastic
I thought my use of plastic in Australia was bad until I came to Ho Chi Minh. Getting a coffee, you bet it’s coming with a plastic carry bag. Getting takeaway, be prepared for it to come in three different plastic bags. Ordered a hot coffee? You’ll get a plastic straw, wrapped in plastic. Buying a chocolate bar from the grocery store? You bet you’re getting a plastic bag with that. Have I made my point yet? They love the use of plastic here
It’s not the fact that it’s dirty it’s the fact that the citizens don’t try and keep it clean. Ho Chi Minh isn’t drowning in rubbish but there is a lot of it and it’s everywhere. I first thought this was due to street food vendors but it turns out a lot of the citizens decide to dump rubbish wherever they see fit. I first noticed this when I sat down to enjoy a piping hot bowl of noodle soup, the guy next to was dumping his leftover bones on the ground and throwing tissues around. After that, I was noticing it happening everywhere, even when there are bins around.
Rubbish isn’t the only problem, people will also hock and spit phlegm everywhere, no shame. Oh and what about public urination? You bet ya, I got a
nice look at some guy yesterday who decided to pull his pants down and starting weeing in a busy street, next to a food cart where people were eating. That puddle you just walked through, was it water or pee? You’ll never know.
3. Driving on the sidewalk
Everybody knows the traffic is crazy in Asia and especially in Ho Chi Minh, put simply, it’s chaos. This and the fact I actually enjoying walking places is the reason I try not to get in a scooter or car here. Because the roads are so chaotic you’d think the sidewalks would be safe? Well, you’d be wrong. When it’s peak hour, the sidewalk becomes another road. I’ve had people on motorbikes come flying at me as I’ve turned a corner and somehow I’ve been stuck in a traffic jam on the sidewalk. And don’t even get me started on the beeping, so so much beeping. What are they even beeping at?
4. Being white
Of course, before coming to Ho Chi Minh or any Asian country for that matter there would be a curiosity due to the fact that I am of course a white foreigner but I never thought it would be to this extent. Almost everyone you walk by stares at you, some even talk about you and have no shame in pointing you out to their friends. I don’t know if it’s different in the tourist areas (the worst kind of area) or if it’s the same everywhere.
So many people see a foreigner/white face and automatically assume they have money. This makes us prime targets for scammers and simply being overcharged in general for things. This wouldn’t happen when they come to our country, why is it acceptable here?
Taxi’s and Motorbike drivers always assume you want a ride.
5. Being hovered over
This may be me personally but I absolutely can not stand it. By being hovered over I mean when you go to a restaurant, they hand you the menu and then just stand really really close to you whilst you try and read through the menu. I’m an indecisive person, I need time to thoroughly look through the options without being made feel uncomfortable and rushed. Especially if I’m reading a menu in Vietnamese, I’m only just learning the language so I need a little extra time to decipher. It’s not only restaurants like this, it also happens in shops, I’ve had people follow me around whilst I try and look at the items in the store. 9 out of 10 times if this happens I’ll leave. Some people might think it’s good customer service, I think it’s the complete opposite and I’m confused on where this idea started?
Sugar is in everything here. If you don’t want diabetes or to get fat then you have to be very careful when purchasing products. Smoothies, black coffee, juices, barbecued meats, noodles, popcorn!? I went to the cinemas the other day and the gentlemen asked me if I wanted to try the cheese popcorn and I happily obliged until I ate one piece and discovered it was covered in sugar. They’ve even put it in their milk! I kept wondering why my morning coffee and oats tasted so funny until I realised the milk was loaded with sugar, be very careful when you’re buying milk – look for one that says, không đường. Is nothing sacred here?
One thing the western world has figured out a that has yet to come to Vietnam is how to wait your turn in line. You’ll be pushed out of the way with people yelling and plunking their stuff down on the bench before you even get a chance to realise what’s happening. Grocery stores are the worst for it, for some unknown reason to me you have to get your veggies weighed at a designated weight station before going to the registers, here it’s barbaric. People pushing, barging, yelling and throwing their vegetables down like it’s the end of the world. It’s a very stressful time for somebody who is used to civilised lines.
Don’t forget to weigh them, there is nothing worse than getting to the registers and waiting 15 minutes to realize you forgot to weight your damn veggies.
Have you been to Vietnam? Is there anything on this list you disagree with or something you found was a Con of Ho Chi Minh that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments.