Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Similarities Of Hanoi And Jakarta


If you see yesterday's post you probably can deduce that it's taken in Vietnam. Well, I'm in Hanoi, Vietnam this week to participate in another Thomson Reuters Foundation's course. Cooperating with Vietnam TV Training Center, this time the foundation set climate change as the course's topic. 

I feel so fortunate that they picked me as a participant and that my office allowed me to go less than a month from the course in Italy. Dear kind editors (if you're reading this), I will write an article (or two) from this course.

It's my first time visiting Vietnam, but I feel like I'm still in Indonesia. There are so many similarities between Hanoi and Jakarta that I feel like I'm just going to the neighbor's house. The problem is the neighbor speaks a different language. But let's focus on the similarities first.

Here are some similarities I notice:
1. We share the same facial look and body figure
I've met at least three women who looks like my colleagues and friends. We're South East Asians anyway, so it's not a surprise. But I still stop in the middle of the road to get a clearer view of a particular person, to make sure that person is not someone I know. 

2. We have the same Asian courtesy
It's a common thing in Jakarta (or Indonesia) to bow a little while you're passing someone who is talking, or older than you. It's a way of respect. Well, I spotted that gesture too here. I'm a bit tempted to say,"Permisi (Bahasa word for 'Excuse me')", while doing that gesture in Hanoi:). 

They are also very polite to the foreigners. When I stepped out of the airport, the man from the hotel said we would wait for another guest. So I told him that I would sit on the chair nearby. After a few minutes, he approached and asked me to follow him, although the guest had yet to arrive. I guess he felt guilty to let me waiting there. Another proof was during the ride to the hotel. The driver lit a cigarette, so I opened the window because I couldn't stand the smoke. He put it off immediately. 

Also, no matter how busy/poor they look, people are still smiling here. Just like in Jakarta or other place in Indonesia. My lovelies, a smile may be a free thing you can give to a person, but it can be the most valuable thing you'll ever give in your life. So remember to smile, ok?

3. Street foods rule!
There are a lot of street food vendors in Hanoi. On the first day, I passed people having breakfast along the street. They sat on the short stools, holding a bowl of hot noodle and eating with their chopsticks. The food smelled really nice. 

I should try one of those foods before leaving, but I have to find one without pork. Now, this calls for some Vietnamese vocabulary. So yes, I must learn some local words.

4. Difficult to cross the street
The golden rule in Jakarta is you are not yet a true Jakartan when you haven't braved the streets. It's the same thing in Hanoi. Being a true Jakartan, I cross the streets of Hanoi like a pro:). I also see many motorbikes here, just like home:). Tips: always be cautious, look to the left/right, then cross the street while waving your hand.

5. The best thing is Hanoi and Jakarta are in the same time zone
It takes only five hours from Jakarta and Hanoi. And we have the same time. So I have no jet lag this time.

Anyway, I'm just curious: when you are traveling, do you find similarities or spot differences?

Have a nice day!

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