The more I reflect on day one, the more I remember about it. I was overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds, but mostly the sheer number of motorbikes. I know we were told during pre-departure about the number of motorbikes, and I know just about everything I read about Vietnam mentioned the motorbikes, but no amount of testimony from others could ever prepare someone for the actual amount of motorbikes that exist in Ho Chi Minh City. With the way traffic moves, I’m surprised I didn’t witness an accident. However, while it’s a typical tourist observation it also says a lot about how bustling the city’s economy is.
On our tour we also saw that there is ongoing construction of the first subway system in Vietnam. Investment in public transit not only shows they have the funds necessary to complete such a large project, but also that they are looking to increase the efficiency of their economy. Globalization also wasn’t hard to spot. I saw three McDonald’s, two Popeye’s, and many people wearing blue jeans. At the welcome ceremony, one of the songs they sang for us was Cheap Thrills by Sia. Lastly, much of the architecture our tour guide spoke about was from the French colonial era.
While I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Welcome Dinner, none of the foods surprised me because I prepared myself for anything. One thing I did find odd was that they would put the food out on the table, but we would still wait for them to serve it to us individually. Lastly, Culture Smart made a big deal about eye contact and body language, and I did my best to follow the rules it laid out, but even when I caught myself doing something wrong by Culture Smart’s standards, no one seemed to notice or care.