Life in Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

By Pauline Tweedie and Jean-Philippe Boutin

NetCorps is a program sponsored by Industry Canada that sends technically trained Canadians aged 19-30 to developing countries. These people help their host countries use technology to help education, health and other resources.

Let us introduce ourselves. Our names are Pauline and Jean-Philippe. We are in Hanoi, Vietnam, working for an organization that helps farmers. We will be in Vietnam for six months.

Life here in Vietnam is very different than in Canada. Most people get up very early in the morning, usually around 5:30 a.m. Before work or school some people play badminton or soccer and the older people go for a walk or do t'ai chi in the park.

Cars are very expensive so most people ride motorcycles or bicycles. We have bicycles and ride them everywhere. There are few traffic lights but during rush hour there are policemen directing traffic at the larger intersections. In Canada rush hour means bottlenecks and traffic jams. Here in Vietnam, rush hour is a very chaotic experience with bikes and motorcycles going in every direction at the same time.

   Hanoi is a very noisy city compared to most Canadian cities. On the streets everyone honks his/her horn before they pass another car or motorcycle. There are always people on the street singing to sell their wares. Every morning we wake up to the sound of bread sellers singing through the streets, asking people if they want to buy bread. Lucky for us Vietnam was a French colony until 1954 and the Vietnamese make very tasty french bread.

There are no grocery stores where we can go shopping. Instead we go to an outside market to buy our food. The market is divided up much like a grocery store. There is an area for fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, rice, spices and bottled stuff like cooking oil or soya sauce. The food has to be fresh because there is no refrigeration in the market. Rice is the staple and we eat it in many different forms, such as noodles, pancakes, fried rice or steamed rice. For dessert our favourite treat is ice cream, specifically vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate on a stick.

   Right now the weather is much warmer than in Canada. The average daily temperature is 20 C, not bad for the end of winter. Unfortunately, that means that the summer will be very hot. We will probably be eating many more ice creams in the coming months.

We will be writing every month to keep you updated about different aspects of life here in Vietnam. If you have any questions that you would like us to answer you can email us at:

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