Gutsy Traveler I just returned from Vietnam, an outrageously exciting country to travel to. A little preparation before you go can take the headache out of simple things like crossing the street or avoiding dog or cat meat.
1. Learn how to cross the street(--and stay alive), slowly wade out into the moving traffic of cars, motorbikes, rickshaws and food carts. Keep moving at a steady pace. Do not hesitate, stop, text, or read a map while crossing. Trust me, they will careen around you.
2. To avoid eating dog or cat meat, learn the Vietnamese words: thịt chó,dog meat and thịt mèo, cat meat. Despite laws passed in 1997 banning the consumption of cat meat, more and more pet cats are snatched off Vietnamese streets and are smuggled in from China and Laos. The delicacy appears on the menu as “little tiger.” Beware of restauranteurs who boast about an exotic surprise.
3. Figure out the crazy currencybefore you go or as soon as you arrive, so you won’t tip $ .05 or $ 50.00 by mistake. All the extra zeros can be very confusing. Memorize the currency by color. A blue bill is approximately $5.00, etc. A currency converter is helpful too.
4. Pronounce Vietnam’s national dish ‘pho’correctly. Pho, pronounced like “go” means “street” in Vietnamese. The soup is pronounced “fuuh” like the first syllable in “phenomenal.” A handy app for languages will also help with pronunciation.